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Pictures and explanation of UK Currency prior to decimalisation in February 1971

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In one of the pages on Cockney
rhyming slang
there is mention of various pre-decimal coins e.g. “thrupney
bit” and “two bob bit”.  Anyone born after 1970 is
unlikely to know anything about this type of currency so this, together with
an email from Diana Tranter (a site visitor)
meant “I felt a new page coming on!”.

Diana says –

“A ‘thrupney bit‘ was a threepenny ‘bit’ (pronounced ‘thra’pny’) which was worth 3 (old) pennies when there was 12 pennies in one shilling (1/-d). The 3d bit was a coin shaped like a 20p piece but the 3d bit was a yellow bronze colour and much thicker in diameter and heavier than the 20p of today. Before the yellow bronze 3d bit, there was a silver 3d bit which was much smaller than our 1p of today and also much lighter in weight.

A ‘tupney’ bit….there never was a two penny coin in £.s.d.. There was a copper Farthing (1/4d) about the size of our 1p of today. The Farthing was worth a quarter of one (old) penny – 1d), there was a copper half penny coin (commonly called ha’pny – 1/2d) about the size of our 5p coin of today – and there was a one penny coin which was a large copper coin about the size of our £2 coin of today, but the 1d copper coin was not as thick in diameter. There was
no two penny coin….”


Having read that I thought it
may be of interest to see the old coins she mentions so have scanned those
in my possession which you can see below;  as you can see I wasn’t well
off enough at the time to keep any of the notes –

Before decimalisation (February
15th 1971
) the currency in the UK was as follows:-

12 pennies (d) = 1 shilling

20 shillings    = 1 pound

After decimalisation this was
changed to 100 pence = 1 pound

5 new pence = 1 shilling

10 new pence = 2 shillings

N.B.   ‘d’ = an old penny 
and   ‘p’ = a new penny


Please note these images are larger
than the actual coins – see note below.


1/4d farthing – copper


2 farthings = 1 halfpenny

4 farthings = 1 penny

1/2d halfpenny
(ha’pny)- copper


2 halfpennies = 1 penny

1d penny
3d –
threepence (thruppence/thrupny bit) – bronze


6d –
sixpence (tanner/tanna) –  silver


2 sixpences = 1 shilling

1/- a
shilling (bob)  – silver
2/- two
(two bob/florin)  – silver
2/6d – two
shillings and sixpence

(two and six/half a crown) – silver

10/- note – ten
shillings (ten bob)
£1 note – twenty
shillings (quid)
£5 note
(originally large white flimsy paper but later were smaller and thicker
and blue in colour, like current notes)
£10 note (brown)

Some interesting facts
sent in by Andrew Lister

Reading about
pre-decimalisation UK coinage, and looking at the scanned photos which
appears slightly larger than life on my screen, I was reminded that the
ha’penny was exactly 1 inch in diameter. Also just like today’s 5 and 10 p
pieces, or the 1 and 2 pence pieces, the weights of the farthing, ha’penny
and penny were in proportion to their value, as were the sixpence, shilling
and florin (and just possibly the half-crown, too).

i.e. 2 halfpennies weighed the
same as 1 penny:  4 farthings weighed the same as 1 penny: 2 farthings
weighed the same as 1 halfpenny:  2 sixpenses weighed the same as 1
shilling;  2 shilling pieces weighed the same as a florin and a florin and
1 sixpence weighed the same as a half-crown etc.

General observations from Diana

  • £5 note…in 1963 we used to apologise to the shop assistant if we were to hand over a £5 note as it was equivalent of half a week’s wages for a secretarial school leaver in 1960 era……and a nice 3 bed semi detached house would have been worth less than £3,000!!!


  • £100 was known as a “pony” but there were no notes after the £10 note which was brown in colour. The £5 was blue colour.


  • 8 shillings and 6 pennies per week was the wages in 1947…..for all trades i.e. plumbers, telephone (GPO), electricians etc

  • .,

  • Anyone with their own bike would get a 6d per day allowance which amounted to 3/6d. this was a real bonus as it boosted a week’s wages up to 12/- a week!!





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