The British sixpence is one of the coins that circulated before the UK going decimal. Before decimalization, in 1971, the sixpence had been in circulation for 420 years. It remained as legal tender until 30th June 1980. In 1971 when the UK switched to decimal coinage, the sixpence was worth 2.5 new pence or $0.59.
If we take into account inflation, the value of sixpence today would be 35.5 new pence or $0.27
The Sixpence coin in British culture
The sixpence coin was frequently called a “Tanner” or “Sixpenny bit.” The sixpence was often placed in a Christmas pudding, and if your portion of the dessert contained the sixpenny bit, then it was believed that it would bring you good luck.There is a wedding tradition where the bride would wear “something old, something that is new, something that’s borrowed, and something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe.”They were a good luck charm for RAF aircrew. It was the custom to sew them behind the wings emblem on their jackets.Various pieces of theatre referred to the sixpence, most notably the book, stage show, and movie “Half a sixpence.”
The Coin has a particular connection with “luck” in British culture. On eBay today most descriptions of the sixpence refer to the coin as a “lucky sixpence.”
Before decimalization, How did the sixpence coin fit into the currency?
Farthings – (4 Farthings equal one penny) – ceased being legal tender in 1969
Halfpenny – (2 halfpennies equal one penny) – stopped being legal tender in 1969
Penny – (12 pennies equaling one shilling) – stopped being legal tender in 1971
Threepence – (4 threepenny bits equaling one shilling) – stopped being legal tender in
Sixpence – (2 sixpenny bits equaling one shilling) – stopped being legal tender in 1971
Shilling – (20 Shillings equals one pound) – stopped being legal tender in 1991 (1971-1991 was called five new pence)
Florin – (2 shillings equaling one florin) – ceased being legal tender in 1993 (1971-1993 was called 10 pence)
Half Crown – (8 half-crowns equaling one pound) – stopped being legal tender in 1970
The Crown – (Rarely seen but four crowns equaling one pound) – ceased being legal tender in 1971
10 Shilling Note – (2 ten-shilling note equaling one pound) – legal tender between 1928 to 1970
One Pound Note – (The one pound note was withdrawn in 1988 in favor of the one pound coin)
Five Pound Note – Still legal tender
Ten Pound Note – Still legal tender
Twenty pound Note – Still legal tender
Fifty Pound Note – Still legal tender
Value of Old Sixpence Coins
Most sixpence coins can be found on eBay and seem to sell around the 99p mark. Sometimes bulk quantities are sold substantially cheaper. One to look out for is the George VI sixpence coin, which could be sold for around £5-6. Victorian silver sixpence for about £4.
In 2016 the Royal Mint began to mint legal tender six new pence coins in silver at Christmas. These coins can be found on eBay at values ranging from around £18 to £60.. It depends on the condition of the coin.