Farthing (British coin)

The British farthing (​14d) coin, from "fourthing", was a unit of currency of one quarter of a penny, or ​1960 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 in 1960. 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.[1]

Before Decimal Day in 1971, there were 240 pence in one pound sterling. There were four farthings in a penny, 12 pence made a shilling, and 20 shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g., three shillings and six pence (3/6), pronounced "three and six" or "three and sixpence". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in pence, e.g., 8d, pronounced "eightpence". A price with a farthing in it would be written like this: (19/​11 14), pronounced "nineteen and elevenpence farthing".

The purchasing power of a farthing from 1860 to its demise in 1960 ranged between 2p to 12p (in 2017 GB Pound values).[2]

One farthing
United Kingdom
Value 1960 pound sterling
Mass2.83 g
Diameter20.19 mm
EdgePlain
CompositionBronze
Years of minting1860–1956
Obverse
Britfarthing1954obv
DesignElizabeth II
DesignerMary Gillick
Design date1953
Reverse
British farthing 1951 reverse
DesignWren (Britannia on earlier mintages)
DesignerHarold Wilson Parker
Design date1937
1919farthingrev
Old-style reverse used 1895 to 1936 featuring Britannia

Design

The original reverse of the coin, designed by Leonard Charles Wyon, is a seated Britannia, holding a trident, with the word FARTHING above. Issues before 1895 also feature a lighthouse to Britannia's left and a ship to her right. Various minor adjustments to the level of the sea depicted around Britannia, and the angle of her trident were also made over the years. Some issues feature toothed edges, while others feature beading.

Over the years, seven different obverses were used. Edward VII, George V, George VI and Elizabeth II each had a single obverse for farthings produced during their respective reigns. Over the long reign of Queen Victoria two different obverses were used, and the short reign of Edward VIII meant that no farthings bearing his likeness were ever issued.

The farthing was first issued with the so-called "bun head", or "draped bust" of Queen Victoria on the obverse. The inscription around the bust read VICTORIA D G BRITT REG F D (abbreviated Latin: Victoria by the grace of God queen of Britain defender of the faith). This was replaced in 1895 by the "old head", or "veiled bust". The inscription on these coins read VICTORIA DEI GRA BRITT REGINA FID DEF IND IMP (Victoria by the grace of God queen of Britain defender of the faith empress of India).

Coins issued during the reign of Edward VII feature his likeness and bear the inscription EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX FID DEF IND IMP (Edward VII by the grace of God king of all Britain defender of the faith emperor of India). Similarly, those issued during the reign of George V feature his likeness and bear the inscription GEORGIVS V DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX FID DEF IND IMP (George V by the grace of God king of all Britain defender of the faith emperor of India).

A farthing of King Edward VIII (1936) does exist, dated 1937, but technically it is a pattern coin, i.e. one produced for official approval, which it would probably have been due to receive about the time that the King abdicated. The obverse shows a left-facing portrait of the king (who considered this to be his best side, and consequently broke the tradition of alternating the direction in which the monarch faces on coins — some viewed this as indicating bad luck for the reign); the inscription on the obverse is EDWARDVS VIII D G BR OMN REX F D IND IMP (Edward VIII by the grace of God king of all Britain defender of the faith emperor of India).

The pattern coin of Edward VIII and regular-issue farthings of George VI and Elizabeth II feature a redesigned reverse displaying the wren, one of Britain's smallest birds.

George VI issue coins feature the inscription GEORGIVS VI D G BR OMN REX F D IND IMP (George VI by the grace of God king of all Britain defender of the faith emperor of India) before 1949, and GEORGIVS VI D G BR OMN REX FIDEI DEF (George VI by the grace of God king of all Britain defender of the faith) thereafter. Unlike the penny, farthings were minted throughout the early reign of Elizabeth II, bearing the inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA BRITT OMN REGINA F D (Elizabeth II by the grace of God queen of all Britain defender of the faith) in 1953, and ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F D (Elizabeth II by the grace of God queen defender of the faith) thereafter.

