Penny (England)

From Marteau


Sixpence, William III, 1696 – with B (Bristol mint mark) struck over E (Exeter)


The coin which used to define the English linkpound (240 pence made one pound sterling, defining thus the value of the currency unit), a function the penny lost with the decisions of 1698, 1717 and 1821, which fixed pound sterling successfully against the linkguinea gold coin, and which ultimately turned the the silver based pound sterling into a gold based currency. The value of the Penny fell gradually. The coin was minted of sterling silver (containing 92.5% Silver, 7.5% copper), the pennyweight (dwt) originally of 24 grains (each of 0.0648 g):

year weight in grains weight in g Remark
8th century to c. 991 24 1.5552 traditional weight
c. 991 to c. 1275 22.5 1.458 traditional weight
c. 1275 22 1.4256
1343 20.3 1.31544
1345 20.15 1.30572
1346 20 1.296
1351 18 1.1664
1412 15 0.972
1464 12 0.7776
1526 10.7 0.69336
1544 10 0.648
1552 8 0.5184 11 oz 1 dwt fineness
1560 8 0.5184 sterling fineness
1601 7.8 0.50544
1816 7.27 0.471096

Source: Feavearyear, Appendix 3-2, p. 439

Pennies were issued in multiples and fractions:

The twopence coin, originally called half groat, was introduced in 1351 under Edward III, the last hammered issues were produced in 1662, milled twopence coins began to apear in 1668.

Threepence were first issued bey Edward VI (1547-1553), first milled coins appeared under Elizabeth I. No threepence were produced by James I while under Charles I threepence were only in considerable quantities but only at provincial mints. The last hammered threepence was produced by Charles II in 1660-1662; the milled threepence series started in 1670.

The fourpence coin, originally called Groat, goes back to Edward I (1272-1307). The last hammered groat was issued in 1662, the first milled fourpence coins appeared with the new Threepence in 1670.

The sixpence coin dates back to Edward VI (1547-1553). The first milled sixpences were produced from 1561 to 1571 under Elizabeth I. Hammered versions appeared at the same time and later. Large quantities of sixpence were produced by Charles I, the last hammered version appeared under Charles II in 1660-1662. Milled sixpences were produced in 1658 by Cromwell. The regal series of milled sixpence started in 1674.

Halfpence seem to have been produced under Henry I (1100-1135) and Henry III (1216-1272), the continuous production started under Edward I (1272-1307). The last hammered halfpence were produced during the Commonwealth. Charles II discontinued the very small silver hammered halfpence series in favour of a new larger copper coin first issued in 1672.

See Money (Great Britain).

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