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Stir up Joy with a Sixpence

No other coin has been an enduring part of British culture quite like the sixpence, which is not surprising when you consider that it made its first appearance in 1551, during the reign of Henry VIII’s son, Edward VI.

For more than 400 years, it was a mainstay of British currency and held a special place in people’s hearts, colloquially nicknamed the ‘tanner’. When the switch to a decimal currency came about in 1971, the British public continued to use their favourite coin and the sixpence didn’t disappear from circulation until it was demonetised in 1980. In 2016, The Royal Mint revived this lucky coin for a new era, creating a decimal 6p version of the sixpence.


Today, the coin is affectionately thought of as a symbol of good luck, and you’ll find brides around the world tucking one into their shoe as they complete the age-old rhyme of ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in her shoe.’

The sixpence is also integral to one of Britain’s most popular festive activities, which involves a Christmas pudding. Tradition dictates that a silver sixpence is placed inside the pudding before it is cooked and whoever finds the coin in their piece on Christmas Day can look forward to good fortune in the year to come. The preparations traditionally take place on Stir-Up Sunday, which is the Sunday before Advent and falls on 26 November this year. Families gather to help make the Christmas pudding and the idea is that, before they add the sixpence, each person makes a wish as they give the mix a stir. Sometimes, you will find that multiple generations will use the exact same coin each year.

This Christmas, you could start a new family tradition with a modern silver sixpence from The Royal Mint. Dated 2023 and also available struck in gold, each coin comes in a beautiful gift box, making it a thoughtful Christmas gift or special treat for the keen baker in your life.

Choking hazard due to small parts. This is not a toy.

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