…so who remembers the UK’s pre-decimal coinage?… tanners, shillings, half-crowns, and stuff?…


…on this day, 44 years ago, on 15 February 1971, known as Decimal Day, the United Kingdom and Ireland decimalised their currencies… and an entire coinage system that had stood for centuries was wiped away… oh, what monetary perfidy… what abysmal subjugation of our cash heritage… the coin-maths education of swathes of us of a certain age was lumped, thumped and dumped into the nearest money-bin… no longer were we to rejoice in handling the farthings, half-pennies, pennies, threepenny bits, sixpenny pieces, shillings, florins, half-crowns and even crowns that weighed so well in our pockets … and worse still, the kidnap and disappearance forever of the LUVLY red-orangey ten-bob note… H.M Exchequer had exclaimed, then proclaimed, then claimed, our ‘old’ money was to be replaced with the decimal system so well-beloved by just about the entire rest of the WURLD


…and this island nation took its first tremulous steps into modern coinage… that the weird shape of some of these ‘new’ coins looked as if they should be handled with the use of a spanner mattered not one iota to the Powers-That-Be-At-The-Royal-Mint… but, not all of Her Majesty’s subjects capitulated so easily… in one far-flung bastion of respect for the-way-things-used-to-be, the Empire continued to fight back… in the Scottish Hebridean island of Mull, this ol’ Jurassic (much younger then, of course) was the regular bank clerk tending the mobile office that traversed the island, serving the clients of the noble Clydesdale & North of Scotland Bank, Sah! (I hope yeez all stood up and saluted just there)… one dear old lady customer, of age well beyond my Grannie’s vintage, steadfastly refused to deal in the ‘new-fangled’ ten-p and five-p ‘rubbish’ …and ‘what bluudy genius replaced the ten-bob note wi’ a coin?’… not for her the step into modern coinery… for fully two years beyond the introduction date, we kept a wee stash aboard the bank van of the ‘old’ ten-shilling notes, and ample stock of the ‘old’ pennies, shillings and half crowns that she was accustomed to do her business with…


..now, here’s the real clincher… all the local tradespeople and shopkeepers were in cahoots with us… they all banked with us anyway… they continued to accept the by-now ‘illegal’ ’old’ money from Mrs Macdonald (she of the Macdonalds of Macdonald of Macdonald, nee Macdonald), and promptly recycled it all through us on the mobile office… all these years later, I’m still waiting for the midnight knock on the door from H. M. Inspectors of the Coinage to cart me off to gaol for my part in this nefarious scheme… but it was WURTH it!… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

12 responses to “…so who remembers the UK’s pre-decimal coinage?… tanners, shillings, half-crowns, and stuff?…

  1. That’s totally hilarious, Seumas. Bless her heart. She really stood her ground didn’t she. A person’s got to admire that kind of grit and determination. That’s the Highlander spirit. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha, what a fantastic old lady 🙂
    I remember a maths teacher in high school giving us a workbook with the old money in, and being the only one of thirty kids who knew how to do the sums – my gran was forever converting the cost of decimal backwards.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a touching story. I love small towns where everyone is perfectly willing to accommodate the harmless quirks of their citizens.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can remember when a thru’penny bag of chips was an afternoon feast fit for one small lad with a voracious appetite, to keep me going until the real mealtime at 6:00 pm Seumas 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve only heard about them never seen them live. The comment about small places and villages is true though. People are individuals there…Not easy to be discreet or have secrets there but…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a giggle. Illegal old money and everyone in cahoots – sounds like real people being realistic and very kind. What a nice world.


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