Majority of us have become accustomed to receiving income by direct debit, and regularly making payments using plastic bank cards. This electronic transfer of numbers cannot yet however, fully replace the ancient exchange of token coins plus bank note promises readily accepted as money. So both the Royal Mint and Bank of England must be assured of keeping business long into the future.
A limited collection for 2014 offers to commemorate 100th anniversary of the First World War. There's no coincidence in also finding August 1914 brought first issue of the most commonly recognised banknotes ranging upwards from 10/- shillings. This inspired a look back to when many of us remember handling and calculating L.s.d., that denoted pounds shillings and pence before 1971 decimalisation. Except for the keenest numismatics, few could be aware of the vast array eluding common use under title Coins of the UK.
We're all familiar with the currency following 1971 UK decimalisation. Or maybe not, if never seeing these!
A new Half Penny initially afforded accurate pound conversion from 144d into 100p. Measuring just 17mm made them easily dropped and lost. Difficulty picking them back up didn't seem worth the effort when often choosing not to accept them in change due inflation soon making them almost worthless. Resistance to raising prices lasted until 1984 when demonetising all half pences. Fears of rounding everything up to nearest penny may actually prove unfounded. Frustration since aims at items priced 99p. So just think yourself lucky for the saving previously affording 99½p.
Long tradition upheld by our reigning monarchs handing out Maundy Money kept two old coins. Specially minted in silver just for this annual occasion, the modernised set still includes three and four pence coins. Silver Thru'pences date back from 1551. Lastly 12 sided brass coins were familiar change until 1967 removal from circulation.
Four pence coins known as a Groat date further back through reign of Edward I. These didn't prove as popular and went out of general circulation by the 17th century after favouring a far handier six pence tanner worth half a shilling.
A 25p coin represented decimal equivalent of the rarely seen 5 shilling Crown. It had been issued 4 times between 1971 and 1981 to commemorate significant royal events. Minted from either cupronickel and or just silver, they show no face value but are legal tender if rarely ever recognised. Last one marked a Royal Wedding. Reverse portrays conjoined heads of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.
Decimilisation didn't alter value of the British pound, so the existing quid note actually long continued until 1984. Two colour revisions from 1978 both featured Sir Isaac Newton lastly on reverse. Inflation however, then demanded handier durability of the current coin.
Five pound coins were likewise issued alongside the 25p, and since 1990 they replaced the Crown to continue same size for marking more special occasions almost annually. I once purchased a few from the Post Office on assurance they are legal tender. Banks readily recognised them, unlike most places. Some are expensive proofs, depending on the content of silver and gold, even platinum.
Written 25 Feb 14 Revised 13 Mar 14 © by Gary Elliott