As the head of the British Empire for a quarter of a century, King George V has had his portrait minted on a lot of coins and currencies, from India and Australia to Canada and others. He was also on the obverse of the British Penny all throughout his reign, however, the British penny King George V coin is a piece that interests a lot of numismatists and can be quite valuable today.
So, today we’ll take a more detailed look into the bronze British penny King George V coin value, variations, details, and errors.
Table of Contents
British Penny King George V Coin Specifications
- Composition: Bronze
- Weight: 9.4 grams or 1/3 ounces
- Diameter: 31 mm or 1.2 inches
- Years of minting: 1911 to 1936
- Obverse: Left-facing King George V portrait with the lettering all around saying “Georgivs V Dei Gra: Britt: Omn: Rex Fid: Def: Ind: Imp:
- Obverse Designer: Bertram MacKennal
- Reverse: Seating and right-facing Britannia with a shield and a trident with the year of minting below and the denomination “One Penny” written on the left and right
The above may not sound all that special on its own but, as with any other coin that’s been minted for a quarter of a century or more, the bronze British penny King George V coin has quite a storied history and a lot of rare variants that are exceptionally valuable and sought after today.
British Penny King George V Coin History
Up until the end of the 19th century, Britain had an official post for the Engraver of British coins.
However, with the death of the last Engraver in 1903, George William de Saulles, the post was abolished.
This meant that, once King George V was crowned in 1910, a competition had to be held for the potential designs of future coins with his image.
This first coin design competition in British history was won by Bertram Mackennal who had also prepared the medal for King George V’s coronation.
In fact, the king liked Mackennal’s work so much that he appointed him as a Member of the Royal Victorian Order in 1911 and even knighted him in 1921.
Mackennal made only the obverse design, however, as the reverse, featuring the shield- and trident-wielding Britannia is an old and traditional design. In fact, the presence of Britannia on coins is a tradition that dates all the way back to the age of the Roman Empire.
Regardless, with their new design ready to go and declared official on 28 November 1910, the King George V pennies started going into circulation on 1 January 1911.
The vast majority of these coins were made by the Royal Mint
However, due to high demand, some coins were also produced by the Heaton Mint in Birmingham in 1912, 1918, and 1919 and others – by the Kings Norton Metal Co. Ltd in 1918 and 1919.
The former is recognizable by the “H” mint mark to the left of the date and the latter – by the similar KN mint mark on the same spot.
A small change took place in 1922 when the bronze alloy was altered slightly to include 95.5 percent copper, 3 percent tin, and 1.5 percent zinc.
That made the coins a bit more malleable but kept their original size and weight statistics.
After that – and seemingly unrelated – no coins were struck in 1923, 1924, and 1925 due to a lack of demand.
A more significant change took place in 1926 when the obverse design was modified slightly to make the details on the king’s head more defined – here’s a good video showcasing the slight difference in design with previous pennies. After that, in 1928, the design was changed even more as the head was made even smaller.
This design remained in use until 1936 when the King George V penny stopped being minted and the King Edward VIII British penny went into production Instead.
Probably the most notable year in that period, however, is 1933.
In 1923-1925, the Royal Mint didn’t see the need to produce King George V pennies for wide circulation in 1933 because there was not enough demand for them.
However, the mint did strike a few sets for a different purpose.
At the time, there was a custom for the king himself to place sets of current coins under the foundations of new and important structures such as buildings for governmental institutions.
As there were going to be a few such buildings in 1933, the Royal Mint had to strike three such sets.
In addition to them, the mint also produced two extra sets for display purposes – one for the British Museum and one for the mint’s own museum.
There were two extra sets produced too for a total of just 7 sets made in 1933 with just a few coins per set and with three of those sets buried underground that same year.
As you can imagine, this made the remaining several 1933 King George V British pennies incredibly rare, valuable, and sought after.
In fact, to this day they are known as some of the rarest and most highly-valued British coins.
British Penny King George V Coin Variants
Looking at the history of this coin above, we can easily see that there are quite a few different variants of this coin to be on the lookout for. Here are some of the key and distinctive variants of this coin:
1. Regular 1911-1926 King George V pennies produced by the Royal Mint
2. Regular 1912, 1918, and 1919 King George V pennies produced by the Heaton Mint
3. Regular 1918 and 1919 King George V pennies made by the Kings Norton Metal Co. Ltd
4. Regular modified large head King George V 1926 and 1927 pennies made by the Royal Mint
5. Regular small-head King George V pennies made by the Royal Mint from 1928 to 1936
6. Proof King George V pennies made by the Royal Mint in various years (1926 and 1931, in particular)
7. Special 1933 King George V penny sets made for limited use only
Of course, these different variants command different prices.
Proof coins from 1926 and 1931, as well as the exceptionally rare 1933 coins, are much more valuable and desirable than a regular 1914 penny that’s been in wide circulation for decades.
That said, even regular pennies can command very high prices today if they’ve been kept from wide circulation and have maintained a high enough quality grade.
British Penny King George V Coin Grading
As with all other coins you can find on Coin Value Checker, the King George V coin value is largely determined by two factors – its quality grade and the presence of certain unique and rare manufacturing errors. In fact, as this is a very old and historic coin, its quality grade is even more of an important factor than it is for most newer pieces.
Quality grades for such old coins work on the same principles as all others, however – the visual qualities and preservation of the coin are examined, and the closer it’s been kept to an uncirculated mint state, the higher its grade is going to be. Most experts use the 1-to-70 Sheldon coin grading scale.
Looking for manufacturing errors in these coins is the next thing that can enhance their collector’s value but with coins as old as these, the visual quality grade is by far the most important factor.
King George V British pennies are fascinating coins for many reasons.
Like other King George V currencies from across the globe, these pennies are old, beautiful, and hold an immense historic value that easily translates into monetary value if the individual coin has been kept in a good enough condition.
British Penny King George V Coin FAQ ( Frequently Asked Questions )
1. Are George V Pennies Valuable?
Ans: As coins with quite a bit of history behind them, King George V British pennies tend to be quite valuable today and even regular circulation pennies can be valued at several dozen or even hundreds of dollars if they’ve been preserved well enough.
Uncirculated, mint state, proof, and special edition pennies, on the other hand, can be worth well into the thousands of dollars and above.
2. What is The Most Valuable King George V British coin?
Ans: Technically speaking, the most valuable King George V British coin would be the 1917 King George V Gold Sovereign London.
That’s a 22-carat gold coin that features King George V on the obverse and St. George and the Dragon on the reverse.
This isn’t really a King George V British penny, however – of those, the special 1933 set coins would be considered the rarest and most valuable.
3. How Do You Know If You Have a Valuable King George V British Penny Coin?
Ans: Quality is the key factor with coins as old as the King George V British penny. With new coins, we tend to look for the presence of unique manufacturing errors as there are many new coins kept in good quality.
With coins from the early 20th century, however, the most important factor to look for is how well the details on the coin have been preserved.
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