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The XYY Man

The Ten-Shilling Pound - Should We Have Chosen It...?

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Talk of pounds, shillings and pence over on the truly pop-tastic nostalgia thread triggered off a hazy memory of some debate I saw about the Euro a few years ago on a TV show - probably 'The Money Programme'.

Some guest talked of 'The Ten-Shilling Pound" - a concept that I'd never heard of before as I was 6 when we went decimal - and how this would've saved the country a fortune by allowing most coins to stay the same size as before and no awkward rounding up or down compared to the 240/100 system that the UK government finally chose.

The idea is simple. On the day you change over, a pound is now worth ten-shillings. So the shilling - same coin everyone is familiar with and fits in all the counting machines and vending machines - is now one tenth of a pound. Two-bob bit is now your 20 pence, and tanner your 5p. Issue a new 2 and 1 denomination coin and hey-presto! - You're decimal without even breaking sweat. And you don't need a ha'penny at all, ever again.

Oh yeah, and prices and wages double overnight. So profiteering over the conversion - which definitely happened in the UK - was minimised as most people can multiply by 2 and divide by 2 - and even the ones that can't will accept because all their mates will tell them it's right anyway.

The vending industry would've had to re-program their machines and put new price stickers on the front, but that's way cheaper than all-new coin mechanisms.

In short, I can't see any solid, logical reason why we didn't. Australia and most of the Commonwealth did. Doesn't seem to have destroyed those places.

And the answer to why we didn't is apparently that the world would see this as Britain devaluing the pound -and that would never do old boy...!

Details are few for this forgotten piece of history, but an extract from Hansard of a debate in the Lords here sums the two sides up nicely.

So, from our current 21st century perspective - did we make the right choice...?

Or ultimately, did it really matter...?

Was it just a bunch of toffs clinging to some outdated notion, or would Britain reallty have been frowned upon by the financial world...?

I was newborn at the time of these debates so can only speculate on these questions - anyone a bit older or more astute in such matters fancy offering some insights or opinions into this fascinating historical footnote...?

Go on, you know you want to... :)

XYY

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The idea is simple. On the day you change over, a pound is now worth ten-shillings. So the shilling - same coin everyone is familiar with and fits in all the counting machines and vending machines - is now one tenth of a pound. Two-bob bit is now your 20 pence, and tanner your 5p. Issue a new 2 and 1 denomination coin and hey-presto! - You're decimal without even breaking sweat. And you don't need a ha'penny at all, ever again.

But all the pre-decimal coins were retained (except the 3d, which disappears in either scenario), except the coppers and the threepence piece. New 2 and 1 (New penny) denomination coins were issued. And they did stay the same size. Some have only been reduced in size since because inflation made them worth less in subsequent years.

As the new decimal 10shilling 'pound' would have been worth half an old pound, it would have had to have had a different name to avoid confusion( let's callet a Dollar) Instead, the Pound was kept and New Pennies were introduced. (It would have been less confusing to have called them cents, or something else).

The two shilling piece ('florin') was introduced in Victorian times as a move towards decimalisation. It originally bore the inscription 'one tenth of a pound'.

A new halfpenny was also introduced. Failing to introduce that would have resulted in prices being rounded (almost inevitably upwards). When inflation later meant that half a new penny was little use as a unit of currency, the three coins involved (halfpenny, 6d, aand 2s6d) were simply withdrawn. Until then they had utility, and had the advantage of being familiar coins that made it easier for people to gauge value. Under the 10s. Pound scenario, the new 1 unit coin would have been withdrawn instead by the late 1980s/early 1990s, for exactly the same reasons.

Under the 20 shilling pound conversion, the new 5p (1s) and 10p (2s) still fitted vending machines, as did the old 6d and 2s6d. No problem. (I think groats were still legal tender as well as 2d pieces, but one never encountered them)

By keeping the pound the same name and value, meant that existing contracts, exchange rates, price labels and notes did not have to be changed or issued. A 50p piece was introduced, but that replaced the 10 shilling note because the pound had lost value, and coins were preferred for low denominations; a new coin (a 10 shilling pound or Dollar in your example) would therefore have been introduced for the same reasons. (The 50p was introduced a few years before decimalisation, in fact).

So decimalisation using a 20 shilling pound meant the introduction of 4 coins: New halfpenny, 1p, 2p and 50p; but the 50p coin merely replaced the 10s note and would have been needed even if the 10s pound (dollar) was introduced. It would have been the Dollar coin.

