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British coin Half Farthing

The half farthing British coin (1/8th of a penny, 1/1920th of a pound) was produced in various years between 1828 and 1856 (although proof coins were anomalously produced in 1868).

The coin was initially produced in 1828 for use in Ceylon, and again in 1830. The obverse of the coin bears the left-facing portrait of King George IV, with the inscription GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA date while the reverse shows a seated Britannia with shield, facing right and holding a trident, with the inscription BRITANNIAR REX FID DEF. There was no indication of its value. The coin was made of copper, weighed 2.4 grams, and had a diameter of 18 millimetres.

In 1837, in the reign of King William IV there was another issue, also of copper, 18 millimetres in diameter, but only weighing 2.3 grams. The obverse of this coin bears the right-facing portrait of William IV with the inscription GULIELMUS IIII DEI GRATIA 1837, and the same reverse as before.

In the reign of Queen Victoria, coins were minted for circulation in 1839, 1842, 1843, 1844, 1847, 1851, 1852, 1853, 1854, and 1856. Again they were made of copper, 18 millimetres in diameter, and weighed 2.4 grams (except for 1856, which was 2.3 grams). The design changed considerably from what went before -- the obverse bears the left-facing portrait of Queen Victoria, with the inscription VICTORIA D G BRITANNIAR REGINA F D, while the reverse bears a crown above the words HALF FARTHING with (1839) a rose with three leaves at the bottom of the coin, or (1842 and later) a rose, thistle, and shamrock. The change in design in 1842 was because the coin was additionally made legal tender in the United Kingdom from 13 June of that year. There was much cynicism of the need for such a coin in Britain, with letters written to The Times, but the coin did indeed circulate widely in Britain and Ceylon.

The entire denomination was demonetised in 1869.


For other denominations, see British coinage.



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