Obverse designs

Victoria farthing

Victoria (old)

Victorianewfarthingobv

Victoria (new)

EdwardvIIfarthingobv

Edward VII

1919farthingobv

George V

1944farthingobv

George VI

Britfarthing1954obv

Elizabeth II

Mintages

Victoria (Veiled bust)
  • 1895 ~ 2,852,852 (inc bun head bust)
  • 1896 ~ 3,668,610
  • 1897 ~ 4,579,800
  • 1898 ~ 4,010,080
  • 1899 ~ 3,864,616
  • 1900 ~ 5,969,317
  • 1901 ~ 8,016,460
Edward VII
  • 1902 ~ 5,125,120
  • 1903 ~ 5,331,200
  • 1904 ~ 3,628,800
  • 1905 ~ 4,076,800
  • 1906 ~ 5,340,160
  • 1907 ~ 4,399,360
  • 1908 ~ 4,264,960
  • 1909 ~ 8,852,480
  • 1910 ~ 2,298,400
George V
  • 1911 ~ 5,196,800
  • 1912 ~ 7,669,760
  • 1913 ~ 4,184,320
  • 1914 ~ 6,126,988
  • 1915 ~ 7,129,255
  • 1916 ~ 10,993,325
  • 1917 ~ 21,434,844
  • 1918 ~ 19,362,818
  • 1919 ~ 15,089,425
  • 1920 ~ 11,480,536
  • 1921 ~ 9,469,097
  • 1922 ~ 9,956,983
  • 1923 ~ 8,034,457
  • 1924 ~ 8,733,414
  • 1925 ~ 12,634,697
  • 1926 ~ 9,792,397
  • 1927 ~ 7,868,355
  • 1928 ~ 11,625,600
  • 1929 ~ 8,419,200
  • 1930 ~ 4,195,200
  • 1931 ~ 6,595,200
  • 1932 ~ 9,292,800
  • 1933 ~ 4,560,000
  • 1934 ~ 3,052,800
  • 1935 ~ 2,227,200
  • 1936 ~ 9,734,400
George VI
  • 1937 ~ 8,131,200
  • 1938 ~ 7,449,600
  • 1939 ~ 31,440,000
  • 1940 ~ 18,360,000
  • 1941 ~ 27,312,000
  • 1942 ~ 28,857,600
  • 1943 ~ 33,345,600
  • 1944 ~ 25,137,600
  • 1945 ~ 23,736,000
  • 1946 ~ 24,364,800
  • 1947 ~ 14,745,600
  • 1948 ~ 16,622,400
  • 1949 ~ 8,424,000
  • 1950 ~ 10,324,800
  • 1950 Proof ~ 17,513
  • 1951 ~ 14,016,000
  • 1951 Proof ~ 20,000
  • 1952 ~ 5,251,200
Elizabeth II
  • 1953 ~ 6,131,037
  • 1954 ~ 6,566,400
  • 1955 ~ 5,779,200
  • 1956 ~ 1,996,800

See also

References

  1. ^ Michael, Thomas and Cuhaj, George S. Collecting World Coins: Circulating Issues 1901 - Present. Krause Publications, 2001.
  2. ^ "Purchasing Power of British Pounds from 1270 to Present". measuringworth.com. Retrieved 2016-07-17.

External links

Farthing (English coin)

A farthing (derived from the Anglo-Saxon feorthing, a fourthling or fourth part) was a coin of the Kingdom of England worth one quarter of a penny, ​1⁄960 of a pound sterling. Such coins were first minted in England in silver in the 13th century, and continued to be used until the Kingdom of England was merged into the new Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.

Early farthings were silver, but surviving examples are rare. The first copper farthings were issued during the reign of King James I, who gave a licence for minting them to John Harington, 1st Baron Harington of Exton. Licences were subsequently given out until after the Commonwealth, when the Royal Mint resumed production in 1672. In the late 17th century the English farthing was also minted in tin.

For later farthings, minted in the 18th century and for use in Scotland as well as in England and Wales, and in the 19th and 20th centuries for use in Great Britain and Ireland, see Farthing (British coin).

Half farthing

The British half farthing ( 1/8d) 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.

Before Decimal Day in 1971 there were two hundred and forty pence in one pound sterling. There were four farthings in a penny. Twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. forty-two pence would be three shillings and six pence (3/6), pronounced "three and six" or "three and sixpence". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d. A price with a farthing in it would be written like this: (19/11 1/4), pronounced "nineteen and elevenpence farthing".

List of historical currencies

This is a list of historical currencies.

