Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Dodecagonic equivalents

When the Royal Mint announced that the new one pound coin would resemble in its twelve-sidedness the much-loved threepenny bit which disappeared when the UK switched to decimal coinage, I thought it was entirely appropriate. My memory of the 1950s was that the two coins had equivalent purchasing power.  Thanks to the BBC (a primary school resource pack as pdf here) for almost confirming that.

A Shopping list from around 1950

The value of money:
• 240 pennies make up an old pound.
(pennies were written as d)
• 12 pennies equal 1 shilling shown as 1s
You have to decide what you would buy to help
your family eat a healthy diet.
You have 1 shilling to spend.
Work out what you could afford to buy.

Pint of Milk 2d
Loaf of bread 2d
1/2 dozen Eggs 3d
Bag of sugar 5d

I also recall that in 1954 2½d (tuppence-halfpenny) bought a standard postage stamp (there was a reduced rate of 1½d for mailing printed papers) or the Daily Mirror. My bus fare to school went up to 2d shortly afterwards.

What stands out in that list is the price of milk, which has not risen as fast as that of other foods and of services, no doubt to the detriment of dairy farmers.

1 comment:

Sam van den Berg said...

In the fifties the South African pound was still linked to the British pound. As I recall, the copper coins available were the ¼ penny, ½ penny, and penny. 'Silver' coins were the much loved 'tickey' (three pence -- possibly from Malay tiga “three”); 2 shillings (florin), half-a-crown (2/6), and (very rarely encountered) the crown -- five shillings.

I can't recall many prices except that bread was more expensive than in the UK at about 7p, and there was a large round sweet consisting of layers of differently coloured layers that you could suck for a long time. Four of those would cost a mere penny. The outside layer was black and I regret to say that they were commonly known as nickerballs.

The skills I learned in adding up and calculating pounds shillings and pence; miles, furlong, yards, feet and inches and pints, quarts and gallons are now of no use. We can blame the French for that.