1937 UK Penny

1937 UK Penny


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George V (struck 1911–1936)

The death of de Saulles in 1903 had led to the abolition of the post of Engraver, and coins for George V, who took the throne on Edward’s death in 1910, were subject to a design competition won by Bertram Mackennal, who also prepared the medal for the Coronation. The King apparently liked his work, as he was appointed a Member of the Royal Victorian Order in 1911 and knighted in 1921. The inscription around the left-facing bust reads GEORGIVS V DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX FID DEF IND IMP,[b] while no significant change was made to the reverse design. The new bronze coins were made current by proclamation dated 28 November 1910, effective 1 January 1911.

In addition to those struck at the Royal Mint, in 1912, 1918 and 1919 some pennies were produced at the Heaton Mint in Birmingham, and are identified by an “H” mint mark to the left of the date. In 1918 and 1919 some were produced at the Kings Norton Metal Co. Ltd, also in Birmingham, and have a “KN” there instead. Both firms also provided blanks to the Royal Mint for striking into pennies from 1912 to 1919. This was due to high demand for small change, initially caused by the 1911 implementation of the National Insurance Act by the Asquith government, and thereafter by the war years. Also feeding the demand for pennies were automatic slot machines, a trend noticed as early as 1898. To reduce the number of worn pieces in commerce, the Royal Mint had in 1908 agreed to accept the return of worn pre-1895 pennies and halfpennies through banks and post offices, and from 1922, pieces dated 1860 to 1894 would be redeemed in any condition, though they remained acceptable in circulation. The pre-1860 copper penny had been demonetised after 1869 in Britain (though accepted at full face value by the Mint until 1873) and in 1877 for the colonies.

King George’s pennies were produced in the same alloy as before until 1922, but the following year the composition of bronze coins was set at 95.5 percent copper, 3 percent tin, and 1.5 percent zinc, although the weight remained at 1⁄3 ounce (9.4 g) and the diameter 1.2 inches (31 millimetres). This alloy was slightly more malleable; the lessened force needed to strike pennies helped minimise ghosting. No pennies were struck for the years 1923, 1924 or 1925; this was due to lack of demand as the interwar years saw alternating gluts and shortages of pennies. In 1928, the King’s portrait was reduced in size, effectively eliminating the ghosting problem. The inscription around the three variations of the left-facing head remained GEORGIVS V DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX FID DEF IND IMP, while Britannia remained on the reverse, as before, though that design was slightly modified in 1922.

By the end of George’s reign, in 1936, the bronze penny, which had appeared light compared with older coppers when the alloy was first used for it in 1860, was regarded as weighty and cumbersome, the heaviest bronze coin in circulation in Europe. The weight when in bulk caused problems for business; the London Passenger Transport Board received 6,000 tonnes of pennies, halfpennies and farthings a year. A reduction of size for the penny was deemed impractical, given the time it would take to recoin the 3,000,000,000 pennies in circulation, and because many automatic machines that took pennies would have to be reconfigured. The major response would be the 1937 debut of the brass threepence coin. This twelve-sided piece was introduced since threepence worth of pennies or halfpennies was heavy and inconvenient, and the silver threepenny bit was deemed too small.

1937 United Kingdom Penny Specifications
Monarch George VI (1937 – 1952)
Edge plain
Weight 9.4 g
Diameter 30.8 mm
Composition bronze
Minted London, England
Mintage est. 88,896,000
Scarcity common for period


1937 United Kingdom Penny Design
Obverse Thomas Paget
A great addition to your collection



Additional information

Weight 2.6 g
Dimensions 20 x 20 x 3.2 mm


Sheldon Grading

AU-55 – (About Uncirculated 55) – Full detail – slight wear to less than 50% of surface


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