New pennies, old memories


We’ve started giving Owen (aged 4) coins as pocket money every day. Our aim is to get him used to handing money and counting.

The other day, I noticed that one of the pennies we gave him was marked ‘New Penny’. That got me thinking. Since 1982, pennies have been marked ‘One Penny’. Owen’s coin was dated 1974.

So far, so unremarkable. Same coin (in essence), same monarch.

Yet it got me thinking of my own childhood. Growing up with ‘old money’, I was used to the old shillings, florins and sixpences – and my favourite, the thruppeny bit. (I was too young to see a farthing, worth a quarter of an old penny, which disappeared in 1960.) You’d find coins bearing the image of long-dead kings: George VI, George V. (And presumably Queen Victoria if you were lucky?)

Even after we went decimal in 1971, the old shillings and florins survived until the 1990s, as they were the same size and weight as the replacement 5p and 10p coins. (Even the sixpence endured until 1980, and was a favourite Christmas pudding surprise.)

Back to Owen’s coin. That 39 year old coin. When I was his age, the equivalent would have been a 1928 King George V coin, from the year my mother was born.

A few pieces of trivia. In 2013, it is:

  • 30 years since the pound coin was introduced.
  • 25 years since the end of the pound note.
  • 20 years since our last pre-decimal coin, the 2/- piece or florin, was withdrawn.

The most recently produced pre-decimal coins were dated 1967. But if you find a 1967 coin, don’t assume it dates from that year. Apparently the Wilson government decided not to date ‘old money’ coins after 1967 in case people hoarded the coins as a souvenir. So any produced between 1967 and decimalisation in 1971 were dated 1967.

2 thoughts on “New pennies, old memories

    • I know what you mean, Dave. My wife, born 1967, has no memories of ‘old money’, unlike me. The 3 yrs 6 month gap makes all the difference! Similarly, at work in 1987 a colleague asked me what I meant when I said tuppence. Yet she must have been barely three years younger than me!

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