Proof and Specimen Sets
Elizabeth II (1952-2022), Trial Currency Decimal coin set, series 1, undated [c. 1963], comprising Twenty Pence, cupro-nickel, edge grained, 36mm, 22.77g; Ten Pence, cupro-nickel, edge grained, 28.5mm, 11.39g; Five Pence, cupro-nickel, edge grained, 24mm, 6.02g; Two Pence, bronze, edge plain, 26mm, 7.10g; Penny, bronze, edge plain, 20mm, 3.56g; Halfpenny, bronze, edge plain, 17mm, 2.00g, all with obvs. plain, revs. numerical mark of value (ESC p.580, PDS 2) . All toned and some with light handling marks, otherwise as struck, a very significant set of the highest rarity £600-£800
Provenance: Professor John Rimington [Decimal Currency Committee], 1963; Spink Auction 124, 18-19 November 1997, lot 2263; Joanna Tansley Collection, DNW Auction 67, 28 September 2005, lot 417; DNW Auction 75, 26 September 2007, lot 594
The trials in this lot were among the actual pieces circulated at meetings of the Decimal Currency Committee by Sir Jack James, CB (1906-80), Deputy Master of the Mint, in order to aid discussion of possible options. Following the publication of the report of the Committee the pieces were retained by John Rimington, the Committee's assistant secretary, until being placed on the open market in November 1997. Only two other sets with comparable status exist in private hands. The Two Pence and Penny in this set are identical in composition, size and weight to the present pieces and they can thus be regarded as the unique lineal ancestors of today's decimal bronze coins. This set represents the coinage actually recommended by the Committee in their report, it being a 'given' that the florin and shilling had to retain their existing size, shape and value at 10p and 5p respectively, while the weight of a 20p was similarly a 'given' although the large size of the coin was seen as a disadvantage. With this in mind the Committee asked the Mint to produce a stubbier 20p blank of the same weight, but was repelled by its appearance and, aided by the complete indifference of Sir Jack James to such a thick coin, the matter was quietly dropped.