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How to convert old English money

Updated July 20, 2017

Until decimalisation was introduced in 1971, British currency was divided into pounds, shillings and pence. Decimalisation got rid of some coin and paper money denominations and reorganised how much the pound was worth. Converting old English money is not straightforward because the value of the coins has changed due to collecting, and the relative buying power of the pound has gone down, meaning you can now buy less for each pound than you could.

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  1. Set aside any pound notes as these are the easiest to count up.

  2. Count up how many shillings you have and convert them into pounds. There are 20 shillings in every pound. It may be helpful to view the shilling as five pence in modern English money.

  3. Calculate how many pennies you have and convert them into shillings and pounds. There are 12 pennies in every shilling.

  4. Find any Guinea coins or £5 notes. These are now worth a lot more due to coin collecting and the gold value of guinea coins. Guineas were worth £1 and 1 shilling, while £5 notes were relatively rare.

  5. Separate any coins worth less than one penny. These are either farthings (worth a quarter of a penny) or halfpennies. These are next to worthless today as they were mass produced and not of much value to collectors.

  6. Convert your old English money. As a rough guide, multiply money from 1970 -- the last year before decimalisation -- by ten to find its spending worth in 2014; for example, £1 in 1970 has the equivalent spending power of £10.

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About the Author

Colin Rowe started writing professionally in 2009. He has written for the print publication "Hounslow Chronicle" and for websites such as News Associates, Global Newswire, FiX e-zine and NRI Digital. He holds a postgraduate degree in journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in media arts and management studies from St. Mary's University in London.

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