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Money in Britain FS.jpgAlthough the UK does not officially convert to DECIMAL CURRENCY until February 1971, decimal coins begin to arrive before Martins merges with Barclays.  In 1968 the new Five and Ten Pence coins are in circulation alongside their pre-decimal counterparts, the shilling and the florin.  In 1969 the Ten Shilling Note is replaced by the Fifty Pence Piece.  Some coins will not, however, receive a like for like replacement – the Halfpenny, Penny and Threepenny pieces do not represent an exact number of new pence.   Of the pre-decimal coins and notes, the half-crown, the sixpence and the ten shilling note are surely best remembered by those of us who were children in late 1960s. From finding sixpences in your Christmas pudding, to being given a half-crown for doing an errand or a ten shilling note on you birthday, it seems now like some magical age, and given the strict order and passage of time, an age that we are not likely to see again.

A small glimmer of hope for those still unable to part with “old money” comes in the form of a reprieve for the Sixpence, which despite having a somewhat strange decimal value of two and a half new pence is so loved by millions of people, that it is subsequently retained in circulation for a further nine years until June 1980! 

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Sadly, the Half-Crown worth an unwieldy twelve and a half new pence in the new decimal world, is forced to bow out in 1970, after a quite chequered history.   News of its forthcoming demise is announced in the Spring 1969 issue of Martins Bank Magazine in by Frank Hardman, (pictured here) retired Pro Manager of Liverpool Trustee Department, who takes the opportunity to delve into the past of the Half-Crown…

A small victory - the sixpence officially joins the UK’s decimal coins

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Farewell to the Half Crown.jpg1969 01.jpgwith decimalisation the half-crown is to disappear from Britain's coinage: from January 1, 1970, the coin will be no longer legal tender. Introduced during a period of debasement, minted first in gold, then silver and finally cupro-nickel, and for a period in the last century its issue suspended, the half-crown has had a chequered existence.  Overspending by Henry VIII led to the coin's introduction. The first half-crowns were minted in twenty-two carat gold but before the end of Henry's reign a twenty-carat version was being issued. Of course the purchasing power of the half-crown was very much greater then than it is today; consequently the coin was rarely handled by the 16th century man-in-the-street. The Council of Edward II attempted to improve the coinage, yet by 1551, towards the end of Edward's reign, the half-crown had been reduced to a silver coin. Pieces of silver plate stamped 'xxxd', with the name of the town, served as half-crowns during the sieges of the Civil War.


1970 half a crown.jpgHalf-crowns continued to be minted during the Commonwealth period, though the fine condition of 'Oliver Cromwell' half-crowns suggest they were never in general circulation. The first machine-made, milled-edged half-crowns were minted in 1663, during the reign of Charles II. These and coins of later reigns bore an obverse design of four heraldic shields arranged in the form of a cross, and this has led to their being mistaken for that much later introduction, the florin.


A somewhat half-hearted attempt during Victoria's reign to introduce decimal coinage into Britain gave birth to the florin. The coin was issued experimentally in 1848 and carried the words 'One Florin—One Tenth of a Pound'. To give it a chance to find acceptance no half-crowns were issued between 1850 and 1874, but the experiment failed and in response to popular demand the half-crown was re-issued. Until 1920 the half-crown was minted in fine silver (•925) but in that year the silver content was reduced to fifty per cent. Finally, in 1947 it was debased to cupro-nickel. Now, after four centuries, it is to take its place alongside the groat, the crown and the farthing.

Small change, big changes…


Below we have listed the seven pre-decimal coins and the one pre-decimal bank note which are either abolished altogether, given a new decimal value, or replaced by new coins which bear their own decimal value.  Our uncirculated coins, dated 1970, are the last to be issued before decimalisation…

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Not directly replaced,

the old halfpenny is worth

 0.21 new pence…


Not Directly replaced,

the old penny is worth

0.42 new pence…


Not replaced at all,  three old pence would have been worth

1.25 new pence…


Not replaced but continues in circulation until June 1980, worth

2.50 new pence…

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Directly replaced in 1968 by the Five Pence piece.  Both Scottish and English shillings stay in circulation alongside the Five Pence piece until 1990…


Directly replaced in 1968 by the Ten Pence piece. The Florin (our oldest decimal coin worth 1/10th of one pound)  stays in circulation alongside the Ten Pence piece until 1992…

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Not replaced at all, the half-crown

would have been worth

12.50  new pence…


Directly replaced in 1969 by the Fifty Pence piece.  The Ten Shilling note does NOT circulate alongside its seven sided metal counterpart…

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