Mill (currency)

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The mill (American English) or mil (Commonwealth English, except Canada) is a unit of currency (sometimes symbolized as ), used in several countries as one-thousandth of the base unit. 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 decimalisation as a 11000 division of sterling's pound. While this system was never adopted in the United Kingdom, the currencies of some British or formerly British territories did adopt it, such as the Palestine pound and 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" or "three (point) zero⹀one⹀nine dollars". 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]

With respect to property taxes, a "mil" is also slang for one million units of currency, especially as a rate expressed per mille "‰", as one million units of currency per milliard on the long scale of numeration, that is, 1,000,000 per 1,000,000,000 currency units of assessed valuation on all private property throughout the "mill yard" or property tax levy district.


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 1000 shares traded. Additionally, in finance the term is sometimes spelled "mil". [7] a.k.a. basis point.

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 means of decimalising sterling under the "pound and mil" system suggested in 1855 by Sir William Brown MP, [8] the mil was occasionally used in accounting.

The 1862 report from the Select committee on Weights and Measures [9] noted that the Equitable Insurance Company had been keeping accounts in mils (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 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 mil was no longer necessary.


The Maltese lira was decimalised in 1972 on the "pound and mil" system. The coinage included denominations of 2 mils, 3 mils, and 5 mils 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

500 mil (PSP 1/2 ) note issued by the Anglo-Palestine Bank in Tel Aviv in 1948. Five hundred mils.jpg
500 mil (£P½) 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 retained the 11000 division, 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 one mil coin was the lowest denomination issued by the British government in Hong Kong; it was eliminated due to its unpopularity. [10]


The Cypriot pound was decimalised using the "pound and mil" system 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 are still in circulation. However, larger coins such as the 10, 20, 50, and 100 millime coins are still in use and production.

Republic of Rose Island

In the micronation Republic of Rose Island, the currency was the mill. The denomination was translated as milo (plural miloj) to the official language of the micronation, Esperanto. It was equivalent to the Italian lira.

Related Research Articles

Shilling Name for a coin or unit of currency

The shilling is a historical coin, and the name of a unit of modern currencies formerly used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and other British Commonwealth countries.

A coin of account is a unit of money that does not exist as an actual coin but is used in figuring prices or other amounts of money.

Decimalisation or decimalization 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:

Jordanian dinar Currency of Jordan

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) Late Roman Empire gold coin

The solidus, nomisma, or bezant was a highly pure gold coin issued in the Late Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire. Constantine introduced the coin, and its weight of about 4.5 grams remained relatively constant for seven centuries. In the Byzantine Empire, the solidus or nomisma remained a highly pure gold coin until the 11th century, when several Byzantine emperors began to strike the coin with less and less gold. The nomisma was finally 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. In Western Europe, the solidus was the main gold coin of commerce from late Roman times to Pepin the Short's currency reform, which introduced the silver-based pound/shilling/penny system.

£sd Pre-decimal currencies

£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.

Denomination (currency) Proper description of a currency amount

Denomination is a proper description of a currency amount, usually for coins or banknotes. Denominations may also be used with other means of payment such as gift cards. For example, five euros is the denomination of a five-euro note.

Coinage Act of 1792 U.S. legislation establishing and regulating the national currency and mint

The Coinage Act of 1792, 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. 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 or pound was the currency of Malta from 1972 until 31 December 2007. One lira was divided into 100 cents, each of 10 mils. After 1986 the lira was abbreviated as Lm, although the original ₤M sign continued to be used unofficially. In English the currency was still frequently called the pound even after its official English language name was changed to lira.

Cypriot pound Former currency of Cyprus

The pound, or lira, was the currency of Cyprus, including the Sovereign Base Areas in Akrotiri and Dhekelia, from 1879 to 2007, when the Republic of Cyprus adopted the euro. However, the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus uses the Turkish lira as its official currency.

Italian lira Former currency of Italy

The lira (; plural lire; Italian: [ˈliːre] was the currency of Italy between 1861 and 2002. It was first introduced by the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy in 1807 at par with the French franc, and was subsequently adopted by the different states that would eventually form the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. It was subdivided into 100 centesimi, which means "hundredths" or "cents". The lira was also the currency of the Albanian Kingdom from 1941-1943.

Australian pound Former currency of Australia

The pound was the currency of Australia from 1910 until 14 February 1966, when it was replaced by the Australian dollar. As with other £sd currencies, it was subdivided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence.

Non-decimal currency

A non-decimal currency is a currency that has sub-units that are a non-decimal fraction of the main unit, i.e. the number of sub-units in a main unit is not a power of 10. Historically, most currencies were non-decimal, though today virtually all are now decimal.

Bahraini dinar Currency of Bahrain

The dinar is the currency of Bahrain. It is divided into 1000 fils (فلس). The Bahraini dinar is abbreviated د.ب (Arabic) or BD (Latin). It is usually represented with three decimal places denoting the fils.

Palestine pound Currency of the British Mandate of Palestine from 1927 to 1948

The Palestine pound (Arabic: جُنَيْه فِلَسْطَينِيّ, junayh filastini; Hebrew: (פוּנְט פַּלֶשְׂתִינָאִי (א״י, funt palestina'i or (לירה was the currency of the British Mandate of Palestine from 1 November 1927 to 14 May 1948, and of the State of Israel between 15 May 1948, and 23 June 1952, when it was replaced with the Israeli lira. The Palestine pound was also the currency of Transjordan until 1949 when it was replaced by the Jordanian dinar, and remained in usage in the West Bank of Jordan until 1950. In the Gaza Strip, the Palestine pound continued to circulate until April 1951, when it was replaced by the Egyptian pound.

United States dollar Official currency of the United States

The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and several other countries. The Coinage Act of 1792 introduced the U.S. dollar at par with the Spanish silver dollar, divided it into 100 cents, and authorized the minting of coins denominated in dollars and cents. U.S. banknotes are issued in the form of Federal Reserve Notes, popularly called greenbacks due to their predominantly green color.

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. It was minted by the Royal Mint, it features the Royal cypher of "VR", of the reigning monarch Queen Victoria at the time, but didn't feature a profile of the face of the monarch as all other coins did, due to the hole in the middle.

Carolingian monetary system

The Carolingian monetary system, also called the Carolingian coinage system or just the Carolingian system, was a currency structure introduced by Charlemagne in the late 8th century as part of a major reform, the effects of which subsequently dominated much of Europe, including Britain, for several centuries. It is characterised by having three denominations in the ratio 1:20:240 the units of which went under different names in the different languages, but which corresponded to the Latin terms libra (pound), solidus (shilling) and denarius (penny).


  1. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 6th Ed, Vol. 1, at 1782
  2. Journals of the Continental Congress, August 28, 1786
  3. Peters, Richard, ed. (April 2, 1792). "Chapter XVI. An Act establishing a Mint, and regulating the Coins of the United States" (PDF). United States Statutes at Large. Vol. I. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 246–251.
  4. "Sales Tax Tokens". Archived from the original on 2021-10-19. Retrieved 2021-10-20.
  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. Hansard Parliamentary Papers, HC Deb, 12 June 1855, vol 138, cc1867-909
  9. REPORT (1862) FROM THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON WEIGHTS AND MEASURES Archived 2009-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
  10. Ma Tak Wo 2004, Illustrated Catalogue of Hong Kong Currency, Ma Tak Wo Numismatic Co., LTD. Kowloon, Hong Kong. ISBN   962-85939-3-5