Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Peculiarities of the UK coins

Admittedly, the coinage in different countries have their unique peculiarities. The coins in the UK are no exception. The first thing about UK coins that struck me when I first arrived is their obvious weight and size - especially that of the 2p and £2 coins. Besides that, the difference in size between denominations (between 2p and 5p for example) is quite apparent.

However, there is just one thing about these coins that is staring right at me all this while. Below is the picture of all the UK coins from largest denomination £2 on the left to the smallest denomination (the copper coloured 1 penny) on the right. See if you can spot the pattern.


From the left most (top row) is £2 followed by £1 (left bottom row) then 50p (second from left, top row), 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p (large copper coloured, top right) and finally 1p.

To make it more obvious, I've arranged the coins into two seperate rows. At this point, you should be able make out that the size of the coins alternate between small and large between one denomination to the next denomination; 1p (small), 2p (large), 5p (small), 10p (large) and so on.

Intriguing, isn't it? I wonder whether there is any reason why they are made this way. Any ideas? Are there any similar or other patterns that you have came across in the coins in any other countries?

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Emm said...

I don't think it is still the case, but when I was at primary school, 5p, 10p and 50p pieces were much bigger and I don't think we had 20p pieces yet (and certainly not £1 or £2). Well, if I remember correctly, the coins were all relative to each other in weight. So five 1p's weighed the same as a 5p. It was great learning maths and learning to count with coins.

Then I moved to South Africa where ourcoins were minute in my opinion! And they became smaller yet in the past 15 years!!

FĂ«anor said...

I suspect there are historical reasons - comparability with shillings and so on, especially after decimalisation in 1971 - but check out this site (Royal Mint) for a lovely overview of British coinage.

Jack - eyeflare travel advice said...

Because the coins are made with different patterns on the outside, different circumference, and different width, it's quite easy to learn each by touch. I.e. great for sight impaired people.

Notice how you can easily recognize the 1p and 2p coins? Smooth outside and different size. Or the £1 and £2 coins, they're both thick, and with ribbed outsides, while the 5p and 10p are thin with ribbed outside.

Pretty clever I think.

Dutchie said...

When I first visited the UK in 1989, I was quite confused abt the coins - how many smaller units made up to 1 bank note. Now as I looked at the coins u laid out, they seemed very logical to me. They hv the same denomination as the euro coins.

Some years back I read in a traveller magazine abt "change-cheating" in some countries bec the tourists were not familiar with the local currencies.

My hubby has remnants of some 20 foreign currencies from his travels. The Bahamas has the Queen's image on one side n 2 fishes on the other. I like the coins from the french polynesian bec it resembles the ancient roman coins n they come in big round shapes. And yes, the South African coins r tiny in comparison to many countries (like Emm said).

One of my niece has a gold fish bowl full of foreign coins collected from tourists who came by her dad's shop in SG. Must be worth a few thousand dollars but it's worthless if she cant spend them in their original country.

I'm waiting to unload our US$ when they recover to the same rate as when we bought them 4 yrs ago !

Martin in Bulgaria said...

Hi CK,
I agree with Jack, the thought behind the coins is mainly for poeple with poor or no eyesight.

yanjie said...

I had to lay out the coins like what you did to try to identify which coin is which. I absolutely hate the 2p coins! So big, but no value!

Lady Banana said...

Funny, never thought of coins this way! LOL