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:
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.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: 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”.
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.
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.
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.