|Value||6 pence sterling (until 1971)|
2.5 pence sterling (1971–1980)
|Mass||(1816–1970) 2.83 g|
|Composition||(1551–1816) Silver |
(1816–1920) 92.5% Ag
(1920–1946) 50% Ag
|Years of minting||1551–1970|
|Design||Profile of the monarch (Elizabeth II design shown)|
|Design||Various (floral design shown)|
|Designer||Edgar Fuller and Cecil Thomas|
The sixpence (6d; // ), 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.
Prior to Decimal Day in 1971 there were 240 pence in one pound sterling. Twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in shillings and pence, e.g. 42 old pence (17 1⁄2p) would be three shillings and sixpence (3/6), phrased as "three and six". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d ('d' for denarius).
In 2016, new decimal sixpences began being minted by the Royal Mint as commemorative issues to celebrate Christmas; these coins have been produced for each year since, and are minted in sterling silver.
The first sixpences were minted in 1551, during the reign of Edward VI. They came about as a result of the debasement of silver coinage in the 1540s, in particular the silver testoon, which fell in value from 12d to 6d.The debased testoon was likely useful in everyday transactions, and it was decided that new coinage should be introduced with the express denomination of six pence. The testoon decreased in value because, unlike today, the value of coins was determined by the market value of the metal they contained, and during the reign of Henry VIII the purity of silver in coinage had fallen significantly.
Sixpences were minted during the reign of every British monarch after Edward VI, as well as during the Commonwealth, with a vast number of variations and alterations over the years. During the reign of George II a number of issues were designed by John Sigismund Tanner, who became Chief Engraver of the Royal Mint, and it has been suggested that this is the origin of the nickname "tanner", which was a popular name for the coin until decimalisation.An alternative explanation for the nickname is that it comes from the Angloromani word tawno meaning small thing.
The Royal Mint undertook a massive recoinage programme in 1816, with large quantities of gold and silver coin being minted. Previous issues of silver coinage had been irregular, and the previous issue, minted in 1787, had done little to alleviate the chronic shortage of silver coinage in general circulation. 1⁄11 troy ounce, equivalent to 43.636 grains or 2.828 grams.New silver coinage was to be of .925 (sterling) standard, with silver coins to be minted at 66 shillings to the pound weight. Hence, newly minted sixpences weighed
The Royal Mint debased the silver coinage in 1920 from 92.5% silver to 50% silver. Sixpences of both alloys were minted that year. [ self-published source? ] This debasement was done because of the rising price of silver around the world, and followed the global trend of elimination, or reduction in purity, of the silver in coinage. The minting of silver coinage of the pound sterling ceased completely in 1946 for similar reasons, exacerbated by the costs of the Second World War. New "silver" coinage was instead minted in cupronickel, an alloy of copper and nickel containing no silver at all.
Beginning with Lord Wrottesley's proposals in the 1820s, there were various attempts to decimalise the pound sterling over the next century and a half. [ citation needed ] The decision to decimalise was announced in 1966, with the pound to be divided into 100, rather than 240, pence. Decimal Day was set as 15 February 1971, and a whole range of new coins were introduced. Sixpences continued to be legal tender, with a value of 2 1⁄2 new pence, until 30 June 1980.These attempts came to nothing significant until the 1960s, when the need for a currency more suited to simple monetary calculations became pressing.
|Value||6 pence sterling|
|Years of minting||2016–present|
|Design||Profile of the monarch|
|Design||Royal cypher of Elizabeth II with plants and flowers|
In 2016, the Royal Mint began minting legal tender decimal sixpence coins in silver,intended to be bought as Christmas presents. These coins are heavier than the pre-1970 sixpences (3.35 grams instead of 2.83 grams), and have a denomination of six new pence instead of six old pence. The new reverse was designed by John Bergdahl. .
Sixpences issued during the reign of Edward VI feature a three-quarter portrait[ clarification needed ] of the king on the obverse, with a Tudor rose to the left, and the denomination VI to the right. Surrounding the portrait is the inscription EDWARD VI D G AGL FRA Z HIB REX, or similar, meaning "Edward VI, by the Grace of God, King of England, France and Ireland". All sixpences minted under subsequent kings and queens bear a similar inscription on the obverse identifying the monarch (or Lord Protector during the Commonwealth), with the portrait usually alternating from left-facing to right-facing, or vice versa, between monarchs. The reverse features the escutcheon of the Royal Arms of England, surrounded by the inscription POSVI DEVM ADIVTORE MEVM, or a variant, meaning "I have made God my helper".
Starting with Elizabeth, the coins have the year of minting stamped on the reverse. Unusually, the sixpences minted in 1561 and 1562 were milled, i.e. produced by machine rather than by hand, with the press of the Frenchman Eloy Mestrelle, who had been granted authority to mint coins by the queen.Although of higher quality than hammered coins, Mestrelle's sixpences were more expensive to produce, and machine-struck coinage ceased to be minted in 1572. The coins remained in circulation for over a hundred years, but it took until the reign of Charles II for milled coins of the pound sterling to be minted again. Sixpences minted after the Tudor period no longer bear the Tudor rose on the obverse.
