Few mourn forgotten days of half-crowns and tanners
Decimal currency is 25 years old, defying prophets of doom. Glenda Cooper reports
Thursday 15 February 1996
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
Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way
Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat
- 1 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery reports: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 2 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 3 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 4 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Australian jihadist Abdullah Elmir vows Isis will fight 'until black flag is on the top of Buckingham Palace'
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery reports: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Chicago voter tells Obama 'don't touch my girlfriend' – Obama stays super smooth
Oscar Pistorius: The brutal prison life that awaits disgraced athlete
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We are urgently seeking an exper...
£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 5 month Fixed Term Contract - Telecommunicati...
£18000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester is seeki...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...