Quarter farthing

The British quarter farthing ( 1/16d) coin was a unit of currency equaling one sixteenth of a penny ( 1/3,840 of a pound sterling). It was produced for circulation in Ceylon in various years between 1839 and 1853, with proof coins being produced in 1868. It is the smallest denomination of pound sterling coin ever minted. The coin is considered to be part of British coinage because it has no indication of what country it was minted for, being made in the same style as the contemporary half-farthing which was legal tender in Britain between 1842 and 1869.Before Decimal Day in 1971 there were two hundred and forty pennies to one pound sterling. There were four farthings in a penny. Twelve pennies made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. three shillings and six pence (3/6), pronounced "three and six" or "three and sixpence". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pennies, e.g. eight pennies would be 8d, pronounced "eightpence." A price with a farthing in it would be written in the following way: (19/11 1/4), pronounced "nineteen and elevenpence farthing".

Coins were minted in 1839, 1851, 1852, 1853, and the proof issue of 1868. The 1839–53 coins were made of copper, weighed 1.2 grams (0.039 troy ounces or about 1/24 of an ounce avoirdupois) and had a diameter of 13.5 millimetres (0.53 in). So, £1 worth of quarter farthings weighed 10 avoirdupois pounds (4.5 kg). The 1868 coins were made of bronze or cupro-nickel, but weighed the same and had the same diameter.

The obverse bears the left-facing portrait of Queen Victoria, with the inscription VICTORIA D G BRITANNIAR REGINA F D, while the reverse bears a crown above the words QUARTER FARTHING with a rose with three leaves at the bottom of the coin.

In 2017 values, the quarter farthing would have a purchasing power of between 3p and 4p (£0.03 to £0.04).

Third farthing

The third farthing was a British coin (1/12 of a penny, 1/2880 of a pound) which was produced in various years between 1827 and 1913.

The coin was produced in 1827 exclusively for use in Malta, but it is considered to be part of the British coinage as at that time Malta was considered more as a part of Britain than a colony. The farthing coin was already in circulation in Malta, as a 3 grani coin, and the third farthing was introduced as 1 grano. A proclamation issued in Malta on 3 November 1827 legalised the new coins, referring to them as British Grains. The cost of living in Malta was lower than in Britain, and it was not considered appropriate to introduce them in Britain.

The obverse of the 1827 coin bears the left-facing portrait of King George IV, with the inscription GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA 1827 while the reverse shows a seated Britannia with shield, facing right and holding a trident, with the inscription BRITANNIAR REX FID DEF. There was no indication of its value. The coin was made of copper, weighed 1.5 to 1.6 grams, and had a diameter of 16 millimetres.

In 1835, in the reign of King William IV there was another issue, also of copper, 16 millimetres in diameter, and weighing 1.5 to 1.6 grams. The obverse of this coin bears the right-facing portrait of William IV with the inscription GULIELMUS IIII DEI GRATIA 1835, and the same reverse as before.

Comparatively few coins were needed for Malta in the reign of Queen Victoria, so copper third farthings were only minted in 1844, to the same physical standards as before—the obverse shows a left-facing portrait of Victoria inscribed VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1844 and the reverse shows the seated Britannia with the inscription BRITANNIAR REG FID DEF.

By the time a further mintage of the denomination was needed, in 1866, the coins were made of bronze, and were only 15 millimetres in diameter, weighing between 0.9 and 1.0 gram. The inscription around the Queen's head this time was VICTORIA D G BRITT REG F D, while the design of the reverse contained a crown over the words ONE THIRD FARTHING date within a wreath. The issue was repeated in 1868, 1876, 1878, 1881, 1884, and 1885.

At the start of the reign of King Edward VII, in 1902 a further £100 worth of the denomination (i.e. 288,000 coins) was produced, to the same standards and reverse design as before. The obverse shown the right-facing head of King Edward VII and the inscription EDWARDVS VII D G BRITT OMN REX F D IND IMP.

In 1913 a final issue of £100 worth of coins was made, bearing the left facing head of King George V with the inscription GEORGIVS V D G BRITT OMN REX F D IND IMP on the obverse, and the same reverse design, size and weight as before.

In 2017 values, the third farthing would have a purchasing power of between 4p and 5p (£0.04 to £0.05).

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