The Timeline: British currency
Friday 18 February 2011
8th Century: Sterling evolves
Following the lead of Charlemagne, the Anglo-Saxon King Offa of Mercia was responsible for introducing the silver penny. 240 pennies weighed one pound, while a shilling was 12 pennies. The penny swiftly spread throughout the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, becoming the standard coin of what was later England. Pennies were initially struck from fine silver. At the time its introduction, one weighed 22.5 "troy grains" of fine silver , the equivalent to about 1.5 g.
12th Century: The rise of credit
During the 12th century, the Crown began using an early version credit in the form of a tally stick. A length of wood would be marked with multiple notches, each one indicating various amounts of tax owed to the crown. At the same time, continental traders were increasingly using "bills of exchange" – pieces of paper symbolising a buyer's promise to make a payment. In England, bills of exchange became an mainstream form of credit during last quarter of the 18th century and a precursor to today's checks and credit cards.
1816: The Gold Standard
In 1663, a new gold coinage was introduced: the guinea. Fixed in weight, the coins value relative to silver fluctuated considerably. The result was a mismatch in the value of gold in Britain and the continent, with silver flowing out of the country and gold flooding in. In 1816, stability returned when the gold standard was officially adopted.
Though Lord Wrottesley had attempted to introduce decimalisation as early as 1824, the UK had long resisted shifting to a system more compatible with their international companions. In 1961 the success of decimalisation in South Africa prompted the Government to set up the a committee looking into the process. Commencing with "D-day" on 15 February 1971 - 40 years ago - the system of pounds, shillings and pence was replaced.
2001: The Euro
In 2001, in the wake of 1992's Maastrich Treaty, the Euro was introduced. From 2002, new notes and coins went into circulation. Since then, debate has raged as to whether the UK should adopt the Euro. Gordon Brown ruled out membership "for the foreseeable future" in 2007 and subsequent troubles in Eurozone states suggest the pound is here to stay for the time being.
- 1 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Perez Hilton apologises for publishing Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
Jennifer Lawrence 'nude photo hacker' claims there are hundreds more celebrity images to be published
Victoria Justice on naked photo leak: 'Let me nip this in the bud right now – pun intended'
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: Pictures are completely fake, say singer's representatives
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organ...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glob...
£50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a Teaching Assistant...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...