Wednesday 21 May 2014

Another Barford on Ha'pennies

Vanessa Barford, 'Halfpenny: The story of how a tiny, 'annoying' coin was abolished' BBC News Magazine, 21 May 2014
It's 30 years since the British decimal halfpenny was being phased out. Why did the UK hang on to a tiny coin for so long? Before everyone gets misty-eyed about the bronze halfpenny, it's worth remembering how annoying Britain's least loved coin, notorious for getting lost in trousers and furniture upholstery, was. People were commonly said not to bother to bend down in the street to pick it up if they dropped one. "In terms of the coins in your pocket, it's useless," the National Consumer Council told the Herald Tribune in 1983. [...] The then Chancellor Nigel Lawson announced the coin's demise in a written Commons answer in 1984, saying "most people would be glad to get rid of them". The Royal Mint stopped making them at the end of February, and it ceased to be legal tender in December. But the curious thing about the coin is not that it was abolished, rather that it lasted a full 13 years after its introduction with decimalisation in 1971. 
So, is its early withdrawal or small size the reason why they do not seem to be turning up all that frequently as metal detector finds? Or do the coin fairies just keep them all for regulating the pendulums of their clocks? 

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