Whenever I look at a handful of UK coins there’s always one coin that stands out most to me, and that’s the twenty pence piece. I have a bit of a soft spot for this particular coin, simply because for me, it was the first big change to UK coinage that occurred in my life.
The humble 20p coin tumbled into our pockets on the 9th June 1982, and was introduced, believe it or not, because there were concerns that the amount of loose change people had to carry about was getting too heavy! The thought process was that the twenty pence piece would reduce the number of ten pence pieces that had to be in circulation.
Like it’s bigger comrade the fifty pence, twenty pence coins are seven sided, and they are made of Cupro-nickel, in a ratio of 84% copper and 16% nickel.
One of the reasons I have such fond memories of this coin is that when they first went into circulation, our entire family decided that we would save up every twenty pence coin we got to keep for spending money on our next holiday. We used to keep them in a little metal tin money box that had a lager logo on it (Carlsberg I think it was), as these were a craze at the time. Sadly I forget exactly how much we saved up now…
On a sadder note though, the introduction of the twenty pence piece was also the beginning of the end for two other pieces of UK currency. Firstly, the half pence coin was removed from circulation in 1984, and then the one pound note followed in 1988, after it had become unnecessary thanks to the introduction of the one pound coin in 1983.
More recently the twenty pence coin made news headlines when a batch of new coins were issued in 2008 that did not have the year of issue inscribed upon them. This was a mistake and the Royal Mint put out a recall notice, apparently offering Â£50 for each coin returned. However, some more enterprising people who ended up with one of these mistake coins put them up on eBay for sale, and have made a quite tidy profit in the process, some going for Â£100-200 or even more!