Decimal Day

On 15 February 1971, known as Decimal Day, the United Kingdom and Ireland decimalised their currencies.

Under the old currency of pounds, shillings and pence, the pound was made up of 240 pence (denoted by the letter d for Latin denarius and now referred to as "old pence"), with 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings (denoted by s for Latin solidus) in a pound.

The loss of value of the currency meant that the "old" penny, with the same diameter as the US half-dollar, had become of relatively low value.

Decimalisationdday
An introductory pack of the new currency.

United Kingdom

Background

The Coinage Act of 1792 had officially authorized the United States as the first English-speaking nation to have decimalised currency, although Tsar Peter the Great used the concept for the Russian ruble close to a century earlier, in 1704, while China has used such a decimal system for at least 2000 years.[1] The United Kingdom's Parliament rejected Sir John Wrottesley's proposals to decimalise sterling in 1824, which was prompted by the introduction in 1795 of the decimal French franc. After this defeat, little practical progress towards decimalisation was made for over a century, with the exception of the two-shilling silver florin (worth 1/10 of a pound) first issued in 1849. A double florin or four-shilling piece was a further step in that direction but failed to gain acceptance and was struck only from 1887 to 1890.

The Decimal Association was founded in 1841 to promote decimalisation and metrication, both causes that were boosted by a realisation of the importance of international trade following the 1851 Great Exhibition. It was as a result of the growing interest in decimalisation that the florin was issued.

In their preliminary report, the Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage (1856–1857) considered the benefits and problems of decimalisation but did not draw any conclusion about the adoption of any such scheme.[2] A final report in 1859 from the two remaining commissioners, Lord Overstone and Governor of the Bank of England John Hubbard came out against the idea, claiming it had "few merits".[3]

In 1862, the Select Committee on Weights and Measures favoured the introduction of decimalisation to accompany the introduction of metric weights and measures.[4]

The decimalisation movement even entered fiction. In Anthony Trollope's Palliser novels (and more so in the television series based on them), Plantagenet Palliser is a passionate advocate of decimalisation, a cause the other characters seem to find intensely boring. Palliser's scheme would have divided the shilling into ten (presumably revalued) pennies. This would have changed the threepence into 2 1/2 new pence, the sixpence into fivepence and the half crown into a two shilling, five pence piece. It would also have required the withdrawal and reissuance of the existing copper coinage. At the end of the fifth book in the series, The Prime Minister, Palliser (now Duke of Omnium) muses that the reform will not be accomplished, since it can only be done by a Chancellor of the Exchequer sitting in the House of Commons, and the Duke now sits in the House of Lords.

The Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage (1918–1920), chaired by Lord Emmott, reported in 1920 that the only feasible scheme was to divide the pound into 1,000 mills (the pound and mill system, first proposed in 1824) but that this would be too inconvenient. A minority of four members disagreed, saying that the disruption would be worthwhile. A further three members recommended that the pound should be replaced by the Royal, consisting of 100 halfpennies (i.e. there would be 4.8 Royals to the former pound).[5]

In 1960, a report prepared jointly by the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of British Chambers of Commerce, followed by the success of decimalisation in South Africa, prompted the Government to set up the Committee of the Inquiry on Decimal Currency (Halsbury Committee) in 1961, which reported in 1963.[6] The adoption of the changes suggested in the report was announced on 1 March 1966.[7] The Decimal Currency Board (DCB) was created to manage the transition, although the plans were not approved by Parliament until the Decimal Currency Act in May 1969. Former Greater London Council leader Bill Fiske was named as the Chairman of the Decimal Currency Board.

Consideration was given to introducing a new major unit of currency worth ten shillings in the old currency: suggested names included the new pound, the royal and the noble. This would have resulted in the "decimal penny" being worth only slightly more than the old penny (this approach was adopted, for example, when South Africa, Australia and New Zealand decimalised in the 1960s, adopting respectively the South African rand, Australian dollar and New Zealand dollar equal in value to 10 shillings). But Halsbury decided, in view of the pound sterling's importance as a reserve currency, that the pound should remain unchanged.

Preparation

British decimalisation training stamps in blocks
British decimalisation training stamps in the same colours and values as the upcoming decimal stamps.

