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The Royal Mint celebrates the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day with a new coin

Photo credit: The Royal Mint

The Royal Mint, the Original Maker of UK coins, has today launch a new commemorative coin celebrating a British milestone – the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day.  The introduction of a new decimal currency was formally adopted on 15th February, 1971 and was one of the largest and most intensive public awareness campaigns ever staged by the government.

The new commemorative coin celebrates this monumental moment in history with a design that conveys the transition from pre-decimal to decimal coins. The design, created by Royal Mint designer Dominique Evans, adds nostalgia to the occasion by featuring a whole range of denominations together for the basis of the design.

Dominique, comments on her design, “I have always had such a fondness for coins, their designs and individuality. Even though people understood the reason for Decimal Day, they had and still have a fondness for the pre-decimal coins.  Those pre-decimal coins can still be found all over the country, in random jumbles in boxes and drawers, which led me to place together the denominations as if you had just found them and were looking at them from above. The sweet wren peeks out from under the crown of a threepence, sitting alongside the rose of the sixpence – all below the iconic Britannia.”

Clare Maclennan, Divisional Director of the Consumer Division at The Royal Mint said:

 “This year marks a significant anniversary in The Royal Mint’s 1,100-year history, the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day. In 1966, the decision was made to evolve the nation’s coinage from pounds, shillings and pence to a new decimal currency. This was a major logistical exercise that impacted on every person in the country and we now celebrate this historic moment on a commemorative 50p coin with a design that brings a sense of nostalgia to the occasion.  

On the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day, we will also be offering collectors an opportunity to own a Strike-on-the Day Gold Proof 50p coin which features selected frosting, enhancing details within the design. This is the first time we have produced a strike on the day 50p coin and is a truly unique way to mark 50 years since this important moment in the nation’s coinage.”

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day, The Royal Mint are also appealing for coin collectors across the nation to share images of their coin collections. Coin collectors are able to upload images of their coin collections onto The Royal Mint website.

On 15th February 1971, the United Kingdom’s coinage evolved from the centuries-old system of pounds, shillings and pence to a new decimal currency.Far from being an overnight switch, decimalisation took many years of careful planning and also involved a huge information campaign. In order to achieve the monumental challenge of striking the new coins, a new factory was required along with new machinery, production techniques and processes.

The sheer volume of coins required for that changeover meant that The Royal Mint needed to move location from Tower Hill in London to a new production facility. In 1968 the new Royal Mint site in Llantrisant, South Wales was opened by Her Majesty The Queen and the first of almost six billion coins required for decimalisation went into production.

The first of the new coins, the 5p and 10p, entered circulation in April 1968. They bore new heraldic designs, yet corresponded exactly in size and value to the shillings and florins and, so, were able to run easily alongside them as their ‘decimal twins’.