‘Old Money’ in the English Language

Ten-cent coins minted through the remainder of the 1960s included the legend “ONE SHILLING” on the reverse. London has for centuries been extremely cosmopolitan, both as a travel hub and a place for foreign people to live and work and start their own busineses. Certain lingua franca blended with ‘parlyaree’ or ‘polari’, which is basically underworld slang. The origin of the term “bob” for a shilling is unclear. It may have derived from the abbreviation “b” for “baht,” an old unit of currency, or from the French word “bob” meaning a small coin. If you’ve heard the term “bob” being used in reference to British money, you may be wondering what it means.

  1. Different banks have issued different series to commemorate various people and accomplishments, including Robert Burns, King Robert the Bruce, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Nan Shepard, and Adam Smith.
  2. Today, we rarely give much thought to the ‘old money’ of our country.
  3. A couple of other monetary things came to our attention after our communication with Brian.
  4. INVESTOR TIMES does not accept, nor will it accept in the future, subsidies or funds from Governments, political parties or public institutions.
  5. Our expert analysis and carefully curated news empower you to make informed decisions in the complex world of finance.

This post was originally published in the Fall 1993 issue of The Sherlockian Times and was later reprinted in The Formidable Scrap-Book of Baker Street, edited by Carolyn & Joel Senter.

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Let’s start with the little money and work up – everything eventually comes out to be defined in terms of the penny (pence) .. A ‘bob’ was the slang word for a Shilling, which was worth 12 old pennies. Following decimilisation in 1971, a Shilling was worth 5 new pence. The old ‘ten bob note’ (10 shillings) was the equivalent of 5 Florins, or 4 Half Crowns, or 2 Crowns.

Responses to So, How much is a Quid, a Bob, and a Crown, Really?

To many, this may seem like an “of course not” kind of question – but even today, there are some £1 banknotes still in production and circulation. The Royal Bank of Scotland issues them (even though pretty much everyone uses the coin), and they’re also issued in Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Despite a new design https://cryptolisting.org/ for the 10 Shilling note featuring Sir Walter Raleigh on the reverse being approved in 1964, as part of the process of decimalisation it was dropped in favour of the new fifty pence coin introduced in 1969. After 1966, shillings continued to circulate, as they were replaced by ten-cent coins of the same size and weight.

If something requires pounds and pence, you could say 5 pounds 50 pence, but you’re more likely to hear “5 pounds 50”. The pound sterling is the official currency of the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands, Tristan de Cunha, and the British Antarctic Territory. Compare our rate and fee with our competitors and see the difference for yourself.

How much is a shilling?

If you have old banknotes, your local bank (providing you hold an account with them) or postoffice will often exchange them. Alternatively, the Bank of England has its own procedure for exchanging old banknotes. Coins are somewhat more challenging as banks, postoffices, the Bank of England and The Royal Mint are under no legal obligation to exchange them.

It was worth 1/20 of an Irish pound, and was interchangeable at the same value to the British coin, which continued to be used in Northern Ireland. The first minting, from 1928 until 1941, contained 75% silver, more than the equivalent British coin. The pre-decimal Irish shilling coin (which was retained for some time after decimalisation) was withdrawn from circulation on 1 January 1993, when a smaller five-pence coin was introduced. The shilling, which was worth 12 pence, was a commonly used unit of currency in Britain before decimalization. It was often referred to as a “bob” in everyday conversation.

This did away with the shilling, making way for a system of pounds and pence (pennies). We, as modern American readers, have always had some problem in translating the British monetary system of the Victorian era into something more tangible, such as purchasing power. how much is a bob in english money After puzzling the matter of the monies of the times off and on, we eventually asked one of our good British friends? Viz., Brian May, to explain to us the intricacies of the Victorian monetary system. We shall try to convey to you, what Brian conveyed to us.

People might say they have “ten bob” to mean they have ten pounds. However, this usage is not as common as it once was and is more likely to be heard among older generations or in certain regional dialects. Back in the 1960’s the 10 Shilling Note, or ‘ten bob’ as it was commonly known, would go pretty far – buying you 6 pints of beer, 10 loaves of bread, or 17 pints of milk.

Yet, sometimes it’s nice to take a walk down memory lane and marvel at just how much of our old currency remains in our everyday language. Worth two shillings, it was brought into circulation as an answer to the need for decimalisation. In its time, the florin was also known as a ‘two-bob’. Is it polite to use the term “bob” when referring to pounds? While using the term “bob” may be understood by some people, it is generally considered outdated and is not commonly used in polite conversation. It is best to use the official term, “pound,” when referring to British currency.

The riches of the shilling, florin and half crown went way beyond the face value of the coins. These beloved denominations made their way into our language, adorning sayings, songs and literature with their resonant connotations. Backslang reverses the phonetic (sound of the) word, not the spelling, which can produce some strange interpretations, and was popular among market traders, butchers and greengrocers. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, the pound was divided into twenty shillings or 240 pennies. It remained so until decimalization on 15 February 1971, when the pound was divided up as it is still done today.

The modern variation of this idiom replaces farthings with today’s lowest denomination, the pence, but both sayings carry the same meaning. Being worth only a quarter of the value of the old penny, the farthing was retired when inflation rendered it pretty much useless – items got more expensive, which meant there weren’t many things you could buy with a farthing. A pound today only buys 5.188% of what it could buy back then. The current inflation rate compared to last year is now 6.46%. If this number holds, £100 today will be equivalent in buying power to £106.46 next year. £100 in 1919 is equivalent in purchasing power to about £5,739.06 today, an increase of £5,639.06 over 103 years.

The Britannia Coin Company is always keen to but old money, especially pre-decimal silver coins. If you have old banknotes, your local Post Office will often accept them. Alternatively, your bank (whom you hold an account with) will often accept them. In the old English money system, a “bob” was the slang term for a shilling. In today’s decimal currency, a shilling or “bob” would be worth 5 pence. In Canada, £sd currencies were in use both during the French period (New France livre) and after the British conquest (Canadian pound).

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