Under the new system, the pound was retained but was divided into 100 new pence, denoted by the symbol p. New coinage was issued alongside the old coins. The 5p and 10p coins were introduced in April 1968 and were the same size, composition, and value as the shilling and two shillings coins in circulation with them. In October 1969 the 50p coin was introduced, with the 10s note withdrawn on 20 November 1970. This reduced the number of new coins that had to be introduced on Decimal Day and meant that the public was already familiar with three of the six new coins. Small booklets were made available containing some or all of the new denominations.

The old halfpenny was withdrawn from circulation on 31 July 1969, and the half-crown (2s 6d) followed on 31 December to ease the transition.[8] (The farthing had last been minted in 1956 and had ceased to be legal tender in 1960.)

There was a substantial publicity campaign in the weeks before Decimalisation Day, including a song by Max Bygraves called "Decimalisation". The BBC broadcast a series of five-minute programmes, "Decimal Five", to which The Scaffold contributed some specially written tunes. ITV repeatedly broadcast a short drama called Granny Gets The Point, starring Doris Hare, the actress in On The Buses, where an elderly woman who does not understand the new system is taught to use it by her grandson. At 10 am on 15 February itself (and again the following week) BBC1 broadcast 'New Money Day', a 'Merry-go-Round' schools' programme in which puppet maker Peter Firmin and his small friend Muskit encountered different prices and new coins when they went to the shops.[9]

Banks received stocks of the new coins in advance and these were issued to retailers shortly before Decimalisation Day to enable them to give change immediately after the changeover. Banks were closed from 3:30 pm on Wednesday 10 February 1971 to 10:00 am on Monday 15 February, to enable all outstanding cheques and credits in the clearing system to be processed and customers' account balances to be converted from £sd to decimal. In many banks the conversion was done manually, as most bank branches were not yet computerised. February had been chosen for Decimal Day because it was the quietest time of the year for the banks, shops, and transport organisations.

Many items were priced in both currencies for some time before and after. Prior to Decimal Day the double pricing was displayed as e.g. 1s (5p); from Decimal Day the order was switched to 5p (1s). For example, this order was used on most football programmes during the 1970–71 season. High denomination (10p, 20p, and 50p) stamps were issued on 17 June 1970.[8] Post offices were issued with very simple training stamps in the same colours as the upcoming decimal stamps.[10]

Exceptions to the 15 February introduction were British Rail and London Transport, which went decimal one day early, the former urging customers, if they chose to use pennies or threepenny pieces, to pay them in multiples of 6d (2 1/2p, the lowest common multiple of the two systems). Bus companies (at that time many state-owned by the National Bus Company) were another exception, going decimal on Sunday 21 February.[11]

After Decimal Day

Decimal Day itself went smoothly. Criticisms included the small size of the new halfpenny coin and the fact that some traders had taken advantage of the transition to raise prices. Some used new pennies as sixpences in vending machines.[12] After 15 February, shops continued to accept payment in old coins, but always issued change in new coins. The old coins were returned to the banks and in this way the bulk of them were quickly taken out of circulation.

The new halfpenny, penny, and twopence coins were introduced on 15 February 1971. Within two weeks of Decimal Day, the old penny (1d) and old threepenny (3d) coins had left circulation, and old sixpences were becoming rare.[12] On 31 August 1971, the 1d and 3d were officially withdrawn from circulation, ending the transition period.[13]

The government intended that in speech the new units would be called "new pence", but the public decided that it was clearer and quicker to pronounce the new coins as "pee". Shortenings such as "tuppence" are now rarely heard, and terms such as "tanner" (the silver sixpence), which previously designated amounts of money, are no longer used. However, some slang terms, such as "quid" and "bob", survived from pre-decimal times. Amounts denominated in guineas (21s or £1.05) are reserved for specialist transactions, such as the sale of horses and some auctions.

Decimal adder
A "Decimal Adder"

The public information campaign over the preceding two years helped, as did the trick of getting a rough conversion of new pence into old shillings and pence by simply doubling the number of new pence and placing a solidus, or slash, between the digits: 17p multiplied by 2 = 34, – approximately equal to 3/4 ("three and four", or three shillings and four pence), with a similar process for the reverse conversion.[14] The willingness of a young population to embrace the change also helped. In general, elderly people had more difficulty adapting and the phrase "How much is that in old money?" or even "How much is that in real money?" became associated with those who struggled with the change. (This phrase is now often used to ask for conversion between metric and imperial weights and measures.)[15][16] Around the time of Decimalisation Day, "Decimal Adders" and other converters were available to help people convert between the old and new coins. The following is a table showing conversions between the decimal and pre-decimal systems.

