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birdguy

The couldn't have made it more complicated, but they did...

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Posted (edited)

I've been watching a lot of old movies since this sequestration thing started and a lot of them take place in England...mostly in London.  The monetary system has me baffled.  A guy gets out of a cab and the driver says, "That'll be thrupence me lord."  Or a guy in a pub tells his buddy, "It only cost me two bob."  And that's only the tip of the iceberg.  So I looked up the British monetary system and came up with this.

2 farthings = 1 halfpenny
2 halfpence = 1 penny (1d)
3 pence = 1 thruppence (3d)
6 pence = 1 sixpence (a 'tanner') (6d)
12 pence = 1 shilling (a bob) (1s)
2 shillings = 1 florin ( a 'two bob bit') (2s)
2 shillings and 6 pence = 1 half crown (2s 6d)
5 shillings = 1 Crown (5s)

Of course we in the United States have nickels (5 cent coins), dimes (10 cent coins), quarters (25 cent coins) and half dollars (50 cent coins).  But at least it's based on an easy to understand decimal system.

Even in Japan the Sen and Yen system was decimal based.  And at the time I was there 360 Yen to the dollar so when I went to Tokyo I knew the value I was getting.  

How did the British system evolve?

Noel

 

 

Edited by birdguy

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Stop watching financial movies, and you're all set.

Cheers, Ed

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Cheers, Ed

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All I know is my friend Mary told me it was only Tuppence a bag to feed the birds......

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Just Flight Beta Tester
 
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8 minutes ago, birdguy said:

How did the British system evolve?

Like most old coinage systems, it was based on the metal content of the coins used in trade. Most of the origins of such coin systems go back to Greek and Roman times, but in Europe if we go back to the reign of Charlemagne and the Carolignian Empire, it was this empire which standardised it based on many older systems. Kings and Emperors etc were keen on the system since it put their image and name about with them being on the currency itself and the patterns stamped and molded onto such coins made 'clipping' difficult. Clipping was common on early coins, where people would clip a tiny bit off the edge of each coin they got, and in doing so eventually end up with some quantity of valuable metal given that early coins were either gold or silver. Better quality molds and features such as patterns around the edges of coins were to stop that sort of thing occurring.

In Charlemagne's system of coinage, there was one Libra (Latin for a Pound), divided into 20 Solidii (Latin for solid and equivalent to a Shilling in English), and this was divided into 12 Denarii (this division was based on a convenient divisible weight of the coins even though denarius - from which the name came - derives from deni as in 'ten' and assarion as in 'assets', so ten would have made more sense literally, but it was nevertheless twelve). Since there was trade throughout Europe, this standardised Carolingian system spread to other countries outside of the Carolingian Empire, including the UK even though it was not part of that empire.

That's how we ended up with 240 pennies in an old (pre-decimalisation pound), unlike the system we have today. Divisions of ten do make things easier to count up and divide in some ways, but not in others, for example if you halve ten, you get five, but if you halve that you end up with a fraction. The same is true for divisions of twelve of course, but down to a smaller fraction of a quarter before it isn't a round number, so it's theoretically a bit more convenient for trade.

Additionally, using a base of twelve isn't as weird as it might seem. There are twelve hours in the morning and twelve in the afternoon/evening and many sub or larger divisions of this are based on twelve too, right up to how many months there are in a year, which is of course twelve. There are 360 degrees in a circle, conveniently divisible by twelve, and there are twelve inches in a foot and so on.

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Alan Bradbury

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1 hour ago, Chock said:

you get five, but if you halve that you end up with a fraction.

I guess that's why we divide 5 by 5 to get our pennies or 1 cent coins.  

When the price of copper went up our 1 cent coin became more valuable than it's face vale so they made it illegal to melt down pennies for the copper content.

