When I were wee, there was always a little thrill of seeing a shilling or two shillings in my change.
Before you think I’ve got a portrait in the attic (chance would be a fine thing), when our coins were decimated the shilling and two shillings became interchangeable with Five New Pence and Ten New Pence. Growing up meant that occasionally one or the other would pop into my pocket money.
There were howls of anguish when, back in 1990, the 5p became a new widow’s mite: tiny and very difficult to use. The old shilling was no more.
The 10p and 50p have also been shrunk, and the only coins that remain the same are the 2p and 1p. The £2 coin is the same size as the old two shillings.
Now the Royal Mint has announced that our pound coin is no longer sound as a pound. Too many of them have been counterfeited in recent years: Adam Lawrence, Chief Executive of The Royal Mint said, “The current £1 coin design is now more than thirty years old and it has become increasingly vulnerable to counterfeiting over time. It is our aim to identify and produce a pioneering new coin which helps to reduce the opportunities for counterfeiting, helping to boost public confidence in the UK’s circulating coins.”
The result? They’re bringing back the threepenny bit.
Well, kind of.
From 2017, the pound coin which has served us faithfully since 1983 will be phased out and in comes a 12-sided two-tone coin that echoes three old pennies.
George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said, “I am particularly pleased that the coin will take a giant leap into the future, using cutting edge British technology while at the same time, paying tribute to the past in the 12-sided design of the iconic threepenny bit.”
Our banknotes are going plastic too. But with our coins changing shape, it’s clear that the future is in the past.
It’s all very well, but I’d rather they brought back this: the pound note.
Revisit the UK’s old coins with this photo gallery