Today I’d like to tell you the story behind my all-time favourite British coins – the Cartwheel Pennies. Not only are they the heaviest and largest coins ever issued for circulation, they were also issued for ONE-YEAR-ONLY. Here’s the story…
Throughout the 18th century silver prices increased, which resulted in a substantial decrease in the amount of silver pennies that were being minted. This led to a lack of small change and businesses were finding it difficult to pay their employees with the current coinage.
Subsequently, a trend began where independent Mints started striking copper half penny and penny tokens. Most of these tokens were being minted at the ‘Soho Mint’ in Birmingham, which was actually the very first Mint to be powered by Steam.
Whilst this was not legitimate money it solved the issue and it took off – companies all over Britain were ordering personalised tokens.
However, the ‘solution’ meant there was a problem…
The British Government had lost control of the coinage. In an attempt to regain control, they instructed Soho Mint to strike 480 tonnes of copper pennies and 20 tonnes of copper twopences. These were to be the first regal British coins of the denominations to be made of copper, and the very first official British coins to be struck using steam power.
8 times heavier than today’s 1p and 2p coins
The coins were large! In fact, the 1 pence weighed an incredible 1oz and the 2 pence weighed 2oz – that’s the same weight as a Mars Bar and almost 8 times heavier than the current 1p and 2p coins. At that size, it’s hard to believe these ever jangled in the pocket of our ancestors!
The coins weighed so much becauses they were struck in pure copper and their intrinsic value corresponded to their actual face value. Their design was simple – a portrait of the monarch at the time, King George III on the obverse and Britannia on the reverse.
The dramatic size of these coins and their unusually wide raised rim is why they became known as ‘Cartwheel’ pennies.
Issued for one-year-only
The ‘Cartwheel’ pennies were designed this way to prevent counterfeiting, but their size and weight made them cumbersome and unwieldy. They were immediately unpopular with the public as people didn’t like carrying them around – the two-pence was an INCH and three-quarters in diameter and a quarter inch thick. There were soon calls for them to be discontinued and shortly after, the coins were redesigned.
Due to the rise in the price of copper, the intrinsic value of the coins soon exceeded their face value and subsequently the majority of these coins were melted down.
This meant, the coins were issued for one-year-only, which automatically makes them two of the must-have modern coins and key coins in any British collection.
If you’re interested…
We have been able to source a small number of sets containing the original 200 year old ‘Cartwheel’ coins – the two pence and the penny. They come presented in a deluxe presentation case with an accompanying Certificate of Authenticity. They really are key must-have coins in any British collection.
Four new Beatrix Potter 50p silver coins have been revealed by The Royal Mint. Benjamin Bunny, Mr. Jeremy Fisher, and Tom Kitten all feature for the first time on UK coinage – whilst Peter Rabbit scampers back onto our currency for the second year in a row.
The four coins issued in 2016 created a collecting frenzy, crashing The Royal Mint’s website and selling out within days. And these new character coins are just as cute, just as evocative, and importantly – just as collectable.
Here’s a first look at the new silver coins, with details of when they are available…
2017 Peter Rabbit 50p
Everyone’s favourite mischievous bunny is back – pictured in a familiar pose dashing away… presumably from Mr McGregor’s garden.
Probably Beatrix Potter’s most familiar character, the coin is bound to be sought-after.
Last year’s Silver Proof Peter Rabbit coloured coin now changes hands on Ebay for up to £400, underlining its collectability.
2017 Mr. Jeremy Fisher 50p
This silver 50p, due to be released in June, pictures the unlucky frog Mr. Jeremy Fisher – who only wanted to catch some fish for dinner for his friends but ends up almost being eaten by a trout.
Each of the Silver Proof editions is limited to just 30,000 coins. Given the level of demand for last year’s series this may well not be enough for everyone that wants one.
2017 Tom Kitten 50p
Available late July, the Tom Kitten Silver 50p features the original illustration from the front cover of Beatrix Potter’s book. The naughty kitten appeals to children everywhere with his antics and is another favourite character from the series.
All four coins have been struck to a fine ‘proof finish.’ It really brings the designs to life – and is often referred to as ‘the collector’s favourite’ due the high level of craftmanship required to achieve the result.
2017 Benjamin Bunny 50p
The last coin to be made available (slated for September) introduces another of the Rabbit family. Benjamin Bunny is Peter’s Cousin and leads him on another jaunt into Mr. McGregor’s garden. The illustration featured on the coin is taken from the original front cover.
I’m sure you’ll agree, these four coins are the perfect continuation of the series, and really capture the nostalgic charm of Beatrix Potter’s original stories.
But if there’s one lesson you can take from last year, make sure you get yours early – before they sell out!
The Royal Mint have released 1.4 billion brand new £1 coins into circulation in what is the single biggest change to the UK’s coinage since decimalisation.
It is, of course, a much anticipated day for coin collectors keen to own one of the first coins. But with enough £1 coins entering circulation for everyone in the population to own more than £20’s worth, the standard circulation coin will be two a penny – well at least two a pound.
That’s why serious collectors are looking to mark this numismatic milestone with something a bit more special – one of the collector editions being released by The Royal Mint, several of which have edition limits that seem certain to sell out quickly.
Here’s your guide to the most collectable versions of the new 12-sided £1 coin.
Perfect Quality. Very Affordable.
Of course, quality is everything for coin collectors, which is why The Royal Mint is producing a collector quality base metal version of the new 12-sided £1 coin. Unlike the coins you’ll find in your change, these pieces have been specially struck and carefully handled to ensure that they remain free of the scratches and chips found amongst their circulating counterparts.
Known as Brilliant Uncirculated (BU), they are available for £9.99 in a Royal Mint Presentation Pack or £5.99 in a Change Checker Certified Brilliant Uncirculated Collector Card.
Silver Proof – the Collector’s Favourite
Perhaps the most important of the Collector Editions is the Silver Proof £1 Coin. Silver Proof coins have all of the qualities that collectors really desire.
- Precious metal content – struck from 925/1000 Sterling Silver with 24 Carat Gold-plate to create the outer ring.
- Strict Limited Edition – just 25,000 individual coins. That’s HALF the number of Silver Proof £1 Coins that were issued for the original Round £1 Coin in 1983.
- Perfect Proof Finish – even better than Brilliant Uncirculated, Proof coins are struck several times using specially polished dies to create a flawless finish with a perfect mirrored background and frosted design. The ultimate in coin quality.
Double the thickness. More than five times as limited.
For silver collectors looking for something even more collectable, the double thickness Piedfort edition is likely to be the first of the £1 sell-outs.
That’s because collectors not only own a rare double-thickness new £1 coin but there are just 4,5000 of them – less than five times the maximum mintage for the standard £1 silver proof.
The Gold Standard
For the ultimate limited edition, you can own the Gold Proof £1 Coin. Struck from 22 Carat Gold with a red gold outer ring, just 2,017 single coins have been authorised for issue.
Due to its very limited nature, we will contact you directly to discuss owning the Gold Proof £1 Coin if you are interested – please complete the form below.
Sign up here if you would like to be contacted about the Gold edition:
If you’re interested…
You can own one of the special Collector Edition 12-Sided £1 Coins today, click here to view the full range.