The coinage that has been made by the Royal Mint for the people of Britain over the last 1000 years is an important way in which to understand the history of the country.
Coins are valuable historical documents that can illuminate the economics and technology, the art and politics, the religion and ceremonies of a people. How a nation consciously chooses to represent itself on its coinage is testimony to what it values and celebrates. Coins have existed as one of the most widely used ways in which a state or monarch has communicated with people and from the earliest of times the symbolic meaning of coins has not been lost on those who exercise power.
Below you can explore some examples from the Museum collection and find out more about different denominations used throughout history in the British coinage system.
It was not until the reign of Henry VIII that a gold coin known as a crown was introduced.
Like the crown, the half-crown was introduced as a gold coin during the reign of Henry VIII.
Like the sixpence, the threepenny piece first appeared as a silver coin in 1551.
Halfpennies and farthings become a regular feature of the currency in the 13th century.
Fractional farthings were struck in the 19th century but did not remain in circulation for long.