header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); A Primer on Regency Era Currency – Kristen Koster
Dec 062011
 
Regency Era Currency: One pound note, Bank of Jersey, 1813.

This week’s Regency Primer Series entry focuses on Regency Era currency and how people referred to money as opposed to what it could purchase. The British resisted decimalized currency for a long time because they thought it was too complicated.

Regency Era Currency: Denomination

The basics that were in use at the time of the Regency are as follows:

Regency Era Currency: One Penny, copper tokens, 1812.

One Penny, copper tokens, 1812.


Two farthings = One ha’penny.

Two ha’pennies = One penny.

Three pennies = A Thrupenny Bit.

Two Thrupences = A Sixpence.

Two Sixpences = A Shilling or Bob*.

Two Shillings = A Florin.

Regency Era Currency: 1813 Three Pence, copper tokens.

Three Pence or thruppence, copper tokens, 1813.

One Florin and One Sixpence = Half a Crown.

Two Half Crowns = One Crown

Four Half Crowns = A Ten Bob Note.

Two Ten Bob Notes = One Pound (or 240 pennies).

Sovereign = a gold coin valued at one pound that was introduced in 1817

One Pound and One Shilling = One Guinea.

 

Regency Era Currency: One Shilling, silver tokens, 1812.

One Shilling, silver tokens, 1812.

Regency Era Currency: Nicknames

However, the British have always had a diverse set of nicknames for money, or blunt, since it was considered very crass to discuss money. Terms ranged from Monkeys, Ponies, Bits, Tanners, Grands, Tilburies, Nickers, Oxfords, to Quids (squids). And these were just the national ones, each town also had their own variants.

And, this was too complicated? The habit of tradition is amazing.

 

But then a ten bob note is 2 crowns, not 4 half crowns, because that’d just be excessively silly and along the lines of calling a thrupenny bit “six farthings”.

Regency Era Currency: One crown coin, 1821, after George IV has been crowned.

One crown coin, 1821, after George IV has been crowned.

So then, depending on their class and where they grew up, there are some colorful ways Regency characters might speak of the various denominations of money:

Two farthings = One Ha’penny.

Two ha’pennies = A Penny or bit.

Regency Era Currency: One pound note, Bank of Jersey, 1813.

One pound note, Bank of Jersey, 1813.


Three bits = A Thrupenny.

Two Thrupences = A Sixpence, also know as a Tanner or Tilbury.

Two Tanners = A Shilling or Bob*.

Two Bob = A Florin.

A Florin and a Tilbury = Half Crown. Commonly ‘two-and-six’ for 2 shillings, 6 pence.

Two half Crown = five bob, also a Crown or Oxford. Five shillings.

Two Oxfords = a Ten Bob Note.

Regency Era Currency: One pound note, legal tender, 1818.

One pound note, British Treasury Note, 1818.


Two Ten Bob Notes = One Pound (or 240 pennies) also known as nicker or quid

One Nicker and a Shilling = One Guinea.

Twenty Five quid = a pony.

Twenty ponies = a monkey. (500 pounds)

*Notice that the plural of “bob” is still “bob”.

Hopefully, this will help you recognize how much money is being referenced in the Regency Romance you’re reading or give you some options instead of using the same terms over and over if you’re writing one. Unfortunately this entry doesn’t give any idea of what anything was worth at the time, but I promise that will be a whole different post in the future, as it requires further research.

But I know, the question of “How much would 10,000 pounds per annum be worth today?” burns terribly and you may not be able to wait for that post. In the meantime, check this site on Current Values of Old Money where you can find out, learn more about the history of the pound or explore some historical financial scandals.


More information regarding a variety of other Regency-themed topics can be found on my Regency Resource page. If you’d like more information on a specific place or topic, please let me know in the comments section below.

  7 Responses to “A Primer on Regency Era Currency”

Comments (7)
  1. Oh it takes me back to when I was a kid just before decimalization came in- I grew up with half-p’s , thruppenny bits, sixpences, bob’s, half a crown etc and it all made perfect sense to me. Decimalization took all the fun out of it. LOL

  2. Very interesting post. I’m glad I wasn’t a banker during the regency. I woulda been fired LOL.

  3. I’ve been following your Regency primer series, and wanted to come out of lurkdom to say thank you! Your posts have been a great source of information.

  4. Wow. I was in England when we switched from the pounds/shillings/pence to decimals, pounds and new pence. Takes me back. A lot of the old nicknames still lingered — many still do.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Beppie. I hadn’t realized how confusing American coinage was until we hosted an Australian student and she was complaining how hard it is to make change. I’m sure it’s all what you’re used to!

  5. Thanks for the completed explanation. As a modern-day American, I find the whole monetary system baffling, so this really helps.

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