Featured The Tin Farthing and Halfpenny

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Bart9349, Sep 26, 2017.

  1. Bart9349

    Bart9349 Junior Member

    After coming across a tin William and Mary halfpenny (1690), I was forced to learn something about the coinage of tin farthings and halfpence.

    Charles II (1660-1685) started minting tin farthings in 1684 for very understandable reasons. First, he wanted to bolster the suffering tin industry. Second, the intrinsic value of tin was lower than copper. This would assure a greater profit for the Crown by replacing the more expensive copper with tin.

    As an anti-counterfeiting measure, a square plug of copper was placed in the center of the coin. This effort to prevent counterfeiting with the copper plug did not increase the coins’ popularity (or aesthetic appeal), however.

    Tin 1684.jpg

    (Charles II tin farthing 1684. Not my coin. Not my picture.)

    His successor James II (1665-1668) ordered tin halfpence with a copper plug in 1685.

    Tin 1687 HP.jpg

    (James II halfpenny from 1687. Not my picture. Not my coin.)

    After supplanting James in 1688, William and Mary (1688-1694) continued the production of both the tin halfpenny and farthing from 1689-1692.

    The production of these tin coins was stopped for several reasons. The use of tin in coinage failed to revive the depressed tin industry. Also, because of tin’s lower intrinsic value than copper, these tin coins were less popular than the copper coinage of similar denominations. Additionally, because tin was cheaper and more readily accessible than copper, counterfeiting quickly became a problem. The working class and the poor were the people most likely to get stuck with these worthless counterfeits because it was this segment of the population that most frequently used lower denominations of coins (farthings and halfpence) in their daily transactions.

    Finally, it soon became obvious that these coins were a numismatic disaster. From the damp and humid weather of London, the tin planchet with its copper plug quickly suffered from corrosion and deterioration. Also, the central copper plug could even be dislodged. These environmentally-unstable tin coins, therefore, would not last as long in circulation as the more dependable and durable copper ones.
    tin 1690  farthing.jpg Tin1690r.jpg

    (Significant corrosion of this 1690 tin farthing with a possible missing copper plug. Not my coin. Not my picture.)

    By 1694, the experimental production of tin coins officially ended and the use of copper had resumed for both the farthing and halfpenny.

    Here is a tin halfpenny from 1690 portraying William and Mary:

    HP1690.jpg HP1690r.jpg

    This fine couple are now my visitors. (The pictures are not mine, however.)


    An excellent site for review of the English / British copper coinage of the 1600s and 1700s. This article was the source of much of the information presented.

    Last edited: Sep 26, 2017
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Never knew these existed, nice writeup and thanks.
  4. Youngcoin

    Youngcoin Well-Known Member

    Wow interesting.
  5. Omegaraptor

    Omegaraptor Seated Liberty / UK Enthusiast

    Wow! Wish I could get one but they seem to be very expensive. Probably because the tin is typically heavily damaged from the environment.
    RayeZorSharp likes this.
  6. quick_change

    quick_change Member

    Hello CT!
    Just going to put this here. I had picked this coin up at a store that I frequent and never really knew what it was. Now that I can see it's a Farthing, anyone know about this year (1673)? I only bought it because it was so old. Good read about the history of the Tin Farthing!

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