Maundy Money

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Maundy Money

Maundy money, legally called "the Queen's Maundy money" is money in British silver coins given to deserving poor people in a religious ceremony performed, in many periods with the participation of the monarch, on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter).

Until 1820 ordinary silver coinage was used for the Maundy money, but from 1822 special coins were minted in values of 1, 2, 3, and 4 pence. The 4d coin was also known as a groat. Each set of Maundy money therefore contains 10 pence, and recipients are given an appropriate number of complete sets, plus a part set if necessary, to equal the sovereign's age.

The reverse designs of the coins have seen only one change since 1822: a slight alteration of the style of the crown and denomination numerals in Queen Victoria's golden jubilee year of 1887. The dimensions of the coins have been fixed since 1822, although their silver content has changed twice (reduced in 1921, increased in 1947):

    1 penny : weight 0.47 grams, diameter 11.15 millimetres.
    2 pence : weight 0.94 grams, diameter 13.44 millimetres.
    3 pence : weight 1.41 grams, diameter 16.26 millimetres.
    4 pence : weight 1.88 grams, diameter 17.63 millimetres.

The original composition of the coins was sterling (0.925) silver. In common with all circulating British silver coins, the fineness was reduced to 0.500 in 1921. In 1947, silver was removed from all circulating British coinage in favour of cupronickel, but as it was felt to be inappropriate to strike Maundy coins in base metal, their fineness was restored to 0.925, where it remains to the present day.

The Coinage Act 1971 decimalised British currency with 100 new pence instead of 20 shillings of 12 pence (240 pence) in a pound. The design of the Maundy money was not changed at all, so instead of being worth 1, 2, 3, or 4 old pence, the coins are now worth 1, 2, 3, or 4 new pence, each one being worth 2.4 times its former value. As there is no difference in the design or weight between pre- and post-1971 coins, it was uniquely decided to revalue all pre-decimal Maundy coins back to 1822 at the equivalent value in new pence, i.e. the face value of each coin was increased by a factor of 2.4 overnight. All Maundy coins, back to 1822, remain legal tender in Britain at their stated value in new pence.

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