UK Coins Weight & Sizes

Ever wondered about the composition of our UK coins?

There is much to learn about the crafting of coins and their history.

Size, Weight, and Compositions of U.K. Coins

Maybe you’re a coin collector and want to know some amazing money facts.

We’ll look at the composition and size of UK coins – why some coins are magnetic and some aren’t, the rarest coins in the world and some fun facts about a stream of upside down coins accidentally produced by The Royal Mint.

Let’s take you through it.

£5 coin facts

Known more as a collector’s item than used in circulation, the £5 coin has featured the profile of Queen Elizabeth II since it’s first introduction in 1990.

Although the coin is legal tender, banks are not obliged to take the coins. This is laid down in the Coinage Act 1971.

£5 coin weight and composition

£5 Coin Diameter38.61mm
£5 Coin Weight28.28g
£5 Coin Thickness2.89mm
£5 Coin CompositionCopper / Nickel

£2 coin facts

The British £2 coin was introduced in 1998 and are legal tender.

The introduction of the £2 coin came about after discussions with industry professionals including the vending machine industry, members of the public, and special interest groups, such as the RNIB and Age Concern.

The results favoured a bi-colour coin, as it would be easily distinguishable from the other coins in circulation.

The coin has featured the profile of Queen Elizabeth II since the coin’s introduction in 1998 and three different portraits of the Queen have been used.

As of March 2014 there were an estimated 417 million £2 coins in circulation.

£2 coin weight and composition

£2 Coin Diameter28.4mm
£2 Coin Weight12.0g
£2 Coin Thickness2.5mm
£2 Coin CompositionOuter: Copper / nickel / zinc.
Inner: Copper / nickel

£1 coin fun facts

The one pound coin has been in circulation since 1983 – more than 30 years. It replaced the £1 note as coins were deemed more durable than pound notes, and were more useful in the growing trend of vending machines.

It features covert security designs to protect it from increasingly sophisticated counterfeit operations.

In 2017 it was replaced with an all new, 12-sided £1 coin.

£1 coin weight and composition

£1 Coin Diameter22.5mm
£1 Coin Weight9.50g
£1 Coin Thickness2.8mm
£1 Coin CompositionCopper / Nickel / Zinc

50p coin facts

The revolutionary design of the 50p coin, introduced in 1969, made it easily distinguishable from round coins both by feel and by sight, and still allowed it to roll in vending machines.

The coin with 7 sides, the 50 pence piece is shaped as an equilateral curve heptagon.

The coin features a symbol of Britannia on the reverse of the coin – a feature of British coinage since 1672.

50p coins have commonly been used to commemorate important events and there are over 70 designs of this coin.

Designs include the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the 50th anniversary of the NHS.

50p coin weight and composition

50p Coin Diameter27.3mm
50p Coin Weight8.0g
50p Coin Thickness1.78mm
50p Coin CompositionCopper / Nickel)

20p coin facts

As of 2014, there are an estimated 2,765 million 20p coins in circulation – with some rare ones worth around £750.

Like the 50p coin, it is seven sided – an equilateral curve heptagon.

There have been four different portraits of the Queen on this coin – the latest design by Jody Clark was introduced in 2015.

At one point there were so many 20p coins in circulation that in 2017 The Royal Mint did not produce a single 20p.

20p weight and composition

20p Diameter21.4mm
20p Thickness1.7mm
20p Weight5.0g
20p CompositionCopper / Nickel

10p coin facts

With the introduction of decimal coinage in 1971 the pre-decimal two shilling coin was redenominated as a 10p piece and these coins continued to circulate alongside the 10p coins until 1993.

10p coins are legal tender for amounts up to the sum of £5,

The rarest 10p’s can be found in the ‘A to Z’ 10p collection, which was a release of 26 coins in 2018. The coins were released to celebrate the Best of British.

In this collection, there’s a 10p coin for each letter of the alphabet. Themes on the coins include Brit favs such as James Bond, a cup of tea, cricket and fish and chips.

10p coin weight and compositions

10p Coin Diameter24.5mm
10p Coin Thickness1.85mm
10p Coin Weight6.5g
10p Coin CompositionCopper / nickel

5p coin facts

The 5p coin replaced the shilling after the introduction of the decimal coinage in 1971.

Its design has featured the profile of Queen Elizabeth II since the coin’s introduction on 23 April 1968.

The rare ‘upside down 5p coin’ is a collectors item after The Royal Mint accidentally produced a series of coins the wrong way round in 2008. Some of these ‘upside down coins’ are said to be worth around £50. Not bad for a 5p coin.

5p coin weight and compositions

5p Coin Diameter18.0mm
5p Coin Weight3.25g
5p Coin thickness1.7mm
5p Coin CompositionCopper / Nickel

2p coin facts

Despite appearances, 2p coins aren’t made of copper anymore – due to high prices in metal.

They are mostly made of steel and copper plated – consequently 2p coins are magnetic.

The 2p coin was introduced on 15 February 1971 with the creation of a new decimal currency system. The other two coins issued at this time were the 1/2p and 1p coins.

2pm coin weight and compositions

2p Coin Diameter25.9mm
2p Coin Thickness2.03mm
2p Coin Weight7.12g
2p Coin CompositionBronze / Copper-plated steel

1p coin facts

Like its sister 2p coin, the 1p coin was introduced in 1971 and is also mostly made of steel – with a copper coating.

According to traditional folklore, crossing the palm of a newborn baby with silver or offering them a silver penny is a way of wishing them a wealthy and healthy life. Consequently, the Royal Mint offers a silver 1p coin to babies who are born on the same day as a Royal Baby.

1p coin weight and compositions

1p Coin Diameter20.3mm
1p Coin ThicknessBronze: 1.52mm / Steel: 1.65mm
1p Coin Weight3.56g
1p Coin CompositionBronze or Copper-plated steel

FAQ

What is the oldest coin in the world?

The ‘Lydian Lion’ is considered the oldest coin in the world. These coins predate ancient Greek coinage and were created in the ancient Kingdom of Lydia, now known as part of Turkey.

Who agrees to the design of UK coins?

The Queen must officially approve any coin design before it can be made. The design is first put to the Chancellor, who then passes it on to the Queen for her official sign-off.

Are there any coins linked to traditions?

Sailors have always been known to be superstitious. They have traditions meant to bring them good luck when building a ship. Mariners would place a couple of coins under the keel block for good fortune.

In Roman times, coins were attached to ships to attract divine protection.

How long does a coin last in circulation?

Usually about 30 years. Bank notes tend to last around 9 months.

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