Pre-decimal Decimal
Common name Amount

(shillings/pence)

Farthing 1/4d 1/48s ≈ 0.104p
Halfpenny 1/2d 1/24s ≈ 0.208p
Penny 1d 1/12s ≈ 0.417p
Threepence 3d 1 1/4p
Sixpence 6d 2 1/2p
Shilling 1/- 5p
Florin/Two shillings 2/- 10p
Half crown 2/6 12 1/2p
Crown 5/- 25p
Pound 20/- £1 = 100p
Guinea 21/- £1.05 = 105p

Validity of old coins

All pre-decimal coins (except for certain non-circulating coins such as crowns, sovereigns, and double florins[17] which were explicitly excluded from demonetisation) are now no longer legal tender. Public outcry at the proposed demise of the old sixpence (6d), worth exactly 2 1/2p and originally slated for early withdrawal, postponed its withdrawal until June 1980.

Shillings and florins, together with their same-sized 5p and 10p coin equivalents, co-existed in circulation as valid currency until the early 1990s. In theory this included coins dating back to 1816; in practice the oldest were dated 1947, when these coins stopped containing silver. The coins were withdrawn when smaller 5p and 10p coins were introduced in 1990 and 1992 respectively.

The face value of Maundy money coins was maintained, increasing all their face values by a factor of 2.4, as the coins continued to be legal tender as new pence.[18] The numismatic value of each coin, though, greatly exceeds face value.

Subsequent changes

The decimal halfpenny (1/2p), introduced in 1971, remained in circulation until 1984, by which time its value had been greatly reduced by inflation. It was not struck, except for collectors' sets, after 1983 (those dated 1984 were struck only as proofs or in Uncirculated Mint Sets) and was demonetised on 31 December 1984. The 50p piece was reduced in size in 1997, following the reduction in size of the 5p in 1990 and the 10p in 1992 (the large versions of each of the three are now demonetised). The 1p and 2p underwent a compositional change from bronze to plated steel in 1992. However, both coins remain valid back to 1971, the only circulating coins valid on Decimal Day still to be valid.

In 1982, the word "new" in "new penny" or "new pence" was removed from the inscriptions on coins, to be replaced by the number of pence in the denomination (i.e. "ten pence" or "fifty pence"). This coincided with the introduction of a new 20p coin, which, from the outset, simply bore the legend "twenty pence".

A £1 coin was introduced in 1983,[19] and a £2 coin in 1997.

Republic of Ireland

When the old pounds, shillings, and pence system was in operation, the United Kingdom and Ireland operated within the Sterling Area, effectively a single monetary area. The Irish pound had come into existence as a separate currency in 1927 with distinct coins and notes, but the terms of the Irish Currency Act obliged the Irish currency commissioners to redeem Irish pounds on a fixed 1:1 basis, and so day-to-day banking operations continued exactly as they had been before the creation of the Irish pound (Irish: punt Éireann).[20]

This state of affairs continued until 1979 when Irish obligations to the European Monetary System forced them to break the historic link with Sterling.[21]

In Ireland, all pre-decimal coins, except the 1s, 2s and 10s coins, were called in during the initial process between 1969 and 1972; the ten shilling coin, which, as recently issued and in any event equivalent to 50p, was permitted to remain outstanding (though due to silver content, the coin did not circulate). The 1s and 2s were recalled in 1993 and 1994 respectively. Pre-decimal Irish coins may still be redeemed at their face value equivalent in euro at the Central Bank in Dublin.

Pre-decimal Irish coins and stamps' values were denoted with Irish language abbreviations (scilling ("shilling", abbreviated "s") and pingin ("penny", abbreviated "p")) rather than abbreviations derived from the Latin solidi and denarii used in other Sterling countries. Irish people and business otherwise used "£sd" just as in other countries. Thus prior to decimalisation coins were marked '1p', '3p' etc. rather '1d' and '3d' as in Britain. Low-value Irish postage stamps likewise used 'p' rather than 'd'; so a two-penny stamp was marked '2p' in Ireland rather than '2d' as in the UK. After decimalisation, while British stamps switched from 'd' to 'p', Irish stamps (but not coins) printed the number with no accompanying letter; so a stamp worth 2 new pence was marked '2p' in the UK and simply '2' in Ireland.[22]

