The remarkable story of when a British 2 pence weighed the same as a Mars Bar…

Today I’d like to tell you the story behind my all-time favourite British coins – the Cartwheel Pennies. Not only are they the heaviest and largest coins ever issued for circulation, they were also issued for ONE-YEAR-ONLY. Here’s the story…

Throughout the 18th century silver prices increased, which resulted in a substantial decrease in the amount of silver pennies that were being minted. This led to a lack of small change and businesses were finding it difficult to pay their employees with the current coinage.

Two of the largest coins ever issued in British history

Subsequently, a trend began where independent Mints started striking copper half penny and penny tokens. Most of these tokens were being minted at the ‘Soho Mint’ in Birmingham, which was actually the very first Mint to be powered by Steam.

Whilst this was not legitimate money it solved the issue and it took off – companies all over Britain were ordering personalised tokens.

However, the ‘solution’ meant there was a problem…

The British Government had lost control of the coinage. In an attempt to regain control, they instructed Soho Mint to strike 480 tonnes of copper pennies and 20 tonnes of copper twopences. These were to be the first regal British coins of the denominations to be made of copper, and the very first official British coins to be struck using steam power. 

8 times heavier than today’s 1p and 2p coins

The coins were large! In fact, the 1 pence weighed an incredible 1oz and the 2 pence weighed 2oz – that’s the same weight as a Mars Bar and almost 8 times heavier than the current 1p and 2p coins. At that size, it’s hard to believe these ever jangled in the pocket of our ancestors! 

The coins weighed so much becauses they  were struck in pure copper and their intrinsic value corresponded to their actual face value. Their design was simple – a  portrait of the monarch at the time, King George III on the obverse and Britannia on the reverse.

The dramatic size of these coins and their unusually wide raised rim is why they became known as ‘Cartwheel’ pennies.

Issued for one-year-only

The modern 1p coin compared to the 2oz 2p coin

The ‘Cartwheel’ pennies were designed this way to prevent counterfeiting, but their size and weight made them cumbersome and unwieldy. They were immediately unpopular with the public as people didn’t like carrying them around – the two-pence was an INCH and three-quarters in diameter and a quarter inch thick. There were soon calls for them to be discontinued and shortly after, the coins were redesigned.

Due to the rise in the price of copper, the intrinsic value of the coins soon exceeded their face value and subsequently the majority of these coins were melted down.

This meant, the coins were issued for one-year-only, which automatically makes them two of the must-have modern coins and key coins in any British collection.


1797 George III ‘Cartwheel’ Coin Set

If you’re interested…

We have been able to source a small number of sets containing the original 200 year old ‘Cartwheel’ coins – the two pence and the penny. They come presented in a deluxe presentation case with an accompanying Certificate of Authenticity. They really are key must-have coins in any British collection.

Click here for more details >>

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Just released: The Masterpiece Poppy Coin that’s almost TWICE AS LIMITED as last year’s issue…

Last year an important milestone was reached; over £500,000 was raised, through sales of Poppy coins, for The Royal British Legion. To mark this incredible milestone, 450 very special Masterpiece Poppy Coins were released.

This year, collectors of the annual poppy coins, have helped raise that total to an incredible £700,000 for The Royal British Legion to provide lifelong support for the Armed Forces community – serving men and women, veterans, and their families.

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The 2017 Masterpiece Silver 5oz Poppy Coin

To mark this new milestone, and the start of The Royal British Legion’s 2017 Poppy Appeal, a 2017 Masterpiece Poppy has been authorised which is even more limited than last year’s issue.

Just 250 to be issued

With a strict edition limit of just 250 pieces this makes the 2017 Masterpiece Coin almost twice as limited as the 2016 Masterpiece issue.

And it is called a masterpiece for a reason. Using cutting edge minting techniques and specialist craftsmanship, the instantly recognisable red Poppy veritably bursts to life from the face of the coin.

As well as the stunning enamel, the 2017 Masterpiece Poppy Coin also has an incredible ultra-high relief, standing over 1.6mm tall. This type of relief can usually only be achieved through relatively unsophisticated casting methods. But this is NOT a cast piece.

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From blank to finished coin – striking the Masterpiece Poppy Coin

It is a fully struck proof coin – and benefits from all the detail, mirroring and frosting that you expect from a commemorative proof coin.

Each coin starts life as a ‘blank’ – a highly polished solid silver disc. Next, the design is struck onto the coin up to 5 times using massive pressure and incredible skill. In fact, the coin is so difficult to produce many dies were broken in the process, but the resulting effect is definitely worth it.

Finally, the coloured enamel is applied to give the coin its famous red Poppy – a perfect fit for a coin officially issued in support of The Royal British Legion.

Each coin is heated to a precise temperature while the enamel colour is prepared. The enamel is applied expertly by hand and heated in between each application to ensure a smooth finish. The end result is astonishing and defines the essence of the Masterpiece.

Available now – with a donation to the Legion…

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The luxury wooden presentation case with viewing window

The 2017 Masterpiece 5oz Silver Proof Poppy Coin is available to own right now from The Westminster Collection, although they are expected to sell out quickly as they are almost twice as limited as last year’s issue.

To further support the work of The Royal British Legion, The Westminster Collection have organised for a donation of £49.50 from the sale of each coin to go directly to the charity, helping them to continue to provide financial, social and emotional support to all who have served and are currently serving in the British Armed Forces and their families.


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The 2017 Masterpiece Silver 5oz Poppy Coin shown to scale against a 10p piece

If you’re interested…

You can add The 2017 Masterpiece 5oz Silver Proof Poppy Coin to your collection today – click here for details.

A donation of £49.80 from the sale of each coin will go directly to The Royal British Legion.

Posted in Blog Home, Coins, New Issues, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Royal Mint confirms lowest ever edition limit for new Piedfort release

The Royal Mint has confirmed the release of the LOWEST EVER edition limit for a Silver Proof Piedfort £5 Coin.

This release marks HRH the Duke of Edinburgh’s record-breaking 70 years of service to Her Majesty the Queen and the United Kingdom and comes on the heels of the standard £5 Silver Proof’s 24 hour recent sell out.

Piedfort coins are the pinnacle for serious collectors. Struck on superior double-thickness blanks finished to the very highest proof standard, they are always popular and usually sell-out at the Mint quickly upon release.

The UK 2017 Prince Philip Silver Piedfort £5

Importantly, it coin has been strictly limited to just 1,250 pieces worldwide, a tiny amount, especially when you consider the popularity of the other specifications. In fact, it’s actually the lowest EVER edition limit for a UK £5 Piedfort coin.

We expect a full sell-out. And fast.

 

 

The UK Prince Philip Silver Piedfort will be available from 10th November but can be pre-ordered now.


The UK 2017 Prince Philip Silver Piedfort £5

If you’re interested…

You can pre-order one of the Prince Philip Silver Piedfort Coins by clicking here now >>

Posted in Coins, New Issues, New Issues, Uncategorised | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments