Few mourn forgotten days of half-crowns and tanners

Decimal currency is 25 years old, defying prophets of doom. Glenda Cooper reports

Arsenal achieved the double, Opportunity Knocks was Britain's favourite television programme, and "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" topped the charts. But the event of 1971 that touched Briton's lives most closely was when they said goodbye to threepenny bits, tanners, florins and half-crowns.

Decimalisation is 25 years old today and despite protests and grumbles at the time, few people now mourn the passing of pounds, shillings and pence, according to a new report.

The NOP survey, commissioned by the National and Provincial Building Society, shows that "old money" has largely been forgotten.

Three-quarters of the over-40s surveyed said they preferred the post- 1971 decimal system. Only 25 per cent remembered that decimalisation was introduced in 1971 although men (27 per cent) had slightly better powers of recall than women (23 per cent).

Less than half correctly recalled that there were 240d to the old pound - men again scoring higher than women.

Britons have a slightly better recollection of the coins themselves with 58 per cent of the 1,000-strong sample remembering that the tanner was the popular name for the sixpence and 54 per cent recalling that the florin was two shillings.

Although the guinea was rarely used and rarely seen, even in 1971, it is remembered more easily than any other coin in the old system with two-thirds knowing that it was equivalent to 21 shillings.

"Britain had operated the pennies and shillings system since 1849, so the prophets of doom in 1971 predicted that we would never get used to decimalisation and that the country would quickly crumble because we wouldn't be able to get to grips with all the new coins," Phil Read of N&P said. "But not only did we soon get used to the decimal system, most people appear to have forgotten we ever had sixpences and shillings."

Today, the Royal Mint and the Bank of England are opening an exhibition at the bank's museum which will include some of the original decimal coin designs, including a 50p note which was never circulated and publicity material by the Decimal Currency Board.

Decimal currency underpants, playing cards and dusters are also displayed.

For those who never managed to say goodbye to pounds, shillings and pence, valuable coins could be lurking in your home. A spokesman for the leading coin merchant, A D Hamilton, said: "Anything minted before 1947 has silver content and is worth twice its face value."

Alternatively, The King's Head pub, in Islington, north London, remains one of the last bastions of pre-decimal Britain with prices displayed and quoted in pounds, shillings and pence and takings deposited in an "old money" cash register.

Dan Crawford, the landlord, grudgingly accepts "new money" but occasionally - much to his delight - receives tanners, bobs and florins over the bar.

Prices then and now

Item 1971 1996

Milk 6d (2.5p) a pint 50p a litre

Valentine card 1/6d (7.5p) pounds 1.50-plus

First-class stamp 5d (2p) 25p

Two-bedroom house pounds 7,000 pounds 50,000

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
health
Sport
A view of today's Spanish papers
football
Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Pink Floyd on stage at Live 8 in 2005. From left to right: David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright
music New album The Endless River set to overtake boyband for most pre-ordered of all-time
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch films his performance as Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
film
News
people

Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PE Teacher, Full Time Role, Gillingham School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We are urgently seeking an exper...

Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Admin - £35,000 - 5 month FTC

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 5 month Fixed Term Contract - Telecommunicati...

Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester is seeki...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London