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Britannia Pence, Coins Of Britain: 1 Penny (Great Britain, 1930)-Article

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

This large coin is a pre-decimal British Penny, dated 1930. The British Penny represented the third smallest denomination of the pre-decimal British Pound (Series A, 1928). With the British Farthing and Half Penny representing the smaller denominations. Coins of this type entered circulation in 1928 and were last minted in 1936. They ceased being legal currency on 31 August 1971, replaced by the decimalized Penny.

The coin is a plain-edged design made of bronze and weighs 9.45 g. Its dimensions are 30.8 mm (1.212 in) wide and 1.6 mm (0.063 in) thick. Make it roughly similar in diameter to a US Half Dollar, although somewhat lighter and thinner. (To pay homage to it's Britannia image, this coin will be reviewed reverse first)


British Penny reverse designed by Leonard Charles Wyon.
British Penny reverse by Leonard Charles Wyon.

The reverse prominently features an ornate depiction of Britannia. The personification of Great Britain, often depicted as seated helmeted female warrior, holding a trident and shield. Notably the shield Notably the surface of the shield features the British national flag, the Union Jack.

The remainder of the reverse is simple and practical. Beneath Britannia is the coin's mint year, "1930". While the coin's type "ONE PENNY" is split between the seated Britannia. Notably the succeeding George VI Penny (issued from 1937-1948) featured a shield in a flatter angle. Rather than a shield in a slight angle as seen here.


British Penny observe designed by Sir Bertram Mackennal.
British Penny observe by Sir Bertram Mackennal.

The observe features a uncrowned portrait of King George V, in leftward profile. This imagine is surrounded by the wrap-around text, "GEORGIUS V DEI GRA:BRITT:OMN:REX FID:DEF:IND:IMP:". Translated as "George the Fifth by the Grace of God King of all the Britain's Defender of the Faith Emperor of India".

Like many British and Commonwealth coins the rim's interior features a bedded texture. This feature is present in both observe and reverse sides. This bedded is both decorative and practical. As it provides grip, when picking up the coin when flat.

Pre-Decimal British Pound Guide

4 Crown=1 British Pound

8 Half Crown=1 British Pound

10 Florin=1 British Pound

20 Shilling=1 British Pound

240 Penny=1 British Pound

480 Half Pence=1 British Pound

960 Farthing=1 British Pound

Size Comparison

A British Penny with US Half Dollar for scale.
A British Penny with US Half Dollar for scale.

Additional Notes

  • The observe was designed by Australian sculptor Sir Bertram Mackennal (1863- 1931).

  • Sir Mackennal was famous for being the first Australian to be knighted, in 1921.

  • Sir Mackennal designed most period coinage and stamps bearing King George V likeness.

  • Sir Mackennal was commissioned to design posthumous statures of the late George V.

  • The reverse was designed by British engraver Leonard Charles Wyon (1826-1891).

  • L. C. Wyon prolifically designed coinage throughout the British Empire, his work included Australia, Canada, British India, British Honduras, British East Africa, and Hong Kong.

  • L. C. Wyon's work includes the iconic 1860 "Bun Penny", issued under Queen Victoria.

  • L. C. Wyon famously designed coinage for the Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee (1887).

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