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All Change: Decimalisation



money snap

Save our sixpence

The withdrawal of the old £sd coins prompted a collecting mania which was directed not simply at the older coins in circulation. It also saw the speculative hoarding of bags of £sd coins in the hope that a perceived scarcity would increase their value, a difficulty that was countered by using the same date, 1967, on all new £sd coins struck before D Day.

Two £sd denominations – the halfpenny and the half-crown – were withdrawn before D Day. There was no role that either could conceivably play after decimalisation and it was thought best to remove them entirely, especially as they clashed in size with 2p and 50p pieces. The halfpenny, nearing the end of its active life in any case, needed little assistance to disappear but the impending demise of the half-crown, because of its high value and its use in machines, was widely advertised by the Decimal Currency Board.

save our sixpence campaign


Both were relinquished by the public without a struggle, but not so the sixpence. The handy little tanner was a very popular coin and, though reason suggested that after D Day it would serve no practical purpose as a 2½p piece, a large and vocal section of the public could not accept the prospect of its removal.

In the first few months of 1969 and then again early in 1970 feelings ran remarkably high. Public opinion, indeed, proved so strong that, with the controversy threatening to disrupt all the careful preparations for D Day, the government conceded that the sixpence could survive for at least two years after decimalisation.