Penny (coin)

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Penny coins currently in circulation ranging from 20 pence to 1 penny. ½ penny is out of course.

The penny (plural pence for values ; abbreviation: p ) is a sub- currency unit that used to exist in many countries with British influence . Word and thing are related to the pfennig currency unit used in the German-speaking world . Originally, a penny was equal to a fraction of a pound , in the ratio 1 pound = 240 pence. Today the penny exists in the United Kingdom and its dependent territories as a division of the pound sterling into 100 pence. In the United States and Canada, penny is the common name for a cent ($ 0.01).

middle age

The silver penny was probably introduced in the English interior by King Offa of Mercien around 786 . The name Penny is derived from the Old English word peniġ [ ˈpɛnɪj ], pæniġ [ ˈpænɪj ] (plural: peneġas, pæneġas ), earlier pening (penning, pending) , which goes back to the same root word as the German word Pfennig . The coins were similar in size and weight to the denarius common on the mainland at that time . Until the 1970s, the penny was denoted with d. abbreviated. This is derived from the Latin denarius .

The Anglo-Saxon silver pennies were also the currency in which the danegeld was paid (a kind of protection money or arson , which one the Vikings paid, so they moved on without plunder). You can load, which was the danegeld time for England, well moor at the fact that more Anglo-Saxon pennies were found from the first millenium in Denmark than in England itself. In the reign of Aethelred (978-1016) were around 45 Millions of pennies paid to the Danes and Knut the Great (1016-1035) had to pay 20 million pennies to the invading army. It is estimated that the total weight of silver paid as danegeld between 990 and 1015 was approximately 93 tons. At the time that was equivalent to £ 250,000. Converted to the current value of this currency, this results in 1.2 billion pounds sterling (approx. 1.8 billion €).

A penny originally contained 1240 of a troy pound of silver (a troy pound is 373 g - so the penny weighed 1.55 g). In order to ensure the purity and the exact observance of the weight, the name of the mint and the mint was noted on the reverse of a coin.

From the reign of King Offa onwards, the penny was the only type of coin minted in England for a period of around 500 years; until the time when King Henry III. and later King Edward III. initiated the minting of gold coins.

See also the later denominations Farthing , Schilling , Groat , Florin , Crown , Nobel , Guinea and Sovereign , which represented penny multiples or parts.

19th century

After a few private mints, copper pennies were officially minted from 1797 under the government of George III. put into circulation. These copper coins were quite thick with a diameter of 36 mm and were called " cartwheels ". Since 1830, silver pennies have only been minted for special coin sets, the Maundy sets . After 1860, weight and diameter were reduced and with the same design on the back, the Britannia seated with Neptune's trident and shield, retained until decimalization.


It was not until 1971 that the penny was adjusted to the decimal system. Instead of a 240th of a pound sterling , it was now equal to a 100th. To distinguish it, the decimal penny was called "New Penny" ( New Pence ); In 1982 this addition was deleted again.

Numerous British colonies and members of the British Commonwealth knew the penny as a unit of currency. Until the introduction of the euro , the Irish pound was also divided into pence. Today, apart from the United Kingdom, the penny is only found in the dependent areas of the Falkland Islands , Gibraltar , Guernsey , Isle of Man , Jersey and St. Helena . The 1 cent piece in the USA , Canada and other former British colonies is also called a "penny". Penny farthing is the in English farthing called, alluding to the huge front wheel and the rear very small.


Web links

Wiktionary: Penny  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Penny  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files