UK trial decimal coins of 1961

Started by <k>, September 30, 2020, 07:53:49 AM

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<k>



Image copyright of Goldberg Coins.


In 1961 the Royal Mint produced this 50 cents decimal trial piece.

It featured the classic Victorian design of Una and the lion.

It was made of silver and weighed 7.5 g, with a diameter of 26 mm.


The UK pound consisted of 240 pence, and in 1961 the half penny was still a circulating coin.

Consideration was briefly given to the idea of a UK dollar,.

It would be worth 10 shillings or one half pound.


However, the finance people of the City of London were against a decimal UK dollar.

The pound had centuries of tradition behind it, after all.

Furthermore, they wanted no reduction in the high value of the UK's main currency unit.


Size mattered to those men, apparently.

The idea of a British dollar was therefore quickly abandoned.
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See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Figleaf

I can't imagine a city man coming up with such emotional nonsense. It sounds much more like a treasury excuse for inaction in the face of an idea from the mint in the very best "Yes minister" tradition. IIRC, even in those days, the most valuable currency unit was the Saudi ryal and not even the Saudis cared. On the other hand, city hands were still walking around in bowler hats and striped trousers (yes, they wore something in-between also) and otherwise pretending to live in 1861. It took Tony Blair to wake them up and even Tony Blair couldn't get rid of red military uniforms :D

What tickles me more is the idea of using the Una and the lion design. This is my all-time favourite UK coin design. It is also a design that is a child of its time: the Sir Walter Scott type obsession with the Middle Ages, mixed with fantasy and glorified with unholy romanticism. It does not fit 1961, it is a century behind its time. OH NO! maybe your story is true after all!

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

<k>

The desire of Englishmen of the upper-middle classes to be top dog should not be underestimated. Emotional it may be, but it is a visceral emotion. Why do you think so many such men from 'public' schools dominate government and the civil service in the UK? Tony Blair was himself the product of such a public school. He did after all take Britain to war against Iraq on the most flimsy of evidence.

Don't mistake form for content, and never judge a book by its cover. It was in fact Mrs Thatcher who initiated 'Big bang' and brought the City into more modern modes of management - thereby incidentally releasing even more of their inner greed and desire to be top dog. Remember, these were the men who so recently in history ran the British Empire. Don't be deceived by their (outwardly) fine manners and quaint habits. "Softee softee, catchee monkee", went the phrase. They were definitely in it to win and to be top dog.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Alan71

Well, I'm glad they kept the pound sterling anyway!  As the world's oldest currency still in continuous use, it would have been sad to see it go.  I'd heard that at the time of decimalisation they were thinking of replacing it with a ten shilling unit called the Royal, but as with this "dollar", I'm glad it never came to fruition.  Fine for Australia to do that, they lean towards the US anyway, but not the UK. 

Plus it means the pound is still one of the highest-value units in the world (in terms of nominal value), which is just as well considering the battering it's taken over the decades.  They had the foresight to realise that having to have a half penny coin was only a temporary measure and not worth ditching the pound to avoid.

Can I just say, there's an incredible amount of UK-bashing on this forum these days.  It's one of the reasons I don't post much.  Be it Brexit, the tories, the future of the monarchy or the devolved nations, it all seems like "let's will these things to happen and be as negative as we can about it".  I avoid those topics completely, but with this one I thought I was safe.  Clearly not.

<k>

#4
UK 1c 1961-ptn.jpg


Here you see the 1 cent pattern of 1961. 

It was made of bronze and weighed 2.91 g, with a diameter of 20 mm.

Image copyright of Heritage Auctions.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

#5
UK 2c 1961-ptn.jpg


Here you see the 2 cents pattern of 1961.

It was made of bronze and weighed 5.83 g, with a diameter of 25.5 mm.

Image copyright of Heritage Auctions.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

#6
UK 5c 1961-ptn.jpg


Here you see the 5 cents pattern of 1961.

It was made of copper-nickel and weighed 2.81 g, with a diameter of 19 mm.

Image copyright of Heritage Auctions.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

#7
UK 10c 1961-ptn.jpg


Here you see the 10 cents pattern of 1961.

It was made of copper-nickel and weighed 5.73 g, with a diameter of 23.5 mm.

Image copyright of Heritage Auctions.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

#8
UK 20c 1961-ptn.jpg


Finally, here you see the 20 cents pattern of 1961. 

It was made of copper-nickel and weighed 11.39 g, with a diameter of 28.5 mm.

Image copyright of Heritage Auctions.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

FosseWay

I'd be interested to know what the sizes and weights are of these trials, if you know.

I presume the 5, 10 and 20 cent pieces are the same specification as the 6d, 1s and 2s coins, and as their Australian/NZ counterparts. But I imagine the 50 cent piece isn't the same size as the 5s - the size of the latter was the main reason it dropped out of use, despite the consequent large gap between 2/6 and 10s.

And I imagine that, as with the issued decimal bronze coins, the 1c and 2c pieces are of a new size, unconnected to the predecimal bronze coins.

<k>

Numista gives all but the diameter of the 1 cent coin. See here.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

FosseWay

Thanks - I didn't think of looking there.

That explains it - the 50 cents is in silver, and is therefore smaller than the 20 cents. However, silver had been absent from the coinage a good while by this time; it seems odd that the authorities would be looking to reintroduce it. So I wonder whether it's just silver for the pattern, and had they actually gone ahead with the 10-shilling dollar, the 50c would also have been of base metal. In which case, I still wonder whether it would have been confusing to have a higher-value coin that is smaller than, but still the same shape and colour as, a lower-value coin.

The 2c appears to be a similar diameter as the actual 2p, though it is lighter. The weight:value ratio appears to hold, so I presume the 1c is around the size of the 1p, but a bit thinner.

<k>

#12
Quote from: FosseWay on May 12, 2021, 08:33:39 PM
I still wonder whether it would have been confusing to have a higher-value coin that is smaller than, but still the same shape and colour as, a lower-value coin.

I think that the Royal Mint would have thought of a more sensible and logical solution. As you know, though, the Australians have a round yellow $2 coin that is smaller than their round yellow $1 coin.  ::)

Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

FosseWay

Quote from: <k> on May 12, 2021, 08:38:54 PM
I think that the Royal Mint would have thought of a more sensible and logical solution. As you know, though, the Australians have a round yellow $2 coin that is smaller their round yellow $1 coin.  ::)

Indeed - that was precisely the example that came to mind. Sweden, too, has a round yellow 5 kronor coin that is larger than the round yellow 10 kronor coin. In both cases, the "deviant" coin has been added or modified to an existing range of coins.

The US and Canada have a round silver 10c coin that's smaller than the round silver 5c coin, though this is for the historical reason that the 10c used to be silver, while the 5c has always (at its current size) been cupro-nickel.

But I can't think of an example where such topsy-turviness has been built into a series of coins from its beginning.

<k>

My thanks to our forum member africancoins, who emailed me about the diameter of the 1 cent pattern:

I have 1979 and 1993 editions on Collector's Coins from Rotographic. It has the 1 Cent. Answer: 20mm, Bronze.
It spells out the reverse legend in the books so must be referring to the piece you are asking about.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.