The British decimal one penny (1p) coin is a unit of currency equalling one-hundredth of a pound sterling. Its obverse has featured the profile of Queen Elizabeth II since the coin’s introduction on 15 February 1971, the day British currency was decimalised. The penny was originally minted from bronze, but since 1992 has been minted in copper-plated steel  due to increasing copper prices.

Four different portraits of the Queen have been used on the obverse side of the coin; the latest design by Jody Clark was introduced in 2015.

The reverse of the coin, which was minted from 1971 to 2008, featured a crowned portcullis with chains (an adaptation of the Badge of Henry VII which is now the Badge of the Palace of Westminster), with the numeral “1” written below the portcullis, and either NEW PENNY (1971–1981) or ONE PENNY (1982–2008) above the portcullis.

The second and current reverse side, designed by Matthew Dent, features a segment of the Royal Shield and was introduced in 2008. The penny is the lowest value coin (in real terms) ever to circulate in the United Kingdom.



Key theme(s):

Going OutShopping

More information:

Date 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Material(s) CopperMetal
Item number MBPO23

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • What could you buy for a penny?
  • Were you given a penny to buy sweets as a child?
  • Do you save your coppers in a jar or container at home?

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