British money

Nick the Pilot

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Tokyo, Japan
Hi British Islanders!

I was watching a video of the Beatles, and Ringo was saying that things cost so many Bob and Quid. How much is a Bob and a Quid?
A bob is slang for old currency not in circulation anymore (non-decimal), is a fraction of a pound, don't know the proper name.
Hi Nick –

How much is a Bob and a Quid?

A Quid is one pound sterling, as Caimanson says. No-one is sure of the etymology of 'quid', some say its from 'quid pro quo' (fair exchange), others from the Gaelic 'mo chuid' meaning 'my stuff' or something ... a very slim one this, but would reflect the significant numbers of Irish soldiering under the Union flag.

(While we're at it, the correct name for the UK flag is 'the Union flag', the common name 'Union Jack' refers to a size of flag, flown from the 'jack-staff' – on the stern of sailing ships.)

Pre-decimalisation, there were 240 pennies in a pound. Now there are a hundred.

Pennies were grouped into twelves - a shilling - or the slang for which was a bob. The new equivalent was 5 pence, or '5 new pence' or '5 new p' – not quite so poetic, but there you go.

Six pence was a tanner ... so 'two an' a tanner', two shillings and six pence, written 2/6 on price tickets.

There was also a crown - a five shilling piece, which was not in circulation but would be produced to mark state occasions, and would go straight into collections. So five shillings to a crown, and two shillings and sixpence, two an a tanner, was half a crown (which was in circulation).

We did have, post decimalisation, a half-penny, and costs would be described as 'eight and a half new p' ... whereas in old money there was 'three ha'pence' - three half pennies, so a penny halfpenny – which became three ha'pence' (not to be confused with 'thruppence' which was three pennies - an octagonal coin called a 'thruppeny bit') ... so where as in new money we would have said, 'eight and a half new p', in old money we would have said 'seven and three ha'pence.'

In very old, old money, we had a farthing, which was a quarter of a penny. So...

A Farthing – a quarter of a penny
A Halfpenny – a half penny - ha'pence
A Penny
A Three-pence piece – a thruppeny bit - thruppence
A Six-pence piece – a sixpence - a tanner
A Shilling – a bob
A Two shilling piece – a florin – two bob bit
A Half crown – two shillings and sixpence - half a crown
A Crown – five shillings – five bob
A Ten-shilling note – a ten-bob note.
A Pound – 20 shillings (Cockney pronunciation 'a paah-nd' - like 'land')

There was also a Guinea - 21 shillings - in gentlemanly transactions, such as auction, the bid was always in guineas, and the auction house kept the odd shilling.) Thus one would pay one's tailor in pounds, but one's solicitor in guineas...

Rounded figures in excess of one pound (but less than two, I think) were often referred to by shillings, so something costing one pound ten shillings would be thirty bob.

When the Beatles first hit the scene, a 45rpm black vinyl single was 6/8 - six shillings and eight pence, so you could get three for a quid.

Of course, in those days the World Wide Web was just green fields as far as the eye could see ... hey ho, happy days ...

Hi Nick,

Thomas is a bit posh. Round our way we've only just replaced bartering with groats.:p


Stand by! (Nick rushes to the dictionary, to look up "groats"....)


Thanks for the info. If I remember correctly, during the days of the Beatles, one pound was about two dollars US. Therefore, a quid was two dollars US, and a bob was ten cents US. Got it!

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