Fourpence (British coin)

Last updated

United Kingdom
Value4d sterling
Mass1.9 g
Diameter16 mm
Thickness1 mm
Composition 92.5% Ag
Years of minting1836–1855, 1888
British fourpence 1837 obverse.png
DesignProfile of the monarch (William IV design shown)
Designer William Wyon
Design date1836
British fourpence 1837 reverse.png
Design Britannia
Designer William Wyon
Design date1836

The British fourpence (4d) coin, sometimes known as a groat (from Dutch grootpennig = "big penny") or fourpenny bit, was a denomination of [Coins of the pound sterling|sterling coinage]] worth 1/60 of one pound or 1/3 of one shilling. The coin was also known as a joey after the MP Joseph Hume, who spoke in favour of its introduction. [1] [2] It was a revival of the pre-Union coin.


Before Decimal Day in 1971, sterling used the Carolingian monetary system, under which the largest unit was a pound divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence.


The prospect of the introduction of a general circulation fourpence coin was raised in 1835, when the MP Joseph Hume spoke in Parliament in favour of its introduction. His reasoning was that the coin was convenient for paying cab fares. [2] [3] [4] The coin was first introduced in 1836, but proved unpopular with cab drivers as they now simply received a fourpence as payment, whereas previously they would often receive a sixpence without the demand for change. [5]

The coin weighed 233 troy ounce (1.9 g). [6]

The threepence was introduced in 1845 to "afford additional convenience for the purpose of change". [7] This new coin proved much more popular than the fourpence, and by the early 1850s it was decided there was no need for both coins. The final regular issue of groats was made in 1855, although proofs were minted in 1857 and 1862. In 1888 a special request was made for a colonial variety to be minted for use in British Guiana and the British West Indies. The groat remained in circulation in British Guiana until that territory adopted the decimal system in 1955. [8]


The original reverse of the 1836 version of the coin, designed by William Wyon, is a seated Britannia, holding a trident, with the words FOUR PENCE to each side. Two different obverses were used during the mintage of this coin. Wyon's likeness of William IV appeared in 1836 and 1837, surrounded by the inscription GULIELMUS IIII D G BRITANNIAR REX F D. [9] Groats bearing the likeness of Victoria were issued from late 1837 onwards, also designed by Wyon, with the inscription VICTORIA D G BRITANNIAR REGINA F D. Those fourpences minted in 1888 bear the "jubilee head" of Victoria, designed by Joseph Boehm – the reverse is unchanged. [10]

There also exists a pattern coin, dated 1836, which bears the same obverse as the William IV issue coins, but has a different reverse, designed by William Wyon, which has the inscription 4p instead of the words FOUR PENCE. [5]


Related Research Articles

Coins of the pound sterling British current and historic coinage

The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom, British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories is denominated in pennies and pounds sterling, and ranges in value from one penny sterling 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.

Five pence (British coin) Coin of the United Kingdom

The British decimal five pence coin 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.

Half farthing Former coin of the United Kingdom and other territories

The British half farthing was a coin worth 1/1,920 of a pound, 1/96 of a shilling, or 1/8 of a penny sterling. It was minted in copper for use in Ceylon, but in 1842 was also declared legal tender in the United Kingdom. Two different obverses were used. Like all British coinage, it bore the portrait of the monarch on the obverse.

Third farthing Former piece of sterling coinage

The British third farthing was a coin worth 1/2880 of a pound, 1/144 of a shilling, or 1/12 of a penny sterling. It was produced in various years between 1827 and 1913.

History of the British penny (1714–1901) History of the British penny during the Hanoverian era

The penny of Great Britain and the United Kingdom from 1714 to 1901, the period in which the House of Hanover reigned, saw the transformation of the penny from a little-used small silver coin to the bronze piece recognisable to modern-day Britons. All bear the portrait of the monarch on the obverse; copper and bronze pennies have a depiction of Britannia, the female personification of Britain, on the reverse.

Florin (British coin) Former coin of the United Kingdom and other territories

The British florin, or two-shilling piece was a denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/10 of one pound, or 24 pence. It was issued from 1849 until 1967, with a final issue for collectors dated 1970. 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.

Three halfpence (British coin) Former coin of the British Empire

The British three halfpence was a coin worth 1/160 of one pound or 1/8 of one shilling sterling. It was produced for circulation in the British colonies, mainly in Ceylon and the West Indies in each year between 1834 and 1843, and also in 1860 and 1862. Proof coins were also produced in 1870.

Halfpenny (British pre-decimal coin) Former coin of the United Kingdom and other territories

The British pre-decimal halfpenny, , historically also known as the obol and once abbreviated ob., was a coin worth 1/480 of one pound, 1/24 of one shilling, or 1/2 of one penny sterling. Originally the halfpenny was minted in copper, but after 1860 it was minted in bronze. In the run-up to decimalisation it ceased to be legal tender from 31 July 1969. The halfpenny featured two different designs on its reverse during its years in circulation. From 1672 until 1936 the image of Britannia appeared on the reverse, and from 1937 onwards the image of the Golden Hind appeared. Like all British coinage, it bore the portrait of the monarch on the obverse.

Farthing (British coin) Former coin of the United Kingdom and other territories

The British farthing historically abbreviated qua., was a coin worth 1/960 of one pound, 1/48 of one shilling, or 1/4 of one penny sterling. It was minted in copper and later in bronze, and replaced the earlier English farthings.

Threepence (British coin) Former coin of the United Kingdom and other territories

The British threepence (3d) piece, usually simply known as a threepence, thruppence, or thruppenny bit, was a coin worth 1/80 of one pound or 1/4 of one shilling sterling. It was used in the United Kingdom, and earlier in Great Britain and England. Similar denominations were later used throughout the British Empire and Commonwealth countries, notably in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Crown (British coin) British coin introduced in 1707

The British crown was a coin worth 1/4 of one pound, 5 shillings, or 60 pence. The crown was first issued during the reign of Edward VI, as part of the sterling coinage of the Kingdom of England.

Groat (coin) Archaic English, Scottish and Irish coins worth 4 pence

The groat is the traditional name of a defunct English and Irish silver coin worth four pence, and also a Scottish coin which was originally worth fourpence, with later issues being valued at eightpence and one shilling.

£sd Pre-decimal currencies

£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 British farthing was a British coin worth a quarter of an old penny. It ceased to be struck after 1956 and was demonetised from 1 January 1961.

Sixpence (British coin) Former coin of the United Kingdom and other territories

The British sixpence piece, sometimes known as a tanner or sixpenny bit, was a coin worth 1/40 of one pound or 1/2 of one shilling sterling. It was first minted in 1551, during 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 threepence or threepenny bit was a denomination of currency used by various jurisdictions in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, valued at 1/80 of a pound or ¼ of a shilling until decimalisation of the pound sterling and Irish pound in 1971. It was also used in some parts of the British Empire, notably Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Shilling (British coin) Former official unit of currency of the United Kingdom and other territories

The British shilling was a unit of currency that equalled 1/20 of one pound, or twelve pence sterling. It was first minted in the reign of Henry VII as the testoon, and became known as the shilling, from the Old English scilling, sometime in the mid-16th century. It circulated until 1990. The word bob was sometimes used for a monetary value of several shillings, e.g. "ten-bob note". Following decimalisation on 15 February 1971 the coin had a value of five new pence, and a new coin of the same value but labelled as "five new pence" or "five pence" was minted with the same size as the shilling until 1990, after which the shilling no longer remained legal tender. It was made from silver from its introduction in or around 1503 until 1946, and thereafter in cupronickel.

The English shilling was a silver coin of the Kingdom of England, when first introduced known as the testoon. It remained in circulation until it became the British shilling as the result of the Union of England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.

Double sovereign British gold coin

The double sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom, with a nominal value of 2 pounds or 40 shillings sterling.

Jubilee coinage British coins depicting Queen Victoria

Jubilee coinage or Jubilee head coinage are British coins with an obverse featuring a depiction of Queen Victoria by Joseph Edgar Boehm. The design was placed on the silver and gold circulating coinage beginning in 1887, and on the Maundy coinage beginning in 1888. The depiction of Victoria wearing a crown that was seen as too small was widely mocked, and was replaced in 1893. The series saw the entire issuance of the double florin (1887–1890) and, in 1888, the last issue for circulation of the groat, or fourpence piece, although it was intended for use in British Guiana. No bronze coins were struck with the Jubilee design.


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