Early sixpences of James I feature the alternative reverse inscription EXVRGAT DEVS DISSIPENTVR INIMICI, meaning "Let God arise and His enemies be scattered", becoming QVAE DEVS CONIVNXIT NEMO SEPARET, meaning "What God hath put together let no man put asunder" after 1604. Charles I sixpences follow the usual design, except that coins minted after 1630 do not bear a date, and the reverse inscription reads CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO, meaning "I reign under the auspices of Christ".
During the beginning of Oliver Cromwell's Protectorship there was no portrait minted on the obverse – instead there is a wreathed shield featuring St George's Cross, surrounded by the inscription THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND. The reverse features the combined arms of England and Ireland, surrounded by the inscription GOD WITH VS. In 1656 the minting of milled coinage resumed, this time with the press of the Frenchman Peter Blondeau. The obverse of Cromwell's milled coinage features a portrait in the manner of a Roman emperor, surrounded by an inscription similar to those on the coins of earlier monarchs.
With the exception of a handful of early examples, Charles II sixpences continued to be machine-struck, and continued the usual practice of having a portrait of the monarch on the obverse. The reverse features a new design consisting of four shields arranged in a cross, with the inscription detailing the style of the monarch split across both sides of the coin. With minor changes, such as the device at the centre of the shields, and the designs between the shields, this basic design continued to be minted until the reign of George III.
Those coins minted after the great recoinage of 1816 bear the royal coat of arms on the reverse, surrounded by the Garter, which bears the words HONI SOIT QUY MAL Y PENSE, Middle French for "Evil be to him who evil thinks". George IV sixpences are similar to those of his predecessor, but on some issues the Garter surrounding the shield is replaced by floral emblems representing England, Scotland and Ireland, with the inscription ANNO DATE (e.g. ANNO 1821) below.
William IV sixpences have a simpler reverse, composed of the words SIX PENCE in the middle, with a crown above, the date below, and a wreath surrounding. With the exception of a withdrawn 1887 issue, Victoria and Edward VII sixpences share this reverse. The reverse of the 1887 issue is broadly the same as the post-1816 George III coins. This reverse is shared with the half-sovereign, and since the two are of a similar size, a problem arose with people passing off sixpences as half-sovereigns. The government agreed to remove the coin from circulation in November 1887 and change the reverse.
The reverse of George V sixpences minted prior to 1926 feature an alternative reverse design composed of a crown surmounted by a lion, with those minted after 1926 featuring a design of six oak sprigs divided by six acorns. SIXPENCE below and part of the monarch's style inscribed above. Unusually, the profile of Edward VIII on coins faces the same way as that of his predecessor.Only a handful of Edward VIII sixpences were ever minted, and none of these entered circulation. These feature a reverse that is different again, composed of six interlinked rings, with the inscription
George VI sixpences feature two different reverses, both featuring a crowned Royal Cypher. Those minted prior to 1949 feature a more angular font than those minted later. IND IMP, since the king was no longer Emperor of India. The final change in the design of the sixpence came in 1953 when a new reverse was designed for the sixpences of Elizabeth II. These coins feature a floral design by Edgar Fuller and Cecil Thomas on the reverse, consisting of a rose, thistle, shamrock and leek, representing the four Home Nations.These later coins do not bear the abbreviation
As the supply of silver threepence coins slowly disappeared, Royal Mint sixpences replaced them as the coins traditionally put into Christmas puddings. From the Victorian era onwards, it became tradition to mix a threepence or sixpence into the ingredients when preparing a Christmas pudding, as the coin was believed to grant good luck. Prepared on Stir-up Sunday, the last Sunday before the start of Advent, the coin would be placed into the mixture, then the mixture was stirred by every member of the family. When it came to eating the pudding on Christmas day, whoever found the sixpence in their slice would receive good luck in the year to come.
In Britain, there is a well-known tradition of the bride wearing "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe".A silver sixpence in the bride's shoe is a traditional wedding gesture for good luck; customarily the father of the bride places the sixpence, as a token of him wishing her prosperity, love and happiness in her marriage.
They are also used as a good luck charm by Royal Air Force aircrew who have them sewn behind their wings or brevets, a custom dating back to the Second World War.
In A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act 4, Scene 2), we learn that by his absence (ensorcelled in Titania's bower) Bottom the Weaver will forgo sixpence a day for life from the Duke. In Elizabethan times, six pence was roughly a day's wage for rustic labour in the provinces. With it, one might buy two dinners, six performances of Hamlet among the groundlings at the Globe Theatre, or an unbound copy of the play itself.
In David Copperfield , Charles Dickens describes how its protagonist dealt with a street carman about taking his travel box to a coach office in London: "I told him mine, which was down that street there, and which I wanted him to take to the Dover coach office for sixpence", then he replying: "Done with you for a tanner!"
The sixpence also features in other works of popular culture and literature. It appears in the title of the British writer Somerset Maughan's 1919 novel, The Moon and Sixpence , and appears in both the title and as a plot device in Michael Paraskos's novel In Search of Sixpence.Half a Sixpence is the title of the 1963 West End stage musical, and the subsequent 1967 musical film version, of H. G. Wells's novel Kipps.
"I've Got Sixpence" a traditional song, runs:
The song dates from at least 1810.An elaborated version was published in 1941, words and music by Elton Box & Desmond Cox. the singer tells the tale of spending twopence (per verse) until he has "no-pence to send home to my wife – poor wife."
Some guitarists prefer the rigidity of a coin to the flexibility of a more traditional plastic plectrum; among them are Brian May of Queen and Ian Bairnson of The Alan Parsons Project.May at some time even had sixpence-sized coins featuring his own head struck by the Royal Mint, which he used, gave away, and sold as his signature plectrum.
Sixpence None the Richer (also known as Sixpence) is an American rock/pop band whose name was inspired by a passage from the book Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.
Penguin Books initially sold books in the 1930s through Woolworths and other high street stores for sixpence.
The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom 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.
The noble was the first English gold coin produced in quantity, having been preceded by the gold penny and the florin earlier in the reigns of King Henry III and King Edward III, which saw little circulation. The derivatives of the noble, the half noble and quarter noble, on the other hand, were produced in quantity and were very popular.
The British half farthing coin, usually simply known as a half farthing, was a unit of currency equaling 1/1,920 of a pound sterling, or one eighth of a penny. It was minted in copper for use in Ceylon, but in 1842 they were 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.
The History of the English penny from 1485 to 1603 covers the period of the Tudor dynasty.
The British florin, or two shilling coin, was issued from 1849 until 1967, with a final issue for collectors dated 1970. Valued at 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 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 British farthing coin, from Old English fēorðing, from fēorða, a fourth, was a unit of currency of one quarter of a penny, or 1⁄960 of a pound sterling. It was minted in bronze, and replaced the earlier copper farthings. It was used during the reign of six monarchs: Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II, ceasing to be legal tender from 1 January 1961. It featured two different designs on its reverse during its 100 years in circulation: from 1860 until 1936, the image of Britannia; and from 1937 onwards, the image of a wren. Like all British coinage, it bore the portrait of the monarch on the obverse.
The British threepence (3d) coin, usually simply known as a threepence, thruppence, or thruppenny bit, was a unit of currency equaling one eightieth of a pound sterling, or three old pence sterling. It was used in the United Kingdom, and earlier in Great Britain and England. Similar denominations were later used throughout the British Empire, notably in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
The guinea was a coin of approximately one-quarter ounce of gold that was minted in Great Britain between 1663 and 1814. The name came from the Guinea region in West Africa, where much of the gold used to make the coins originated. It was the first English machine-struck gold coin, originally worth one pound sterling, equal to twenty shillings, 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.
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.
Decimal Day in the United Kingdom and in Ireland was on 15 February 1971, the day on which each country decimalised its respective £sd currency of pounds, shillings, and pence. Before this date, in the United Kingdom, the British pound was made up of 20 shillings, each of which was made up of 12 pence, a total of 240 pence. With the decimalisation, the pound kept its old value and name, and the only changes were in relation to the subunits. The shilling was abolished, and the pound was subdivided into 100 "new pence", each of which was worth 2.4 "old pence". In Ireland, the Irish pound had a similar £sd currency structure and similar changes took place.
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.
There have been three sets of coins in Ireland since independence. In all three, the coin showed a Celtic harp on the obverse. The pre-decimal coins of the Irish pound had realistic animals on the reverse; the decimal coins retained some of these but featured ornamental birds on the lower denominations; and the euro coins used the common design of the euro currencies. The pre-decimal and original decimal coins were of the same dimensions as the same-denomination British coins, as the Irish pound was in currency union with the British pound sterling. British coins were widely accepted in Ireland, and conversely to a lesser extent. In 1979 Ireland joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism and the Irish pound left parity with sterling; coin designs introduced after this differed between the two countries.
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.
The coins of the Fijian pound were part of the physical form of Fiji's historical currency, the Fijian pound.
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. It was made from silver from its introduction in or around 1503 until 1947, and thereafter in cupronickel.
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 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.
The pre-decimal twopence (2d) was a coin worth one one-hundred-and-twentieth of a pound sterling, or two pence. It was a short-lived denomination, only being minted in 1797 by Matthew Boulton's Soho Mint.
Eloy Mestrelle, first name sometimes spelled Eloye, was a French moneyer who was responsible for introducing milled coinage to England.