British Coins Identification

It can be difficult to identify British coins as often no denomination is stated on the coin and the legends are usually in Latin. If you have no experience with British coins usually the diameter of the coin and the metal type are enough for identification purposes.

Before the installation of steam coin presses around the later part of the 1700's most denominations had a slightly irregular shape and although the weights were fairly uniform, often the exact sizes were not. During the reign of George III particularly, forgery was rife, in fact it played a big part in providing the masses with money for small transactions when official regal coinage was thin on the ground. However, the forged coinage was often underweight and under (or even over) sized. For this reason you should allow some tolerance for the earlier coins shown on the table below.

How do you know if the coin is British?

Most British coins do not state Great Britain, UK, England or any country name. If the legend contains Britt, Britannia, Britanniar or Britanniarum, that's a good indication the coin is British or British colonial (the colony names are nearly always stated). BRITANNIA (and its variations) was the name given to Great Britain by the Romans and has been used on many British coins ever since. The word 'Britt' is in fact part of the King or Queens title, normally you will see BRITT:OMN:REX which is an abbreviation for King of all Britons. (this title was dropped in 1953 after most of the colonies gained independence).

It is probably also worth bringing up 'HIBERNIA' coins at this stage as particularly during the reigns of George III and George IV (1760-1830) the whole of Ireland was officially part of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and coins were minted in London and issued for use in Ireland with the Latin 'HIBERNIA' on them. These coins were often very similar in size and format to the 'BRITANNIA' coins but sometimes included different denominations. Irish coins and have not been included on this page.

Here is a short guide to help identify British coins dated from 1760 -1967 using metal types, date ranges and diameters. I have not included countermarked coins, proofs or patterns.

Copper/Bronze coins (usually brown coloured)
1771-177523-24mmSlightly irregular shaped copper coin
179922mmOne year type copper coin
1770-177529-30mmSlightly irregular shaped copper coin
179931mmOne year type copper coin
179736mmChunky one year type copper
1806-185934mmCopper, intermittent dates
Two Penny  
179741mmChunky one year type copper
Brass coins (usually gold/brown colour)
1937-1967Appox 21mm12 Sided issue
Silver / Cupro-nickel coins (usually silver tones)
1763-182012mmSilver coin. Intermittent dates
1821-now11mmSilver pennies are still issued yearly in the Maundy ceremony
1763-180014mmSilver coin. Intermittent dates
1817-now13mmSilver twopennies are still issued yearly in the Maundy ceremony
1762-180018mmSilver coin. Intermittent dates
1817-182017mmSilver coin
1822-now16mmSilver threepennies are 
Groats / Fourpences  
1763-180019.5mmSilver coin, intermittent dates
1817-182018mmSilver coin
1836-188816mmSilver coin
1822-now18mmSilver Maundy type still issued yearly in the Maundy ceremony. Large '4' on reverse
1786-179121-22mmSilver coin
1816-196719mmSilver/Cupro-nickel coin.
1763-177826mmSilver coin. Intermittent dates
178725mmSilver coin, one year type
1816-196723mmSilver/Cupro-nickel coin.
Florin (or 2 Shillings)  
184928mmSilver coin 'Godless' type
1851-188730mmSilver coin
1887-189229.5mmSilver coin
1893-196728.5mmSilver/Cupro-nickel coin.
Half Crown  
1816-196732mmSilver/Cupro-nickel coin.
Double florin  
1887-189036mmSilver coin
180441mmOverstruck Spanish/colonial pieces of Eight were turned into a Bank of England Dollar with a face value of 5 Shillings. Earlier Dollars/Half Dollars just had a small countermark and fluctuating face value
1818-195138.61mmSilver/Cupro-nickel coin.
1953-date38mmModern crowns have a face value of 25p or 1990-date, Five pounds.
Gold coins*
Third Guinea  
1776-181317mmGold coin, intermittent dates
Half Guinea  
1762-181320mmGold coin, intermittent dates
1761-181324mmGold coin, intermittent dates
Half Sovereign  
1817-date19.3mmGold coin
1817-date22.05mmGold coin
* Other larger Gold coins do exist but are rare and usually patterns and quite valuable!
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