Last week we discussed the fiftieth anniversary of decimalisation in Britain. There's a new book on the topic by Tom Hockenhull, Curator of Medals and Modern Money at the British Museum. Here's an excerpt from an All About Coins article.
On a grey, drizzly Monday, 15 February 1971, Britain went decimal. Ten years in the planning, 'D-Day' upended a currency system that had been unchanged for more than a millennium.
Celebrating the publication of a new book, Making Change: the decimalisation of Britain's currency, here are a selection of little-known facts about how it happened.
Early advocates of decimalisation included Sir Christopher Wren (1632–1723) and the influential economist Sir William Petty (1623–87) who, in 1682, proposed a system to ‘keep all Accompts in a way of Decimal Arithmetick'.
However, the opportunity was not taken and in 1704 Russia became the first country to decimalise under the reforms of Peter the Great (reigned 1682–1725). There were concerted efforts to implement UK decimalisation during the mid-19th century. At the International Monetary Conference convened in Paris in 1867, representatives from several nations were invited to discuss how they might introduce a decimalised international currency.
Rather out of politeness than genuine enthusiasm, the British Government dispatched a Treasury official and Thomas Graham (1805–69), Master of the Mint, with instructions merely to observe the proceedings. Unbeknown to the government, Graham in his enthusiasm for the project had prepared by having the Mint produce pattern decimal pence/franc pattern coins which he shared with the other delegates along with his proposal for a decimal system.
The Government reluctantly agreed to investigate and it duly convened a Royal Commission. This Commission, however, poured cold water on the proposal, as it would require the withdrawal of all the UK gold coinage.
To read the complete article, see:
Decimalisation facts: decimalisation had been discussed since the 17th century
Published by SPINK, the book is also available in the U.S. for $15 on Amazon.
On a grey, drizzly Monday, 15 February 1971, Britain went decimal. Ten years in the planning, ‘D-Day' upended a currency system that had been unchanged for more than a millennium.
A national effort requiring cooperation at every level of society, many expected decimalisation to be a disaster. This is the story of its planning and implementation, of the successes and setbacks. It reveals the social and political forces that steered the biggest reform to sterling in its history.
Featuring exclusive interviews and profiles of the people involved – from politicians to coin designers, from royalty to checkout staff in Woolworths – this entertaining book helps shed light on Britain's troublesome relationship with change.
W135mm x L204mm
For more information, or to order, see:
Making Change: The Decimalisation of Britain's Currency
Making Change: The Decimalization of Britain's Currency (English)
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF DECIMAL DAY IN BRITAIN
To read an article from The Guardian suggested by Howard Berlin, see:
‘D Day': UK marks 50 years since decimalisation
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: email@example.com
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2021 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster