Quarter farthing

One quarter farthing
United Kingdom
Value  13840 pound sterling
Mass 1.2 g
Diameter 13.5 mm
Edge Plain
Composition (1839-1853) copper
(1868) bronze
Years of minting 1839-1853, 1868
Design Queen Victoria
Designer William Wyon
Design date 1839
Design Crown and Rose
Design date 1839

The British quarter farthing ( 116d) coin was a unit of currency equaling one sixteenth of a penny ( 13,840 of a pound sterling). It was produced for circulation in Ceylon in various years between 1839 and 1853, with proof coins being produced in 1868. It is the smallest denomination of pound sterling coin ever minted. The coin is considered to be part of British coinage because it has no indication of what country it was minted for, being made in the same style as the contemporary half-farthing which was legal tender in Britain between 1842 and 1869.[1]

Before Decimal Day in 1971 there were two hundred and forty pennies to one pound sterling. There were four farthings in a penny. Twelve pennies made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. three shillings and six pence (3/6), pronounced "three and six" or "three and sixpence". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pennies, e.g. eight pennies would be 8d, pronounced "eightpence." A price with a farthing in it would be written in the following way: (19/11 14), pronounced "nineteen and elevenpence farthing".

Coins were minted in 1839, 1851, 1852, 1853, and the proof issue of 1868. The 1839–53 coins were made of copper, weighed 1.2 grams (0.039 troy ounces or about 124 of an ounce avoirdupois) and had a diameter of 13.5 millimetres (0.53 in). So, £1 worth of quarter farthings weighed 10 avoirdupois pounds (4.5 kg). The 1868 coins were made of bronze or cupro-nickel, but weighed the same and had the same diameter.

The obverse bears the left-facing portrait of Queen Victoria, with the inscription VICTORIA D G BRITANNIAR REGINA F D, while the reverse bears a crown above the words QUARTER FARTHING with a rose with three leaves at the bottom of the coin.

In 2014 values, the quarter farthing would have a purchasing power of between 3p and 4p (£0.03 to £0.04).


  1. "Fractional Farthings". Royal Mint Museum. 2013.
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