|Value||12 pence sterling |
1/20 pound sterling
|Mass||(1816–1970) 5.66 g|
|Diameter||(1816–1970) 23.60 mm|
|Composition||(1503–1816) Silver |
(1816–1920) 92.5% Ag
(1920–1946) 50% Ag
|Years of minting||c. 1548–1966|
|Design||Profile of the monarch (Elizabeth II design shown)|
|Design||Various (coat of arms of England design shown)|
The shilling (1/-) was a coin worth one twentieth of a pound sterling, or twelve pence. It was first minted in the reign of Henry VII as the testoon, and became known as the shilling from the Old English scilling,sometime in the mid-16th century, circulating until 1990. The word bob was sometimes used for a monetary value of several shillings, e.g. "ten-bob note". Following decimalisation on 15 February 1971 the coin had a value of five new pence, which was minted with the same size as the shilling until 1990, after which the shilling no longer remained legal tender. It was made from silver from its introduction in or around 1503 until 1946, and thereafter in cupronickel.
Before Decimal Day in 1971 there were 240 pence in one pound sterling. Twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. forty-two pence would be three shillings and six pence (3/6), pronounced "three and six". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d.
Although the coin was not minted until the sixteenth century, the value of a shilling had been used for accounting purposes since the early medieval period. The value of one shilling equalling 12d was set by the Normans following the conquest; before this various English coins equalling 4, 5, and 12 pence had all been known as shillings.
The first coins of the pound sterling with the value of 12d were minted in 1503or 1504 and were known as testoons. The testoon was one of the first English coins to bear a real (rather than a representative) portrait of the monarch on its obverse, and it is for this reason that it obtained its name from an Italian coin known as the testone, or headpiece, which had been introduced in Milan in 1474. Between 1544 and 1551 the coinage was debased repeatedly by the governments of Henry VIII and Edward VI in an attempt to generate more money to fund foreign wars. This debasement meant that coins produced in 1551 had one-fifth of the silver content of those minted in 1544, and consequently the value of new testoons fell from 12d to 6d. The reason the testoon decreased in value is that unlike today, the value of coins was determined by the market price of the metal contained within them. This debasement was recognised as a mistake, and during Elizabeth's reign newly minted coins, including the testoon (now known as the shilling), had a much higher silver content and regained their pre-debasement value.
Shillings were minted during the reign of every single English monarch following Edward VI, as well as during the Commonwealth, with a vast number of variations and alterations appearing over the years. The Royal Mint undertook a massive recoinage programme in 1816, with large quantities of gold and silver coin being minted. Previous issues of silver coinage had been irregular, and the last issue, minted in 1787, was not intended for issue to the public, but as Christmas gifts to the Bank of England's customers. 2⁄11 troy ounce, equivalent to 87.273 grains or 5.655 grams.New silver coinage was to be of .925 (sterling) standard, with silver coins to be minted at 66 shillings to the troy pound. Hence, newly minted shillings weighed
The Royal Mint debased the silver coinage in 1920 from 92.5% silver to 50% silver. Shillings of both alloys were minted that year. [ self-published source? ] This debasement was done because of the rising price of silver around the world, and followed the global trend of the elimination, or the reducing in purity, of the silver in coinage. The minting of silver coinage of the pound sterling ceased completely (except for the ceremonial Maundy Money) at the end of 1946 for similar reasons, exacerbated by the costs of the Second World War. New "silver" coinage was instead minted in cupronickel, an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel, containing no silver at all.
Beginning with Lord Wrottesley's proposals in the 1820s there were various attempts to decimalise the pound sterling over the next century and a half.These attempts came to nothing significant until the 1960s when the need for a currency more suited to simple monetary calculations became pressing. The decision to decimalise was announced in 1966, with the pound to be redivided into 100, rather than 240, pence. Decimal Day was set for 15 February 1971, and a whole range of new coins was introduced. Shillings continued to be legal tender with a value of 5 new pence until 31 December 1990.
Testoons issued during the reign of Henry VII feature a right-facing portrait of the king on the obverse. Surrounding the portrait is the inscription HENRICUS DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRA, or similar, meaning "Henry, by the Grace of God, King of England and France". All shillings minted under subsequent kings and queens bear a similar inscription on the obverse identifying the monarch (or Lord Protector during the Commonwealth), with the portrait usually flipping left-facing to right-facing or vice versa between monarchs. The reverse features the escutcheon of the Royal Arms of England, surrounded by the inscription POSVI DEVM ADIVTORE MEVM, or a variant, meaning "I have made God my helper".
Henry VIII testoons have a different reverse design, featuring a crowned Tudor rose, but those of Edward VI return to the Royal Arms design used previously. XII printed next to the portrait of the king. Elizabeth I and Mary I shillings are exceptions to this; the former has the denomination printed on the reverse, above the coat of arms, and the latter has no denomination printed at all. Some shillings issued during Mary's reign bear the date of minting, printed above the dual portraits of Mary and Philip.Starting with Edward VI the coins feature the denomination
Early shillings of James I feature the alternative reverse inscription EXURGAT DEUS DISSIPENTUR INIMICI, meaning "Let God arise and His enemies be scattered", becoming QVAE DEVS CONIVNXIT NEMO SEPARET, meaning "What God hath put together let no man put asunder" after 1604.
A slang name for a shilling was a "bob" (plural as singular, as in "that cost me two bob"). The first recorded use was in a case of coining heard at the Old Bailey in 1789, when it was described as cant, "well understood among a certain set of people", but heard only among criminals and their associates.
In much of West Africa, white people are called toubabs, which may derive from the colonial practice of paying locals two shillings for running errands.An alternate etymology holds that the name is derived from French toubib, i.e. doctor.
To "take the King's shilling" was to enlist in the army or navy, a phrase dating back to the early 19th century.