Under the 10s-Pound (Dollar) system, if the old shilling became 10c, 6d 5c, then a 1c and 2c coin would have been needed as you say. All that would have avoided was a half-cent coin, at the expense of renaming both the pound (say, 'dollar') to avoid confusion, as well as cents or new pennies or whatever. This would have caused far more disruption and confusion.

I think they made the right decision.

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Australia did just that in 1966!

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But all the pre-decimal coins were retained (except the 3d, which disappears in either scenario), except the coppers and the threepence piece. New 2 and 1 (New penny) denomination coins were issued. And they did stay the same size. Some have only been reduced in size since because inflation made them worth less in subsequent years.

As the new decimal 10shilling 'pound' would have been worth half an old pound, it would have had to have had a different name to avoid confusion( let's callet a Dollar) Instead, the Pound was kept and New Pennies were introduced. (It would have been less confusing to have called them cents, or something else).

The two shilling piece ('florin') was introduced in Victorian times as a move towards decimalisation. It originally bore the inscription 'one tenth of a pound'.

A new halfpenny was also introduced. Failing to introduce that would have resulted in prices being rounded (almost inevitably upwards). When inflation later meant that half a new penny was little use as a unit of currency, the three coins involved (halfpenny, 6d, aand 2s6d) were simply withdrawn. Until then they had utility, and had the advantage of being familiar coins that made it easier for people to gauge value. Under the 10s. Pound scenario, the new 1 unit coin would have been withdrawn instead by the late 1980s/early 1990s, for exactly the same reasons.

Under the 20 shilling pound conversion, the new 5p (1s) and 10p (2s) still fitted vending machines, as did the old 6d and 2s6d. No problem. (I think groats were still legal tender as well as 2d pieces, but one never encountered them)

By keeping the pound the same name and value, meant that existing contracts, exchange rates, price labels and notes did not have to be changed or issued. A 50p piece was introduced, but that replaced the 10 shilling note because the pound had lost value, and coins were preferred for low denominations; a new coin (a 10 shilling pound or Dollar in your example) would therefore have been introduced for the same reasons. (The 50p was introduced a few years before decimalisation, in fact).

So decimalisation using a 20 shilling pound meant the introduction of 4 coins: New halfpenny, 1p, 2p and 50p; but the 50p coin merely replaced the 10s note and would have been needed even if the 10s pound (dollar) was introduced. It would have been the Dollar coin.

Under the 10s-Pound (Dollar) system, if the old shilling became 10c, 6d 5c, then a 1c and 2c coin would have been needed as you say. All that would have avoided was a half-cent coin, at the expense of renaming both the pound (say, 'dollar') to avoid confusion, as well as cents or new pennies or whatever. This would have caused far more disruption and confusion.

I think they made the right decision.

Can't really argue with you as it's all pretty much hypothetical from the present perspective, but for some reason I find the debate between The Earl of Dundee and Lord Bowles fascinating.

I can't even really explain why, but looking back at this today from some 40-odd years in the future, I feel some connection - almost like this tiny piece of history is saying something to me about where we are right now.

Just not quite sure what, but I guess I was hoping that the collective wisdom of hpc.co.uk might help cast some light on it...

XYY

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would have confused the grannies.

and you'd still have to have pence, 10 per shilling, i assume? == more granny confusion.

I remember D-day well. Everybody was doing shilling-conversions in their heads for years afterwards.

Your explanation makes as much sense as the offical line - though I will counter with the observation that Australian grannies must therefore be less confusable - if that is actually a word :)

You know the older i get, the more I realise that life is simply all about keeping granny sweet - when you think about it, it explains rather a lot.

And 'Little Red Riding Hood' takes on a whole new lease of life... :)

XYY

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I think it's partly a way of hiding inflation.

Consider that in the old system a pound was divided into 20 x 12 x 4 = 960. A farthing was approx. £0.001 - a new penny is £0.01 i.e ten times as much. Shows how low the pound has sunk that we now divide it by a hundred rather than a thousand.

Also it's strange that it was called "decimalisation" when it wasn't it was "centimalisation". One pound, 100 new pence. Decimalisation would have been 1 pound, 10 new shillings, 100 new pence.

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I collected coins before decimalisation. I was only a kid, but I loved the things you would find in change. Black Victorian pennies a century old and worn virtually smooth were commonplace. Usefully, it taught me what monarchs reigned when and provided me with a useful mental timeline on which to build my understanding of history over the past couple of centuries.

The farthing was not the smallest coin in circulation. Coins as small as 1/32d have been in circulation - they were called 'mites'. The groat was a silver 4d piece, again, thet fell out of circulation in Victorian times but I think was still legal tender until decimilsation.

