Sunday, February 4, 2024


The Isle of Man is part of the British Isles, but not part of the UK. It is a self-governing Crown Dependency, but the UK government is responsible for its defence and representing its interests abroad. The British monarch is the Isle of Man’s head of state, and their head appears on their currency, the value of the Manx pound being tied to the British Pound.

The Isle of Man government has said it will no longer produce their own 1p and 2p coins, as they cost more to produce than their face value. Businesses on the island have been asked to start rounding prices to the nearest 5p, in preparation for shortages of the lower value coins in the coming years.

This is old news to many people. Six countries that have the Euro as their currency have not used one- and two-cent coins since 2013, something I hardly noticed when I visited the Republic of Ireland in 2016. The policy there is also to round up the final amount to pay to the nearest five cents, a policy introduced in Sweden in 1972 when they began a similar process with the krona – the öre still exists as one hundredth of a krona, but the one-krona coin has been the smallest unit of physical currency since 2010.

The last item I bought for a penny was a few years ago, a second-hand book obtained through Amazon, although the cost of postage must have made up for any shortfall. I remember being able to buy penny sweets individually, but that was in the 1990s.

The time is now ticking on the practicality of the British penny, despite the protestations of coin collectors. My own coin collection exists mainly to have examples of old coins, like the old pre-decimal farthing, one quarter of a penny when 240 pennies made a pound, itself withdrawn in 1960. I also own three unopened rolls of decimal half-penny coins, withdrawn in 1984 when dividing a pound into more than a hundred units became useless. Few coin-operated payment machines in the UK now accept coins under 10p in value – by the way, one Swedish krona happens to be worth between seven and eight pence. I usually only carry coins in an emergency, anticipating if a car park is only accepting cash, or if a card payment machine in a shop is broken, otherwise only paying in coins to get rid of the weight received as change from using banknotes. I would be fine with the “shilling” being the lowest value British coin, as the five pence coin is smaller in size than a penny.

Coins don’t wear away that fast, so coin collectors will be fine for some time to come – this group is the reason I rarely see a fifty pence coin in my change, as they are usually issued these days as special editions. A new set of standard, “definitive” coins will be introduced by the Royal Mint, with a dormouse and red squirrel on the 1p and 2p respectively, so they will remain for some time yet. The penny could eventually become a commemorative coin, having been pure silver until the switch to copper in 1796, before bronze and copper-coated steel followed – this will allow the usually-commemorative crown coin, valued at £5, to finally replace the £5 note.

No comments:

Post a Comment