Just for Fun: We’re Celebrating (& Saving) Pennies & Pounds
Today marks 40 years since the introduction of the modern £1 coin to the UK’s coinage. So, we’re celebrating with some of our favourite facts about the history of the UK’s coins. Plus, we look at the ways that Stikins ® name labels help you to save your pennies (and pounds).
Fascinating Facts About The UK’s Coins
The UK’s currency is the Pound Sterling. It is the oldest currency still in use and in continuous use since its introduction. Did you know that:
- Early communities bartered (swapped) items. The value of early coins was determined by their metal content. Coins were used widely during Roman occupation but effectively fell out of use for 200 years when they left.
- British coinage really began with King Offa of Mercia (757-796). Inspired by Charlemagne, Offa determined one tower pound of silver made 240 pennies or 20 shillings (12 pennies = 1 shilling). Pounds were represented by “L” (now £) from libra (Latin for pound). Shillings used “s” and pennies “d” from solidus and denarius (Roman coins).
- From 8-13th century, the main (and often only) coin was the penny. Shillings (testoons) and pounds (sovereigns) didn’t appear until the 16th century. Pennies were made in mints using the purest silver available, usually to fund wars. Alfred the Great (849-899) had 8 mints; his grandson, Athelstan (894-939), had 30 and declared England could only use one currency. Coins were also used to avoid war. In the 11th century, there were 75 mints capable of producing a bribe (Danesgeld) of 40 million pennies to keep Vikings raiders away. Today, Anglo-Saxon coins are more commonly found in Scandinavia than Britain.
- Today, the Royal Mint (established c. 886 AD) makes our coins, producing over 3.3 billion per year. Minting centralised in 1279 when the Royal Mint moved to the Tower of London. It moved to its current site in Llantrisant, Wales in 1968 in preparation for decimalisation.
- Early coins were made by “moneyers” (after a 7-year apprenticeship). Coins were struck (between iron dies), shaped, and engraved by hand. The process was mechanised in 1662. Horse-powered rolling mills created metal fillets for blanks, while screw presses struck one coin every two seconds. In 1810, steam replaced horse power (striking one coin per second) and electricity took over in 1907. Today, a moulding process produces endless metal strips, blanking presses create 6,000 blanks per minute, and hydraulic cutting machines create 25,000 coins per hour (6.9 per second).
- Early pennies were cut into halves and quarters to give change. Criminals collected bits of silver through “clipping” (cutting edges) and “sweating” (shaking coins in a bag to create silver dust). Damaging Britain’s coinage was classified as treason, punishable by death.
- Silver supplies were limited so other metals were often added. The Tealby penny, made from 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper (silver sterling), was introduced in 1158. In 1282, the Royal Mint introduced the Trial of the Pyx to test circulating coins at random. The trial still takes place every February – albeit with more advanced tests.
- James I (1566-1625) introduced base metals like tin and copper for smaller denominations. Today, we use base metals like plated steel and cupronickel (75% copper/25% nickel). This means most 1p, 2p, 5p, and 10p coins are magnetic!
- From 1797-1804, the Bank of England counterstamped Spanish coins, including Spanish dollars or “pieces of eight” (the phrase squawked by Long John Silver’s parrot in Treasure Island).
- Prices were written differently before decimalisation; 32s. 6d., 32/6, £1. 12s. 6d., and £1/12/6 are all the same amount! Pre-decimal coins included the farthing (¼d), halfpenny (½d), penny (1d), threepence (3d), sixpence (6d), shilling (1s or 12d), florin (2s or 24d), half-crown (2/6 or 30d), crown (5s or 60d), and sovereign/unite/laurel/broad/guinea (£1).
- Criticism of £sd started in the 16th century but government discussions didn’t start until 1824. Despite the benefits (like easier trade with other countries using decimal systems), it took almost 150 years to approve decimalisation.
- In 1966, Decimal Day was set for 15th February 1971. Banks closed for four days to clear old cheques and manually convert each account to decimal. Despite an anticipated transition period of 18 months, most old coins were effectively out of use in 2 weeks.
- Six new coins were introduced: half pence (dropped in 1984), 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, and 50p. The 50p was the first coin with seven sides (a Reuleaux heptagon). Further additions appeared in 1982 (20p), 1983 (£1), and 1998 (£2).
- By 2015, around 2-3% of pound coins were counterfeit. In 2017, a new coin was launched with a new shape, size, weight, metal content, and security features, including a hologram-like image and micro-lettering.
How Stikins ® Name Labels Help You Save Your Pounds And Pennies
Stikins ® name labels can save you money in lots of ways. For starters, they make sure that your kids’ expensive uniform and kit makes it home from school. This means you don’t end up paying to replace items that are probably less than a year old.
Stikins ® labels also offer great value for money. We use high quality materials, including a unique adhesive. Our adhesive works on all kinds of items, which means you don’t have to spend more buying different name labels for different items. Our larger packs offer the best cost per label and you can safely store any labels you don’t need right away for future use.
Stikins ® labels are also highly adaptable when it comes to personalisation. You can request one or two lines of text, with up to 22 characters per line. This allows you to create packs for individuals or packs for sharing.
From time to time, we also run special offers and discounts. Currently, we offer a 10% discount on any order for three or more packs. These packs can be all the same, all different, or any mix you prefer. We apply this discount automatically, so you don't need a code. Best of all, if you don’t need three packs yourself, we are more than happy for friends and family to order together to qualify for the discount.
Please note: we send genuine codes directly to customers or advertise them on our website and social media accounts. Codes found on third party voucher sites are not genuine and will not work on our site.