British one penny coin, 1982-2002.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This design for the one penny coin entered circulation when British currency was decimalised in 1971, although until 1982 the word 'ONE' read 'NEW' instead. It is the smallest denomination in modern British coinage. The new penny was considerably smaller than the coin it replaced but, like its predecesor, is made of bronze. The crowned portcullis emblem was originally a badge of Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch, and was used as a mintmark until the reign of Charles I. It was not used again for this purpose until the reign of Elizabeth II. The emblem also represents Parliament and is used by H M Customs and Excise.