Bank of England Museum (6): History of coins 1800-1899

Posted: June 14, 2016 in History, London, UK


Coins as items of barter currency had first appeared in the UK in the Iron age. The value of a coin was traditionally based on the metal content and this led to the art of ‘crimping’ in which pieces were clipped from the edge of coins, thus theoretically reducing their value.


With the introduction of the gold standard in 1816 it was decided to move away from this and designate the value of a coin against the standard. This enabled variation in the size. weight and composition of coins without affecting their value.


The coins at this time were the  gold sovereign  and half-sovereign; 5  pounds and 2 pounds; the crown and half-crown; the shilling and the penny.


In 1836 the silver groat was introduced worth 4 pennies. The groat had been a medieval demonination. However, it did not prove popular and was withdrawn 20 years later, being replaced by the threepenny coin which began to appear from 1848.


Two further coins were introduced – the florin (10% of a pound) in 1849 and the farthing or quarters-penny in 1860.

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