Pre-1947 silver actually contained silver - and some older coins were about 95% silver I think,, and you would still find them in change. Now our coins are worth so little that copper is too expensive to use in them.

Also, one would find coins from British colonies, etc., that used the same sort of coinage - pennies from Jersey, Eire, and further afield, even Australia.

Modern change is boring by comparison.

GEORGE V D G FID DEF IND IMP. I still remember what that means. Best move this to the nostalhia thread.

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I think it's partly a way of hiding inflation.

Consider that in the old system a pound was divided into 20 x 12 x 4 = 960. A farthing was approx. £0.001 - a new penny is £0.01 i.e ten times as much. Shows how low the pound has sunk that we now divide it by a hundred rather than a thousand.

Also it's strange that it was called "decimalisation" when it wasn't it was "centimalisation". One pound, 100 new pence. Decimalisation would have been 1 pound, 10 new shillings, 100 new pence.

Usefully, 240 is exactly divisible by 2,3,4,5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 24, 30, 40, 60, 80, and 120.

Bummer if you had to split £1 between 7 kids though.

There's a pub in Kintbury with lots of polished old pennies glued to the long bar top, under a sheet of glass. At first glance it looks like a lot of money. It wouldn't even buy half a pint of beer now.

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In answer to the OP, I've no idea but I'm surprised it hasn't turned out to be the fault of a) Thatcher or b ) Generation Y yet.

Boomers must all be at Glastonbury.

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Marvellous - Looks just like my Aunty Audrey's house back in the day and includes a cheeky milkman and Doris Hare from 'On The Buses" too. :)

Thanks Mr Monk - now that's what I call nostalgia...!!!

XYY

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Usefully, 240 is exactly divisible by 2,3,4,5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 24, 30, 40, 60, 80, and 120.

Bummer if you had to split £1 between 7 kids though.

There's a pub in Kintbury with lots of polished old pennies glued to the long bar top, under a sheet of glass. At first glance it looks like a lot of money. It wouldn't even buy half a pint of beer now.

You give the first three kids 6/8d, and the rest get bugger all! :blink:

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Marvellous - Looks just like my Aunty Audrey's house back in the day and includes a cheeky milkman and Doris Hare from 'On The Buses" too. :)

Thanks Mr Monk - now that's what I call nostalgia...!!!

XYY

They should have just given granny a calculator or maybe a smartphone app to do the conversion for her.

Glad I missed all of this nonsense.

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Glad I missed all of this nonsense.

I remember the change-over well, I was 12 at the time. I remember the old money, how much more substantial the coins were, the largest coin now is the £2 coin, an old half-crown probably weighed getting on for twice as much. A ten-shilling note, the smallest denomination note, was something of value, always folded carefully and never just stuffed into a pocket like today's £5 note.

I remember the TV campaign well, not just "Granny gets the Point" but the dirge that was played throughout Public Information films at the time "Use your old coppers in sixpenny lots" (old pennies were still acceptable for a year or so after D-day but only as 6d, six pennies, which was accepted as 2.5p. And how we always searched for the mystical 1933 penny, reputely worth thousands.

I remember coins worn thin as slivers and black with age with Queen Victoria just about visible, occasionally showing her as a young woman.

I remember doing maths at school, addition sums such as this...

£ 1. 4. 3. +

£ 1. 17. 11. +

£ 3. 11. 9. +

£ 2. 15. 6. =

---------------------------

£ 11. 9. 5.

It was the complicated nature of arithmetic which was what finally saw it off.

Incidentally I collect and restore old machines, the Ruffler & Walker Allwin below for example is mine, and still have hundreds of pre-decimal pennies- you can see three piles of them in front of the LNER block-instrument machine next to it.

PHOT0027-6-1.jpg

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I would have chosen a system where £1=2520c. Divisible by any number up to 12 (excluding 11) ensuring equitable distribution of sweets, pocket-money, etc, within any family that used a modicum of contraception.

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I would have chosen a system where £1=2520c. Divisible by any number up to 12 (excluding 11) ensuring equitable distribution of sweets, pocket-money, etc, within any family that used a modicum of contraception.

That;s an interesting but limited idea. Suppose you have seven children, with whom you wish to share £1. However some of the children have 3 friends each, some have 4 and one has 11 friends with whom they in turn wish to share their largess. Kind of breaks your system doesn't it? Admit it.

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I would have chosen a system where £1=2520c. Divisible by any number up to 12 (excluding 11) ensuring equitable distribution of sweets, pocket-money, etc, within any family that used a modicum of contraception.

