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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Coins are valuable historical documents that can illuminate the economics and technology, the art and politics, the religion and ceremonies of a people.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.

Tudor Sovereign

Tudor Sovereign

These impressive coins were a remarkable addition to the English coinage.

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Tudor half-sovereign

Tudor half-sovereign

The first half-sovereigns were struck during the Great Debasement.

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Crown

Crown

It was not until the reign of Henry VIII that a gold coin known as a crown was introduced.

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Half-crown

Half-crown

Like the crown, the half-crown was introduced as a gold coin during the reign of Henry VIII.

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Shilling

Shilling

The shilling as a coin was introduced at the beginning of the 16th century.

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Sixpence

Sixpence

The sixpence was introduced in 1551 during the reign of Edward VI.

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Threepence

Threepence

Like the sixpence, the threepenny piece first appeared as a silver coin in 1551.

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Penny

Penny

The penny is the great survivor of the British coinage system.

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Halfpenny and Farthing

Halfpenny and Farthing

Halfpennies and farthings become a regular feature of the currency in the 13th century.

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Fractional Farthings

Fractional Farthings

Fractional farthings were struck in the 19th century but did not remain in circulation for long.

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Maundy Money

Maundy Money

Specially-struck Maundy Money started in 1662 in the reign of Charles II

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