If you’ve been keeping up with Change Checker, then you’ll have seen we’ve been counting down to the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day, but if you’re new here and aren’t too sure what Decimal Day was all about, we’ve got you covered with our Top 10 Facts that you should know about Decimalisation!
- For centuries before Decimalisation, Britain’s coinage consisted of pounds, shillings, pence, farthings, crowns, half pennies… the list goes on.
- The decimal debate was first raised in 1847 by Sir John Bowring, who proposed a call for the UK’s currency to be changed to a currency based on units of ten.
- The first decimal coin, the florin, was issued before 1971 but it wasn’t until 1st March 1966 that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, James Callaghan, announced that pounds, shillings and pence would be replaced by a decimal currency, with a hundred units in a pound.
- The changeover was a huge task. Businesses and the general public needed all the necessary information prior to the change, in order to make the transition as smooth as possible. There were nationwide public information campaigns in place, from posters to television broadcasts.
- The changeover was so big, that The Royal Mint’s production capabilities at Tower Hill were not up to the sheer volume of coins required to be produced. So, decimalisation literally drove The Royal Mint to South Wales, where it’s been ever since!
- During the preparations for the changeover, almost six billion coins were struck at The Royal Mint’s site in Wales!
- The new 5p and 10p coins were introduced in 1968 and 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!
- On Monday 15th February, 1971, the transition was complete and the, 1p and 2p coins were also introduced. The Decimal Halfpenny was also introduced in 1971, but it was eventually demonetised in 1984.
- Since Decimalisation, we’ve seen over 75 50p designs, over 60 different £2 coin designs, and a complete re-design of our £1 coins specification, and of course not forgetting the very first commemorative 10p coins!
So, there you have it! Our top 10 facts about Decimalisation! Have you got any memories of D-Day? Let us know in the comments below!
Secure the 2021 Decimal Day 50p for JUST £4.50 (+p&p)
Own the brand new 2021 UK Decimal Day 50p in superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality for JUST £4.50 (+p&p).
A real collector’s coin, this 50p marks a hugely significant moment in British numismatic history.
2021 marks 50 years since our UK coins turned decimal, in the biggest numismatic change seen in centuries.
In celebration of this significant anniversary, The Royal Mint issued not one, but TWO Decimal Day 50ps in 2021. The reverse designs are the same, but that certainly can’t be said for their obverses…
The first version of the Decimal Day 50p, available exclusively in the 2021 Annual Coin Set, features the original Arnold Machin portrait of Her Majesty The Queen on the obverse – the same obverse used for the UK’s very first decimal coins.
However, the individual coin which was released later in January, featured Jody Clark’s fifth portrait of The Queen instead.
So why did The Royal Mint revert back to the Queen’s first decimal effigy for this new issue? Join Change Checker as we take a closer look…
Spot the Difference
The 50p available in the Annual Set which features the original Machin portrait on the obverse, quickly caught the eyes of collectors as this was the first time we have seen The Royal Mint revert a previous portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II on a base metal UK coin.
Marking 50 years since our UK coins went decimal, it seemed only fitting that this coin should include Machin’s obverse design.
But, when the Decimal Day 50p was individually released later in January, collectors had the opportunity to get their hands on a second version of this coin, as Jody Clark’s portrait of The Queen featured on the obverse.
So with two versions of the 2021 UK Decimal Day 50p out there, this coin is set to become a real talking point among collectors!
Arnold Machin Portrait
The significance of this anniversary and the fact that the Machin portrait of HM QEII was the first to be used on the UK’s 50p, makes for the perfect excuse to revert back to this previous effigy on the exclusive Decimal Day 50p within the Annual Set.
The UK’s very first decimal coins (5p, 10p, followed by 50p) actually entered circulation before 1971 and as they were circulating together with pre-decimal currency, a new portrait of The Queen was commissioned to help the new coins stand out.
Arnold Machin’s new portrait showed The Queen wearing a tiara given to The Queen by her grandmother, Queen Mary.
We love the fact that collectors have the chance to see this previous portrait reused on this brand new 50p and it certainly makes for interesting collecting!
Have you secure both versions of the 2021 Decimal Day for your collections? Let us know in the comments below!
But that’s not all, as this is not the first time we’ve seen different obverses used on the same coin…
2015 Battle of Britain 50p
In 2015, The Battle of Britain 50p shot to fame as collectors were quick to spot that there were THREE different versions of the coin, with different obverses on each of them.
The Brilliant Uncirculated 50p was issued early in 2015 and was quickly dubbed an ‘error’ coin. The coins, which were sold in presentation packs, had been struck without the denomination in either numbers or writing anywhere on the coin. Chancers were quick to play to this, with some managing to sell on the coins for near to £100 each on the secondary market.
After the controversy surrounding the coin erupted, the Royal Mint confirmed that the 50p intended for circulation later on in the year would have the ’50 PENCE’ denomination. But was this after they had realised their mistake?
So how did this coin end up with three different obverses?
Each version of this coin has caused a stir in the collecting world. Not only does this Battle of Britain 50p fail to feature a denomination on the Brilliant Uncirculated version, but the obverse is different for each finish used for the coin – a first for a UK commemorative coin.
In 2019, a brand new re-issued Brilliant Uncirculated version of the Battle of Britain 50p (from the 2019 50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Set) saw Jody Clark’s portrait and the 50 PENCE denomination – making this the FOURTH version of this 50p!
Do you have any of the Battle of Britain 50p coins? Let us know in the comments below!
Secure the 2021 Annual Set with the Decimal Day 50p that features the original Arnold Machin obverse!
Own ALL FIVE brand new 2021 coins in superior collector quality for JUST £40.00 (+p&p).
Each coin has been struck to a superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality and protectively encapsulated in official Change Checker packaging, within in a Change Checker Display Page – perfect to slot into your Change Checker Album.
Order today to own the 2021 Commemorative coin Set in superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality by clicking here >>
2021 marks 50 years since our UK coins went decimal and as part of our celebrations, we’ve got a quiz for you… for those of you not on Facebook, or if you missed out before, here’s a chance to have a go at one of our most popular quizzes from our 50 day countdown to Decimalisation!
How well can you remember Old English Money? Put your knowledge to the test as we ask you to tell us how much these household items used to cost!
Best of luck!
Own the Complete Decimalisation Coin Collection & Card!
2021 will mark 50 years since this pivotal moment in British history and so in tribute, Change Checker has issued this Complete Decimalisation Set.
It includes the 14 coins which were affected by the decimal changeover on ‘D-Day’ in 1971 and makes for the perfect heirloom for any aspiring collector, or for those interested in the heritage of British coins.
Using secure push-fit blisters to display each coin in the collection, your collector page is also designed to fit neatly inside the Change Checker Album.