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Great Britain Coins

                                                                                                     Gold Coins

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EU_GB_001 - Queen Victoria - 1899 Gold Sovereign - minted in Melbourne
A gold Sovereign is a gold coin first issued in 1489 for Henry VII of England and still in production as of 2008. The sovereign was primarily an official piece of bullion with no mark of value anywhere on the coin itself.

Sovereigns were discontinued after 1604, being replaced by Unites, and later by Laurels, and then guineas.

Production of sovereigns restarted in 1817, their reverse design being a portrayal of Saint George killing a dragon, engraved by Benedetto Pistrucci. This same design is still in use on British gold sovereigns, although other reverse designs have also been used during the reigns of William IV, Victoria, George IV, and Elizabeth II.

The reign of Victoria (1837-1901), niece of William IV, was long enough to prompt three distinctive portraits. These depicted her as the young woman of 18 on her ascension to the throne, as a mourning widow on her golden jubilee in 1887 and as an elderly empress in 1893 .

Old Head - St. George & Dragon Reverse called “Old Heads". It was issued between 1893 and 1901. This was the last Sovereign type to be struck during the reign of Queen Victoria. It features, what has been said to be, a more realistic effigy of the elderly Queen on the reverse. It features the veiled head design of Queen Victoria. On the reverse the famous St George and the Dragon design by Pistrucci can be seen.

EU_GB_002 - King George V - 1928 Gold Sovereign
George V Sovereigns were minted up until 1914 at the London branch of the Royal Mint. Production ceased because of the outbreak of the First World War. The coin was struck in London in just one further year of the reign, 1925. The reverse features the famous St George & the Dragon design by Pistrucci, with the obverse portraying the monarch George V.

Copper Coins

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EU_GB_004 - Queen Victoria 1 Penny - Copper - 1891 AD
The penny of Queen Victoria (1837–1901) is one of the most intricate denominations of British coinage, with most of the varieties emerging after the switch from copper to bronze coinage in 1860. Between 1839 and 1860, the penny was made of 18.8 grams of copper and was 34 millimetres in diameter. From 1860 onwards, bronze (an alloy of 95% copper, 4% tin, and 1% zinc) was used instead — the bronze penny weighed ? oz (9.4 grams) and was 31 millimetres in diameter. This article can only mention the gross differences between different varieties of penny, but a very great number of small differences appeared, especially between 1860 and 1883. Just three portraits of the Queen were used on the penny in the whole of her reign, the Young Head (used from 1838 to 1859, with rare copper issues from 1860 - the 60 is struck over 59), designed by William Wyon (who died in 1851), whose eldest son Leonard Charles Wyon (1826–91) designed the bronze coinage of 1860 with the second ("bun") head (1860-1894 with scarce issues of the farthing in 1895), and finally the Old Head (or "veiled head") designed by Thomas Brock which was used on the penny from 1895 to 1901. Unlike the silver coinage, the Jubilee Head was not used on the bronze coins. The first obverse showed the Young Head of the Queen, facing left, with the inscription VICTORIA DEI GRATIA with the date beneath the head; this obverse was used (with a slight alteration in 1858) until the end of the copper penny issue in 1860. Copper pennies were issued for all years between 1839 and 1860 except 1840, 1842, 1850, and 1852. The reverse of the coin for the whole of this period was similar to the William IV issue, with a seated right-facing Britannia holding a trident, except that most years the head of the trident was ornamented; the inscription read BRITANNIAR REG FID DEF. The bronze coinage of 1860 for the first time stated the value of the coin on the reverse. The obverse was mostly unchanged between 1860 and 1894 except for some variations in the border (during 1860 only when it was either toothed or beaded), and whether or not there was an "L.C. Wyon" between the bust and the rim. The inscription read VICTORIA D G BRITT REG F D. The reverse shows a seated Britannia holding a trident with the words ONE PENNY to either side of her, and the date in the exergue beneath her; until 1895 there was a lighthouse to Britannia's left and a ship to her right; variations in the reverse include different levels of the sea around her feet, and an "H" below the date in 1874, 1875 (very rare), 1876, 1881 and 1882 indicated that the coin was produced at Messrs Ralph Heaton's mint in Birmingham. Pennies were produced in all the years between 1860 and 1894. For all years from 1895 to 1901 the "Old Head" bust was used, with the inscription VICTORIA DEI GRA BRITT REGINA FID DEF IND IMP, while the reverse was similar to before although the ship was no longer depicted. The first year (1895) had two varieties, one with Britannia holding a trident 1mm to the left of the letter 'P' in PENNY and the other depicting her holding the trident 2mm away from the P of 'PENNY' (this variety also has NO sea behind Britannia). The latter is quite rare. The 1897 penny also has two varieties, one of which has the tide level to Britannia's left as high and another, more common, as normal. 1901 pennies were kept back as keepsaves as the Queen died on 22 January that year.        

EU_GB_005 - Queen Victoria 1 Penny - Copper - 1898 AD
See Comments for EU_GB_004.

EU_GB_017 - Queen Victoria 1/2 Penny - 1900 AD
The halfpennies of Queen Victoria's long reign (1837–1901) can be basically divided into the copper issue of 1838–1860, where the coins were 9.1–9.5 grams in weight and 28 millimetres in diameter, and which were very similar to the halfpennies of her two predecessors (with the obvious substitution of REG for REX on the reverse), and the bronze issue of 1860–1901 (which itself is split between 1894 and 1895 into coins displaying the "young head" and the "old head" of the Queen). The bronze coins weighed 5.5–5.8 grams and were 25 millimetres in diameter. The bronze coins also featured the denomination HALF PENNY on the reverse for the first time, with the date in the exergue beneath Britannia. The inscription on the obverse of the "young head" coins reads VICTORIA D G BRITT REG F D, while on the "old head" it is VICTORIA DEI GRA BRITT REGINA FID DEF IND IMP. Some 1874–1876 and 1881–1882 halfpennies have an "H" mintmark underneath the date, indicating that they were produced at the Heaton mint in Birmingham. Halfpennies were produced in all years of Victoria's reign except 1837, 1840, 1842, 1849 and 1850.       