See also

References and sources

References
  1. ^ Heeffer, Albrecht (24 May 2016). "Welk land voerde als eerste het decimale stelsel voor zijn valuta in" [Which country was the first to introduce a decimal system for their currency] (in Dutch). Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Preliminary report of the Decimal Coinage Commissioners". Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage, 1857. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007.
  3. ^ BOPCRIS. Final Report of the Decimal Coinage Commissioners Archived 28 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Department of Trade and Industry. Report (1862) from the Select Committee on Weights and Measures Archived 16 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage Decimal coinage Archived 12 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ The American Economic Review Vol. 54, No. 4 (June 1964) pp. 481–485
  7. ^ "Speech by Chancellor of the Exchequer to the House of Commons 1 March 1966". Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  8. ^ a b All Change, p. 9
  9. ^ "Search Results - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Another view" by Douglas Myall in British Philatelic Bulletin, Vol. 51, No. 5, January 2014, pp. 149–151.
  11. ^ All Change, p. 9, 23
  12. ^ a b All Change, p. 23
  13. ^ All Change, p. 9, 20
  14. ^ Daily Mail, 15 February 1971, p.1
  15. ^ "old-money noun - Definition, pictures, pronunciation and usage notes - Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com". www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Extra's – What's that in old Money?". www.downthelane.net. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  17. ^ Coincraft's Standard Catalogue English & UK Coins 1066 to Date, Richard Lobel, Coincraft. ISBN 0-9526228-8-2, 1999 ed., p. 637
  18. ^ "Coinage Act 1971". www.statutelaw.gov.uk. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  19. ^ Murray-West, Rosie. "Maggie's 'brassy' pound coin prepares for 30th birthday". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  20. ^ "Currency Act, 1927".
  21. ^ From the £ (pound sterling) to the Punt (IRP) and to the €
  22. ^ "Irish Decimal Postage Stamps Issued 1970 - 1980".
Sources
  • The Royal Mint, All Change: 25th Anniversary of Decimal Currency in Britain (pamphlet distributed with 1996 Royal Mint silver proof sets)

Further reading

  • Moore, N. E. A. (1973). The Decimalisation of Britain's Currency. London: H.M.S.O. ISBN 0116303220.

External links

D-Day (disambiguation)

D-Day may also refer to:

Normandy landings on June 6, 1944

D-Day (military term) invasion

"D-Day Dodgers", a 1944 term for those Allied personnel who fought in Italy during World War II

June 12, 2009, the final conversion date of the DTV transition in the United States

Domino Day

"D-Day", contemporary name for the Children's Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama

Decimal Day (15 February 1971), the day the United Kingdom and Ireland decimalised their currencies

Friday the 13th, when referred to in hexadecimal (i.e. D is hexadecimal for 13)

Farthing (British coin)

The British farthing (​1⁄4d) coin, from "fourthing", was a unit of currency of one quarter of a penny, or ​1⁄960 of a pound sterling. It was minted in bronze, and replaced the earlier copper farthings. It was used during the reign of six monarchs: Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II, ceasing to be legal tender in 1960. It featured two different designs on its reverse during its 100 years in circulation: from 1860 until 1936, the image of Britannia; and from 1937 onwards, the image of a wren. Like all British coinage, it bore the portrait of the monarch on the obverse.Before Decimal Day in 1971, there were 240 pence in one pound sterling. There were four farthings in a penny, 12 pence made a shilling, and 20 shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g., three shillings and six pence (3/6), pronounced "three and six" or "three and sixpence". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in pence, e.g., 8d, pronounced "eightpence". A price with a farthing in it would be written like this: (19/​11 1⁄4), pronounced "nineteen and elevenpence farthing".

The purchasing power of a farthing from 1860 to its demise in 1960 ranged between 2p to 12p (in 2017 GB Pound values).

Fifty pence (Irish coin)

The fifty pence (50p) (Irish: caoga pingin) coin was a subdivision of the Irish pound. It was introduced in Ireland on 17 February 1970. It replaced the ten shilling coin when decimalised, and due to this conversion was introduced a year before Decimal Day in 1971.

It is a seven sided coin, an equilateral curve heptagon of constant breadth (3 centimetres) and mass 13.5 grams. The sides are not straight but are curved so that the centre of curvature is the opposite apex of the coin - this is an equilateral curve which allows the coin to roll freely in slot machines. It was of the same shape and size of the British coin of the same denomination, as both nations' pounds were pegged until 1979. The coin used the woodcock design from the pre-decimal farthing coin, introduced to the Irish Free State in 1928.

