Arnold Machin: Pattern Decimal 20 Pence of 1963

Started by eurocoin, July 10, 2015, 07:03:49 PM

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UK 20p 1963-ptn.jpg

UK, 20 pence, 1963.  Trial.

Today I came across this photo on the website of the Royal Mint Museum.

It shows a plaster model of an unrealised design by Arnold Machin for the decimal 20 pence piece.

I think it's a rather minimalistic design. The cornucopia is a cliché (though typical for Arnold Machin).


Very interesting. The word decimal so unnerving that it has to be spelled out. The solution of distinguishing d and p and the word "NEW" is more forward-looking and efficient.

Small point. Those horns are not cornucopiae, heraldically speaking, because a cornucopia is filled with foodstuff, like grain and fruit. Also, the design should be seen in the framework of the last pre-decimal coins, mired in late medieval/early renaissance heraldry and national plants. "Cool Britain" hadn't been invented yet. In that sense, there is a measure of creativity in the design.

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


I'm guessing that, had they gone with a 20p coin at the time of decimalisation, it would have had the weight of a double florin as they still seemed determined to keep the weight-value relationship between coins.  However, as they had the heptagonal 50p, a coin with that shape but 2/5ths of its weight would have still worked (the eventual 20p almost was this).

That was the only real error of decimalisation wasn't it?  That they had to issue millions of extra 10p coins to meet demand as there was nothing between that and the 50p.  Then when they finally issued the 20p (in order to reduce the weight of the coinage as they were about to inflict the £1 coin on us) it meant those millions of 10p coins remained surplus in bank vaults as they weren't needed.

I'm hoping when they issue this new £1 coin that it finally puts things right and that it will only be given in change where there is an odd number of pounds to give, or £6 with a £5 note (ie. no more than one).  I'd like to see the £2 coin become the dominant high value coin.