Coins of England and Great Britain

('Coins of the UK')

by Tony Clayton

The Royal Maundy

5 pounds & 5 guineas <<-- : -->> Decimal Coins

Values of Maundy Sets
Pictures of Maundy Sets

Maundy Money

It is said the the origin of the Maundy Ceremony dates back to the reign of Edward II, when goods were given to the poor by the monarch. It was not until the time of Elizabeth I that the idea of giving redemption money in the place of gifts was made.

It seems that for many years the coins were just normal circulating coins of the time, usually silver pence. The use of other denominations was made, but it is not until about 1800 that special sets of coins of the denominations 1d, 2d, 3d and 4d were minted.

After 1820 it becomes clear that the small silver coins were struck solely for use in the Maundy Ceremony, as it is unusual for them to turn up in worse than VF condition. From 1822 complete sets of the four coins are available every year, but this does not make them an easy series to collect.

During the reign of George IV the sets were struck from 1822 to 1830. The threepence coin of 1822 is unusual in that the punch used for the head is that of the twopence, and so seems rather small.

Victorian Maundy sets are relatively common, as they could be ordered from the bank by anyone who chose to do so. After 1908 Edward VII gave instructions that the sets would be available only to the recipients and those involved in the ceremony, so since 1909 the sets are much scarcer. In addition, the number of recipients and the amount they receive is equal to the monarch's age, so the supply gets more plentiful as the reign progresses.

It may not be realised that the personal presentation of the money by the monarch is a relatively recent phenomenon. In 1932 George V presented the coins himself, the first time this had been done since the 17th century.

In 1920 the silver content was reduced from 0.925 to 0.500 along with all other silver coins of the UK. Interestingly, in 1947 when silver was changed to cupronickel, the Maundy coinage reverted to 0.925 silver.

The portrait used for the Maundy coinage of Elizabeth II has remained unchanged since 1953. The only obverse change was the legend, so the issues of 1953 are in very great demand.

In 1971 the whole series was revalued as 1, 2, 3 and 4 new pence.


See my Main Coins Index page for acknowledgements.


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Coins of the UK - Maundy Money
Copyright reserved by the author, Tony Clayton
v15 4th March 2015
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