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Tony Grist

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Pre-decimal [Apr. 21st, 2011|12:49 pm]
Tony Grist
At the back of the Penguin Kipps there's a note explaining the pre-decimal British currency- sixpences, florins, guineas.  My first thought was, "surely everybody knows about that"- and then I did some calculations and realised you'd have to be pushing 50 to have ever worked with the old money. It's things like this that make me realise how venerable I am.
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Comments:
From: loxian
2011-04-21 12:51 pm (UTC)
I can't wrap my head around florins, and I've read loads of old books. And guineas are just a weird idea - one shilling more than a sovereign? But why?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-21 01:55 pm (UTC)
A florin is two shillings- and a half crown is two shillings and sixpence. It was a crazy system.
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[User Picture]From: airstrip
2011-04-21 12:52 pm (UTC)
So that's what all those terms were about. To be honest, when they assigned British literature to us in grade school, I always thought that they just had a lot of slang terms for their coins.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2011-04-21 01:17 pm (UTC)
The sad thing is that there were interesting slang terms for all the old coins. In the 40 years since, the new coinage seems not to have picked up any at all.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2011-04-21 02:03 pm (UTC)
I am sure there is a Wikipedia site that covers tanners, thruppeny bits, ha'pennies, shillings, ten bob notes, fivers, groats, farthings, florins, bun pennies, crowns, half crowns, sovereigns, guineas, ponies, monkeys and all other official and unofficial names.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2011-04-21 01:16 pm (UTC)
You're a national treasure! (And so am I.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-21 03:23 pm (UTC)
What an excellent way of looking at it.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2011-04-21 02:04 pm (UTC)
I vaguely remember the old coinage, but when I got to infant school they started teaching us with plastic versions of the decimal coins. so when the real ones came in I was the only one in my family who had a clue. I was seven.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2011-04-21 02:07 pm (UTC)
One of my vivid primary-school memories is of getting stuck on a sum involving pre-decimal currency, and the teacher telling me not to bother because it was being replaced anyway in a few weeks.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2011-04-21 05:52 pm (UTC)
You're a Living National Treasure. ;)

One of the things I hate about the big modern push to rationalize everything is that too often rationalized measurements and currencies have no cultural features, nothing at all noticeable about them, just a slick finish and a stultifying unanimity.

Not always, of course. Canada did it right in a way, with their looney and tooneys, and I liked the short-lived Sacagawea dollar, the Bicentennial quarter, and the old Kennedy half-dollar. I admit the new pound coin is pretty and I like the dragon one, but IMO it's not as --- well, personable as the old-money ha'penny I have, or as the old Liberty dime.

Ah well. I hate innovation for its own sake anyway. Me being stuffy and stodgy, I suppose.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-21 09:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)

I have a few old coins I've picked up over the years- and treasure. Pride of the collection are a George III cartwheel penny- a great chunk of bronze that was the biggest coin even minted in Britain- and an 1870s silver dollar- as flipped and flaunted in innumerable westerns.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-04-22 10:26 am (UTC)
How well you deserve veneration, too.

I liked the threepence, with the multiple sides, and the big old copper pennies. Never did figure out how all those strange denominations actually worked, though.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-22 10:29 am (UTC)
:)

The change was entirely rational- and made life easier, but...
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2011-04-26 01:06 pm (UTC)
I gave my Italians a quick guide to imperial measurements which confused them much and mightily
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-26 03:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not surprised
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