Mill (currency)

Last updated

The mill or mille () (sometimes mil in the United Kingdom, in discussing property taxes in the United States, and previously in Cyprus and Malta) is a now-abstract unit of currency used sometimes in accounting. In the United States, it is a notional unit equivalent to a thousandth of a United States dollar (a hundredth of a dime or a tenth of a cent). In the United Kingdom, it was proposed during the decades of discussion on the decimalisation of the pound as a 11000 division of the pound sterling. Several other currencies used the mill, such as the Maltese lira.


The term comes from the Latin "millesimum", meaning "thousandth part". [1]


United States

Missouri mill token Missouri 1 Mill Tax Token.jpg
Missouri mill token

In the United States, the term was first used by the Continental Congress in 1786, being described as the "lowest money of account, of which 1000 shall be equal to the federal dollar". [2]

The Coinage Act of 1792 describes milles and other subdivisions of the dollar:

That the money of account of the United States shall be expressed in dollars or units, dismes or tenths, cents or hundredths, and milles or thousandths, a disme being the tenth part of a dollar, a cent the hundredth part of a dollar, a mille the thousandth part of a dollar, and that all accounts in the public offices and all proceedings in the courts of the United States shall be kept and had in conformity to this regulation. [3]

The mint of Philadelphia made half cents worth 5 mills each from 1793 to 1857.

Tokens in this denomination were issued by some states and local governments (and by some private interests) for such uses as payment of sales tax. [4] These were of inexpensive material such as tin, aluminium, plastic or paper. Rising inflation depreciated the value of these tokens in relation to the value of their constituent materials; this depreciation led to their eventual abandonment. Virtually none were made after the 1960s.

Today, most Americans would refer to fractions of a cent rather than mills, a term which is widely unknown. For example, a gasoline price of $3.019 per gallon, if pronounced in full, would be "three dollars (and) one and nine-tenths cents". Discount coupons, such as those for grocery items, usually include in their fine print a statement such as "Cash value less than 110 of 1 cent". There are also common occurrences of "half-cent" discounts on goods bought in quantity. However, the term "mill" is still used when discussing billing in the electric power industry as shorthand for the lengthier "11000 of a dollar per kilowatt hour". The term is also commonly used when discussing stock prices, the issuance of founder's stock of a company, and cigarette taxes.

Property tax

Property taxes are also expressed in terms of mills per dollar assessed (a mill levy, known more widely in the US as a "mill rate"). For instance, with a millage rate of 2.8₥, a house with an assessment of $100,000 would be taxed (2.8 × 100,000) = 280,000₥, or $280.00. The term is often spelled "mil" when used in this context. [5]


The term mill is often used in finance, particularly in conjunction with equity market microstructure. The term is sometimes used as one-hundredth of a cent. [6] For example, a broker that charges 5 mils per share is taking in $5 every 10,000 shares traded. Additionally, in finance the term is sometimes spelled "mil". [7]

Some exchanges allow prices to be accounted in ten-thousandths of a dollar ($29.4125, for example). This last digit is sometimes called a "decimill" or "deci-mill", but no exchange officially recognizes the term.


Mark Twain introduced a fictional elaboration of the mill in his 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court . When Hank Morgan, the American time traveler, introduces decimal currency to Arthurian Britain, he has it denominated in cents, mills, and "milrays", or tenths of a mill (the name perhaps suggested by "myriad", meaning ten thousand or by the Portuguese and Brazilian milreis).


Mills are or were formerly used in some cities to express property tax rates, in the same manner as in the U.S.

United Kingdom

Proposed on several occasions as a division of the British pound under the "Pound and Mil" system, the mill was occasionally used in accounting.

The 1862 report from the Select committee on Weights and Measures [8] noted that the Equitable Insurance Company had been keeping accounts in mills (rather than in shillings and pence) for such purposes for over 100 years. Such a unit of a thousandth of a pound would have also been similar in value to the then-existing farthing coin (worth 1960 of a pound).

By the time British currency was decimalised in 1971, the farthing had been demonetised eleven years prior, in part due to having its value eroded by inflation; thus, the mill was no longer necessary.


