An Introduction to the Coins of George V

Adding King George V coins to your collection is a great way to preserve a very important part of history. These coins were produced during King George V reign, dated from 1910 to 1936.

They include such coins as Crowns and Sovereigns as well as other denominations such as the 5 pound, half-penny, shilling, sixpence, farthing, third farthing, florin, threepence, and the fourpence Maundy. Additionally, George V pennies are well known with several unique identifying marks. 

Brief History of King George V

King George was born in 1865 to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII. He was the second son, so his older brother was the first heir to the throne. Since he was not the first heir to the throne, George joined the Royal Navy in 1877.

He served in the Royal Navy until his older brother died in 1892. The death of his older brother put him in line as the first heir to the throne, and he had to leave his service in the Royal Navy. Upon the death of his mother, Queen Victoria in 1901, his father ascended to the throne. George became Prince of Wales until his father’s death in 1910 when he became King-Emperor.

The early years of his reign were rough politically. The Parliament Act of 1911 took a lot of power away from the unelected House of Lords. In 1914, WWI started which left King George V in an unpopular position as the German Kaiser’s first cousin. To appease the public, they changed the name of the royal house to Windsor.

King George V was the King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India from 1910 to 1936. He reigned during a time of radical political change in the United Kingdom and throughout the entire world. He was only on the throne for a few years when World War I broke out.

Despite the rough beginnings, he was well respected during his reign. He left a legacy including coins featuring his likeness now known as King George V coins.

King George V Coins

Coins with King George V image were struck between 1911 and 1936. The previous engraver’s post had been abolished. So, the coins with King George V featured were subject to a design competition. Bertram Mackennal won the competition. He had also prepared the medal for the Coronation.

The coin featured King George V facing left. The inscription around the bust reads GEORGIVS V DEI *GRA* BRITT OMN: REX FID: DEF *IND: IMP: The inscription translates to mean George the Fifth, by the grace of God, King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith, Empower of India.

Other King George V coins of Great Britain include:

  • Penny “George V” 1911-1926
  • Half Penny “George V” 1911-1925
  • Silver One Shilling “George V” 1911-1919
  • Silver Sixpence “George V Modified head” 1911-1920
  • Silver 3 Pence “George V 2nd issue” 1911-1920
  • Half Crown 1911, 1914, 1922, 1927, 1934
  • Four Pence Maundy 1911 and 1922
  • Gold Sovereign “George V” 1911-1925
  • Florin Two Shillings 1911, 1920, 1923, 1928, 1931
  • 1915 George V Silver Half crown
  • Silver Florin 1916
  • Half Sovereign 1911, 1913
  • Double Sovereign 1911
  • Five Pounds 1911
  • Third Farthing 1913
  • Shilling 1915, 1927, 1933
  • Silver Shilling 1916
  • 1916 Farthing
  • 1917 George V Silver Half Crown
  • Silver One Shilling “George V” 1920-1926
  • 1927 George V Silver Wreath Crown
  • Crown Five Shillings 1927, 1933-1935
  • Silver Six Pence “George V” 1927-1936
  • 1927 George V Proof Crown Christmas Crown
  • One Penny “George V” 1928-1936
  • Half Penny “George V” 1928-1936
  • 1928 George V Proof Crown Christmas Crown
  • 1929 Farthing
  • 1931 George V Proof Crown
  • 1931 George V Silver Crown
  • 1931 George V Proof Crown Christmas Crown
  • 1933 George V Silver Crown
  • 1933 George V Proof Crown Christmas Crown
  • 1939 Silver Maundy Set in Uncirculated Box

Facts About King George V Pennies

In addition to the coins struck at the Royal Mint in 1912, 1918, and 1919, some pennies were produced at the Heaton Mint in Birmingham. These pennies have an identifying “H” mint mark to the left of the date.

In 1918 and 1919 some pennies were produced at the Kings Norton Metal Co. Ltd. As well as in Birmingham. These have a “KN” instead of the “H”.

The pennies were produced using the same alloy as they had used previously until 1922 when the composition of bronze coins changed. Now, they were 95.5% copper, 3% tin, and 1.5% zinc. The weight stayed constant at 1/3 ounce or 9.4 g. The diameter was also the same at 1.2 inches or 30 millimetres.

There were no pennies struck from 1923 through 1925 because of the lack of demand during the interwar years. These years brought shortages of pennies.

In 1928 the King’s image was reduced in size. The inscription stayed the same. Britannia was the reverse image, but the design was changed slightly in 1922.

By 1936, the end of the King’s reign, the bronze penny was considered to be weighty as the heaviest bronze coin in circulation in Europe. The weight of the coin caused problems when it was used in automatic machines. In 1937, the brass threepence coin was introduced.

Rare 1933 King George V Penny

In 1933, there was no demand for pennies to be minted. However, the custom of the day called for the King to put a set of coins minted that year under the foundation stone of important new buildings. Three 1933 pennies were struck solely for this tradition.

Additionally, one was placed under the foundation stone of the Royal Mint Museum, the British Museum, and the Senate House of the University of London. Three are currently in private collections, and one was stolen. No one knows where that one ended up.

The exact number of 1933 pennies struck was never recorded. At least 7 are known to have been produced. One turned up for sale in 2016 and sold for $193,875, £149,364. The 1933 King George V penny became the best-known British rare coin since people believed that these pennies might show up in their pocket change.