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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Post- and pre-decimalization monetary units

Researchers working in British-influenced colonies, or in the British Isles themselves, would do well to remember the various units of currency (coinage) and how they may have been referenced in deeds, wills, inventories or transactions.

In the period immediately preceding decimalization in 1971, coinage in the UK worked something like this:

half penny, 1/2d
penny, 1d
tuppence (slang, not a coin) 2d
three pence, 3d -- in its last incarnation, a brass, octagonal-shaped coin
sixpence, 6d
shilling, 12d or 1s; one-twentieth of a pound sterling (£); slang: "bob"
florin, 24d or 2s; one-tenth of a pound sterling
half crown, 30d, 2s/6d; generally speaking, the largest coin typically circulated; slang "half dollar"
crown, 60d, 5s; typically used as a commemorative coin
10s notes (one half pound) were issued in addition to £1, 5, 10 notes
£1 was known, colloqiually, as "a quid"

£1 = 20 shillings = 240 pence; abbreviations sometimes written in columnar headings as £/s/d

In the earliest days after the changeover, the old coinage circulated as follows:
half-penny, £.005 (decimal)
penny £.01, or 1p
two pence, £.02, 2p
five pence, £.05, 5p; originally sized identical to the old shilling coin (one-twentieth of a pound)
ten pence, £.10, 10p; originally sized identical to the old florin (one-tenth of a pound)
twenty pence,  £.20, 20p; introduced in 1982
fifty pence, £.50, 50p; a large, seven-sided coin
£1 coin, introduced in 1983 to replace the pound note
£2 coin, introduced in 1997 in current form; at several times in the 1980s, the value was assigned to particular commemorative coins
£5 coin, used exclusively as a commemorative coin since the 1990s; sized like the pre-decimalization crown

A "guinea" was a trade coin, valued at 21 shillings; a gold sovereign was a one-pound coin; a half sovereign was a gold coin worth 10 shillings.


text ©2014, copyright International Society for British Genealogy and Family History

1 comment:

Hilary Gadsby said...

The half penny went out of use several years ago.