Selection of coins recovered by Ian Lapraik while metal detecting the Harry Stoke Development Area with permission from Crest Nicholson
Henry I – Cut Half Penny
1125-1135 – Silver 20mm – 1.27g – (FULL PENNY)
The humble penny was first produced in Britain in the 8th Century; at that point it was made of fine (”sterling”) silver. Until Henry I the penny was the only denomination of coin struck; to make a half penny a whole penny was cut in half.
Robert III of Bethune – Sterling Imitation
1305-1322 – Silver -19mm – 1.29g
English silver pennies were renowned across Northern Europe for their high quality in the 13th and 14th century. European rulers produced their own copies of English pennies – usually in lower quality metal – which allowed them to take advantage of the sterling reputation but at reduced cost. Robert III of Bethune was one such ruler.
Edward IV – Irish Penny
1478-1483 – Silver – 16mm -0.75g
Until 1459 coins minted in Ireland were of the same standard as and circulated freely alongside English coins. In Edward IV’s reign Irish coins were often struck to a lower standard, but still circulated freely alongside English coins – much to the annoyance of English merchants!
George III “Cartwheel” Penny
1797 – Copper – 36mm – 28.35g
By the 18th Century the value of silver made it uneconomical to continue minting silver pennies. In 1797 the first official copper pennies were struck. George III insisted that the coins should contain a pennyworth of copper, and as a result these are the largest pennies minted in English history.
Whitchurch & Dore Bath Penny Token
1811- Copper -34.2mm – 18.4g
A shortage of official coinage during the Napoleonic wars led to merchants and cities issuing “token” coins to facilitate trade. This example was issued by Bath merchants Samuel Whitchurch and William Dore in 1811.
1901- Bronze – 30.8mm – 9.45g
In 1860 the old copper pennies were replaced by new, lighter and more durable bronze pennies; this became the standard for pennies until decimalisation in 1971.
Elizabeth II Decimal Penny
Post 1992 – Copper-plated steel – 20.3mm – 3.56g
The first decimal pennies were made of bronze, but the increasing price of copper led to a change in 1992, and now our humble penny is made from copper-plated steel.