The sixpence, known colloquially as the tanner or half-shilling, was a British pre-decimal coin worth six pence, 1/40th of a pound sterling.
In England, the first sixpences were struck in the reign of Edward VI in 1551 and continued until they were rendered obsolete by decimalisation in 1971. Along with the shilling (12 pennies) and the florin (or two shillings), the last general issue sixpence was issued in 1967 and a special proof version struck for inclusion in the farewell proof set of 1970. However, sixpences, shillings and florins continued to be legal tender at values of 2½, 5 and 10 new pence respectively.
Sixpences were originally supposed to be demonetized upon decimalization in 1971. However, due to public outcry, they remained legal tender until 1980.
The silver content followed the pattern of other silver coins. They were sterling silver until 1920, when they were reduced to 50 percent silver. The last 50-percent-silver sixpence was minted in 1946; they were changed to cupro-nickel from 1947 onwards.
As the supply of silver threepence coins slowly disappeared, sixpences replaced them as the coins that were put into Christmas puddings and children would hope to be the lucky one to find the sixpence, no doubt also encouraging children to eat their pudding.
They have also been seen as a lucky charm for brides. There is an old rhyme which goes "Something old, something new, Something borrowed, something blue, And a sixpence for her shoe."