NGC Certifies Classic British Rarity

Posted on 4/1/2006

NGC certified a 1933 Penny of George V. This coin of Great Britain is a classic rarity in the series. Most accounts indicate that a mere seven pieces were struck for special presentation purposes, and only three currently reside in private collections.

Announces cooperative effort with Art Loss Register
The Great Britain 1933 Penny

The GREAT BRITAIN 1933 PENNY, graded NGC MS63BN. Image NGC PhotoProof
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NGC certified a 1933 Penny of George V. This coin of Great Britain is a classic rarity in the series. Most accounts indicate that a mere seven pieces were struck for special presentation purposes, and only three currently reside in private collections. Much like similar rarities in the US, this coin entered popular consciousness when collectors and non-collectors alike began to assume that an example could be found in circulation. It became customary to check the date on pennies of George V whenever one was in hand, and today it remains among the most renowned of all Twentieth Century British issues.

The British Royal Mint's website explains some of the unusual circumstance surrounding this coin:

There was no requirement for the Mint to produce any pennies in 1933 because there were already enough in circulation. Requests were, however, received for sets of coins dated 1933 to be placed under the foundation stones of buildings erected in that year, and the Mint obliged by striking a small number of coins. The result was to create a rarity that many people thought could turn up in their change.

The precise number struck was not recorded at the time but it is now thought to be certainly less than ten and probably in the region of six or seven. The surviving 1933 pennies are to be found in the Mint Museum, the British Museum, the University of London and two or three in private collections.

The submitter reports that this example had been placed under the foundation stone of St. Mary's Church, Hawksworth Wood, Kirkstall, Leeds, England. Three documented examples had been placed in foundation stones of buildings erected in 1933. In 1970, during construction at Church of St. Cross, Middleton, one of these examples was stolen. In response, the Bishop of Ripon ordered that the St. Mary's Church 1933 Penny be unearthed and sold as a protective measure to prevent its theft. The whereabouts of the stolen example remains unknown.

This coin also illustrates how a stolen coin might be recovered through the NGC's cooperation with the Art and Antique Loss Register (ALR). In such a case, were the submitter unable to prove the provenance, the Art Loss Register would have investigated whether the coin might have been the one stolen from the church of St Cross, Middleton. Were it found to be the St. Cross, Middleton coin, the ALR would have assisted the submitter to obtain a refund of his purchase price and returned the coin to the Church or its insurer. In a cooperative effort, NGC will be checking high value coins which it grades against the Art Loss Register database of stolen items and will be assisting the ALR to expand its database by publicizing this service to its clients.

The St. Mary's Church, Hawksworth Wood example is the first 1933 Penny certified by NGC and grades MS63 BN.