Maltese lira coinage included 2 mil, 3 mil, and 5 mil coins from 1972 to 1994, with 10 mils being equal to one cent. While prices could still be marked using mils until 2008, when the country switched to the euro, in practice these were rounded off for accounting purposes.

Mandatory Palestine, Israel, Jordan

A 500 mil ( 1/2 pound) note issued by the Anglo-Palestine Bank in Tel Aviv in 1948. Five hundred mils.jpg
A 500 mil (½ pound) note issued by the Anglo-Palestine Bank in Tel Aviv in 1948.

The Palestine pound, used as the currency of the British Mandate for Palestine from 1927 to 1948, was divided into 1,000 mils. Its successor currencies, the Israeli lira and the Jordanian dinar, were also divided into 11000 units, respectively named the pruta and fils . The Israeli pruta lasted until 1960, and the Jordanian fils until 1992.

Hong Kong

Between 1863 and 1866 the mill coin was the lowest denomination issued by the British government in Hong Kong; it was eliminated due to its unpopularity. [9]


The mill was used with the Cypriot pound, starting with decimalization in 1955, and lasting until 1983. However, coins smaller than 5 mils ceased being used in the mid 1960s. When switched to cents in 1983, a ½-cent coin was struck that was abolished a few years later.


Coins for 5 millimes (mills) are still in circulation. However, larger coins such as the 10, 20, 50, and 100 millime coins are still in use and production.

Similar units

Related Research Articles

Decimalisation is the conversion of a system of currency or of weights and measures to units related by powers of 10.

Mil, mil, or MIL may refer to:

The Jordanian dinar has been the currency of Jordan since 1950. The dinar is divided into 10 dirhams, 100 qirsh or 1000 fulus. It is pegged to the US dollar.

Solidus (coin)

The solidus, nomisma, or bezant was originally a relatively pure gold coin issued in the Late Roman Empire. Under Constantine, who introduced it on a wide scale, it had a weight of about 4.5 grams. It was largely replaced in Western Europe by Pepin the Short's currency reform, which introduced the silver-based pound/shilling/penny system, under which the shilling functioned as a unit of account equivalent to 12 pence, eventually developing into the French sou. In Eastern Europe, the nomisma was gradually debased by the Byzantine emperors until it was abolished by Alexius I in 1092, who replaced it with the hyperpyron, which also came to be known as a "bezant". The Byzantine solidus also inspired the originally slightly less pure dinar issued by the Muslim Caliphate.


£sd is the popular name for the pre-decimal currencies once common throughout Europe, especially in the British Isles and hence in several countries of the British Empire and subsequently the Commonwealth. The abbreviation originates from the Latin currency denominations librae, solidi, and denarii. In the United Kingdom, these were referred to as pounds, shillings, and pence.

Coinage Act of 1792

The Coinage Act or the Mint Act, passed by the United States Congress on April 2, 1792, created the United States dollar as the country's standard unit of money, established the United States Mint, and regulated the coinage of the United States. The long title of the legislation is An act establishing a mint, and regulating the Coins of the United States. This act established the silver dollar as the unit of money in the United States, declared it to be lawful tender, and created a decimal system for U.S. currency.

Maltese lira Currency of Malta from 1825 until 31 December 2007

The lira was the currency of Malta from 1972 until 31 December 2007. The lira was abbreviated as Lm, although the traditional ₤ sign was often used locally. In English, the currency was still frequently called the pound because of the past usage of British currency on the islands.

Israeli pound Currency of the State of Israel from 9 June 1952 until 23 February 1980

The Israeli pound or Israeli lira was the currency of the State of Israel from 9 June 1952 until 23 February 1980. Its symbol was "I£". The Israeli pound replaced the Palestine pound and was also pegged to the pound sterling at par. It was replaced by the shekel on 24 February 1980, at the rate of 1 shekel = 10 Israeli pounds, which was in turn replaced by the new shekel in 1985.

