Saturday, November 04, 2006

Decimalisation Looms - The New Coins Arrive...

December 1968...

Britain is being "converted". In a shake-up that will alter the language and affect the thinking of 55 million people, the country is deserting long familiar feet, pounds, rods, quarts and bushels - and going metric.

The change-over, which received official government support in May 1965, will take ten years to complete. The first major step to pave the way for later ordeals, is the switch to decimal currency, using a pound composed of 100 pence. New coins have been circulating since April [1968], heralding the approach of Decimal Day: February 15, 1971.

The Reader's Digest article makes for fascinating reading. I was surprised to learn that the now familiar new coins were designed in the 60s - I had formerly believed that only the fifty pence piece was.

The new coins are pictured in the two pages of the 1968 article featured above, with the exception of the ten new pence, which was pictured on an adjacent page, and the fifty new pence, which replaced the old Bank of England ten shillings note in 1969.

Here we see a July 1969 call from the Decimal Currency Board to shops and small businesses to ensure that the change-over of their cash registers and price-computing scales is on course.

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