These are just a few pictures of pre-decimal coins from Britain. The page is meant as background for those from overseas who have come across references to the coins in their family history research. It is not a page for numismatists. There are links to more in depth accounts in my introduction
which also gives a little explanation of the system used by our ancestors.
As a guide to size the half crown is about 30mm diameter and all the other coins are to the same scale
George V 1936
The shield on the reverse is quartered with the arms of England, Scotland's lion rampant, and Ireland. The inscription gives the title Defender of the Faith (Fid Def) and to be Emperor of India (Ind Imp). The former, often abbreviated further to FD, is a long-standing feature of our coins. It was originally a title given personally to Henry VIII by the Pope and the reference was to the Catholic Faith. The claim to be Empress of India began with Victoria and has now been abandoned.
GEORGE III 1797
A very large "cartwheel" two penny coin. Soon replaced with a more pocketable coin. The inscription on the front says Georgius III D.G. Rex and on the back there is a picture of Britannia - her name together with the date make up the inscription. She appears on many later coins but as you can see in the some of the pictures below the bunch of flowers (olive branch?) she is holding here is replaced with a more practical shield.
The picture on the back is St George killing the dragon.
GEORGE V 1929
The reverse is similar to other coins. It was only the late versions of the farthing that had a wren.
Last update 20/06/2001