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The English penny (plural "pence"), originally a coin of 1.3 to 1.5 grams (0.042 to 0.048 troy ounces ; 0.046 to 0.053 ounces ) pure silver, was introduced c. 785 by King Offa of Mercia. These coins were similar in size and weight to the continental deniers of the period and to the Anglo-Saxon sceats which had preceded it.
Throughout the period of the Kingdom of England, from its beginnings in the 9th century, the penny was produced in silver. Pennies of the same nominal value, 1⁄240 of a pound sterling, were in circulation continuously until the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.
The name "penny" comes from the Old English pennige (pronounced [ˈpennije] ), sharing the same root as the German Pfennig . Its abbreviation d. comes from the Roman denarius and was used until decimalisation in 1971.
Due to their ubiquity pennies have accumulated a great number of idioms to their name usually recognizing them for their commonality and minuscule value. These might include:
Anglo-Saxon silver pennies were the currency used to pay the Danegeld, essentially protection money paid to the Vikings so that they would go away and not ravage the land. As an illustration of how heavy a burden the Danegeld was, more Anglo-Saxon pennies from the decades around the first millennium have been found in Denmark than in England. In the reign of Ethelred the Unready (978–1016), some 40 million pennies were paid to the Danes, while King Canute (Knut) (1016–1035) paid off his invasion army with another 20 million pennies. This adds up to about 2,800,000 troy ounces (87 tonnes; 96 short tons) of silver, equivalent to £250,000 at the time, and worth about £10 million in 2005 [update] money (its purchasing power at that time may have exceeded £100 million and may have been as high as £1 billion in 2005).[ citation needed ]
The penny initially weighed 20 to 22.5 modern grains (1.3 to 1.5 g). It was standardized to 32 Tower grains, 1⁄240 of a Tower pound (approx. 350 g). The alloy was set to sterling silver of .925 fineness in 1158 under King Henry II. The weight standard was changed to the Troy pound (373.242 g) in 1527 under Henry VIII, i.e. a pennyweight became about 1.555 grams. As the purity and weight of the coin was critical, the name of the moneyer who manufactured the coin, and at which mint, often appeared on the reverse side of the coin.
From the time of King Offa, the penny was the only denomination of coin minted in England for 500 years, until the attempted gold coinage issue of King Henry III in 1257 and a few halfpennies and farthings in 1222, the introduction of the groat by King Edward I in 1279, under whom the halfpenny and farthing were also reintroduced, and the later issues of King Edward III.
At the time of the 1702 London Mint Assay by Sir Isaac Newton, the silver content of British coinage was defined to be one troy ounce of sterling silver for 62 pence. Therefore, the value of the monetary pound sterling was equivalent to only 3.87 troy ounces of sterling silver. This was the standard from 1601 to 1816.
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.
A penny is a coin or a unit of currency in various countries. Borrowed from the Carolingian denarius, it is usually the smallest denomination within a currency system. Presently, it is the formal name of the British penny (abbr. p) and the informal name of the American one-cent coin (abbr. ¢) as well as the informal Irish designation of the 1 cent euro coin (abbr. c). It is the informal name of the cent unit of account in Canada, although one-cent coins are no longer minted there. The name is also used in reference to various historical currencies also derived from the Carolingian system, such as the French denier and the German pfennig. It may also be informally used to refer to any similar smallest-denomination coin, such as the euro cent or Chinese fen.
Troy weight is a system of units of mass that originated in 15th-century England, and is primarily used in the precious metals industry. The Troy weights are the grain, the pennyweight, the troy ounce, and the troy pound. The troy grain is equal to the grain-unit of the avoirdupois system, the troy ounce is heavier than the avoirdupois ounce, yet the troy pound is lighter than the avoirdupois pound.
The British quarter farthing coin was a unit of currency equalling one sixteenth of a pre-decimal penny. It was produced for circulation in Ceylon in various years between 1839 and 1853, with proof coins being produced in 1868. It is the smallest denomination of pound sterling coin ever minted. The coin is considered to be part of British coinage because it has no indication of what country it was minted for, being made in the same style as the contemporary half-farthing which was legal tender in Britain between 1842 and 1869.
This is the history of the English penny from the years 1154 to 1485.
The History of the English penny from 1485 to 1603 covers the period of the Tudor dynasty.
The British penny, a large, pre-decimal coin which continued the series of pennies which began in about the year 700, was struck intermittently during the 20th century until its withdrawal from circulation after 1970. From 1901 to 1970, the obverse of the bronze coin depicted the monarch who was reigning at the start of the year. The reverse, which featured an image of Britannia seated with shield, trident, and helm, was created by Leonard Charles Wyon based on an earlier design by his father, William Wyon. The coins were also used in British colonies and dominions that had not issued their own coins.
The British pre-decimal halfpenny coin, usually simply known as a ha'penny, historically occasionally also as the obol and once abbreviated ‘ob’ , was a unit of currency that equalled half of a penny or 1/480 of a pound 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.
The 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.
Decimal Day in the United Kingdom and in Ireland was 15 February 1971, 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 pound was a unit of account in Anglo-Saxon England, equal to 240 silver pennies and equivalent to one pound weight of silver. According to the Daily Telegraph it came into use around 775. It evolved into the modern British currency, the pound sterling.
The pound Scots was the unit of currency in the Kingdom of Scotland before the kingdom unified with the Kingdom of England in 1707. It was introduced by David I, in the 12th century, on the model of English and French money, divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence. The Scottish currency was later debased relative to sterling and, by the time of James III, the pound sterling was valued at four pounds Scots.
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.
From c. 1124 until 1709 the coinage of Scotland was unique, and minted locally. A wide variety of coins, such as the plack, bodle, bawbee, dollar and ryal were produced over that time. For trading purposes coins of Northumbria and various other places had been used before that time; and since 1709 those of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and then of the UK.
Irish coins have been issued by a variety of local and national authorities, the ancient provincial Kings and High Kings of Ireland, the Kingdom of Ireland (1541–1801), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801–1922), the Irish Free State (1922–1937), and the present Republic of Ireland. Some modern British coins have Northern Ireland symbols but these are circulated throughout the UK.
The shilling (1/-) was a coin worth one twentieth of a pound sterling, or twelve pence. 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, circulating 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, which 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 pre-decimal penny (1d) was a coin worth 1/240 of a pound sterling, or one twelfth of a shilling. 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 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.
A farthing was a coin of the Kingdom of England worth one quarter of a penny, 1⁄960 of a pound sterling. Such coins were first minted in England in silver in the 13th century, and continued to be used until the Kingdom of England was merged into the new Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.