Our archivists have retrieved some items from the NRS archives to mark the 47th anniversary of decimalisation in the UK on 15 February.
The first is a still from the film “All Change”, produced in colour in 1969 by World Wide Pictures Ltd. for the Central Office of Information, on behalf of the Decimal Currency Board.
The film gave shopkeepers across the UK a preview of how retail trading would look soon after “D Day” – 15 February 1971 – when Britain was to officially move to decimal currency. The film explained what “going decimal” meant; what its benefits would be and why early planning was needed.
In this scene, it’s explained that three halves of bitter will cost twenty one new pence.
We’ve also photographed pages from the booklet “New Money In Your Shop”, issued by the Decimal Currency Board in 1969.
Everyone is now familiar with decimalised currency but since most readers will be far too young to remember pre-decimal days, we’ve included the most straightforward summary of “old money” in the UK, as found in the 1990 novel Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman:
“One shilling = Five Pee… Two Farthings = One Ha’Penny. Two Ha’pennies = One Penny. Three Pennies = A Thrupenny Bit. Two Thrupences = A Sixpence. Two Sixpences = One Shilling, or Bob. Two Bob = A Florin. One Florin and One Sixpence = Half a Crown. Four Half Crowns = Ten Bob Note. Two Ten Bob Notes = One Pound (or 240 Pennies). One Pound and One Shilling = One Guinea.
“The British resisted decimalised currency for a long time because they thought it was too complicated”.