O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Northern Ireland Bronze Pennies of George VI


Background:

George VI’s reign included the economically disastrous Word War II which culminated in his overseeing the dismantling of the British Empire to the point where it had to be transformed into a weaker / less cohesive British Commonwealth.

  • The biggest loss was the independence and breakup of India into three nation states – India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • From a numismatic viewpoint, this was represented by the loss of the legend ‘IND: IMP’ on his coins from 1949-51, inclusive. See Obverse, Type 1 & 2 below.

Bronze Penny: George VI

  • Alloy: Bronze (95% copper, 4% tin and 1% zinc)
  • Weight: 9.4g
  • Diameter: 30.8mm
  • Edge: Plain
  • Designers
    • Obverse: Thomas Paget (HP)
    • Reverse: Harold Wilson Parker (WP)
1937-51 GB & Northern Ireland bronze penny (George VI)

1937-51 GB & Northern Ireland bronze penny (George VI)

Obverse: Type 1 (1937-48)

  • Bare head of King George VI facing left,with the surrounding legend::
    • Legend: +GEORGIVS VI D:G:BR:OMN:REX F:D:IND:IMP.
    • Full text: GEORGIVS VI DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM OMNIUM REX FIDEI DEFENSOR INDIAE IMPERATOR
    • Translation: George VI, by the Grace of God, King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.

Obverse: Type 2 (1949-51)

  • Bare head of King George VI facing left,with the surrounding legend::
    • Legend: +GEORGIVS VI D:G:BR:OMN:REX FIDEI DEF.
    • Full text: GEORGIVS VI DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM OMNIUM REX FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • Translation: George VI, by the Grace of God, King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith.

Reverse:

  • Britannia seated facing right, wearing a helmet, holding a trident, hand resting on a shield, with the words ‘ONE PENNY’ in the fields, and date below.
  • A lighthouse is in the background to the left of Britannia.

Mintage & Market Values:

George VI Penny, Type 1 obverse

1937-48 GB & Northern Ireland bronze penny (George VI, Type 1 Obverse) mintage & market values

1937-48 GB & Northern Ireland bronze penny (George VI, Type 1 Obverse) mintage & market values

After WW2, the British economy contracted rapidly and small change was not in such high demand. This coincided with most of the American and other Allied troops leaving the UK and, consequently, the mintage of pennies dropped dramatically.

George VI Penny, Type 2 obverse

1949-51 GB & Northern Ireland bronze penny (George VI, Type 2 Obverse) mintage & market values

1949-51 GB & Northern Ireland bronze penny (George VI, Type 2 Obverse) mintage & market values

It also coincided with the independence of India, so there was a change to the Type 2 obverse in 1949. The last two pennies of George VI (1950 and 1951) are now quite scarce and difficult to find.

  • Both dates are available as a Proof
  • Unusually, both proofs are worth considerably less than the circulating coins i the higher grades

Further reading:

 

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