Brown banishes 300-year-old tradition by removing Britannia from our 50p coin


Blackleaf
#1
This year, Britain will undergo the biggest change to its currency since its currency was decimalised in 1971.

Prior to 1971, Britain was the only country in the world with no decimal currency, instead having several different divisions of currency whereas other countries only had two (e.g. dollars and cents).

The three main ones were Pounds (), shillings (/-) and pence (d) but there were also guineas and crowns, etc.

There were 12 pence to a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound and 240 pence in a pound.

There were even half-pennies.

So an item in a store could cost 3, 10 shillings and four pence, and itwas written as 3, 10/-, 4d.

This was very much different to the world's other currencies were things were simple divided into 100 of something = 1 something.

It seems complicated nowadays but to the British it was very simple.

This year, the main changes occur to the design on the coins. For years and years, the 1p coin has had a portcullis on the back, the 2p has had some feathers on the back, the 5p has had rose and a crown on the back, the 10p a lion and a crown, the 50p Britannia with her lion, trident and shield. Only the 1 and 2 coins have regularly changed their designs.

But this year, the British will wave goodbye to the traditional portcullis, feathers, rose and crown, lion and crown and Britannia.

Does this prove that Prime Minister Gordon Brown's idea to promote Britishness is a sham?


Brown banishes 300-year-old tradition by removing Britannia from our 50p coin

By SIMON McGEE and GLEN OWEN
26th January 2008
Daily Mail


2008 will be the year that Britannia disappears from the back of the 50p coin - she has been on British coins since 1672


Gordon Brown's campaign to promote British values was exposed as a sham last night after it was revealed he personally approved a decision to remove Britannia from the 50p coin.

The patriotic symbol - based on a Roman goddess - will no longer be on any British coin for the first time in more than 300 years, as part of a redesign by the Royal Mint.

An overhaul of all coinage in April, being billed as the most significant change to the currency since decimalisation, will see it replaced with a representation of modern Britain.

If you support the campaign to save Britannia on the 50p coin, add your comment at the bottom of the page




Symbolic: Britannia was created by the Romans 2,000 years ago, and she first appeared on British coins in 1672 during the reign of Charles II - on the copper farthing in 1672 and the copper halfpenny in 1673. In the Victorian Era, when Britain ruled a third of the world, she became a symbol of British naval, economic and political might





The disclosure makes a nonsense of Mr Brown's repeated declarations of his patriotism in the run-up to taking over from Tony Blair.

When The Mail on Sunday first contacted the Government yesterday to confirm the reform, surprised officials doubted it could have been approved at the top levels of the Treasury.

But after extensive behind-the-scenes consultations, they confirmed that it had indeed been sanctioned - by Gordon Brown as Chancellor, shortly before he entered Downing Street last June.

The Queen then rubber-stamped the idea later in the year. But Buckingham Palace would not comment last night on the Monarch's personal opinion of the change.

The move is a personal embarrassment to Mr Brown, because at the time he made the decision, he was emphasising his sense of "Britishness" as part of efforts to appear a fitting occupant of Downing Street.




He praised the British values of responsibility, liberty and fairness - and even threw his weight behind the campaign to stop BBC Radio 4 from dropping its UK Theme, which included a rousing performance of Rule Britannia.

Soon after he took power, Mr Brown appointed Michael Wills, one of his most trusted allies, as Minister for Patriotism, with orders to promote "Britishness" across the country.

Last night, the Treasury attempted to gloss over the reform by insisting the Britannia symbol would return for future Mint runs.

But critics said it was "depressing" that it would not be the default design on the tails side of a British circulation coin for the first time since 1672.

The revamp is the culmination of a process that started in 2005, when the Royal Mint launched a competition to find designs for the UK's coins.

It is keeping the winning entries under wraps, but the artists - who each claimed 5,000 if they were successful - were told to "consider themes to represent Britain, such as flora or fauna, geographic features, social, political or cultural achievements or British institutions", or to interpret heraldry "in an imaginative and creative way".

More than 4,000 designs, submitted by 526 artists, have been whittled down to seven by the Royal Mint's Advisory Committee on Coin Design.

It means that the traditional heraldic designs on a total of seven coins, including the crowned lion and chained portcullis, will all vanish.

Advisory Committee member John Porteous, who sat on the committee in 1969 with poet John Betjeman and art historian Lord Clark when Britannia was moved from the penny to the 50p coin, refused to comment on the new designs.

But he said: "My thought was that it was a great idea to keep Britannia at that particular point in time.

"However, I don't think anyone cares for her much longer.

"Britannia was a Bank of England badge and she really belongs to them."

But Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "Britannia has been an enduring symbol of British pride and history.

"It is all too typical of a Government with an inadequate sense of British pride and an ignorance of history to want to do away with such a symbol."

Historian Andrew Roberts, author of Eminent Churchillians and A History Of The English-Speaking People Since 1900, called for an urgent rethink.

"We constantly see Gordon Brown wrapping himself up in the Union Jack, yet here we find a blatant attempt to erase our history, to allow important symbols to be abolished after 300 years," he said.

"Britannia is a classic symbol of modern Britain and people care very much about what is on their coins.

"People fight for symbols, for flags, because they represent in a small way the big things that matter to us.

"What does this rather sinister term 'modernisation' mean? Does it mean sticking that awful Jade Goody on the 50p instead?"

Richard Bishop, chief numismatist at London coin-dealer Spink and Son, said: "Poor old Britannia - even she has a sell-by date.

"One day, people will probably wonder, 'Who's this old woman holding a fork?' But if they've decided she should go, what about other things, like the British lion? Is that for the scrapheap?"

The current standard designs for 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p and 50p pieces were rolled out in the run-up to decimalisation in 1971 and were joined by the 20p piece in 1982 and the 1 in 1983. They have been minted in batches every year since then.

The 2 coin will be unaffected by the changes and limited-edition non-circulation coins are still expected to carry Britannia.

A Royal Mint spokeswoman last night refused to discuss the abolition of Britannia.

She would only say: "We will be launching some new coins in the spring.

"It's a really important project for us and it's very important that people understand what's changing and why it's happening."

A Treasury spokesman said: "As people will see when the new Mint run is issued, the chosen designs represent the best traditions of British coinage and are totally in line with the Government's desire to celebrate our British heritage, including our historic national and heraldic emblems.

"The traditional Britannia design and other traditional designs will return in future mint runs.

The figure of Britannia first appeared almost 2,000 years ago when the Romans created her as a personification of the British Isles, which they called Britanniae.

She made her first appearance on a Roman coin during the rule of Emperor Hadrian.

Her first appearance on a British coin came during the reign of Charles II, on the copper farthing in 1672 and the copper halfpenny in 1673.

She was conjured up as a symbol of Britain's political and naval might during the time of the Third Anglo-Dutch War, and by the Victorian era she had grown to become a more forceful, trident-holding representation of the British Empire.

Between 1797 and 1970, she was on the penny coin and now features on an estimated 769million 50p pieces in circulation.

dailymail.co.uk
Last edited by Blackleaf; Jan 27th, 2008 at 12:59 PM..
 
L Gilbert
No Party Affiliation
#2
hehehe I hope you Brits don't feel too bad about it. Canader seems to change the looks of its coins every other week at an incredible expense to the taxpayer.
 

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