Great Britain, United Kingdom
|Value|| 1⁄4 pound sterling|
|Composition||(1816–1919) 92.5% Ag |
(1920–1946) 50% Ag
|Years of minting||1707–1981|
|Design||Profile of the monarch (Victoria "jubilee head" design shown)|
|Design||Various (St George design shown)|
The British crown, the successor to the English crown and the Scottish dollar, came into being with the Union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1707. As with the English coin, its value was five shillings.
Always a heavy silver coin weighing around one ounce, during the 19th and 20th centuries the crown declined from being a real means of exchange to being a coin rarely spent and minted for commemorative purposes only.
Crowns were minted a few times after decimalisation of the British currency in 1971, initially with a nominal value of 25 pence. However, commemorative crowns issued since 1990 have a face value of five pounds.
The coin's origins lay in the English silver crown, one of many silver coins that appeared in various countries from the 16th century onwards, the most famous example perhaps being the famous Spanish pieces of eight, all of which were of a similar size and weight (approx 38mm diameter and containing approx 25 grams of fine silver) and thus interchangeable in international trade. The kingdom of England also minted gold Crowns in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The dies for all gold and silver coins of Queen Anne and King George I were engraved by John Croker, a migrant originally from Dresden in the Duchy of Saxony.
The British crown was always a large coin, and from the 19th century it did not circulate well. However, crowns were usually struck in a new monarch's coronation year, true of each monarch since King George IV up until the present monarch in 1953, with the single exception of King George V.
The Queen Victoria "Gothic" crown of 1847 (with a mintage of just 8,000 and produced to celebrate the Gothic revival) is considered by many to be the most beautiful British coin ever minted[ citation needed ].
The King George V "wreath" crowns struck from 1927 through 1936 (excluding 1935 when the more common "rocking horse" crown was minted to commemorate the King's Silver Jubilee) depict a wreath on the reverse of the coin and were struck in very low numbers. Generally struck late in the year and intended to be purchased as Christmas gifts, they did not circulate well, with the rarest of all dates, 1934 (mintage just 932), now fetching several thousand pounds each. The 1927 "wreath" crowns were struck as proofs only (15,030 minted).
With its large size, many of the later coins were primarily commemoratives. The 1951 issue was for the Festival of Britain, and was only struck in proof condition. The 1953 crown was issued to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, while the 1960 issue (which carried the same reverse design as the previous crown in 1953) commemorated the British Exhibition in New York. The 1965 issue carried the image of Winston Churchill on the reverse, the first time a non-monarch or commoner was ever placed on a British coin, and marked his death. According to the Standard Catalogue of coins, 19,640,000 of this coin were minted, a very high number at the time, making them of little value today except as a mark of respect for the national war leader. Production of the Churchill Crown began on 11 October 1965, and stopped in the summer of 1966.
The crown was worth five shillings (a shilling being 12 pre-decimal pence) until decimalisation in February 1971. The last five shilling piece was minted in 1965.
The crown coin was nicknamed the dollar, but is not to be confused with the British trade dollar that circulated in the Orient.
In 2014, a new world record price was achieved for a milled silver crown. The coin was issued as a pattern by engraver Thomas Simon in 1663 and nicknamed the "Reddite Crown". This was presented to Charles II as the new crown piece but was ultimately rejected in favour of the Roettiers Brothers' design. Auctioneers Spink & Son of London sold the coin on 27 March 2014 for £396,000 including commission.
All pre-decimal crowns from 1818 remain legal tender with a face value of 25p.
After decimalisation on 15 February 1971, the 25-pence coin was introduced as a replacement for the crown as a commemorative coin. These were legal tenderand were made with large mintages.
Further issues continue to be minted to the present day, initially with a value of twenty-five pence (with no face value shown). From 1990, the face value of new crown coins was raised to five pounds,probably in view of its relatively large size compared with its face value, its production costs, and the Royal Mint's profits on sales of commemorative coins. While this change was understandable, it has brought with it a slight confusion and a popular misbelief that all crowns have a five-pound face value, including the pre-1990 ones.
The legal tender value of the crown remained as five shillings from 1544 to 1965. However, for most of this period there was no denominational designation or "face value" mark of value displayed on the coin. From 1927 to 1939, the word "CROWN" appears, and from 1951 to 1960 this was changed to "FIVE SHILLINGS". Coins minted since 1818 remain legal tender with a face value of 25 pence.
