British Currency: Currencies and monetary systems form the basis of every civilization. After all, everything in the world is dependent on money and it had been the same during the Victorian Era as well. England had been a stable economy for many centuries and it continues to the day.
Thus, there is no doubt that the monetary system that was valid during the Victorian Era was valid had been existing for several hundred years. That is why the Queen and the Parliament did not find it necessary to put in any reforms to the existing monetary system. The reform only came in 1971 where the currency was divided into 100 smaller units.
No Monetary Reforms
The division into the terms of 100 smaller units and the decimalization was actually to facilitate the process of keeping accounts easily. This is mostly because the decimal system is the most common form of number system that is used for calculations. The precise divisions formed halves fiftieths, twenty-fifths, twentieths, tenths, fifths, quarters and halves.
But until 1971, and that means during the Victorian period the Sterling consisted of 240 parts – that included halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, sixths, eighths, tenths, twelfths, fifteenths, sixteenths, twentieths, twenty-fourths, thirtieths, fortieths, forty-eighths, sixtieths, eightieths and one hundred and twentieth.
What was the British Currency in the Victorian Era?
The currency in those times was a little different and might be a little tough to understand at first. As it has been mentioned, the currency unit pound was divided into 240 units. That means the pound would be 240 times the smaller unit, which is the penny. However, there was a unit in the middle, which is known as the shilling.
The division is such that there are 20 shillings in a pound and there are 12 pennies in a shilling. Thus, a pound would eventually be consisting of 12 x 20 = 240 pennies. However, this was not the extent up to which the currency was broken down. The penny could be broken down into other coins like a farthing, a halfpenny, and three farthings. The following should be a little more descriptive:
The shillings were represented as sand the pennies were represented by d
One pound is equal to 20 shillings, a shilling would also be called a bob.
One shilling is equal to 12 pennies
One pound is equal to 240 pennies
The pennies were broken down as follows:
a farthing (a fourth thing) was one-fourth of a penny
a halfpenny was half of a penny
three farthings were three-fourths of a penny
There were other coins as well that was less than a shilling. These are as follows:
a half groat (2d) 2d x 6 = 1s
a threepenny bit (3d) of silver 3d x 4 = 1s
a great (4d) 4d x 3 = 1s
a sixpence (6d) of silver, often called Tanner 6d x 2 = 1s
Coins which valued more than a shilling were also present. They are:
a two-shilling or a florin 2s x 10 = 1 pound
a half-crown 2s/6d x 8 = 1 pound
a crown 5s x 4 = 1 pound
ten shillings 10s x 2 = 1 pound
a half guinea 10s 6d
Coins of value more than one pound that were available are as follows:
a guinea 1 pound 1s
a 5-pound coin
The one pound coin would generally be called a sovereign and was essentially made of gold. The paper pound was often called as the quid.
What were Coins in Victorian Times?
The coins were minted in gold and silver in 1817. The denominations like half groats and silver pennies were not in circulation during the Victorian Era. These coins were manufactured to give alms to the poor people and the tradition was called Maundy Money.
It was defined by the same number as the rule of the monarch. The smaller valued coins that were originally made of copper were changed to bronze sometime after 1860. It was really tough to buy things due to the odd currency rules. One needed to be very good at math to not get cheated.
Were there Bank Notes in the Victorian Era?
Yes, there were banknotes in England even in Victorian age. In fact. the banknotes were first brought into usage during the 1690s by the Bank of London. However, since the currency was hand signed, it was not accepted by many as it did not encourage confidence.
The Bank stopped making payments in coins due to the economic crisis in 1797, thus increasing the quantity and circulation of bank notes in the market. The Bank started issuing 55-pound notes in 1828.
The notes were printed with signatures in 1853, thus eliminating the handwritten ones. The prevalent system was changed on February 15, 1971, when the currency was decimalized. Pennies worth 2.4 pence was brought into the market.