Thursday, July 17, 2008

Regency Money


The money that was second nature to me growing up, is no more. How strange is that? Any one living in Britain prior to 1970 will of course remember pounds shillings and pence, or if you visited prior to that date you may recall the nomenclature and all of the idiosyncracies. But some of you spring chickens or recent Regency addicts may find the monetary system of the Regency Era a mystery. Hence this blog.

Pounds Sterling is still the official currency of Britain. The symbol for a pound is £ from the latin libra meaning pound.
In a bill of fare from an inn during the Regency one might have seen the following accounting for your meal.



Roast beef................. £1 5s. 3d.

The s. does not mean shilling as one might expect but soldas and the d. is dinaro. These terms stem all the way back to the time when Rome ruled Britain. We Brits do like to hang on to our history. lol. As far as I know no one used those terms to refer to the denominations as a general rule.

Well that seems fairly straightforward. Oh, but wait a minute, how many shillings were there in a pound and how many pence.

So what value did the various denominations have. There were twenty shillings in in pound, twelve pennies in a shilling. Not the easy decimal system we have to day. Hang on, this means there were two hundred and forty pennies in a pound. That is a lot of pennies. And they weren't the tiny little things we have in Canada and the US, they were honking cartwheels of pennies - (They even called them cartwheels in those days). A pound's worth in your pockets would have you walking on your knees. Or me anyway.

Pennies were both silver and copper during the Regency, the first copper (actually partly copper) pennies being introduced in 1797. They contained a penny's worth of copper and weighed an ounce. In other words, they were not token currency, they were worth the value printed on them.

So that is pretty straight forward isn't it? Oh, but wait a minute there are all kinds of other coins that we haven't talked bout yet, guineas and groats, ponies and farthings. We will look at those next time and we'll also try to work out some values in future posts.

In the meantime, if you love books, here is a chance to win some, my new one included. The Toronto Romance Writers are having a contest and there are some fabulous authors and their books. Go here to enter. It's easy and fun. I promise.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.