What's the smallest common multiple of all the numbers up to 12 then? Is it indeed 2520 x 11 = 27720?

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I remember the TV campaign well, not just "Granny gets the Point" but the dirge that was played throughout Public Information films at the time "Use your old coppers in sixpenny lots" (old pennies were still acceptable for a year or so after D-day but only as 6d, six pennies, which was accepted as 2.5p. And how we always searched for the mystical 1933 penny, reputely worth thousands.

I remember coins worn thin as slivers and black with age with Queen Victoria just about visible, occasionally showing her as a young woman.

I was only 6, but remember the changeover fairly well. We got a little blue pack containing one of each of the new coins and a little 'ready reckoner' to help with conversion. And my granddad had lots of the old Victorian coins in a jar he kept in his shed and used to let us play with them when we visited. He had us looking for the mythical 1933 penny too - he said only eight were ever made - and pre-1947 shillings and two-shilling coins as these were made of silver.

Incidentally I collect and restore old machines, the Ruffler & Walker Allwin below for example is mine, and still have hundreds of pre-decimal pennies- you can see three piles of them in front of the LNER block-instrument machine next to it.

Would the 'Ruffler' in that partnership be the same person who formed a company known as Ruffler and Deith in the 70's...? They were known as Deith Leisure when I worked for them in the 80's. They were based in Wandsworth but had a depot in Hartlepool serving the North. I think they're still going in New Malden, or they were when I last heard.

Interesting if it is the same bloke or a relation...

XYY

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I remember the change-over well, I was 12 at the time. I remember the old money, how much more substantial the coins were, the largest coin now is the £2 coin, an old half-crown probably weighed getting on for twice as much. A ten-shilling note, the smallest denomination note, was something of value, always folded carefully and never just stuffed into a pocket like today's £5 note.

I remember the TV campaign well, not just "Granny gets the Point" but the dirge that was played throughout Public Information films at the time "Use your old coppers in sixpenny lots" (old pennies were still acceptable for a year or so after D-day but only as 6d, six pennies, which was accepted as 2.5p. And how we always searched for the mystical 1933 penny, reputely worth thousands.

I remember coins worn thin as slivers and black with age with Queen Victoria just about visible, occasionally showing her as a young woman.

I remember doing maths at school, addition sums such as this...

£ 1. 4. 3. +

£ 1. 17. 11. +

£ 3. 11. 9. +

£ 2. 15. 6. =

---------------------------

£ 11. 9. 5.

It was the complicated nature of arithmetic which was what finally saw it off.

Incidentally I collect and restore old machines, the Ruffler & Walker Allwin below for example is mine, and still have hundreds of pre-decimal pennies- you can see three piles of them in front of the LNER block-instrument machine next to it.

PHOT0027-6-1.jpg

Indeed working in base 12, then base 20 and then base 10 was a bit slow. I went to a Victorian style school and we were told how lucky we were around 1971 to learn both the old imperial measurement and the new metric and a cane for any dissenter. This was for seven year old kids. I seem to remember we also had to do sums in stones, pounds and ounces...base 16, base 14, base 10. Miles and furlongs....base 8 and base 10. And the list probably went on.

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A couple of months back, the mother-in-law, who has got dementia, handed me what she thought was a ten pound note to do some shopping. It turned out to be a 1960s ten shilling note. God knows where she got it from.

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Indeed working in base 12, then base 20 and then base 10 was a bit slow. I went to a Victorian style school and we were told how lucky we were around 1971 to learn both the old imperial measurement and the new metric and a cane for any dissenter. This was for seven year old kids. I seem to remember we also had to do sums in stones, pounds and ounces...base 16, base 14, base 10. Miles and furlongs....base 8 and base 10. And the list probably went on.

LEO, the worlds first commercial computer, built by that leading-edge technology company, Lyons Tea Rooms, could work natively in decimal, and used base-10 to base-12 and base-20 convertors so it could do payroll calculations in £sd.

http://www.zdnet.com/leo-computer-marks-60th-anniversary_p4-3040094435/

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Would the 'Ruffler' in that partnership be the same person who formed a company known as Ruffler and Deith in the 70's...? They were known as Deith Leisure when I worked for them in the 80's. They were based in Wandsworth but had a depot in Hartlepool serving the North. I think they're still going in New Malden, or they were when I last heard.

Interesting if it is the same bloke or a relation...

Quite possibly, Ruffler & Walker were based nearby, in the Old Kent Road so it would seem logical...

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  • 239 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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