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Currencies 1: British Old Money
17/3 - 15/11
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Guide for this category...

Although it isn't used now, old British currency comes up so often in historical reading that I thought it would be useful to learn how it worked.


It is distinctly non-decimal in character, like other English measurements. The basic unit is the pound, which is broken up into 240 pence, or 20 shillings. Each shilling is worth 12 pence.


The value of the pound varied throughout history, depending on its physical characteristics and the strength of the British economy. I've chosen to use the last value it had before the decimal era. That conveniently happens to be $2.40, which means that the British (old) pence and the US cent are of equal value!


Some say that this was not totally standardized. I've developed a system based on what seems to have been common practice; it is subject to change if I learn more about it. For now:

  • Pounds are always preceded by the pound symbol, £.
  • Shillings follow pounds in formatting. They are written with a slash afterwards, and the pence count: 16/4. If there are no pence, that is recorded with a dash, not a zero: 11/-.
  • If there are only pence, no pounds or shillings, they are listed alone, and followed by d: 6d. The d symbol is derived from the Roman denarius.
  • If there are pounds before shillings, there is a slash between the two: £1/5/-.
  • If there are pounds and pence and no shillings, keep the shilling space: £1/-/1. This is conjecture, because I couldn't find any price listed in just pounds and pence. It seems just as logical to do something like £1/1d, but I had to decide on one, and this way is consistent with the practice for shillings and pence.
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