Hi, My name is Carol C. and I purchased a desk with a stuck drawer. After opening it I found a large 1900 penny. On the front of it there is a man sitting down with a roman helmet on and a three prong staff/spear. And on the back there is a woman’s head with the words VICTORIA GRA BRITT REGINA FID DEF IND IMP. Could you please give me some information about this item?
Your coin is an English Penny from 1900. The woman’s head on the coin is Queen Victoria of England. The reverse shows Britannia seated on a rock. The legend you describe translates as: Victoria By The Grace of God Queen of All The Britains, Defender of The Faith, Empress of India.
Though this coin is over a century old, many of these survived and therefore are of very low value – 10 cents for average circulated pieces, just a few dollars for uncirculated examples. There are good reasons for the large number of these coins:
- There were large numbers made – the penny was a basic unit and was used by all.
- The coin is dated 1900 – Though really the last year of the 19th century, most considered it a 20th Century coin. With similar reasoning, many people saved coins dated 2000.
- It was at the end of Victoria’s very long reign (1837-1901). In 1902, for the first time in 64 years, someone else’s portrait was now on British coins. People keep the last few years of an issue for nostalgic reasons.