Tuesday, 1 September 2009

A Double Florin

When I was young Britain did not have decimal currency – it was the (good old) Pounds, shillings and pence with 12 old pennies to the shilling and 20 shillings in a pound. We even had a quarter of a penny – a Farthing with its little Wren on the back.

The coins included ha’pennies, threepenny bits, sixpences (also known as a tanner), shillings (a bob), two shillings (a florin) and two shillings and sixpence (half a crown) and the crown (five shillings). This latter was not in common usage but was legal tender. I think the exchange rate with the US must have been about 1 Crown to 1 Dollar because the Half Crown was also sometimes known as ‘Half a Dollar’. After that the money was in notes – the smallest denomination being a ten shilling note.

The threepenny bit was a brassy coloured multi-sided object – very strange by comparison with its predecessor the silver threepenny bit. We used the silver ones still to insert in Christmas pudding. The lucky finders then gave the coin back for use the next year. Needless to say Mum somehow always knew whereabouts in the pudding they were and GB and I always got them.

Another coin that was legal tender but not in common usage was the Double Florin (4 shillings) The only one I have ever seen is this one. It was given to me when I was tiny by Uncle Wardie – Nana’s brother. I think that he gave GB a crown at the same time but I was more than pleased to have the Double Florin as I’d never seen one before. I’ve never seen one since, either. It’s yet another of the ‘family heirlooms’ we have been cataloguing of late. It’s an exercise I can strongly recommend. Apart from being fun it means that when I am dead and gone the children will at least know the origin of things and the stories that go with them. All too often the questions about how old an item may be or where it came from can no longer be answered because the generation who knew the answers has passed on.


  1. I love currency - especially the history...your photos are superb too.

    Such whimsical terms for cash...a shilling...florin...

    Very cool!

  2. It's great that you are doing all this. The few things I do have will bamboozle Gaz when I'm gone. Most of them bamboozle me though so I can't really help. I probably have the Crown from Uncle Wardie but I certainly wouldn't have remembered that he'd given it to me. In fact I can't remember where most of the coins that I have came from.

    I wanted to find the origin of bamboozle this morning but have had no luck. Can I pass that one to you please?

  3. I agree about the need to catalogue family heirlooms. I own two identical hand decorated pottery jugs, which brought tears to my uncle when he saw them at his much younger brother's house, the family homestead. No one thought to ask him why and now we'll never know.

  4. I always loved the threepenny bit best, for some reason!


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