EU_GB_007 - Queen Victoria 1/2 Penny - 1901 AD
See comments for EU_GB_007.

EU_GB_011 - King Edward VII 1 Penny - 1902 AD
The penny of King Edward VII (1901–1910) is of the same technical standards as the late Victorian issues. The head on the obverse is by George William de Saulles (1862–1903), facing right, with the inscription EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX FID DEF IND IMP. The reverse shows the seated Britannia surrounded by ONE PENNY and over the date, which remained the standard design until 1970, although there is a variety of some 1902 pennies known as the low tide penny, where the sea appears exceptionally low on Britannia's leg. Pennies were produced for all years of Edward VII's reign.    

EU_GB_019 - King Edward VII 1 Penny - 1906 AD
 See Comments for EU_GB_011.

EU_GB_010 - King Edward VII 1/2 Penny - 1910 AD
Halfpennies weighing 5.7 grams and of 1 inch (25.4 millimetres) diameter (which was to remain the standard size of the coin for the remainder of its existence) were minted in all years of Edward VII's reign (1901–1910) except 1901. They are similar to the last issues of Queen Victoria except for the king's right-facing bust on the obverse, with the inscription EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX FID DEF IND IMP, and also are extremely reminiscent of the contemporary penny.    

EU_GB_006 - King Edward VII 1 Penny - 1910 AD
 See Comments for EU_GB_011.

EU_GB_016 - King George V 1 Penny - 1912 AD
King George V (1910–1936) pennies were produced to the same standard until 1922, but after a three-year gap in production the alloy composition was changed in 1925 to 95.5% copper, 3% tin, and 1.5% zinc, although the weight remained at ? oz (9.4 grams) and the diameter 31 millimetres. The inscription around the three variations of the left-facing king's head remained GEORGIVS V DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX FID DEF IND IMP, while Britannia remained on the reverse, as before. In addition to the Royal Mint in the Tower of London, in 1912, 1918 and 1919 some coins were produced at the Heaton Mint in Birmingham, and are identified by an "H" to the left of the date, and in 1918 and 1919 some were also produced at the Kings Norton Metal Co. Ltd, also in Birmingham, and are identified by "KN" to the left of the date. Pennies were produced in 1911–1922 inclusive, and 1926–1936 inclusive bearing George V's effigy, however the 1933 penny is the great British numismatic rarity of the 20th century — only seven coins were minted, specifically for the king to lay under the foundation stones of new buildings; one of the coins went missing when a church in Leeds was demolished in the 1960s, and its whereabouts is currently unknown.

EU_GB_018 - King George V 1 Penny - 1918 AD
 See Comments for EU_GB_016.

EU_GB_015 - King George V 1/2 Penny - 1919 AD
The reign of King George V produced halfpennies to an unchanged design every year between 1911 and 1936. The obverse shows a left-facing portrait of the king by Sir Bertram Mackennal, with the inscription GEORGIVS V DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX FID DEF IND IMP, and the usual right-facing Britannia on the reverse. Unlike some of the pennies of this reign, no halfpennies have mintmarks from provincial mints. Halfpennies of this reign suffer somewhat from "ghosting", caused by production problems when the image of one side partly comes through to the other; efforts were made to solve the problem with a modification of the king's effigy in 1925, but the problem wasn't finally solved until a second modification in 1928.

EU_GB_009 - King George V 1/2 Penny - 1928 AD
 See Comments for EU_GB_015.

EU_GB_012 - King George VI 1/2 Penny - 1944 AD
Halfpennies of a similar design to his brother's were produced in each year of the reign of King George VI. The inscription on the obverse reads GEORGIVS VI D G BR OMN REX F D IND IMP until 1948, then GEORGIVS VI D G BR OMN REX FIDEI DEF. There are reported to be slight differences in the reverse – the size and positioning of the ship, the inscription HALF PENNY and the date under the ship – from year to year, but numismatists differ in opinion as to whether this is significant enough to count as a design variation each year, or just one design for the whole reign.

EU_GB_003 - King George VI 1 Penny - 1949 AD
King George VI's pennies (1937–1952) also have a left-facing bust of the king, with the inscription (to 1948) GEORGIVS VI D G BR OMN REX F D IND IMP, and (from 1949) GEORGIVS VI D G BR OMN REX FIDEI DEF. Pennies were produced dated 1937–1940, and 1944–1952, although when necessary pennies were produced for the colonies in 1941–43 using the 1940 dies; the 1950 and 1951 circulation pennies were only produced for the colonies as none were needed in Britain — when collecting pennies by year became fashionable in the early 1960s it was discovered that virtually the entire 1951 production of 120,000 coins had been sent to Bermuda and considerable effort was made to buy as many specimens as possible and many wild claims were made about their investment value (currently about £30 in uncirculated grade). The worldwide shortage of tin during the Second World War caused a change in the alloy in 1944–45 to 97% copper, 0.5% tin, 2.5% zinc, but this bronze tarnishes unattractively, and the original 95.5% Cu, 3% Sn, 1.5% Zn alloy was restored later in 1945. One 1952 penny believed to be unique was struck by the Royal Mint.