Although all "normal" issues since 1951 have been composed of cupro-nickel, special proof versions have been produced for sale to collectors, and as gift items, in silver, gold, and occasionally platinum.
The fact that gold £5 crowns are now produced means that there are two different strains of five pound gold coins, namely crowns and what are now termed "quintuple sovereigns" for want of a more concise term.
Numismatically, the term "crown-sized" is used generically to describe large silver or cupro-nickel coins of about 40 mm in diameter. Most Commonwealth countries still issue crown-sized coins for sale to collectors.
New Zealand's original fifty-cent pieces, and Australia's previously round but now dodecagonal fifty-cent piece, although valued at five shillings in predecimal accounting, are all smaller than the standard silver crown pieces issued by those countries (and the UK). They were in fact similarly sized to the predecimal half crown (worth two shillings and sixpence).
For silver crowns, the grade of silver adhered to the long-standing standard (established in the 12th century by Henry II) – the Sterling Silver standard of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. This was a harder-wearing alloy, yet it was still a rather high grade of silver. It went some way towards discouraging the practice of "clipping", though this practice was further discouraged and largely eliminated with the introduction of the milled edge seen on coins today.
In a debasement process which took effect in 1920, the silver content of all British coins was reduced from 92.5% to 50%, with a portion of the remainder consisting of manganese, which caused the coins to tarnish to a very dark colour after they had been in circulation for a significant period. Silver was eliminated altogether in 1947, with the move to a composition of cupro-nickel – except for proof issues, which returned to the pre-1920 92.5% silver composition.
Since the Great Recoinage of 1816, a crown has, as a general rule, had a diameter of 38.61 millimetres (1.520 in), and weighed 28.276 grams (defined as 10⁄11 troy ounce).
|Edward VII||1902||256,020||Coronation||0.925 silver|
|George V||1927||15,030 (proof only)||'Wreath' Crown||0.500 silver|
|1928||9,034||'Wreath' Crown||0.500 silver|
|1929||4,994||'Wreath' Crown||0.500 silver|
|1930||4,847||'Wreath' Crown||0.500 silver|
|1931||4,056||'Wreath' Crown||0.500 silver|
|1932||2,395||'Wreath' Crown||0.500 silver|
|1933||7,132||'Wreath' Crown||0.500 silver|
|1934||932||'Wreath' Crown||0.500 silver|
|1935||714,769||George V and Queen Mary Silver Jubilee||0.500 silver|
|1936||2,473||'Wreath' Crown||0.500 silver|
|George VI||1937||418,699||Coronation||0.500 silver|
|1951||1,983,540||Festival of Britain||Cu/Ni|
|1960||1,024,038||British Exhibition in New York||Cu/Ni|
|1965||19,640,000||Death of Sir Winston Churchill||Cu/Ni|
|1972||Queen Elizabeth II 25th Wedding Anniversary 25p||Cu/Ni|
|1977||Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee||Cu/Ni|
|1980||Queen Mother 80th Birthday||Cu/Ni|
|1981||Charles & Diana Wedding||Cu/Ni|
In 1853 the Royal Mint had produced two patterns for a gold 5-shilling coin for circulation use, one denominated as five shillings and the other as a quarter sovereign, but this coin never went into production, in part due to concerns about the small size of the coin and likely wear in circulation.The quarter sovereign was introduced in 2009 as a bullion coin.
The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom, British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories is denominated in pounds sterling, and, since the introduction of the two-pound coin in 1994, ranges in value from one penny to two pounds. Since decimalisation, on 15 February 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 (new) pence. Before decimalisation, twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. British coins are minted by the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales. The Royal Mint also commissions the coins' designs. As of 14 October 2019, there were an estimated 29 billion coins circulating in the United Kingdom.
The shilling is a historical coin, and the name of a unit of modern currencies formerly used in Austria (Schilling), and in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and other British Commonwealth countries.
The British decimal five pence (5p) coin – often pronounced five pee – is a unit of currency equalling five one-hundredths of a pound sterling. Its obverse has featured the profile of Queen Elizabeth II since the coin’s introduction on 23 April 1968, replacing the shilling in preparation for decimalisation in 1971. It remained the same size as the one shilling coin, which also remained legal tender, until a smaller version was introduced in June 1990 with the older coins being withdrawn on 31 December 1990. Four different portraits of the Queen have been used, with the latest design by Jody Clark being introduced in 2015. The second and current reverse, featuring a segment of the Royal Shield, was introduced in 2008.
