The booklet every household in Britain received in preparation for decimalisation
On Monday, February 15, 1971, Britain’s currency went decimal. Forty years on, it’s an ideal opportunity for nostalgia about the wonderful coins we had before that Decimal Day.
The £1 remained the basic unit of our currency and in those days we had green £1 notes, rather than the brassy coins we have today – those were introduced in 1983 and the £1 note was withdrawn in 1988.
The £1 note of my childhood – it was changed to a smaller one in 1978 and £1 notes were eventually withdrawn in 1988
But now the £1 was divided into 100 new pennies. Previously there had been 240 old pennies, not that we thought of it like that. There were 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound.
We had our complicated (imperial) weights and measures tables on the back of every red exercise book and many was the childhood hour we spent memorising them.
Coins were so much bigger then, and the non-decimal system made sure we were good at arithmetic. No wonder our “times tables” went up to 12, rather than the obvious 10 (obvious because we have 10 digits on hands and feet, made for counting on).
Pennies of Edward VII (1906), George V (1933), George VI (1948) and Elizabeth II (1953)
A pocketful of pennies also contained the history of our kings and queens for more than a century. Before decimalisation came in, we were able to amass portraits in copper of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. Of course George VI is much in the news in 2011 with the success of the film The King’s Speech.
As for Edward VIII (of Mrs Simpson fame), (more…)
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