Size doesn't matter

Started by UK Decimal +, July 05, 2010, 02:33:36 PM

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UK Decimal +

Yes, they're all productions from the Royal Mint in the same period.   They are all the same nominal diameter of 16mm, but there are differences.   The dates illustrated are chosen just because I have reasonable examples of them.

1844 Fourpence (Groat): 1.81 grams, silver, grained (milled) edge.
1843 Threepence:          1.37 grams, silver, plain edge.
1827 One third farthing:  1.56 grams, copper, plain edge.

These details applied until 1860, when production of copper coins ceased and smaller ones in bronze were introduced.   But the 4d and 3d remained the same size.   The 4d was last issued in 1888 and the 3d was last circulated in 1944 although the current 'Maundy' 3p are of the same general design as the 3d illustrated here.   Note that the 4d is the 'Britannia' series not the 'Maundy' type.   I believe that the one-third-farthing was never legal tender in Britain.

Bill.
Ilford, Essex, near London, England.

People look for problems and complain.   Engineers find solutions but people still complain.

Figleaf

You got an amazingly good point there, Bill. I am sure the French would have flatly refused the groat for looking too much like the threepence. It may have helped that the groat wasn't meant for circulation in Britain. However, sources agree that it did circulate there. I presume they were brought back into the country by soldiers, who'd likely be paid in locally useful coins.

If the two coins are of the same size, but the groat is heavier, is the difference in thickness enough to feel? Otherwise, the blind must have had a problem. Not sure when automatic vending machines were introduced, but they would probably not have allowed for a groat, so the problem was on the buyer, not the seller.

BTW, is 21 mm a round number in any of the unfathomable English measurements? (pun unintended :))

The 1/3rd farthing certainly wasn't supposed to circulate in Britain and didn't fit well into the system either.

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

Ukrainii Pyat

I think only the half farthing was officially sanctioned to circulate in Britain, but for the most part didn't.  The other fractionals, ie the 1/4 and 1/3 wouldn't have been worth anything in Britain.

As for the groat, it was minted for colonial use, but looking like a regal coin could have passed quite easily in Britain.
Донецк Украина Donets'k Ukraine

UK Decimal +

Yes, the half farthings were legal tender in the kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as proclaimed in the London Gazette of 24 June 1842.

I'm now going to search for similar information about the groat.

Bill.
Ilford, Essex, near London, England.

People look for problems and complain.   Engineers find solutions but people still complain.

UK Decimal +

If we refer to the London Gazette of 05 February 1836, it will be seen that coins called "groats or fourpences" bearing the 'Britannia' reverse became legal tender in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1836.

Bill.
Ilford, Essex, near London, England.

People look for problems and complain.   Engineers find solutions but people still complain.

Figleaf

Unfortunately, my UK inflation figures go back to 1900 only. If they "needed" a half farting in 1842, while it had not been minted for centuries, there must have been a period of acute deflation somewhere. It couldn't have been during the Napoleonic wars, as the BoE was issuing banknotes to supplement the money supply. It may have been the period 1700 to 1750, when people spoke of a "silver famine" (the economy growing faster than the supply of mint metals.) If so, it still took a century and a great war before the half farthing was introduced.

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

UK Decimal +

For 'measuring worth' you might like to try http://www.measuringworth.com/calculators.html which will give a number of choices, dating back to 1264.   The page that I have given may not be the best one, but you should be able to find what you want from there.

Bill.
Ilford, Essex, near London, England.

People look for problems and complain.   Engineers find solutions but people still complain.

Figleaf

Interesting site (if you like long statistical series :-\). I looked first at the retail price index for the period 1672 to 1772. Sure enough, I found low inflation in most of that 100-year period, but deflation occurred notably in the period 1738-1750, with inflation taking off after 1763. From 1750 to 1842, I found that there is enough inflation to make the deflation of the early 18th century irrelevant, though.

My guess is that these pieces were made on demand of the colonial governors and once they were made, someone thought they might be handy in the UK also, or they simply came home with the soldiers again and no one saw any harm in letting them circulate in the UK.

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

UK Decimal +

The half-farthing first appeared in the following quantities:-
1828  7,680,000 (for Ceylon)
1830  8,766,320 (for Ceylon)
1837  1,935,360 (for Ceylon)
1839  2,042,880 (not stated)
1842  (not recorded) when it also became legal tender in Britain,
then issued every few years until 1856 which was the last bulk issue, although it appears that proofs were produced in 1868.

The 'groat or fourpence' had existed for many years as Maundy money and perhaps in everyday use, but the first year of the 'Britannia' type was 1836, the year in which this type became 'legal tender' in Britain.   The last issue of these was in 1888  but of course the Maundy fourpence coins are still produced.

Bill.
Ilford, Essex, near London, England.

People look for problems and complain.   Engineers find solutions but people still complain.

Ukrainii Pyat

I would argue that today's penny coin has less value than the half farthing from the mid 19th century.  The lowest value coins often have much less spending power than they did 40 years ago, yet they are still cranked out in the bazillions.

With mid 19th century subsidiary British coins though, they were fairly close to their material value and did have some spending power, ie the penny and halfpenny coins. 
Донецк Украина Donets'k Ukraine

UK Decimal +

Quote from: Figleaf on July 05, 2010, 03:28:05 PM
BTW, is 21 mm a round number in any of the unfathomable English measurements? (pun unintended :))

Peter

This should of course read 16mm and I've corrected it in the original post.   That's what comes from expecting an Englishman to think metric!

16mm equates to 5/8 of an inch.

Sorry if I've lead anyone astray, although I did say "Size doesn't matter" ...

Bill.
Ilford, Essex, near London, England.

People look for problems and complain.   Engineers find solutions but people still complain.

tonyclayton

Quote from: scottishmoney on July 05, 2010, 04:47:27 PM

As for the groat, it was minted for colonial use, but looking like a regal coin could have passed quite easily in Britain.

The Britannia groat may have had colonial use, but it was minted to satisfy a demand in the UK, as the main hackney carriage fare was 4d.

From my website:

*************
In 1836 a new design of groat was issued for circulation. It's diameter was the same as for the silver threepence of the time, namely 16mm, but it was thicker and had a milled edge. It weighed 1.9g.

In fact this coin was never commonly referred to as a groat. The phrase 'fourpenny bit' was usual, but the coin was also known as a Joey after the MP Joseph Hume, who campaigned for its introduction. I believe his reasoning was that the hansom cab fare was fourpence, and the coin therefore did not require the change that a sixpence did. This was not popular with the cab drivers as often they had been given the twopence change from a sixpence as a tip!

Instead of a crowned figure 4 the reverse has a representation of Britannia, thus the term Britannia Groat. It was issued regularly until 1855, when it dropped out of use in the UK because of confusion with the 3d which started to be issued for general circulation in 1845.

The coin was also used extensively in British Guiana, and a further issue with the Jubilee head was made for use there in 1888. The issues from 1851 to 1853 are quite scarce, and proofs exist for 1857 and 1862.
********

I can assure you that the information on my website is quite thoroughly researched using a wide range of sources, and while as always it is never possible to absolutely guarantee that everything is correct, it is well worth looking at it as part of an ongoing study of UK coins.
;D

translateltd

I understand that the other "fractionals" (apart from the half-farthing) were declared legal tender in the UK at some stage, though that doesn't necessarily mean they actually circulated, any more than the modern high-denomination "legal tender" collector issues are required to demonstrate their status by practical application!  As usual, though, I don't have a reference to hand to confirm.


tonyclayton

The quarter farthing and third farthing were never legal tender in the UK, nor was the three halfpence.  On the other hand the Britannia groat and the half farthing were.  The latter saw little active circulation as it was considered too small a denomination.

When I was at Cambridge back in 1962-1965 a stall in the market had a seemingly never ending supply of them, offered one or two at a time.  I kept looking and got an E/N version at normal price.  Little chance nowadays.

Figleaf

E/N refers to a corrected error, where RNGINA was corrected to REGINA. For a good picture of this detail, go here and scroll down.

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