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The Current English Coinage System Click to return to Coin FAQsChard 24 Carat Home Page

Obverse of all English Coins From 1998 Onwards
The English Coinage System
We receive many questions about the current English coinage system, so many that we could not possibly attempt to answer them all personally. However, as a public service, and by popular request, we present a brief guide to the current coinage system in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Basic System
Since 1971, we have used a decimal system, with 100 pence to the pound.

Typical Reverse of English Pound Coin
Basic Unit
The basic currency unit is the Pound, or Pound Sterling, the symbol for which is written as £. It is sometimes shown as GB£, or GBP, mainly by those whose keyboards do not support a £ symbol. A pound coin has been issued every year since 1983.
Before this date, pound notes were common, but have now been withdrawn, although they are still negotiable at any bank.
The history of the pound coin dates back to 1489 with the issue of the first gold sovereign. Please look at the many other pages on our site about gold sovereigns.

Reverse of English Decimal Penny
Basic Divisions
The penny is the only basic division of the pound. There are one hundred (100) pennies to the pound.
The symbol for pence is p. The plural of penny is properly "pence".

Intermediate Coin Denominations
Reverse of English Fifty Pence
Reverse of English Twenty Pence
Reverse of English Ten Pence
Reverse of English Five Pence
Reverse of English Two Pence
Reverse of English Two Pound Coin
All intermediate denominations are a multiple of the penny:-
Fifty (50) pence.
Twenty (20) pence.
Ten (10) pence.
Five (5) pence.
Two (2) pence.

Higher Denominations
There is only one other coin denomination which is currently used commonly in circulation, having a higher value than the £1 coin:-
Two Pounds (£2). With the issue of a new lighter weight, bi-metallic two pound coin in 1997, they are now becoming quite common in circulation

Other Rare Sightings
There is a Five Pound (£5) coin, known as a crown, which has been issued since 1990, but they are rarely seen in circulation.
The crown originally had a face value of five shillings, and since decimalisation, twenty five (25) pence. Pre 1990 crowns are only seen very rarely in circulation.
Please see the numerous other pages on our site for further information about crowns and five pound coins.

Summary
CoinValueWritten
Five Pounds5 Pounds£5
Two Pounds2 Pounds£2
Fifty Pence50 Pence50p.
Twenty Pence20 Pence20p.
Ten Pence10 Pence10p.
Five Pence5 Pence5p.
Two Pence2 Pence2p.
One Penny1 Penny1p.

Finally...
A strange corruption has befallen the English language since decimalisation. The d for penny or pence was always pronounced as "penny" or "pence", but now the p for penny is commonly called "pea" rather than penny or pence. During the changeover period of decimalisation, this was reasonably understandable, although the new pennies were called "new penny" or "new pence" as they had a different value from the old penny, so there was no need to further differentiate. Since the old pennies were withdrawn in February 1971, there have been almost 30 years to adjust.
There were of course 20 shillings to the pound, twelve pence to the shilling, and therefore 240 pence to the pound.

You may wish to visit some of our other pages:
Specifications of Current English Coins
Value of my Coin. What's it Worth?
Inscriptions on English Coins
Common Names of English Coins. What's a Tanner?
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