At school, prior to the 1970's. the recommendation was to learn the 12 times
tables - why?
Well, prior to the English sterling Pound moving decimal, i.e 100 pennies in
a Pound, it was a little different, well actually very different.
Before this time, there was the Pound sterling, which is approximately worth
about two American Dollars these days, maybe a little less. The Pound sterling
still exists, although it is about time we joined the European Community and
adopted the Euro, which is currently about 3 Euros for 2 Pounds, and is pretty
Before decimalisation, instead of 100 pennies in a pound, we had 240 old
pennies in a pound!
The Pounds , Shillings & Pence story:-
The Pound sterling was very simply worth 20 shillings, each shilling was
worth 12 pennies. So, there were 240 pennies in the pound. Just to make it
even more confusing, there were halfpennies and farthings. The latter being a
quarter of a penny. So, there were nearly a thousand farthings in a pound. [When
I was a young lad, I could buy several sweets for a farthing]. If I had a Pound,
I could have purchased several thousand small sweets for a Pound!!! We are
talking about the 1960's, not the Victorian times, by the way.
To make matters even more confusing, although a little before my time, there
was a Guinea, which was worth 21 shillings - I have no idea why this ever
existed, and was generally the time when money was made in gold, 22 carat.
The gold standard existed up until the early 1900's, maybe up until the World
wars, and this meant that a Pound really was a Pound, in the form of an eight
gram coin of 22ct gold called a sovereign. Gold is purest as 24 carat, so 22
cart is 0.916 pure gold. The silver coinage was made in
sterling silver [92.5 % pure silver until 1919, and thereafter until 1946 in 50%
silver]. A typical £100 pounds [£ meaning pound weighed about 11 Kilograms].
A quarter of a pound was better known as a
Crown (five shillings), a silver coin.
In the Silver Boom in the early 1980s when Russia invaded Afghanistan, an
by the name of Bunker Hunt made an attempt to take over the silver market, and
force the price up. This
forced the price of silver to magnify overnight and for a period of months. The
Gold price was also greatly exaggerated during this period, and reached
significant high levels that have not been attained since. The price of gold
reached about $800 USA dollars per troy ounce, and silver was probably fifty
times its current levels. Silver is now classified as a Base Metal, whereas it
was often classified as a semi-precious metal.
In the reformations of Europe, when the Protestants were
being forced from the continent by the Catholics, many Huegenot Silver workers
moved to the East Anglian regions of England, e.g Suffolk. These skilled silver
workers were originally known as the Oesterlings, from which the word Sterling
The common symbols for the pound, shilling and pence were -
£ = Pound Sterling
s = Shilling [sometimes shown as /-]
d = Pence
so, for example £11 4s 6d - means 11 pounds, 4 shillings
and six pence.
[remember, 6d was 6 pennies, which was half a shilling, and
for which a 6d existed as a coin]
I have found a few good sites on the web, but
this site is magnificent - for pictures, I cannot guarantee the site, as I do
not know it -