On 31 May 1988 a special design was circulated for the "Dublin Millennium", although Dublin is thought to have been founded by the Vikings in around 841 – the issue was regarded for publicity and collectors only.

The millennium coin was the first decimal to feature words on it, the word "Dublin" in Roman script and "Áth Cliath" in Gaelic script, its equivalent in the Irish language. The coin was designed by Tom Ryan who would later design the Irish pound coin. Not many of these limited edition coins were produced.

Production of fifty pence coins ceased between 1988 and 1996 because of previous oversupply and because of reduced demand following the introduction of the twenty pence coin. The coin was withdrawn on the advent of the euro in 2002, with its last minting issue in 2000.

Five pence (Irish coin)

The five pence (5p) (Irish: cúig phingin) coin was a subdivision of the Irish pound. It was introduced in Ireland on Decimal Day, 15 February 1971 and reused the design on the shilling coin produced for the Irish Free State in 1928. Some shilling coins remained in circulation until the early 1990s, with the same nominal value as the five pence coin.

The five pence, introduced in 1971, was 5.65518 grams in weight with a diameter of 2.3595 centimetres. This matched the British five pence coin. As a modern coin it became apparent in the late 1980s that the coin's physical dimensions were large relative to its value.

The original five pence was last minted in 1990 and in 1992 a replacement was 3.25 grams in weight with a 1.85 centimetres diameter (differing from the corresponding new British five pence coin). This new coin kept the old design but incorporated some changes, notably the location of the figure and reversing the main design of the bull. The composition of the five pence was 75% copper and 25% nickel.

The coin was worth ​1⁄20 of an Irish pound and was finally withdrawn on the advent of the euro.

Fourpence (British coin)

The pre-decimal fourpence (4d), sometimes known as a groat (from Dutch grootpennig = "big penny") or fourpenny bit, was a coin worth one sixtieth of a pound sterling, or four pence. The coin was also known as a joey after the MP Joseph Hume, who spoke in favour of its introduction. It was a revival of the pre-Union coin.

Before Decimal Day in 1971 there were two hundred and forty pence in one pound sterling. Twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. forty-two pence would be three shillings and six pence (3/6), abbreviated to "three and six" in common speech. Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d.

Half crown (British coin)

The half crown was a denomination of British money, equivalent to two shillings and sixpence, or one-eighth of a pound. The half crown was first issued in 1549, in the reign of Edward VI. No half crowns were issued in the reign of Mary, but from the reign of Elizabeth I half crowns were issued in every reign except Edward VIII, until the coins were discontinued in 1967.

The half crown was demonetised (ahead of other pre-decimal coins) on 1 January 1970, the year before the United Kingdom adopted decimal currency on Decimal Day. During the English Interregnum of 1649–1660, a republican half crown was issued, bearing the arms of the Commonwealth of England, despite monarchist associations of the coin's name. When Oliver Cromwell was made Lord Protector of England, half crowns were issued bearing his semi-royal portrait. The half crown did not display its value on the reverse until 1893.

Half farthing

The British half farthing ( 1/8d) coin, usually simply known as a half farthing, was a unit of currency equaling 1/1,920 of a pound sterling, or one eighth of a penny. It was minted in copper for use in Ceylon, but in 1842 they were declared legal tender in the United Kingdom. Two different obverses were used. Like all British coinage, it bore the portrait of the monarch on the obverse.

Before Decimal Day in 1971 there were two hundred and forty pence in one pound sterling. There were four farthings in a penny. Twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. forty-two pence would be three shillings and six pence (3/6), pronounced "three and six" or "three and sixpence". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d. A price with a farthing in it would be written like this: (19/11 1/4), pronounced "nineteen and elevenpence farthing".

Halfpenny (British pre-decimal coin)

The British pre-decimal halfpenny (​1⁄2d) coin, usually simply known as a halfpenny (pronounced HAY-pə-nee), historically occasionally also as the obol, was a unit of currency that equalled half of a penny or ​1⁄480 of a pound sterling. Originally the halfpenny was minted in copper, but after 1860 it was minted in bronze. It ceased to be legal tender in 1969, in the run-up to decimalisation. The halfpenny featured two different designs on its reverse during its years in circulation. From 1672 until 1936 the image of Britannia appeared on the reverse, and from 1937 onwards the image of the Golden Hind appeared. Like all British coinage, it bore the portrait of the monarch on the obverse."Halfpenny" was colloquially written ha’penny, and "​1 1⁄2d" was spoken as "a penny ha’penny" or three ha'pence . Before Decimal Day in 1971 there were 240 pence in one pound sterling. Twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. 42 pence would be three shillings and six pence (3/6), pronounced "three and six", whereas 3 shillings even would be "3s" or, on a sign in a shop, "3/-" (the dash usually being written instead of 0 for pence). Values of less than a shilling were simply written in pence, e.g. eightpence would be 8d (the "d" standing for the Latin word denarii (sing. denarius, a common coin in Roman Britain) .

