5 Things You Might Not Know About UK Coins

In our last blog post, we talked about how the Royal Mint has gone all retro by designing a new £1 coin with a shape that resembles the old threepenny bit. If you are old enough to remember what a threepenny bit looks like then you will know exactly what we are talking about. If you needed to consult Google about this mysterious coin, you might want to read up a little on the history of coins and a few surprising facts.

1. What is a Threepenny Bit?

The threepence, also know as the Threepenny Bit and the Thrupence, was first introduced in 1547 by King Edward VI. Many people complained about its very small size, but it wasn’t until 1937 that a larger 12-sided threepence was introduced.

2. Coins have been made in Britain since 100 BC

You might think that those dusty old coppers in your drawer at home are old, but spare a thought for the first coins to be used in the UK. These were imported from Northern France by a Celtic tribe and used to trade for goods and food. The first coins actually produced in the UK were made from an alloy mix of tin and bronze and were used by many tribes along the Thames Valley. By 55 BC, many tribes were producing coins using silver and gold and many featured the tribe’s own unique design. These coins continued to be made and used until the Roman invasion and the enforcement of Roman coins being used as national currency.

3. Where did the term ‘Quid’ come from?

It is not actually certain where the slang “quid” came from, but a common belief is that it comes from the Latin term Quid Pro Quo. This term pretty much means “what for what” or “something for something”. The first use of the word quid on record was in 1661 in the book ‘Strange News From Bartholomew-Fair’, by P.Aretine – “The fool lost his purse, but how he knew not; for the reckoning being suddainly brought in, his Quids vanisht”. I think we’ve all been there!

4. Decimal Day Had Its Own Song

In 1971, the UK and Ireland moved from the old system that used pounds, shillings and pence to the new decimalised currency that we know today. Pounds and pence were quite different to what people were used to and so the new coins were introduced gradually to allow time for people to adjust to the new system. Alongside the leaflets and TV ads, there was also a song that was used to help people get to grips with the new coins and way of spending. Listen to it once and you’ll be singing it all day. We did warn you!

5. Sir Isaac Newton Worked At The Royal Mint

Yes, the man famed for defining the Laws of Motion and getting hit on the head with an apple, also worked at the Royal Mint. Sir Isaac Newton, or  just Mr Newton as he was at the time, had the heady title of Master of the Royal Mint. He took his role extremely seriously and would often go undercover in pubs and bars in an effort to collect evidence of coin counterfeiting. He was quite successful too! He managed to prosecute 28 ‘coiners’ as they were known and see that they were hung, drawn and quartered.

Here’s One More Interesting Fact For You

If you are wondering just what you are going to do with your own collection of old or unused UK coins, why not send them on over to the helpful and friendly team at Cash4Coins? We handle everything for you during the coin exchange process – you don’t even need to count or sort your coins. We will then give you a quote for your coins and if you are happy we will deposit the exchange amount directly into your account.


Send your coins to us now

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