50 years of The Royal Mint at Llantrisant… The move to decimalisation

Standing strong for over 1,100 years throughout Britain’s wars, political upheavals, social and economic progress and technological and scientific advances, The Royal Mint’s history can be traced back through our country’s coinage.

But it was on the 17th of December 50 years ago that The Queen herself opened the new site for The Royal Mint, which was moved to a purpose-built site in Llantrisant following 157 years at Tower Hill, London.

This was the first time since its inception that The Royal Mint had been based outside of London, and marked an incredibly important moment in the history of our coins.

 

The Queen opening the new Royal Mint in Wales. Credit: royalmintmuseum.org.uk

 

The move to Llantrisant

In 1966 it was announced that Britain would adopt a new decimal currency. This meant that hundreds of millions of new coins would need striking and Tower Hill simply didn’t have enough space to cope with this demand and so the decision was made to find a new location for The Royal Mint.

Llantrisant made it onto the shortlist of the top 7 locations, and as James Callaghan (Chancellor of the Exchequer, Master of the Mint and an MP for Cardiff) supported a move to Wales, Llantrisant was chosen for the big move.

 

Staff from Tower Hill visiting the new Royal Mint site in Llantrisant. Credit: royalmintmuseum.org.uk

 

Britain’s new Mint

The announcement was made in 1967 and construction soon began on the new site. For the Llantrisant area, the move meant more work and a regeneration of the town, as well as adding to the sense of history and tradition. It was estimated that the move would provide 10,000 jobs to South Wales.

It was in 1968 that the site was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen when she switched on the coining presses to begin production of decimal bronze coins.

Llantrisant was built to house the most advanced coining machinery in the world and have a larger capacity than any other mint in Europe, necessary to cope with the amount of new coinage needed.

When the site opened, the circulating coin presses could strike up to 200 coins per minute, however the latest generation of presses today strike around 750 coins per minute!

Decimalisation of Britain’s coins

The 15th of February 1971 is known as the day that Britain “went decimal”. 

Whilst this was the official ‘Decimal Day’, three years before this, the new 5p and 10p coins were actually introduced. These coins were the same size and value as the existing one and two shilling coins to make the transition easier for the British public.

It was in 1969 that the first seven sided coin – the 50p – was introduced to replace the 10-shilling note as a more economical alternative and then finally, on Monday 15 February 1971, the transition was complete when the half penny, 1p and 2p coins were also introduced.

The new Mint at Llantrisant successfully transformed hundreds of years of everyday currency from 12 pennies to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound, to the new pound made from 100 new pence.

 

Royal Mint coin production plant. Credit: dailymail.co.uk

 

Today the Royal Mint is the market leader and the largest single supplier of plated coins and blanks in Europe. They can produce 90 million coins and blanks a week – that’s almost 5 billion coins a year!

And all this has been made possible thanks to the advanced facilities at Llantrisant, as pictured above, without which the move to decimal coinage simply wouldn’t have been possible.

 


 

Own this Historic Royal Mint anniversary DateStamp™

 

 

To mark the move of The Royal Mint to Llandistrant, you have the opportunity to own the Royal Mint in Wales 50th Anniversary DateStampTM.

Featuring the 2016 Wales £20 coin with the iconic Welsh dragon design, and postmarked 17th December 2018, exactly 50 years since The Royal Mint moved to Wales.

Click here to secure yours >>

Confirmed: Brexit 50p will be issued in 2019

*** UPDATE 12/08/2019 ***

The Chancellor Sajid Javid has asked officials if it will be possible to produce Brexit 50p coins in time for Britain’s departure from the EU in October 2019.

Previously, Chancellor Philip Hammond planned for just 10,000 commemorative Brexit coins to be struck for the event, however Javid intends millions of Brexit 50ps to be produced for circulation.

As mentioned in the blog below, the coin will have the words, “Peace, Prosperity and Friendship with all nations” and feature the date of Brexit – now 31st October 2019.

But with only a few months to go, will the coins be signed off by the Queen’s privy council and struck by The Royal Mint in time for Brexit?

Click here to sign up for the latest Brexit 50p updates.


It’s official! A Brexit 50p WILL be issued by The Royal Mint to mark the UK’s exit from the EU!

Within his budget, the Chancellor unveiled his advanced plans for the 50p coin, which will be released in Spring 2019.

As such a controversial issue, which has created much disruption across the UK and the EU since the referendum in June 2016, Philip Hammond hopes that this new coin, which is expected to bear the phrase ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’, will promote the positivity of the event.

