George VI Threepence
Nickel-brass dodecagonal threepences were issued in parallel with the last
years of the silver threepence until 1941 - the last year of silver
threepence issue for the UK. They were introduced to try and reduce
the vast tonnages of bronze coinage that large organisations were
handling. Peck reports that London Transport was dealing with more
than 600 tons of bronze each year, and the introduction of the brass
threepence was paralleled by a hiatus in the production of bronze pennies
from 1940 to 1944, in an attempt to reduce this.
1942-1944 silver threepences were produced in small numbers and exported for
use in the West Indies, so high grade examples are desirable and
collectable. There was a 1945 coin, but apart from a single known
example that escaped, the entire issue was melted down.
I always think that the George VI
nickel brass threepence is rather an under-appreciated series.
There's plenty of interest and variation in scarcity. There are
varieties, yes, and some have fascinating historical context to do
with the loss of the Malay tin mines to the Japanese during the
war, and even a few Proofs if you like Proofs.
The relative scarcity of 1946 and 1949 is obvious in the
histogram, but also note the 1950 and 1951, and the little peak
around 1939. It's an interesting series!
And I think they're ever so pretty in top grade.
There are minor varieties for the reverse
and the obverse of the 1937 nickel-brass threepence. I don't have
the patience for them, but Dave Groom details them very well. It's
funny how some varieties grab you and some don't.
I of IMP points to a bead
I of IMP points between beads
...and possibly 1937
Unconfirmed Davies 2231
As for the silver threepence, 1937 is the only year that uses Reverse A,
with the I of IMP pointing to a bead. 1938 onward are all Reverse B,
with the I of IMP pointing between beads. Peter Davies details the
1937 Reverse B coin as "unconfirmed". This is tantalising, as I have
found a few of Davies' unconfirmed coins, so they may well be out
there. I did actively look for a year or two, but I don't look any
more. I will
make an offer if anyone does find one!
A slightly scarcer year than most and quite difficult to find this good.
An interesting historical effect on the
nickel brass threepence series is pointed out by Peck. After the
loss to the Japanese of the Malayan tin mines, high quality steel became
very difficult to come by, and high quality steel was required for the
collars that produced the dodecagonal threepence. It was found
that the collars lasted longer if rounded corners were used, rather than
sharp. So part way through the 1941 run, the Mint switched to
round cornered coins. Sharp are commoner, slightly.
Production of the sharp cornered coins was resumed part way through the
1948 run, and sharp cornered 1948 coins are really quite scarce.
Both varieties have also been noted for 1949 threepences.
1942 is the first, and commonest, of the West Indies silver threepences.
1943 was actually minted in smaller numbers than the more well-known 1944
Although originally minted in slightly larger numbers than the 1943, most of
these were melted down.
Peck quotes Mint Records as stating that 7/8 of the threepences struck
during 1946 were dated 1945. This goes some way to explaining why they
seem particularly difficult in high grade.
See note under 1941, regarding Sharp and Round
cornered types of threepence for 1948 and 1949.
As with the 1946 threepence, most of the production in 1949 used 1948 dies.
Additionally, a significant proportion of the years production was sent to