Twenty pence (British coin)
|Value||20.0 pence sterling|
|Composition||84% Cu, 16% Ni|
|Years of minting||1982–present(excluding 1986)|
|Design||Queen Elizabeth II|
|Design||Segment of the Royal Shield|
The British decimal twenty pence (20p) coin – often pronounced "twenty pee" – was issued on 9 June 1982 to fill the gap between the ten pence and fifty pence coins. It rapidly gained acceptance: as of March 2008 there were an estimated 2.3 billion 20p coins in circulation.
The coins origins came from the need for an intermediate coin between 10 and 50p. A 25 pence coin was suggested but Noel Moore persuaded the government that a 20 pence coin would be of more suitability. 
The coin is minted from a cupronickel alloy of 84% copper and 16% nickel (unlike the other 'silver' coins which are 75% copper, 25% nickel), weighs 5.00 grams and has a diameter of 21.4 millimetres (0.84 in). Measuring at the highest points (the edge) it is 1.7 mm thick. Like the fifty pence piece, the coin is not circular, but is seven-sided to aid identification. The sides are not straight but are curved so that the centre of curvature is the opposite apex of the coin – this is an equilateral curve (a curve of constant width) which allows the coin's diameter to be consistently measured in vending machines and slot machines.
Three different obverses have been used so far: between 1982 and 1984 the head of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin; between 1985 and 1997 the head by Raphael Maklouf; and since 1998 the head by Ian Rank-Broadley. In all cases, the inscription is ELIZABETH II D.G.REG.F.D.
As with all British coinage, the technical specifications are the same as those of coins issued by sterling zone territories such as the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey and Gibraltar. As a result, coins from these territories can sometimes be found in UK circulation. The coin also has similar size, metallic composition and weight as the U.S. nickel, which has a face value of approximately an eighth of the 20p. (Other British coins, such as the 5p and the 10p, also are fairly close to U.S. and Canadian coins—the dime and quarter respectively—but are close enough in monetary value that the discrepancy is not as much of an issue.)
The original reverse of the coin, designed by William Gardner, is a crowned Tudor Rose, with the numeral "20" below the rose, the year, and TWENTY PENCE above the rose. Uniquely in modern British coinage, the inscriptions are mostly incuse; i.e. the lettering is punched into the coin rather than standing proud of it. The coin also differed from other British coinage at the time (bar the more recent £2 coin) in that the year of mintage is displayed on the reverse (the opposite side to the Queen's head).
In August 2005 the Royal Mint launched a competition to find new reverse designs for all circulating coins except the relatively new £2 coin. The winner, announced in April 2008, was Matthew Dent, whose designs were gradually introduced into the circulating British coinage from summer 2008. The designs for the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p coins depict sections of the Royal Shield that form the whole shield when placed together. The shield in its entirety is featured on the £1 coin. The 20p coin depicts the meeting point of the second and fourth quarter of the shield, showing the Lion Rampant of Scotland and the Lions Passants of England. The date no longer appears on the reverse of the coin, and has instead been added to the obverse, where the lettering has been adjusted so as to fit the date in.
William Gardner design
- 1982 ~ 740,815,000
- 1983 ~ 158,463,000
- 1984 ~ 65,350,965
- 1985 ~ 74,273,699
- 1986 ~ none
- 1987 ~ 137,450,000
- 1988 ~ 38,038,344
- 1989 ~ 132,013,890
- 1990 ~ 88,097,500
- 1991 ~ 35,901,250
- 1992 ~ 31,205,000
- 1993 ~ 123,123,750
- 1994 ~ 67,131,250
- 1995 ~ 102,005,000
- 1996 ~ 83,163,750
- 1997 ~ 89,518,750
- 1998 ~ 76,965,000
- 1999 ~ 73,478,750
- 2000 ~ 136,428,750
- 2001 ~ 148,122,500
- 2002 ~ 93,360,999
- 2003 ~ 153,383,750
- 2004 ~ 120,212,500
- 2005 ~ 124,488,750
- 2006 ~ 114,800,000
- 2007 ~ 117,075,000
- 2008 ~ 11,900,000
Matthew Dent design
- 2008 ~ 115,022,000 (the dateless coin is included in this mintage)
- 2009 ~ 121,625,300
- 2010 ~ 91,700,500
- 2011 ~ 191,625,000
- 2012 ~ 69,650,030
An unusual accidental dateless version of the 20 pence was reported to be in circulation in June 2009, the first undated British coin to enter circulation in more than 300 years. This was the result of the production of a mule, i.e. a version of the coin with a non-standard combination of obverse and reverse face designs. The fault occurred as a result of the 2008 redesign of UK coinage, which moved the date on a 20 pence from the reverse to the obverse (Queen's head side), and a batch of coins were produced using the tooling for the obverse of the old design and the reverse of the new design. The Royal Mint estimated that between 50,000 and 200,000 entered circulation before the error was noticed. The Royal Mint stated these coins were still legal tender, although due to their rarity they are traded above face value by collectors. Following publicity about the coins they were initially traded on eBay for several thousand pounds, although an eBay spokesman was unable to confirm if an accepted winning bid of £7,100 for one coin had actually been transacted. In June 2011 they trade at around £100.
- Estimated Coins in Circulation, Royal Mint
- "Royal Mint seeks new coin designs", BBC News, 17 August 2005
- "Royal Mint unveils new UK coins", 2 April 2008
- "Hertfordian" (Sun, 17 Feb 2008 11:42:16 GMT). "<s4Vtj.699$%W6.email@example.com> So that's what the new design decimal coins in the UK will be like....". uk.rec.collecting.coins. Web link. "So that's what the new design decimal coins in the UK will be like"]: a description of the new designs appeared in the London Gazette in February 2008, as reported on Usenet group rec.collecting.coins
- First of the New, video about the new designs from the Royal Mint
- United Kingdom decimal coins issued into general circulation, Royal Mint
- Grant, Caroline (1 July 2009). "Rare 20p coin on sale for £20,000 on eBay". Daily Mail. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
- Wentworth, Jo (1 July 2009). "eBay frenzy as undated 20p sells for £8k". Totally Money. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
- "London Mint Office". Retrieved October 21, 2011.