Decimalisation saw the introduction of several new coins into the currency system – one of these being the new one penny – but is a 1971 UK new penny worth anything today, and are they sought after?
Unfortunately, the mintage for the 1971 one pence coin was the largest for any year, making the coin very common. In terms of value, you’re looking at little over face value, although some listings were regularly completed for around £0.5 to £1.0 when we last checked.
The 1971 new penny has been the source of several news stories through the years, and in this article, we will debunk the myths surrounding the coin to find its actual value. Let’s get straight into it.
‘Rare’ 1971 Penny Sells For Hundreds
If you’ve taken the time to research the 1971 one penny coin you’ll be bombarded with news articles claiming that the coin has sold for hundreds on eBay, but this isn’t the entire story.
Take the listing below, for example, which sold on 6th July 2022 for a whopping £350:
Or another listing that was completed just a few days before, for the same price and with the same photo:
These weren’t the only two listings we could find, but you get the idea.
The simple fact of the matter is that there is no way to tell if the money has actually been exchanged, and this is nothing but a tactic used to generate buzz around a coin to artificially increase its value. It’s quite convenient how both listings have the same price, sold with just 1 bid and used the same image around 1 week apart.
Remember the Battle of Hastings 50p that sold for over £63,000 a few years ago? This is another example of the tactic in action.
The only real way to determine the rarity of a coin is to look at the mintage figures and also find out if there are any confirmed errors.
1971 New Penny Mintage
As briefly mentioned earlier, the 1971 one penny has the largest mintage of any decimal penny that has entered circulation with a total of 1,521,666,250 struck for circulation.
In fact, this is the largest mintage number of any UK coin in circulation today, which means that the 1971 one penny is not considered to be rare whatsoever.
1971 Proof Set
The one penny coin was also part of the 1971 proof set, which was released by the Royal Mint as a commemorative set for collectors to buy. The set includes a 1/2 new penny, 1 new penny, 2 new pence, 5 new pence, 10 new pence and 50 new pence coin as well as a commemorative medal.
The set can be bought for around £50 today, and the set itself had a mintage of 350,000 which makes the set quite scarce.
1971 New Penny Design
As one of the first decimal coins, the new denominations were required to have ‘NEW’ on the inscription.
The reverse design features a crowned portcullis with chains in the centre, with the inscription ‘NEW PENNY’ above and ‘1’ below.
If you want to learn more about the history of the crowned portcullis symbol there is a Government document entailing all of the details available here.
The obverse features the Second Portrait of Her Majesty The Queen created by Arnold Machin.
The inscription reads ‘ELIZABETH · II D · G · REG · F · D · 1971’ which translates to Elizabeth the Second, by the grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith 1971 from Latin.
1971 New Penny Errors?
As with most coins, there is talk of error versions of the 1971 new penny as well, but none of these have been confirmed by the Royal Mint and can be ignored.
This is another tactic that people like to use to sell coins for above-average values, so keep this in mind if you decide to purchase a coin online.
1971 New Penny Specification Change
Before decimalisation, the one pence coin weighed approximately 9.45g and had a diameter of 30.80mm.
The new one penny coins were minted with a smaller weight and diameter. The new weight was just 3.56g and the diameter was 20.30mm.
In older times, the weight of a coin was related closely to its value. However, when the one penny coin changed from copper to bronze this became difficult to replicate, and hence the decision was made to reduce the size of the coin.
There is no doubt that the 1971 new one penny is not rare whatsoever, so ignore any sellers that try to market the coin as such.
If you happen to come across the coin consider adding it to your collection as it does hold sentimental value being the first-ever new one penny coin introduced into circulation following decimalisation.