John Kleeberg submitted these notes on the Fip and fippenny bit. Thanks!
Fip and fippenny bit - As Albert Frey explains in his dictionary, the "fip" or a "fippenny bit" is Spanish-American 1/2 real (a "medio" or "picayune"), worth 6 1/4 cents in Federal currency. The name arose because a 1/2 real was worth fivepence halfpenny plus a half farthing in the Middle Atlantic money of account ($1 = 90 pence) that was used in Pennsylvania, western New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware. (90 divided by 16 = 5.625.) A related term is the "levy," "elevenpence" for the Spanish-American real, worth 12 1/2 cents in Federal currency, because that coin was worth eleven pence one farthing in the Middle Atlantic money of account. (90 divided by 8 = 11.25.)
These terms are mentioned in Phil Mossman's Money of the American Colonies and Confederation, pages 57 and 157.
In New York, by contrast, where the dollar was worth 96 pence in the money of account, the "real," which would be called a "levy" in Philadelphia was known as a "shilling," and the "1/2 real," Philadelphia's "fip," was known as a "sixpence."
And in New England, where the dollar was worth 72 pence in the money of account, these coins were known as "ninepence" and "fourpence halfpenny."
Spanish-American coins were legal tender in the United States until 1857; and the evidence of counterstamps tells us that these coins continued to circulate in the United States as late as the 1870s. So there was a need for these names - hence the persistence of the terms levy, fip, shilling, sixpence, ninepence, and fourpence halfpenny.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: MARCH 24, 2019 : Fippence and Fippenny in England and Canada
Wayne Homren, Editor
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