British Penny and Twopence Sizes

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by CopperGenie, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. CopperGenie

    CopperGenie Member

    I've recently gotten into collecting coinage from the United Kingdom, and I've noticed that the older pennies are roughly the same size as the twopence coin introduced in 1971. I would guess there's a difference in metal prices or just composition of the coin. What's the reason for this?
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  3. chrisild

    chrisild Coin Collector Supporter

    The pre-decimal penny (1d) was a bronze coin with a diameter of 31 mm. You would need 240 of those to have one pound (£1). The decimal two pence (2p) coin was also bronze first; in 1992 they changed the composition to copper plated steel. 50 of those make one pound. For some strange reason the size of the 2p coin was not changed while the 5p, 10p and 50p are smaller now than the first decimal ones ...

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  4. sakata

    sakata Devil's Advocate

    You are talking about two completely different systems here. The pound remained the same but the penny changed. Prior to 1971 (Feb 17th I seem to recall) there were 240 pennies to the pound and after that date there were 100 pence to the pound. Yes, that is right, pennies vs pence. I never remember people referring to the plural of the old penny as pence, it was always pennies. Probably because there was the intervening shilling.

    The old penny was much larger. I remember my mother using 3 of them to measure an ounce on her kitchen scales. The new penny, despite being worth 2.4 times the old, was much smaller.

    I really don't think it had much to do with metal prices, per se. After all, by 1971 Britain was 25 years removed from silver coinage (which was already debased from sterling in 1920). It was just that the entire world was trying to make coins which had less and less intrinsic value because inflation was rampant and the less it cost to make them the more the government saved. On a similar theme, the US is one of the few countries which has not replaced their lowest denomination with zinc or aluminum and so loses money on those coins.
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  5. CopperGenie

    CopperGenie Member

    Thanks a ton; I kind of forgot about the UK's conversion to the decimal system, haha. Although, Sakata, on the 1921 silver 6p coin, it writes it as "six pence." I wouldn't argue though because I don't have a lot of experience with UK coiniage yet.
  6. alurid

    alurid Well-Known Member

    Point of Order; In 1982 the U.S. replaced our 1 cent Bronze coin with Copper
    plated Zinc.
  7. sakata

    sakata Devil's Advocate

    It was not 6p, is was 6d. p is the abbreviation for pence, as in the decimal system. d was the abbreviation for pennies as in the predecimal system. It originated for the old Roman denarius.

    We had sixpence, but never six pence. That was always six pennies. I'm not old enough to remember the old 3d silver coin but I do remember the 12-sided coin. It was a thrupenny bit, rarely a threepence, although if the total price was 3d we said thrupence. Similarly we had pennies and ha'pennies (half pennies), never ha'pence, although it the total was 12.5d it would be called a shilling and ha'pence. Thirteen pennies was not "one shilling and a penny" but "one and a penny". A pound, 5 shillings and 6 pence was "one pound, 5 and sixpence". Yes, it is confusing, but those of us who grew up with in never gave a though to it.
  8. CopperGenie

    CopperGenie Member

    Thanks for the clarification! I don't think I'll remember all that but I understand the d abbreviation now. :)
  9. chrisild

    chrisild Coin Collector Supporter

    Side note - I find it interesting that both spellings (one word, two words) can be found on 3d and 6d coins. The twelve-sided 3d piece with George VI uses two words, and so does the 6d coin issued between roughly the mid-1950s and 1970. With many if not most others however, it is one word.

    Including the latest sixpence (tongue firmly in cheek) ...

  10. sakata

    sakata Devil's Advocate

    As a child I was not interested in the numismatical aspect. I was referring to the vernacular. It never occurred to me that there may be difference spelling on the coins. And as I don't collect British coins now (well, not much) I had never noticed this. The sentence of mine you quoted was intended to represent how we referred to the coins in conversation. It clearly did not correspond to the spelling on the coins. I've learned something new today.
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