Quarter guinea

Last updated
Quarter guinea
United Kingdom
5s 3d
Mass2.10 g
Diameter16.00 mm
Composition22 Carat Gold
Years of minting1762
George III quarter-guinea dated 1762 (FindID 658198).jpg
DesignPortrait of George III
Designer Richard Yeo
George III quarter-guinea dated 1762 (FindID 658198-499153).jpg
Designer Royal Arms of Great Britain in a shield

The Quarter guinea was a British coin minted only in the years 1718 and 1762. As the name implies, it was valued at one-fourth of a guinea, which at that time was worth twenty-one shillings (£1.05). The quarter guinea therefore was valued at five shillings and threepence in sterling specie.

At the beginning of the reign of King George I (17141727) the price of silver had risen considerably, resulting in much British silver coinage being melted down and few silver coins' being struck. Isaac Newton, the Master of the Mint, wrote a minute dated 21 September 1717 in which he blamed the rising price of silver on the overvaluation of the guinea at twenty-one shillings and sixpence. Newton's memo resulted in a Proclamation of 20 December reducing the value of the guinea to twenty-one shillings. In 1718 it was decided to strike a new gold coin equal to a quarter guinea to provide useful coin worth approximately the same as the five-shilling silver crown.

The new coin had to be proportionate in size to the other gold denominations, and this resulted in a coin which weighed 2.1 grams and was 16 millimetres in diameter. It had not been realised at the time that a coin of this size was impracticably small to use, and would prove unpopular. 37,380 coins were minted, but many of them were put aside as keepsakes and many of the rest were lost. The coin was discontinued after 1718, and for the next few years there was an increased output of guineas and half guineas.

Despite its minuscule size, the coin took the form of a scaled-down version of the guinea and half guinea, including all the intricate cruciform shields on the reverse and all the king's Hanoverian titles. The coin is a fine example of the mint's work, although a magnifying glass is needed to properly appreciate it. The obverse shows a right-facing portrait of the king with the legend GEORGIVS D G M BR FR ET HIB REX F D, abbreviation for Georgius, Dei Gratia Magna Britannia, Francia, et Hibernia Rex, Fidei Defensor, which is Latin for "George, by the Grace of God King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith". The reverse shows four crowned cruciform shields separated by sceptres, with a central Star of the Order of the Garter, and the legend BRVN ET L DVX S R I A TH ET PR EL 1718Brunswick et Luneburg Dux, Sacrum Romanum Imperatoria Arch-Tresorum et Princeps-Elector, Latin for "Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg, Arch-Treasurer and Prince Elector of the Holy Roman Empire". The dies for all quarter-guineas of King George I were engraved by John Croker, who was originally from Dresden. [1]

When George III came to the throne in 1760, the price of silver had again risen dramatically. Despite the unpopularity of the 1718 quarter guinea it was considered necessary to produce this coin again, to the same size and weight as before, to fill the gap between the low-denomination silver coins and the larger gold coins. Unfortunately it met the same fate as its predecessor and was only produced in 1762. The obverse shows a right-facing portrait of the king with the legend GEORGIVS III DEI GRATIA, while the reverse shows a large crowned shield bearing the arms of England and Scotland, France, Ireland, and Hanover, and the legend M B F ET H REX F D B ET L D S R I A T ET E 1762 abbreviation for Magna Britannia, Francia, et Hibernia Rex, Fidei Defensor, Brunswick et Luneburg Dux, Sacrum Romanum Imperatoria Arch-Tresorum et Elector - Latin for "King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland; Defender of the Faith, Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg, [and] Arch-Treasurer and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire".

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.

Third farthing Former piece of sterling coinage

The British third farthing was a denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/2880 of a pound, 1/144 of a shilling, or 1/12 of a penny. 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.

History of the British penny (1901–1970) History of the pre-decimal British penny during the 20th century

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.

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

The British florin, or two-shilling piece was a coin 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.

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 denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/480 of one pound, 1/24 of one shilling, or 1/2 of one penny. 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.

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

The British threepence piece, usually simply known as a threepence, thruppence, or thruppenny bit, was a denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/80 of one pound or 1/4 of one shilling. 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.

The Five Guinea was a machine-struck gold coin produced from 1668–1753. Measuring 37 millimetres in diameter and weighing between 41 and 42 grams, it was the largest regularly produced gold coin in Britain. Although the coin is commonly known as the "Five guinea" piece, during the 17th and 18th centuries it was also known as a Five-pound piece, as the guinea was originally worth twenty shillings — until its value was fixed at twenty-one shillings by a Royal Proclamation in 1717 the value fluctuated rather in the way that bullion coins do today.

The five pound gold coin is a British coin with a nominal value of five pounds sterling, 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.

Two guineas (British coin)

The two guinea piece was a gold coin first minted in England in 1664 with a face value of forty shillings. The source of the gold used, also provided the coin its name - the "guinea", with the regular addition of an elephant or castle symbol on the earliest issues to denote bullion supplied by the Royal African Company. For most of its period of production, the coin weighed between 16.7 and 16.8 grams and was 31-32 millimetres in diameter, although the earliest coins of Charles II were about 0.1 grams lighter and 1 millimetre smaller.

Guinea (coin) British gold coin minted between 1663 and 1814

The guinea was a coin, minted in Great Britain between 1663 and 1814, that contained approximately one-quarter of an ounce of gold. The name came from the Guinea region in West Africa, from where much of the gold used to make the coins was sourced. It was the first English machine-struck gold coin, originally representing a value of 20 shillings in sterling specie, equal to one pound, but rises in the price of gold relative to silver caused the value of the guinea to increase, at times to as high as thirty shillings. From 1717 to 1816, its value was officially fixed at twenty-one shillings.

Third guinea (British coin)

The seven shilling piece was introduced in Great Britain by a proclamation of 29 November 1797. It has been called a third guinea, a guinea being worth 21 shillings in sterling specie. The gold coin was minted only in the reign of George III.

The half guinea gold coin of the Kingdom of England and later of Great Britain was first produced in 1669, some years after the Guinea entered circulation. It was officially eliminated in the Great Recoinage of 1816, although, like the guinea, it was used in quoting prices until decimalisation.

Unite (English coin)

The unite was the second English gold coin first produced during the reign of King James I. It was named after the legends on the coin indicating the king's intention of uniting his two kingdoms of England and Scotland. The unite was valued at twenty shillings until 1612 when the increase in the value of gold throughout Europe caused it to be raised to twenty-two shillings. The coin was produced during James I's second coinage (1604–1619), and it was replaced in the third coinage by the Laurel worth twenty shillings. All the coins were produced at the Tower Mint in London.

Half sovereign British gold coin

The half sovereign is a British gold coin with a nominal value of half of one pound sterling. It is half the weight of its counterpart 'full' sovereign coin.

Great Seal of the Realm National seal of the Realm

The Great Seal of the Realm or Great Seal of the United Kingdom is a seal that is used to symbolise the Sovereign's approval of state documents.

Dei Gratia Regina is a Latin title meaning By the Grace of God, Queen. The male equivalent is Dei Gratia Rex meaning By the Grace of God, King.

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.

History of the halfpenny

The British halfpenny coin was worth 1/480th of a pound sterling. At first in its 700-year history it was made from silver, but as the value of silver increased the coin was made from base metals. It was finally abandoned in 1969 as part of the process of decimalising the British currency. "Halfpenny", colloquially written ha'penny, was pronounced HAY-pə-nee; "1 ½d" was spoken as a penny ha'penny or three ha'pence.

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.


  1. Warwick William Wroth, 'Croker, John (1670-1741)' in Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, vol. 13