Brexit 50p announced. Credit @HRTreasury

In our previous blog, we asked Change Checkers if they would like to see a Brexit coin and 68% of you believed that such a significant moment in Britain’s history should be commemorated with a 50p coin. The Government has now finally conceded to create a gesture for this landmark moment and recognise its importance, although Treasury sources say the department has secretly been working on plans for the coin for months now.

The importance of Brexit can now be likened to Britain’s entry to the European Economic Community, which was then incorporated into the EU in 1993. A 50p coin was issued in 1973 to mark the occasion, featuring nine hands clasping each other in a circle, symbolising the nine member states of the community, intended to represent the trust, assistance and friendship which comes with EEC membership. So important was this event, that in 1998 the first “new sized” commemorative 50p was issued to commemorate 25 years of the UK in the EEC.

89,775,000 of the 1973 50p coins were struck for collectors but is no longer in circulation, whilst the 1998 coin has a mintage figure of 5,043,000 and can still be found in circulation.

1973 and 1998 EEC 50p coins

It seems that the idea of commemorating Brexit in some way is popular amongst collectors, as commemorative 50p shaped Brexit souvenirs are now available on eBay and are currently selling for £6.99. These are not legal tender, but go to show that a Brexit 50p coin is certainly in demand and could be incredibly sought-after.

Brexit commemorative medal. Credit: eBay

An order has now been issued by Mr Hammond to The Royal Mint advisory committee to draw up a designs for the Brexit 50p coin, which should be signed off later this year. Just as the EEC 50p from 1973 intended to promote the development of new relationships, so too will the Brexit 50p, but what do you think about the plans for the new coin?

We posted a poll on our Facebook page to find out what Change Checkers think and 66% of you think we should have a Brexit coin, compared to just 34% voted against the coin and the majority opinion seems to be that we had a coin for entering the EU, so we should also have one for leaving.


Sign up to receive updates about the 2019 Brexit 50p coin:

Brexit 50p sign up

* indicates required

50 years since the most important moment in British numismatic history…

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of arguably the most important moment in British numismatic history – the first coins issued for decimalisation.

In 1968, the British public would have found 5p and 10p coins in their change for the very first time, issued as part of Britain’s conversion to a system of decimal currency.

1968 5p and 10p coins

The coins bore new heraldic designs, but were exactly the same size and value as shillings and florins, which meant the changeover process should have been a smooth transition. However, after generations of pounds, shillings and pence, the Decimal Currency Board still needed to reassure suspicious Britons to go decimal – a case which had actually been argued as long ago as 1696 by Sir Christopher Wren.

Advert from the Decimal Currency Board. Credit: Daily Mail

It was the 1960 report by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce and the British Association for the Advancement of Science which finally set into action a currency based upon simple multiples, a system already adopted by a number of Commonwealth countries including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

A massive number of coins were required for the changeover, forcing The Royal Mint to move location from Tower Hill to its new production facility in Llantrisant, South Wales, where the first of almost six billion coins required for decimalisation went into production.

The Royal Mint at Tower Hill, London. Credit: The Royal Mint museum

It was then on the 23rd April 1968 that the new 5p and 10p coins went into circulation, operating as legal tender up to the sum of £5, with mintage figures of 98,868,250 and 336,143,250 respectively.

The humble 5p featured the Christopher Ironside reverse design until 2008 and has since featured Matthew Dent’s reverse design, following a public competition held by The Royal Mint. On the 27th June 1990, a reduced size version of the coin was introduced and the older, larger coins were withdrawn on the 31st December 1990, although the design remained unchanged.

Similarly, the 10p coin also featured Christopher Ironside’s reverse design up until 2008 when this was replaced by Matthew Dent’s. However, the 10p remained a larger coin until the 30th September 1992, when the reduced size version was introduced, with the larger coin being removed from circulation a year later.

As we seem to move ever closer towards a cashless society, the questions lingers as to how long these decimalised coins will remain a necessity… However, this year’s release of 26 brand new A-Z of Great Britain 10p coin designs just goes to show that the demand for the smaller denomination coins is still there. In fact, these little coins have become incredibly sought-after and have dominated news stories and conversations amongst collectors, with everyone wanting to get their hands on the elusive coins!

Although the nation seemed reluctant to accept these decimal coins back in 1968, I think it’s fair to say that they have now become a much loved part of British coinage and as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first decimalised coins, we can look back with fondness for the 5p and 10p coins.


Own the very first coins issued for decimalisation!

The First Decimalised Coins include the original 5p and 10p coins from their first year of issue, 1968.

Order yours today to mark the 50th anniversary of the introduction of these significant coins  >>