Predecimal Currency

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,698
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#31
I'm curious: when, if ever, was the pound sterling actually a pound of silver? 4 sterling silver crown coins from 100 years back are nowhere near to an actual pound or troy pound of weight. Was it different further back in history? I know there were silver shillings in the middle ages. Is that it?
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,212
#32
I'm curious: when, if ever, was the pound sterling actually a pound of silver? 4 sterling silver crown coins from 100 years back are nowhere near to an actual pound or troy pound of weight. Was it different further back in history? I know there were silver shillings in the middle ages. Is that it?
In Anglo-Saxon times and until about 1300, it was a pound of silver. It became 80% and then 2/3 of a pound. It was about 4 ounces of silver in the 19th century. A crown was a little less than an ounce of silver and close to the equivalent of a Spanish or US dollar.
 

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,698
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#33

In Anglo-Saxon times and until about 1300, it was a pound of silver. It became 80% and then 2/3 of a pound. It was about 4 ounces of silver in the 19th century. A crown was a little less than an ounce of silver and close to the equivalent of a Spanish or US dollar.
Thanks! I think the US dollar and British crown coins are about the same dimensions. I know from my own collection that a crown and a German 5 mark coin are pretty much the same in size. But crowns are sterling (.925) while German marks and US dollars are .900 silver.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
34,479
T'Republic of Yorkshire
#34
Because of the presence of highly productive gold mines, the Japanese valued gold less highly than other countries - it was still more valuable than silver, but less so than in Europe and America.

Foreign powers forced the Japanese to accept foreign silver coins as equivalent to Japanese silver. So foreign merchants exchanged their silver dollars etc for the Japanese equivalent, and then exchanged the silver for gold, giving them a 200% profit.

Millions of ryo of gold left Japan during the late 19th century.
 
Feb 2011
1,068
Scotland
#35
I'm curious: when, if ever, was the pound sterling actually a pound of silver? 4 sterling silver crown coins from 100 years back are nowhere near to an actual pound or troy pound of weight. Was it different further back in history? I know there were silver shillings in the middle ages. Is that it?
The history of the derivation of the terms 'pound, shillings and pence' is interesting.
The best explanation I've seen is here - Origins of pounds, shillings and pence

'LSD' derives from the Latin terms Libra (pound, in weight- hence the abbreviation lb), Solidus (a Roman gold coin introduced about 310CE and struck by West and East roman empires for hundreds of years to come) and D for Denarii (Denarius being the standard Roman silver coin from 211BCE until about 244CE, following which it was a rarely struck bronze coin with silver wash, ceasing altogether by about 285CE.) Inflation killed the Denarius, though Romans continued for a time to use it as a measure of account- I have seen one source claim that upon its introduction, the Gold Solidus was worth 275,000 denarii!

LSD does not therefore reflect any Roman coinage combination actually in circulation under the Roman Empire. (A frequent claim re LSD was that it derived from Roman coinage, which is only very indirectly the case- rather like the claim that English law derives from Roman law, which it doesn't.)

As the article referenced explains, the eighth-century Frankish kingdom of Pepin the Short - unable to issue gold solidi of its own- decided to issue silver coins at 240 to a pound of silver. As Solidi were no doubt still in common use (barbarian kingdoms issued imitations of Roman coins) and a major element in international trade, a solidus (French, sou) was tariffed at 12 of the new silver 1/240lb coins (still familiarly known as Denarii,).

Offa King of Mercia, the main Anglo Saxon power in England at that time, strove to match the continental model (and also assist trade) and issued coinage on the same pattern. In England, the silver 1/240lb coins were called pennies- and the tariff of 12 to a solidus also maintained, where the term solidus became known as a shilling. Hence the currency of 240 silver pennies to a pound of silver, also tariffed at 12 pennies to a shilling (and therefore 20 shillings in a pound).

Shillings and pounds did not make their debut as currency coinage in circulation for hundreds of years. When they did, the pound was usually in gold (the exception being massive silver pounds issued during the civil war.)
 
Likes: Shtajerc

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,698
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#36
The history of the derivation of the terms 'pound, shillings and pence' is interesting.
The best explanation I've seen is here - Origins of pounds, shillings and pence

'LSD' derives from the Latin terms Libra (pound, in weight- hence the abbreviation lb), Solidus (a Roman gold coin introduced about 310CE and struck by West and East roman empires for hundreds of years to come) and D for Denarii (Denarius being the standard Roman silver coin from 211BCE until about 244CE, following which it was a rarely struck bronze coin with silver wash, ceasing altogether by about 285CE.) Inflation killed the Denarius, though Romans continued for a time to use it as a measure of account- I have seen one source claim that upon its introduction, the Gold Solidus was worth 275,000 denarii!

LSD does not therefore reflect any Roman coinage combination actually in circulation under the Roman Empire. (A frequent claim re LSD was that it derived from Roman coinage, which is only very indirectly the case- rather like the claim that English law derives from Roman law, which it doesn't.)

As the article referenced explains, the eighth-century Frankish kingdom of Pepin the Short - unable to issue gold solidi of its own- decided to issue silver coins at 240 to a pound of silver. As Solidi were no doubt still in common use (barbarian kingdoms issued imitations of Roman coins) and a major element in international trade, a solidus (French, sou) was tariffed at 12 of the new silver 1/240lb coins (still familiarly known as Denarii,).

Offa King of Mercia, the main Anglo Saxon power in England at that time, strove to match the continental model (and also assist trade) and issued coinage on the same pattern. In England, the silver 1/240lb coins were called pennies- and the tariff of 12 to a solidus also maintained, where the term solidus became known as a shilling. Hence the currency of 240 silver pennies to a pound of silver, also tariffed at 12 pennies to a shilling (and therefore 20 shillings in a pound).

Shillings and pounds did not make their debut as currency coinage in circulation for hundreds of years. When they did, the pound was usually in gold (the exception being massive silver pounds issued during the civil war.)
Thanks for explaining it. I've seen some of those big silver pounds Charles minted on campaign. Truly massive coins, even pieces of propaganda, if one looks at the things imprinted on them.
 

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