The British florin, or two-shilling coin, was issued from 1849 until 1967, with a final issue for collectors dated 1970. Equivalent in value to one-tenth of a pound, it was the last coin circulating immediately prior to decimalisation to be demonetised, in 1993, having for a quarter of a century circulated alongside the ten-pence piece, identical in specifications and value.
The five pounds gold coin is a British coin, produced in several periods since the early 19th century. Since 1990 it is also known as the five-sovereign piece or quintuple sovereign as it is equivalent to five sovereign coins and shares the alloy and design features of the sovereign.
Pound sterling, known in some contexts simply as the pound or sterling, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the British Antarctic Territory, and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence. The Pound sterling is the oldest currency in continuous use. Some nations that do not use sterling also have currencies called the pound.
The half sovereign is an English and later, British gold coin with a nominal value of half a pound sterling, or ten shillings. It is half the weight of its counterpart 'full' sovereign coin.
Decimal Day in the United Kingdom and in Ireland was the day on which each country decimalised its respective £sd currency of pounds, shillings, and pence.
£sd is the popular name for the pre-decimal currencies once common throughout Europe, especially in the British Isles and hence in several countries of the British Empire and subsequently the Commonwealth. The abbreviation originates from the Latin currency denominations librae, solidi, and denarii. In the United Kingdom, these were referred to as pounds, shillings, and pence.
The half crown was a denomination of British money, equivalent to two shillings and sixpence, or one-eighth of a pound. The half crown was first issued in 1549, in the reign of Edward VI. No half crowns were issued in the reign of Mary, but from the reign of Elizabeth I half crowns were issued in every reign except Edward VIII, until the coins were discontinued in 1970.
Australian coins refers to the coins which are or were in use as Australian currency. During the early days of the colonies that formed Australia, foreign as well as British currency was used, but in 1910, a decade after federation, Australian coins were introduced. Australia used pounds, shillings and pence until 1966, when it adopted the decimal system with the Australian dollar divided into 100 cents. With the exception of the first Proclamation Coinage and the holey dollars, all Australian coins remain legal tender despite being withdrawn from circulation.
The commemorative British decimal twenty-five pence (25p) coin was issued in four designs between 1972 and 1981. These coins were a post-decimalisation continuation of the traditional crown, with the same value of a quarter of a pound sterling. Uniquely in British decimal coinage, the coins do not have their value stated on them. This is because previous crowns rarely did so. The British regular issue coin closest to the coin’s nominal value is the twenty pence coin.
The sixpence, sometimes known as a tanner or sixpenny bit, is a coin that was worth one-fortieth of a pound sterling, or six pence. It was first minted in the reign of Edward VI, and circulated until 1980. Following decimalisation in 1971 it had a value of 2 1⁄2 new pence. The coin was made from silver from its introduction in 1551 until 1947, and thereafter in cupronickel.
The pound was the currency of New Zealand from 1840 until 1967, when it was replaced by the New Zealand dollar.
The pound was the currency of Bermuda until 1970. It was equivalent to the pound sterling, alongside which it circulated, and was similarly divided into 20 shillings each of 12 pence. Bermuda decimalised in 1970, replacing the pound with the Bermudian dollar at a rate of 1 dollar = 8 shillings 4 pence, equal to the U.S. dollar.
The Coins of the Australian pound arose when the Federation of Australia gave the constitutional power to Commonwealth of Australia to mint its own coinage in 1901. The new power allowed the Commonwealth to issue legal tender rather than individually through the six former British self-governing colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia.
The pre-decimal penny (1d) was a coin worth 1/240 of a pound sterling. Its symbol was d, from the Roman denarius. It was a continuation of the earlier English penny, and in Scotland it had the same monetary value as one pre-1707 Scottish shilling. The penny was originally minted in silver, but from the late 18th century it was minted in copper, and then after 1860 in bronze.
The Great Recoinage of 1816 was an attempt by the British government to re-stabilise the currency of Great Britain following economic difficulties precipitated by the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.
The New Zealand fifty-cent coin is a coin of the New Zealand dollar. It was the largest by denomination, diameter and mass to have been introduced on the decimalisation of the currency on 10 July 1967, replacing the pre-decimal crown coin.
The double sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom, with a nominal value of two pounds sterling or 40 shillings.
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