Posts Tagged ‘decimalisation’

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 50 years ago today 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.

 

queen opens royal mint - 50 years of The Royal Mint at Llantrisant... The move to decimalisation

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

 

In 1966 it was announced that Britain would adopt a new decimal currency, which meant that hundreds of millions of new coins would need striking. 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.

 

rm opening group resized - 50 years of The Royal Mint at Llantrisant... The move to decimalisation

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

 

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!

 

royal mint coin production plant - 50 years of The Royal Mint at Llantrisant... The move to decimalisation

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™

 

date stamp - 50 years of The Royal Mint at Llantrisant... The move to decimalisation

 

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 >>

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

This year 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.

 

Picture1 4 - 50 years since the most important moment in British numismatic history...

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.

 

article 1351563 0038A46B00000258 173 233x481 - 50 years since the most important moment in British numismatic history...

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.

 

TowerHillov - 50 years since the most important moment in British numismatic history...

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.

 

Picture1 5 1024x350 - 50 years since the most important moment in British numismatic history...

 

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!

 

ImageGen 1024x348 - 50 years since the most important moment in British numismatic history...

 

 

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  >>