Sunday, February 14, 2016

Remembering quids, tanners and bobs - fiftieth anniversary of Australian decimal currency

On this day in 1966, 14 February, Australia moved from pounds, shillings and pence to decimal currency. I was overseas when the change occurred and actually found it quite odd on my return. Now, of course, I have difficulty in remembering and counting in the old currency.

This is actually a problem, for much of the historical research I do falls in the pre-decimal currency period. So in memory of the old currency, each pound consisted of 20 shillings which in turn consisted of 12 pence. So 12 pennies to the shilling, 240 pence or twenty shillings to the pound.

In terms of coin, the farthing was one quarter of a penny, although by 1965 inflation had rendered it redundant. Then there were (among other coins) a half penny, the penny, a threepenny, a sixpenny, a shilling, and two shillings

In terms of common parlance, a pound was a quid, a shilling was a bob and sixpence a tanner. So 2 tanners equals a bob!

Given that I am forgetting, I should probably write a short history of currency to help me remember! Given other pressures, maybe the likelihood is a bob each way!


2 tanners said...

"Rule, 2 tanners,
2 tanners makes a bob
King George never, never, never
Shaves his nob"

From this point on, I shall change my handle to GR VI. You may shorten that to Gravy, in light of my culinary postings which tend to feature that quite a bit. The first nice use I've come across for the word shorten in several posts.

"in come the dollars and in come the cents
To replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence
Be prepared folks, when the coins begin to mix
On the 14th of February, 1966."

Those were the days, when you could just appropriate a tune and not worry about it.

Jim Belshaw said...

I like 2 tanners!

2 tanners said...

Oh, that's sweet of you, but I'm sure you like Evan, kvd, LE and the rest. :)

Don't worry Jim, I was just teasing about the handle, even if you did decide to explicitly, rather than accidentally , blow my cover.

Here in East Timor/Timor-Leste, the expat community tend to be an ageing bunch and most of us actually recall the changeover. It would really be hard to believe what a topic of conversation this anniversary has been. Bernie Sanders v Hillary Clinton - who would have expected...why are you guys talking about dollars and cents like it's a new thing?

Thank heavens we didn't end up with the Matilda, though. That would have been excruciatingly embarrassing. Naming our currency after a rolled up, flea-ridden blanket largely reserved for men with no discernible moral worth. Oh, wait...

2 tanners said...

My mind is leaping around like a truckload of Victorian beef. That's an adaptation of a Dick Johnson quote. Not long afterwards he end up in a tree just past the Esses on Bathurst. Be warned.

We did have farthings, my last sample was lost some time ago. Did we in Australia ever have half-farthings, which I THINK are the same as groats, equalling 1/8th of a penny? (A groat may have been a 16th of a penny, but no coin of that value existed in Australia to the best of my knowledge.)

Why is a farthing a coin of low value and a land holding?

Don't send links, send answers. in my present mood I prefer possible untrue answers to precisely inaccurate links.

I am punching the air with enjoyment at the phaseout of the pretty much totally useless 5c coin. In the US they still have 1 cent coins ("pennies"). They have no value but must be used. There's a dish in every petrol station, labelled 'give a little, get a little'. If your petrol bill is $19.99, you put the penny change in the dish. If it's $20.01 you take a penny out from the dish. Just dumbly inconvenient, especially if the dish is empty.

I'll take mercy on you all and stop posting at this point.

Anonymous said...

tanners, I have one of those 1/16th of a penny coins buried in a box somewhere at the back of a wardrobe - can't remember if it was Aus or English, but probably English. I also have a complete set of almost entirely proof quality sixpences which has more than doubled in value over the past 8 or so years. Must dig it out and get the last 3 or 4 non-proofs replaced.

Your change dish at the petrol station has been in operation for many years in my local smallgoods store - used exactly as you describe, give change, take change. As a local custom I quite like it.

I had not heard that farthing was also associated with a land holding (and won't spoil your fun by looking it up) but it makes some sort of sense in that a farthing is one fourth of a whole, so would easily fit into a subdivision of land, no?

On the "blow my cover" comment, I also thought that interesting.


Anonymous said...

and ps Jim - your post still contains "1965" instead of "1966"


Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, kvd. Now corrected. I just can't see the typos sometimes. Farthing: a division of land, probably originally a fourth of a hide; later, a quarter of an acre. From Old English feorðing ("a quarter"), from feorða ("fourth"), probably influenced by Old Norse fiórðungr (Wiktionary)

On half farthings, I am not not sure but don't think Australia ever had them.