Halfpenny (Irish decimal coin)

The decimal halfpenny (​1⁄2p) (Irish: leathphingin) coin was the smallest denomination of the Irish pound. It was first issued when the Irish currency was decimalised on Decimal Day, 15 February 1971. It was one of three new designs introduced all in bronze and featuring ornamental birds on the reverse. The coin value was weakened by inflation and very few were produced beyond the initial run for 1971. It was removed from circulation and demonetised on 1 January 1987.

The main reason that halfpennies were issued was that when shillings were decimalised they were worth five new pence, so a sixpence (half of a shilling) yielded a value of ​2 1⁄2 new pence.

Its dimensions and appearance were the same as the British coin of the same denomination as the pounds of Britain and Ireland were pegged until 1979.

The coin was designed by the Irish artist Gabriel Hayes and the design is adapted from the manuscript Cologne Collectio Canonum (Cologne, Dombibliothek Cod. 213) in Cologne. The coin has a diameter of 1.7145 centimetres and mass of 1.782 grams consisting of copper, tin and zinc.

The coin was worth ​1⁄200 of an Irish pound.

The 1985 version of this coin is particularly rare, and valuable to coin collectors - the vast majority of the 2.8 million were melted in 1987. The 1986 coin was only produced for the 1986 specimen sets and is also rare.

Penny (British pre-decimal coin)

The pre-decimal penny (1d) was a coin worth 1/240 of a pound sterling. Its symbol was d, from the Roman denarius. It was a continuation of the earlier English penny, and in Scotland it had the same monetary value as one pre-1707 Scottish shilling. The penny was originally minted in silver, but from the late 18th century it was minted in copper, and then after 1860 in bronze.

The plural of "penny" is "pence" when referring to a quantity of money and "pennies" when referring to a number of coins. Thus 8d is eight pence, but "eight pennies" means specifically eight individual penny coins.

Before Decimal Day in 1971 twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound, hence 240 pence in one pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. 42 pence would be three shillings and sixpence (3/6), pronounced "three and six". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d.

This version of the penny was made obsolete in 1971 by decimalisation, and was replaced by the decimal penny, worth 2.4 old pence.

Penny (English coin)

The English penny (plural "pence"), originally a coin of 1.3 to 1.5 grams (0.042 to 0.048 troy ounces; 0.046 to 0.053 ounces) pure silver, was introduced around the year 785 by King Offa of Mercia. These coins were similar in size and weight to the continental deniers of the period and to the Anglo-Saxon sceats which had preceded it.

Throughout the period of the Kingdom of England, from its beginnings in the 9th century, the penny was produced in silver. Pennies of the same nominal value, one 240th of a pound sterling, were in circulation continuously until the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.

Penny (Irish decimal coin)

The decimal one penny (1p) (Irish: pingin) coin was the second smallest denomination of the Irish pound. It was first issued when the Irish currency was decimalised on Decimal Day, 15 February 1971. It was the second of three new designs introduced all in bronze, the others being a half-penny and a two pence coin. All featured ornamental birds designed by Irish artist Gabriel Hayes on the reverse.

The coin originally had a diameter of 2.032 centimetres and mass of 3.564 grams consisting of copper, tin and zinc. This was identical to the British decimal penny as the two countries' pounds were pegged until 1979.

The coin's official designation was "new penny" and this was changed in 1985 to "penny". In 1990 the decision was taken to produce the coin on a copper-plated steel base as the bronze had become too expensive. The steel base coins are magnetic.

The coin was designed by the Irish artist Gabriel Hayes and the design is adapted from the Book of Kells held in Trinity College, Dublin.

The coin was worth ​1⁄100 of an Irish pound and was withdrawn with the arrival of the euro in Ireland (introduced in 1999 jointly, and from 2002 on its own).

