Five pence (British coin)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Five pence
United Kingdom
Value 0.05 pound sterling
Mass (1968–1990) 5.65 g
(1990–present) 3.25 g
Diameter (1968–1990) 23.59 mm
(1990–present) 18.00 mm
Thickness (Cupro-nickel) 1.7 mm
(Steel) 1.89 mm
Edge Milled
Composition Cupronickel (1971–2012)
Nickel-plated steel (2012–)
Years of minting 1968–present
British five pence coin 2015 obverse.png
Design Queen Elizabeth II
Designer Ian Rank-Broadley
Design date 1998
British five pence coin 2015 reverse.png
Design Segment of the Royal Shield
Designer Matthew Dent
Design date 2008

The British decimal five pence (5p) coin – often pronounced five pee – is a unit of currency equaling five one-hundredths of a pound sterling. Its obverse has featured the profile of Queen Elizabeth II since the coin’s introduction in 1968, replacing the shilling in preparation for decimalisation in 1971.[1] Three different portraits of the Queen have been used, with the latest design by Ian Rank-Broadley being introduced in 1998. The second and current reverse, featuring a segment of the Royal Shield, was introduced in 2008.

Five pence and ten pence coins are legal tender only up to the sum of £5; this means it is permissible to refuse payment of sums greater than this amount in 5p and 10p coins to settle a debt.[2]

The five pence coin was originally minted from cupronickel (75% Cu, 25% Ni), but since 2012 it has been minted in nickel-plated steel due to the increasing price of metal. From January 2013, the Royal Mint began a programme to gradually remove the previous cupro-nickel coins from circulation with replacement by the nickel-plated steel versions. This will have the side effect of leaving only one circulating reverse and observe combination (see design section below).[3]

As of March 2013, an estimated 3,813 million 5p coins were in circulation with an estimated face value of £190.638 million.[4]


Original reverse: 1968–2008

The original reverse of the coin, designed by Christopher Ironside, and used from 1971 to 2008, is a crowned thistle (formally, The Badge of Scotland, a thistle royally crowned), with the numeral "5" below the thistle, and either NEW PENCE (1968–1981) or FIVE PENCE (1982–2008) above the thistle.

To date, three different obverses have been used. In all cases, the inscription is ELIZABETH II D.G.REG.F.D. 2013,[5] where 2013 is replaced by the year of minting. In the original design, both sides of the coin are encircled by dots, a common feature on coins, known as beading.

As with all new decimal currency, until 1984 the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin appeared on the obverse,[6] in which the Queen wears the 'Girls of Great Britain and Ireland' Tiara.

Between 1985 and 1997, the portrait by Raphael Maklouf was used,[6] in which the Queen wears the George IV State Diadem.

In 1990, the 5p coin was reduced in size and the older coins were removed from circulation. The design remained unchanged.

Since 1998, the portrait by Ian Rank-Broadley has been used,[6] again featuring the tiara, with a signature-mark IRB below the portrait.

In August 2005 the Royal Mint launched a competition to find new reverse designs for all circulating coins apart from the £2 coin.[7] The winner, announced in April 2008, was Matthew Dent, whose designs were gradually introduced into the circulating British coinage from mid-2008.[8] 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 5p coin depicts the centre of the Royal shield, showing the meeting point of the four quarters. The coin's obverse remains largely unchanged, but the beading (the ring of dots around the coin's circumference), which no longer features on the coin's reverse, has also been removed from the obverse.



  1. ^ Bignell, C P. "Post decimalisation". Retrieved 2006-05-23. 
  2. ^ Royal Mint Frequently Asked Questions
  3. ^ "Cupro Nickel Replacement Programme". Royal Mint. 2013. 
  4. ^ Estimated Coins in Circulation, Royal Mint
  5. ^ Clayton, Tony. "Decimal Coins of the UK – Bronze". Retrieved 2006-05-24. 
  6. ^ a b c "1p Coin". British Royal Mint. Archived from the original on 2006-04-27. Retrieved 2006-05-23. 
  7. ^ "Royal Mint seeks new coin designs", BBC News, 17 August 2005
  8. ^ "Royal Mint unveils new UK coins", 2 April 2008
  9. ^ Mintage figures, Royal Mint

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Five Pence
Succeeded by