An addendum to the previous post

One of the following two things is true, and I’m not sure which, despite having read more than your average person about British history and literature:

OPTION ONE: British currency, pre-Euro, is bullshit, and I refuse to believe anyone can keep track of how many guineas are in a shilling or how many Robux are in a whangdoodle or whatever; y’all make fun of us for not having the metric system but this is how you do your money?

OPTION TWO: British currency is not in and of itself bullshit, but the way people write about it is; anyone mentioning British currency in any capacity is consistently doing the equivalent of saying “she spent three dollars, two quarters, two dimes and three pennies” instead of the more sensible “she spent $3.73.”

It’s gotta be one or the other, I just don’t know which.

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

10 thoughts on “An addendum to the previous post

  1. Well they did’t adopt the euro so it’s probably still like that. I sort of think of it as though all the weird old timey names my grandparents used, like “two bits” which I 100% always knew was a quarter, because I just grew up hearing it, and if someone told me something cost 4 bits I would give them two quarters. Or like the Susan B Anthony dollar coins that are ubiquitous in the Portland area because the mass transit system kiosks give them as change, but that I’ve never seen anywhere else, which you can talk about there like canadians talk about a looney or a tooney which i also understand perfectly well. I feel like that’s just the nature of colloquial language.

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  2. Ye olde Englishe currency has not been florins and sterling and shillings and tuppence and hapennies for ages. It’s metric. One single £=100 pennies. That’s it.

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  3. The thing is that the pre-decimal English/British currency was based on a logical grouping system, but unfortunately nobody wrote down what that was supposed to be, so we have things like a half-crown being a florin, two tablespoons dry measure, and four drams.

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  4. The UK never adopted the Euro. Their crazy monetary system, the one with shillings, was converted in 1971 to pounds and pence in a sensible metric fashion, where it remains.

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    1. ps I’m currently reading Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis, where there’s a bit about the challenges a time-traveling near-future Brit has dealing with money in the 1940s. So I’ve been thinking the same thing.

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          1. Yeah she writes a lot in that “Oxford history department” universe – different stories with some character/setting overlap. Doomsday Book about killed me. 😀 Blackout/All Clear is a larger, more complex story with a similar emotional wallop. To Say Nothing of the Dog, on the other hand, is almost entirely silly. All recommended. 🙂


  5. It goes like this: teacher to eight-year-old, ‘Your mother asks you to go to the shop and buy a packet of Daz, half a pound of butter, four apples and two-pennyworth of salt. She gives you a purse with one pound, two shillings and threepence in it. The shopkeeper gives you a bill for four shillings and 6 pence. How much change do you take home to your mother?
    None of it made sense until we progressed to Geometry and Algebra and maths turned out to be quite manageable after all.
    Guineas are mostly things that pirates and Lords used.
    I was renting a room in a pub at the time of the change to decimal, and that night the owners were at a wedding and I was behind a bar for the first time in my life. I didn’t know the name of the drinks or the local names for all the coins used in the UK, the customers had not the faintest idea of how the decimal system worked and never planned to use it.

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