Quarter farthing

The British quarter farthing ( 1/16d) coin was a unit of currency equaling one sixteenth of a penny ( 1/3,840 of a pound sterling). It was produced for circulation in Ceylon in various years between 1839 and 1853, with proof coins being produced in 1868. It is the smallest denomination of pound sterling coin ever minted. The coin is considered to be part of British coinage because it has no indication of what country it was minted for, being made in the same style as the contemporary half-farthing which was legal tender in Britain between 1842 and 1869.Before Decimal Day in 1971 there were two hundred and forty pennies to one pound sterling. There were four farthings in a penny. Twelve pennies made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. three shillings and six pence (3/6), pronounced "three and six" or "three and sixpence". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pennies, e.g. eight pennies would be 8d, pronounced "eightpence." A price with a farthing in it would be written in the following way: (19/11 1/4), pronounced "nineteen and elevenpence farthing".

Coins were minted in 1839, 1851, 1852, 1853, and the proof issue of 1868. The 1839–53 coins were made of copper, weighed 1.2 grams (0.039 troy ounces or about 1/24 of an ounce avoirdupois) and had a diameter of 13.5 millimetres (0.53 in). So, £1 worth of quarter farthings weighed 10 avoirdupois pounds (4.5 kg). The 1868 coins were made of bronze or cupro-nickel, but weighed the same and had the same diameter.

The obverse bears the left-facing portrait of Queen Victoria, with the inscription VICTORIA D G BRITANNIAR REGINA F D, while the reverse bears a crown above the words QUARTER FARTHING with a rose with three leaves at the bottom of the coin.

In 2017 values, the quarter farthing would have a purchasing power of between 3p and 4p (£0.03 to £0.04).

Shilling (British coin)

The shilling (1/-) was a coin worth one twentieth of a pound sterling, or twelve pence. It was first minted in the reign of Henry VII as the testoon, and became known as the shilling from the Old English scilling, sometime in the mid-sixteenth century, circulating until 1990. The word bob was sometimes used for a monetary value of several shillings, e.g. "ten bob note". Following decimalisation on 15 February 1971 the coin had a value of five new pence. It was made from silver from its introduction in or around 1503 until 1947, and thereafter in cupronickel.

Prior to Decimal Day in 1971 there were 240 pence in one pound sterling. Twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. forty-two pence would be three shillings and six pence (3/6), pronounced "three and six". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d.

Although the coin was not minted until the sixteenth century, the value of a shilling had been used for accounting purposes since the Anglo-Saxon period. Originally, a shilling was deemed to be the value of a cow in Kent, or a sheep elsewhere. The value of one shilling equalling 12d was set by the Normans following the conquest; prior to this various Anglo-Saxon coins equalling 4, 5, and 12 pence had all been known as shillings.

Sixpence (British coin)

The sixpence (6d; ), sometimes known as a tanner or sixpenny bit, is a coin that was worth one-fortieth of a pound sterling, or six pence. It was first minted in the reign of Edward VI and circulated until 1980. Following decimalisation in 1971 it had a value of ​2 1⁄2 new pence. The coin was made from silver from its introduction in 1551 to 1947, and thereafter in cupronickel.

Prior to Decimal Day in 1971 there were 240 pence in one pound sterling. Twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in shillings and pence, e.g. 42 old pence (​17 1⁄2p) would be three shillings and sixpence (3/6), often pronounced "three and six". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d ('d' for denarius).

Ten pence (Irish coin)

The ten pence (10p) (Irish: deich pingin) coin was a subdivision of the Irish pound. It was used in the Republic of Ireland from 1969 to 2002, with its last minting issue in 2000. It replaced the florin coin, of which it shared its design. Two different designs of the coin exist, both featuring a salmon on the reverse. The second was introduced in 1993 and is smaller, due to the reduction of the coin's value by inflation.

It was introduced two years prior to Decimal Day, 15 February 1971, due to its value at a tenth of a pound being the same as the previous florin. It retained the exact design and dimensions (except denomination) of the florin coin, introduced to the Irish Free State in 1928. Some florin coins remained in circulation until 1994, when it was decided to reduce the size of the ten pence coin.

The original ten pence weighed 11.31036 grams (0.398961 oz) and had a diameter of 2.85 centimetres (1.12 in). Its size became a problem after inflation reduced the coin's value, and it was last minted in 1986.

