# Pre-Decimal British Currency

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Several of the puzzles on this site were written in the United Kingdom before the introduction of decimal currency in 1971, so I've created a page explaining pre-decimal British currency and the names and denominations of the coins in circulation:

Before decimalisation, the pound was divided into 20 shillings, and each shilling into 12 pence (singular penny), giving 240 pence to the pound. The following symbols were used:

• Penny: d (originally from the Latin denarius). As an example, "three pence" could be written as 3d.
• Shilling: s (originally from the Latin solidus). As an example, "six shillings" can be written as 6s.
• Pound: £ (originally from the Latin librae; the symbol originated from a Gothic L). As an example, "two pounds" can be written as £2.

Typically, prices were written with a / (called a solidus) between the amounts. For example, a sum of four shillings and eight pence was written as 4/8, and pronounced "four and eight". An even sum of shillings, say six shillings, was written as 6/-. A sum of one pound, nineteen shillings, and eleven pence would be written as £1/19/11 and pronounced "one pound, nineteen and eleven".

British coins in circulation in Victorian times and the first half of the twentieth century are:
Name of coinValue of coin
farthing¼d
half penny½d
penny1d
three pence3d
six pence (nicknamed "tanner")6d
shilling1s
florin2s
half crown2s 6d
crown5s
half sovereign10s
sovereign£1

The farthing was removed from circulation in 1960, the crown in 1965, and the half sovereign and the sovereign in 1937.

If you're interested in pictures of these coins, you can see In pictures: Pre-decimal currency.