Italian lira Currency

The lira was the currency of Italy between 1861 and 2002, of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy between 1807 and 1814, and of the Albanian Kingdom between 1941 and 1943. Between 1999 and 2002, the Italian lira was officially a national subunit of the euro. However, cash payments could be made in lira only, as euro coins or notes were not yet available.

Egyptian pound Currency of Egypt

The Egyptian pound is the currency of Egypt. It is divided into 100 piastres, or ersh, or 1,000 milliemes.

Tunisian dinar

The dinar is the currency of Tunisia. It is subdivided into 1000 milim or millimes (ملّيم). The abbreviation DT is often used in Tunisia, although writing "dinar" after the amount is also acceptable ; the abbreviation TD is also mentioned in a few places, but is less frequently used, given the common use of the French language in Tunisia, and the French derivation of DT.

Each article in this category is a collection of entries about several stamp issuers, presented in alphabetical order. The entries are formulated on the micro model and provide summary information about all known issuers.

Each "article" in this category is a collection of entries about several stamp issuers, presented in alphabetical order. The entries are formulated on the micro model and so provide summary information about all known issuers.

Each "article" in this category is a collection of entries about several stamp issuers, presented in alphabetical order. The entries are formulated on the micro model and so provide summary information about all known issuers.

Libyan pound

The Libyan pound was the currency of Libya between 1951 and 1971. The pound was divided into 100 piastres and 1000 milliemes (مليم).

Kiribati dollar

The Australian dollar is the official currency of Kiribati. The Kiribati coins are pegged at 1:1 ratio to the Australian dollar. Coins were issued in 1979 and circulate alongside banknotes and coins of the Australian dollar. Kiribati coins are nowadays very few in comparison to Australian coins, the last emission has been made in 1992, and these old coins are generally collected.

United States dollar Currency of the United States of America

The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories per the Coinage Act of 1792. One dollar is divided into 100 cents, or into 1000 mills for accounting and taxation purposes. The Coinage Act of 1792 created a decimal currency by creating the dime, nickel, and penny coins, as well as the dollar, half dollar, and quarter dollar coins, all of which are still minted in 2020.

British involvement in the Middle East began with the Aden Settlement in 1839. The British East India Company established an anti-piracy station in Aden to protect British shipping that was sailing to and from India. The Trucial States were similarly brought into the British Empire as a base for suppressing sea piracy in the Persian Gulf. Involvement in the region expanded to Egypt because of the Suez canal, as well as to Bahrain, Qatar, and Muscat. Kuwait was added in 1899 because of fears about the proposed Berlin-Baghdad Railway. There was a growing fear in the United Kingdom that Germany was a rising power, and there was concern about the implications of access to the Persian Gulf that would arise from the Berlin-Baghdad Railway. After the First World War the British influence in the Middle East reached its fullest extent with the inclusion of Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq.

Hong Kong one-mil coin

The one mil coin was the smallest denomination of the Hong Kong dollar from 1863 to 1866, after this date it was no longer issued but may have circulated much longer. Its value was one tenth of a cent, or a thousandth of a dollar. Despite being minted under British rule by the Royal Mint, they did not feature the reigning monarch as all other coins did, due to the hole in the middle.


  1. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 6th Ed, Vol. 1, at 1782
  2. Journals of the Continental Congress, August 28, 1786
  3. U.S. Coinage Act of 1792
  4. Brian Rxm, "Sales Tax Tokens: US State issues during the 1930s Depression," Brian Rxm website
  5. "per mil symbol". Tech Target. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
  6. "SEC Market Structure Concept Release" (PDF). Tradeworx, Inc. p. 5. Retrieved 2014-10-26.
  7. "SEC Market Structure Concept Release" (PDF). Tradeworx, Inc. p. 5. Retrieved 2014-10-26.
  8. REPORT (1862) FROM THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON WEIGHTS AND MEASURES Archived 2009-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
  9. Ma Tak Wo 2004, Illustrated Catalogue of Hong Kong Currency, Ma Tak Wo Numismatic Co., LTD. Kowloon, Hong Kong. ISBN   962-85939-3-5