Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery. — Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
My topic for Blogathon has been Funny Money. Is there anything funnier than the old (pre-decimal) British monetary system? Is there an American alive that understands it? I’m an avid reader, and my head swims when money is mentioned in Dickens or Austen or Thackeray. The wikipedia article on British coinage features a bewildering array of pre-decimal coins.
No fear! Get Rich Slowly is here to make things clear. Simply print and clip this handy chart of 18th century values and tuck it in your copy of David Copperfield. Refer to it as needed.
|1,000 pounds||1,000-pound note|
|500 pounds||500-pound note|
|200 pounds||200-pound note|
|100 pounds||100-pound note|
|50 pounds||50-pound note|
|20 pounds||20-pound note|
|10 pounds||10-pound note||tenner|
|5 pounds||5-pound note||fiver|
|One Pound||20 shillings||sovereign||1-pound note||quid|
|10 shillings||half sovereign||½-pound note|
|2½ shillings||half crown|
|One Shilling<||shilling||shilling||bob, hog|
|6 pence||sixpence||tanner, bender|
|½ pence||half penny||ha’pence|
|1/8 pence||half farthing|
Note: Some of these denominations are no longer in use. Also, the British monetary system has moved to a decimal base. Thank god.
According to the book What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew:
Sovereigns and half sovereigns were gold; crowns, half crowns, florins, shillings, sixpences, and threepences were silver; pence, ha’pence, and farthings were copper until 1860, after which they were bronze.
To abbreviate their money, Britons used the symbol £ for pound, s. for shilling, and d. for pence, although five pounds, ten shillings, sixpence would be written £5.10.6. “Five and six” meant five shillings and sixpence, and it would have been written “5/6″.
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