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CONTACT: Spring 1969
 
An article regarding Decimalisation
written two years before the UK made the change
from Pounds; Shillings; and Pence
 
 

The advent of the country's change over to decimalisation on Monday February 15th 1971 is going to affect all of us in more ways than one, particularly those of us who deal with money and accounting machines. A recent article on decimalisation appeared in the handbook 'Pocket Money Guide'. Perhaps you may find it as interesting as I did: the main theme of the context is as follows:

 

When Queen Victoria gave her Royal assent to the striking of the florin in 1849, Britain took the first faltering steps on the road to decimal coinage, for the florin, as the inscription which it bore proclaimed, was 1/10 of a pound.

 

120 years later we stand nervously because old habits die hard. We have known halfpennies, pennies, sixpences, shillings and half crowns for centuries and we are a conservative people traditionally flummoxed by cents, centimes and come what may. But now, for better or worse, we finally face a pocketful of change. The original idea of a decimal system of coinage dates back to the late 18th century. An American lawyer, Gouverneur Morris started the ball rolling. USA went decimal in 1792, France during her Revolution, Canada 1858, Switzerland and Italy 1865 and Belgium in 1868, India decimalised in 1957, South Africa 1961, Australia 1966 and New Zealand 1967.

 

The word decimal is devised from the Latin word decem (ten) and applies to any currency in which the coins are multiples or submultiples of ten in relation to the standard unit of currency. So the pound note and its multiples: the present 5 and 10 notes will remain unchanged. It is the lower denominations which will require alteration.

 

A portrait of the Queen by Arnold Machin will appear on the obverse of the new coins. The reverse designs by Christopher Ironside are d - Royal Crown; 1d - a portcullis with chains; 2d - the Feathers of the Prince of Wales; 5d - the Scottish Thistle; 10d - Crown Lion of England.

 

Most of the 5,000,000,000 new coins needed for D-Day will be struck at the new Royal Mint at Llantrisant in South Wales.

 

The estimated cost of the changeover is 128,000,000. This will involve complex modifications or replacements for an estimated 10 million slot machines; 11.3 million adding, calculating and accounting machines; 800,000 price computing scales; million cash registers; 150,000 telephone call boxes; 40,000 franking machines; 25,000 price computing petrol pumps and 13,500 taximeters.

 

....PHEW any prognostications for the day we start to drive on the right.

 

D.R.H.

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