Saturday, February 05, 2011

Forty Years Since Forty Pence was Three and Fourpence

Forty years, it's been.

Forty years since the half crown, the florin, the one shilling piece, the sixpence, the threepenny bit, the penny, the ha'penny all went and were replaced by what they then called New Pence.

For a while the New Pence were abbreviated to NP or np so you'd get price labels that said 10np but finally the "new" went and the abbreviation became p, as in 20p.

The day after it all changed I was involved in a Bun Sale at school - it was the sort of charitable event that took place quite frequently. The buns at the time were usually priced at sixpence and I was deeply shocked that after decimalisation suddenly they were three new pence, whereas the old sixpence would have translated exactly as two and a half new pence.

There were many such steep percentage rises as either ignorance or greed caused prices to go up.

I mourned the loss of the old money. I used to love the fact that from time to time you would find a nineteenth century penny with Queen Victoria's head on it. It was always worth looking through your change. My cousin was quite a serious coin collector and built up a valuable collection mostly by checking her change every day.

You could buy a lot more with the old coins, of course. My pocket-money purchase of choice when I was very small was a small doll, about two inches high, from a collection of many different ones, and they cost sixpence each. Oh! the joy of each Saturday as I chose my doll from the newsagent. And if I was given - as I sometimes was - a ten-shilling note, or even a pound note, on my birthday, I felt really rich.

You can see all the old coins here.

For me, any sentimental attachment to the British Pound left me in February 1971 and I'd be quite happy to change over to the euro now - - though I expect that, as with the change to decimal currency, prices would rise. But it would be great to be able to go to mainland Europe and not have to change pounds into euros.

The old pounds, shillings and pence are still hard-wired into my brain, though, as I found out the other day when telling some medical students about some Government food vouchers that are given to poor families with children and may be exchanged for fruit, vegetables or milk. They are woth £3.10 each.

"They are called Healthy Start vouchers and they are each worth three pounds and ten shillings," I said confidently, before realising what I'd said and being overcome with laughter.

The students thought it was both funny and amazing that someone who still appeared to have all their own teeth and be able to walk should come out with this phrase from the Olden Days. Forty years, eh? Wow.


Blogger Silverback said...

Of course I've no idea what you're talking about (nothing new there then) with your strange coinage talk !

As for those teeth, remember I've slept with you and SAW the bedside glass.

(sorry, Stephen, but it had to come out sometime)

3:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

evidently so did the teeth!

4:45 pm  
Blogger Jennyta said...

Hilarious, Daphne! (Always wondered about Silverback, mind you!) Obviously not as innocent as he likes to look. ;)
I remember making work cards for teaching practice to teach decimal coins. Seems like another life now!

7:02 pm  
Blogger Michael said...

Thanks for that link to the old currency - I think I'll have to get a set now. I vaguely remember the switchover and the dreadful public awareness song that was played to promote it (?by the Scaffold?). I wonder how kids today would manage in arithmetic if we'd not gone decimal? "That'll be seventeen pounds three and six, minus the three guineas deposit, which comes to, err ... "

12:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I expect you remember your '3 and 4 pence' times table as well... not to mention '1 and 8'.
And then there was the times table for '1 and a half d'.
Once again Daphne, thank you for transporting me back to the 'old days'.

1:53 pm  
Blogger Ailbhe said...

Fourteen pounds and sixpence. Anyone who's read children's classic literature can figure that out.

4:16 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

At a recent pub quiz one of the questions was - how many threepenny bits were there in an old pound? Of course it was dead easy for me - 240 divided by 3 - but some of the younger folk looked utterly non-plussed. And those crisp, copper brown ten bob notes inside birthday cards - they made you feel very warm inside.

11:52 pm  

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