The LAST British Large Penny

The Last of its kind

An early map of England

First struck in 1797---and used for a very unusual purpose

George III

Large copper pennies were first struck in England in 1797. The first pennies bear the image of the English monarch who lost the colonies in the American revolution---George III. Because the new pennies weighed exactly one ounce each, the coins were often used as kitchen weights to weigh cooking ingredients! The new large pennies became instantly popular with the English public at large---not to mention English cooks!

The large penny continued to be issued throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th. The coins were struck bearing the image of a number of sovereigns: George IV; William IV; and Queen Victoria, to mention a few. Because they were often exported to English colonies around the world, the large penny became a coin of commerce worldwide.

Queen Elizabeth makes history as the last monarch to be pictured on the large penny

Queen Elizabeth the Second mounted the English Throne in 1953

In 1953 Queen Elizabeth the Second mounted the English throne. By that time people had become a little reluctant to carry around pocketsful of large pennies---the smaller three pence piece first issued in 1937 had become the preferred means of carrying change.

But tradition doesn't die easily in England. The British Royal Mint continued to strike large pennies, even though they weren't really needed. The Mint finally faced reality, but not until 1967, when they suddenly announced that the 1967 large pennies would be the last ones ever struck---once and for all ending a tradition dating back to the 18th century---and arousing the interest of collectors.

The obverse of the last British Large Penny depicts a young Queen Elizabeth II

The reverse depicts the mythical Britannia with trident and union jack shield

The last year of issue

The last year a coin is issued is important to collectors---they like to own the very last of a kind---and that's probably why whoever saved this tin of pennies kept them squirreled away--we understand that once the Mint announced the demise of the large penny there was quite a scramble among serious collectors to get a hold of ANY of these last year of issue coins---and the former owner of our cookie tin was one of the lucky scramblers.

1967 was an historic year in many respects. Pictured here are war protesters---but 1967 also was the year of the Summer of Love---if you went to San Francisco, you wore flowers in your hair

1967 was a rollicking year----it saw the rise of protests over the war in Viet Nam, and it also saw the rise of the Hippies. All over the globe societies were in chaos, so it is impossible to say---even with the scramble of collectors to find them---just how many of the 1967 large pennies were saved from circulation.

We studied the Christmas cookie tin for a long time, but it offered no clues as to the history of the famous 1967 large pennies it had held for so long. Were the coins in this hoard stored in a cupboard? A safe? A bank? We don't really know. What we do know is that they are once again available to collectors.

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1998 CollectSource