Decimalisation was the biggest change in Britain's monetary system. The pound was divided into 100 pence in 1971. Until then, there were 12 pennies to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound. The £1 coin was introduced in 1983 to replace the £1 note because coins usually last much longer. At the time, Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister, believed coins were 'not very popular' and the pound note should be retained. £1 notes are still issued in Scotland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, along with the £1 coins, which are more commonly used.
One of the rarest British coins is the 1933 penny. A small number were produced that year because there were already plenty around. In fact, it's estimated that there were only seven coins produced that year and, due to tradition, three of them were buried in the foundation stones of buildings erected in 1933. More recently, the London 2012 Olympics 50p coins proved to be popular among collectors. More than 70% of them have been taken out of circulation, estimates the Royal Mint.
The £2 coin was launched in 1986 to commemorate the 13th Commonwealth Games held in Scotland that year. All pound coins, except the £2 ones, were redesigned in 2008. The six coins, from the 1p through to the 50p, can be pieced together to form the Royal Shield. The £1 coin features the complete shield.