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|Ten Pences or Tenpences|
New Smaller Size
As early as 1992, it was thought practical to reduce the size and weight of most of our coins, partially to reflect their reduced spending power through long periods of inflation, and partly as a reflection of public preference for smaller, lighter coins. The Five New Pence coin, the replacement for the old shilling, had retained its previous specifications for a century and a half, from 1816 to 1967; even before 1816, its specifications had been similar since about 1662. In less than twenty years from decimalisation, its size was reduced. This is only a short timescale relative to the normal rate of change in coinage. Our guess is that the Government of the day must have known decimalisation would have its critics; it was blamed for inflation at the time, and that a simultaneous change to smaller sizes would have been inviting more opposition, and the obvious criticism and assumption that the new decimal coins were in some way inferior to, and worth less than the system which had worked well enough for a thousand years previously.
We conclude that the failure to change size at the time of decimalisation was a failure of government, either because of lack or foresight, or political cowardice.
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