In 1993 a replacement was struck at 2.2 centimetres (0.87 in) diameter and 5.45 grams (0.192 oz). This new coin featured a salmon, but moved the location of the denomination as a result of reversing the picture of the salmon. The composition of the ten pence was 75% copper and 25% nickel.

The coin was worth ​1⁄10 of an Irish pound. All of the original ten pence coins were withdrawn on 1 June 1994. The smaller version was withdrawn when the euro was introduced in 2002.

Two pence (Irish coin)

The two pence (2p) (Irish: dhá phingin) coin was the third smallest denomination of the Irish pound. It was first issued when the Irish currency was decimalised on Decimal Day, 15 February 1971. The coin was minted until 2000. It was the third of three new designs introduced all in bronze, the others being the halfpenny and penny. All featured ornamental birds on the reverse.

The coin was designed by the Irish artist Gabriel Hayes and the design is adapted from the Second Bible of Charles the Bald held at Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. The coin originally had a diameter of 2.591 centimetres and weight of 7.128 grams consisting of copper, tin and zinc.

In 1990 the decision was taken to produce the coin on a copper plated steel base as the bronze had become too expensive. The steel-based coins are magnetic. After reducing the size of the five and ten pence coins introduced in the early 1990s, the two pence coin was the fourth largest Irish coin, with only the twenty and fifty pence and the pound coin coins being larger in the series.

The coin was worth ​1⁄50 of an Irish pound and was withdrawn for the euro in 2002.

Twopence (British pre-decimal coin)

The pre-decimal twopence (2d) ( or ) was a coin worth one one-hundred-and-twentieth of a pound sterling, or two pence. It was a short-lived denomination, only being minted in 1797 by Matthew Boulton's Soho Mint.

Before Decimal Day in 1971, two hundred and forty pence equaled one pound sterling. Twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. forty-two pence would be three shillings and six pence (3/6), pronounced "three and six". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d.

These coins were made legal tender for amounts of up to one shilling by a proclamation of 26 July 1797. They were later made redundant in 1860 with the advent of bronze coinage.

£sd

£sd (occasionally written Lsd, spoken as "pounds, shillings and pence" or pronounced /ɛlɛsˈdiː/ ell-ess-dee) is the popular name for the pre-decimal currencies once common throughout Europe, especially in the British Isles and hence in several countries of the British Empire and subsequently the Commonwealth. The abbreviation originates from the Latin currency denominations librae, solidi, and denarii. In the United Kingdom, which was one of the last to abandon the system, these were referred to as pounds, shillings, and pence (pence being the plural of penny).

This system originated in the classical Roman Empire. It was re-introduced into Western Europe by Charlemagne, and was the standard for many centuries across the continent. In Britain, it was King Offa of Mercia who adopted the Frankish silver standard of librae, solidi and denarii in the late 8th century, and the system was used in much of the British Commonwealth until the 1960s and 1970s, with Nigeria being the last to abandon it in the form of the Nigerian pound on 1 January 1973.

Under this system, there were 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings, or 240 pence, in a pound. The penny was subdivided into 4 farthings until 31 December 1960, when they ceased to be legal tender in the UK, and until 31 July 1969 there were also halfpennies ("ha'pennies") in circulation. The advantage of such a system was its use in mental arithmetic, as it afforded many factors and hence fractions of a pound such as tenths, eighths, sixths and even sevenths and ninths if the guinea (worth 21 shillings) was used. When dealing with items in dozens, multiplication and division are straightforward; for example, if a dozen eggs cost four shillings, then each egg was priced at fourpence.

As countries of the British Empire became independent, some abandoned the £sd system quickly, while others retained it almost as long as the UK itself. Australia, for example, only changed to using a decimal currency on 14 February 1966. Still others, notably Ireland, decimalised only when the UK did. The UK abandoned the old penny on Decimal Day, 15 February 1971, when one pound sterling became divided into 100 new pence. This was a change from the system used in the earlier wave of decimalisations in Australia, New Zealand, Rhodesia and South Africa, in which the pound was replaced with a new major currency called either the "dollar" or the "rand". The British shilling was replaced by a 5 new pence coin worth one-twentieth of a pound.

For much of the 20th century, £sd was the monetary system of most of the Commonwealth countries, the major exceptions being Canada and India.

Historically, similar systems based on Roman coinage were used elsewhere; e.g., the division of the livre tournois in France and other pre-decimal currencies such as Spain, which had 20 maravedís to 1 real and 20 reals to 1 duro or 5 pesetas.

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