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Coins::british    Small::style    Pence::royal    Pound::kingdom    United::england    DCDCDC::coinage

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File:British coinage reverse designs 2015.png
The Royal Shield reverse designs, introduced in 2008 (£2 coin uses original design).
File:British money coins.jpg
Examples of the standard reverse designs minted until 2008 (£2 coin is not shown)

The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom is denominated in pounds sterling (symbol "£"), and, since the introduction of the two-pound coin in 1994 (to celebrate the 300th Anniversary of the Bank of England 1694-1994), ranges in value from one penny to two pounds. Since decimalisation, on 15 February 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 (new) pence. From the 16th century until decimalisation, the pound was divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 (old) pence. British coins are minted by the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales. The Royal Mint also commissions the coins' designs.

As of 30 March 2010, there were an estimated 28 billion coins circulating in the United Kingdom.<ref>Mintage Figures, Royal Mint</ref>

The first decimal coins were circulated in 1968. These were the five pence (5p) and ten pence (10p), and had values of one shilling (1/-) and two shillings (2/-), respectively, under the pre-decimal £sd system. The decimal coins are minted in copper-plated steel (previously bronze), nickel-plated steel, cupro-nickel and nickel-brass. The two-pound coin is bimetallic. The coins are discs, except for the twenty pence and fifty-pence pieces, both of which have faces that are heptagonal curves of constant width. All the circulating coins have an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, and various national and regional designs, and the denomination, on the reverse. The circulating coins, excepting the two-pound coin, were redesigned in 2008, keeping the sizes and compositions unchanged, but introducing reverse designs that each depict a part of the Royal Shield of Arms and form (most of) the whole shield when they are placed together in the appropriate arrangement (see photo). The exception, the 2008 one-pound coin, depicts the entire shield of arms on the reverse. All current coins carry a Latin inscription whose full form is ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FIDEI DEFENSOR, meaning "Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen and Defender of the Faith".

In addition to the circulating coinage, the UK also mints commemorative decimal coins (crowns) in the denomination of five pounds (previously 25p, i.e. five shillings).<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Ceremonial Maundy money and bullion coinage of gold sovereigns, half sovereigns, and gold and silver Britannia coins are also produced. Some territories outside the United Kingdom, that use the pound sterling, produce their own coinage, with the same denominations and specifications as the UK coinage but local designs.

In the years just prior to decimalisation, the circulating British coins were the half crown (2/6), two shillings or florin (2/-), shilling (1/-), sixpence (6d), threepence (3d), penny (1d) and halfpenny (12d). The farthing (14d) had been withdrawn in 1960. There was also the Crown (5/-), which was (and still is) legal tender but only minted on special occasions and not normally circulated.

All modern coins feature a profile of the current monarch's head. The direction in which they face changes with each successive monarch, a pattern that began with the Stuarts. For the Tudors and pre-Restoration Stuarts, both left and right-facing portrait images were minted within the reign of a single monarch. In the Middle Ages, portrait images tended to be full face.

From a very early date, British coins have been inscribed with the name of the ruler of the kingdom in which they were produced, and a longer or shorter title, always in Latin; among the earliest distinctive English coins are the silver pennies of Offa of Mercia, which were inscribed with the legend OFFA REX, "King Offa". The English silver penny was derived from another silver coin, the sceat, of 20 troy grains weight, which was in general circulation in Europe during the Middle Ages. In the 12th century, Henry II established the sterling silver standard for English coinage, of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, replacing the earlier use of fine silver in the Middle Ages. The coinage reform of 1816 set up a weight/value ratio and physical sizes for silver coins. Silver was eliminated from coins, except Maundy coins, in 1947.


Coins of the pound sterling sections
Intro  History  Currently circulating coinage  Non-circulating coins  Pre-decimal coinage  Minting errors reaching circulation  Titles  Mottos  See also  References  External links  

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