When Silver coins were worth something!

This is where we take some of our mature readers back in time a tad!

Here at Top Dog gold I do not only deal with the value of gold but also silver, occasionally in the way of coinage, when silver coloured coins in use were actually worth something if that makes sense at all!

I am briefly outlining the actual physical content of our coins during the last 200 years or so and hopefully will be of interest!


Silver coins

I see lots of “silver” coins as like the Queens Jubilee and Winston Churchill commemorative coins which are made mainly from nickel and not silver so are worthless from a scrap viewpoint. The same for modern coins. However before 1920 (i.e. up to and including 1919) coins in circulation like shillings and sixpences (we are going back are we not!) these were made of 925 parts per thousand silver; before 1947 (i.e. up to and including 1946) 500 parts per thousand so 92.5% and 50% percent silver respectively. From 1947 'silver' coins were minted to contain no silver but comprise cupro-nickel - 75% copper and 25% nickel.


Copper and brass coins

Brass 3d:                            79% copper, 1% nickel, 20% zinc
1d, 1/2d and 1/4d:               Pre -1923    95% copper, 4% tin, 1% zinc                                          
                                          1923-1942 951/2% copper, 3% tin, 11/2% zinc
                                          from 1942 97% copper, 1/2% tin, 21/2% zinc

Gold coins

The basic specification of gold coins has remained unaffected since 1820, they were made of 22ct gold (916.66 parts per thousand) the remaining metal (83.33 parts per thousand) being copper. There was a five pound coin of 39.94g. (diameter 36.02mm); £2.00 coin 15.9761 g (diameter 28.4mm); £1.00 coin (Sovereign) 7.9881g (diameter 22.05mm); £0.50 (Half Sovereign) 3.9940g (diameter 19.30mm).

A wealth (excuse the pun!) of information can be found via the Royal Mint website.



For those younger readers Britain changed to a decimal coinage on 15th February 1971. By 1971 the halfpenny was worth so little that even the banks excluded it from calculations and brass threepences were collected by children as souvenirs. The new halfpenny was demonetised in 1984; with the one pound coin was introduced in 1983, the one pound note was withdrawn from circulation in 1988 and the £2.00 coin was introduced in 1998. Time flys!


Whether you may have silver or maybe want to sell scrap gold then please feel free to contact us for a valuation or peraps some handy advice.

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