Noel


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I'm only just old enough to remember some of the pre-decimal coins in Britain and I don't really remember using the old pre-decimal coins as they were, but the the old Sixpence was used as an interim two and a half pence coin, and I do remember using those. By the time I was at school, the UK was officially ditching the Imperial system for the Metric one for most school lessons and such, so I'm glad I only really had to ever use the decimal system in education, it seems a lot easier to me with everything being a multiple of ten.

I do still tend to use Imperial feet and miles for describing distances in conversation and for altitude and ranges in aeroplanes, as I think most Brits would do, but I use metric when I'm measuring things accurately for building stuff, making models and things like that. Millimetres is just a better system for that kind of thing, and the easy base ten division and multiplication makes it far easier to work with.


Alan Bradbury

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Posted (edited)

The Pennies and Half Crowns were as big as our Canadian Loonies and Toonies. Sometimes you would get an Irish Penny mixed in. The Florin was not much smaller than the Half Crown. On the other hand, the Farthing was smaller than a dime. 

At one time, there were Guineas and Sovereigns; I still have a 1913 Half Sovereign.

One could have a similar discussion about measuring distances; I learned about Rods, Chains and Furlongs at school (1950s, 1960s).

Edited by dmwalker

Dugald Walker

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, birdguy said:

Of course we in the United States have nickels (5 cent coins), dimes (10 cent coins), quarters (25 cent coins) and half dollars (50 cent coins).  But at least it's based on an easy to understand decimal system.

This from one of only three, I believe, countries still to hold on to a mishmoshed non-metric system! The others are Myanmar and Liberia. Go figure.

We have ten fingers and ten toes, shouldn't be that hard.
Fahrenheit didn't even make sense to Fahrenheit.

Edited by WingZ
Word was not allowed!

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And don't forget about mites, farthings, coppers, and groats......


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Just a question. Doesn't the USA still use inches, feet, yards and miles to measure distance? Its odd that of a country that refused to go metric now starts lambasting a monetary system no longer in use after the UK going metric. Oh, and what's the units of weight in the USA?

 

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John

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I don't think anybody's lambasting anything. All that's been said is that the British monetary system is often a bit hard to understand for anyone who has spent their entire life using another currency. As far as metric goes, I firmly believe that the majority of Americans would love to have us change. But (there is always one of those) unless the politicians and industry moguls come to their senses it's never going to happen. There have been three serious attempts in my lifetime to adopt metric here but each time the spineless politicians have chosen to listen the whining and moaning from the "executives" in large corporations. Especially those in the automotive businesses. It's sometimes amazing what large donations to political campaigns can cause to happen or not to happen.


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Posted (edited)

As previously mentioned, another spin on this, the US still uses the Imperial system for measurement ( inches ,feet, yards, miles) , but most of the world now uses the metric system,( mm, cm, m. Km). In Australia, we abandoned the pounds, shillings and pence -  a nightmare to use, in 1966 for the $A  and adopted the Metric system some 10 years later. Having used both systems,metric is much easier for currency and measurement.

Edited by JustanotherPilot

steve southey

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Posted (edited)

I, for one, would love to see us go metric.  But as Doug said trying to get things changed is a political nightmare.  Same with daylight savings time although some states have abolished it.

True story.

When I was serving with the 366th TFW in Thailand I was the supervisor of the swing shift bomb loading crews.  The tail fins on most bombs come separately and have to be assembles when the bombs are loaded on the aircraft so the crews can install the tail fuses.

They were attached to the bombs with allen wrenches for 1/4 inch (If I remember correctly) set crews. SAE.  But all we get over there were metric.  And the load crews were having a devil of a time with them.

So I mailed my brother in San Francisco to go to sears and send me a couple dozen 1/4 inch allen wrenches.

Noel

Edited by birdguy
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The rumor is that the draft US infrastructure bill contains a timeline for metric conversion for all federally financed highways. This would include speed limits, distance and signage.

 

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Boy, I sure hope so. At least that will give us a start on converting. Now all I need is an odometer that measures metric distances.....


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