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O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Northern Ireland Brass Threepence (Elizabeth II)


Background:

By 1947, towards the end of George VI’s reign, silver British coinage was no more. Silver was just too valuable a commodity to waste on coinage and, with the break up of the British Empire now inevitable, there as no need to ‘pretend’ British sterling was the world’s foremost currency.  Many other currencies were still minting 90% silver coins, whereas Britain’s coinage contained only 50% silver since 1920. In truth, Britain had been struggling financially since the end of The Great War; the Great Depression weakened it further… and the Second World War all but bankrupted it.

The silver threepence slipped quietly into history and the brass alternative, which had circulated since 1937, got a ‘make-over’ when Elizabeth II came to the throne. Out went the ‘sea thrift’ design favoured by Edward VIII (who had abdicated in 1936 and spent the war as Governor of the Bahamas) and in came the ‘portcullis & crown’ design for Elizabeth II.

Elizabeth II Brass Threepence:

Type 1 Obverse, 1953 GB brass threepence

Type 1 Obverse, 1953 GB brass threepence

  • Edge: 12-sided, plain
  • Border: Teeth, and the teeth sit inside a narrow raised rim.
  • Weight: 21mm
  • Diameter: 6.8g

Obverse:

  • laureate bust of young Queen Elizabeth II facing right
    • Legend: (1953 only)
    • ELIZABETH II DEI GRA:BRITT:OMN:REGINA F:D:

      • Full Latin Text: ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM OMNIUM REGINA FIDEI DEFENSATRIX
      • Translation: Elizabeth the Second, by the grace of God, Queen of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith.
    • Legend: 1954-67
    • ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
      • Full Lain Text: ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FIDEI DEFENSATRIX
      • Translation: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith.
  •  Designer:
    • Mary Gillick

Reverse:

Type 2 Obverse, 1967 GB brass threepence

Type 2 Obverse, 1967 GB brass threepence

  • An encircled portcullis, with chains either side. Above is a crown, to either side are the words ‘THREE’ and ‘PENCE’, and below is the date.
    • Legend: THREE PENCE
      • Date below
    • Designer: William Gardner (W.G.)
      • Frances Madge Kitchener

 

Mintage & Market Values:

1953-67 GB & Ireland Brass Threepence (Elizabeth II) mintage & coin market values

Notes:

  • Almost 152 million brass threepences were produced dated 1967 to bridge the
    gap prior to the introduction of decimal coinage in the UK whilst the Royal Mint was moved to Wales.
    • Some of these ‘1967’ coins were actually minted at a later date but still carried the earlier year designation.
  • Although most of the Elizabeth II brass threepences are still quite common, it is well worthwhile looking for minting errors. These can be worth up to €50 each – especially the more noticeable examples like the one illustrated below.
1959 GB & Northern Ireland brass threepence (Elizabeth II) minting error

1959 GB & Northern Ireland brass threepence (Elizabeth II) minting error

  • In 1958 and 1966, some GB brass threepences are understood to have been struck (in error) on cupro-nickel blanks.
    • These minting errors are rare.
  • In 1961, some GB threepences are believed to have been struck (in error) on Hong Kong 10c blanks.
    • These minting errors are rare.

 

 

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