To "cut someone off with a shilling", often quoted as "cut off without a shilling" means to disinherit. Although having no basis in English law, some believe that leaving a family member a single shilling in one's will ensured that it could not be challenged in court as an oversight.
A popular legend holds that a shilling was the value of a cow in Kent, or a sheep elsewhere.
The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom, British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories is denominated in pounds sterling, and, since the introduction of the two-pound coin in 1994, ranges in value from one penny to two pounds. Since decimalisation, on 15 February 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 (new) pence. Before decimalisation, twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. British coins are minted by the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales. The Royal Mint also commissions the coins' designs. As of 14 October 2019, there were an estimated 29 billion coins circulating in the United Kingdom.
The British decimal five pence (5p) coin – often pronounced five pee – is a unit of currency equalling five one-hundredths of a pound sterling. Its obverse has featured the profile of Queen Elizabeth II since the coin’s introduction on 23 April 1968, replacing the shilling in preparation for decimalisation in 1971. It remained the same size as the one shilling coin, which also remained legal tender, until a smaller version was introduced in June 1990 with the older coins being withdrawn on 31 December 1990. Four different portraits of the Queen have been used, with the latest design by Jody Clark being introduced in 2015. The second and current reverse, featuring a segment of the Royal Shield, was introduced in 2008.
The British half farthing was a coin valued at 1/1,920 of a pound sterling, or one eighth of a penny. It was minted in copper for use in Ceylon, but in 1842 was also declared legal tender in the United Kingdom. Two different obverses were used. Like all British coinage, it bore the portrait of the monarch on the obverse.
The History of the English penny from 1485 to 1603 covers the period of the Tudor dynasty.
The British florin, or two-shilling coin, was issued from 1849 until 1967, with a final issue for collectors dated 1970. Equivalent in value to one-tenth of a pound, it was the last coin circulating immediately prior to decimalisation to be demonetised, in 1993, having for a quarter of a century circulated alongside the ten-pence piece, identical in specifications and value.
The British pre-decimal halfpenny coin, usually simply known as a ha'penny, historically occasionally also as the obol and once abbreviated ‘ob’ , was a unit of currency that equalled half of a penny or 1/480 of a pound sterling. Originally the halfpenny was minted in copper, but after 1860 it was minted in bronze. In the run-up to decimalisation it ceased to be legal tender from 31 July 1969. The halfpenny featured two different designs on its reverse during its years in circulation. From 1672 until 1936 the image of Britannia appeared on the reverse, and from 1937 onwards the image of the Golden Hind appeared. Like all British coinage, it bore the portrait of the monarch on the obverse.
The British threepence (3d) coin, usually simply known as a threepence, thruppence, or thruppenny bit, was a unit of currency equaling one eightieth of a pound sterling, or three old pence sterling. It was used in the United Kingdom, and earlier in Great Britain and England. Similar denominations were later used throughout the British Empire, notably in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The guinea was a coin, minted in Great Britain between 1663 and 1814, that contained approximately one-quarter of an ounce of gold. The name came from the Guinea region in West Africa, from where much of the gold used to make the coins was sourced. It was the first English machine-struck gold coin, originally worth one pound sterling, equal to twenty shillings, but rises in the price of gold relative to silver caused the value of the guinea to increase, at times to as high as thirty shillings. From 1717 to 1816, its value was officially fixed at twenty-one shillings.
The British crown, the successor to the English crown and the Scottish dollar, came into being with the Union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1707. As with the English coin, its value was five shillings.
The pound sterling, known in some contexts simply as the pound or sterling, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the British Antarctic Territory, and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence. The "pound sterling" is the oldest currency in continuous use. Some nations that do not use sterling also have currencies called the pound.
The half sovereign is an English and later, British gold coin with a nominal value of half a pound sterling, or ten shillings. It is half the weight of its counterpart 'full' sovereign coin.
Decimal Day in the United Kingdom and in Ireland was 15 February 1971, the day on which each country decimalised its respective £sd currency of pounds, shillings, and pence.
£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.
The shilling (1s) coin was a subdivision of the pre-decimal Irish pound, worth 1⁄20 of a pound. Worth 12d or half of a Florin.
The sixpence, sometimes known as a tanner or sixpenny bit, is a coin that was worth six pence, equivalent to one-fortieth of a pound sterling, or half of a shilling. It was first minted in 1551, during the reign of Edward VI, and circulated until 1980. Following decimalisation in 1971 it had a value of 2+1⁄2 new pence. The coin was made from silver from its introduction in 1551 until 1947, and thereafter in cupronickel.
From c. 1124 until 1709 the coinage of Scotland was unique, and minted locally. A wide variety of coins, such as the plack, bodle, bawbee, dollar and ryal were produced over that time. For trading purposes coins of Northumbria and various other places had been used before that time; and since 1709 those of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and then of the UK.
The threepence or threepenny bit was a denomination of currency used by various jurisdictions in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, valued at 1/80 of a pound or ¼ of a shilling until decimalisation of the pound sterling and Irish pound in 1971. It was also used in some parts of the British Empire, notably Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The pre-decimal penny (1d) was a coin worth 1/240 of a pound sterling, or 1/12 of a shilling. Its symbol was d, from the Roman denarius. It was a continuation of the earlier English penny, and in Scotland it had the same monetary value as one pre-1707 Scottish shilling. The penny was originally minted in silver, but from the late 18th century it was minted in copper, and then after 1860 in bronze.
The Great Recoinage of 1816 was an attempt by the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to re-stabilise its currency, the pound sterling, after the economic difficulties brought by the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.
The English shilling was a silver coin of the Kingdom of England, when first introduced known as the testoon. It remained in circulation until it became the British shilling as the result of the Union of England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.