Coins of the Realm


Most of the people in Georgian England never handled banknotes. The wages for the servant classes for an entire quarter was usually less than the smallest denomination notes. The coins, as follows, were used for nearly all transactions until the wars with Revolutionary France caused a hard currency shortage. Notes were issued in £1, £2, and £5 denominations after 1797. At that time this lack of familiarity with banknotes made it easy for counterfeiters to pass their notes.

Not all coin denominations were minted every year especially after 1797 when the bullion needed for coins were also needed for the war efforts against Revolutionary France. This bullion shortage continued through the wars until after Waterloo. The government used the services of N. M. Rothschild in 1815 to acquire bullion from all over Europe to enable Britain to settle her payments to the Prussian, Russian, and Dutch nations.

Coins, 2d., 1d., 1/2d., farthing
Basic UnitValueCoinNoteSlang name
 1/4 penceFarthing  
 1/2 pencehalf-penny ha'pence
ha'p'orth--Half Penny worth
 1 Pence (d)
the d stands for denarius, a Roman coin
penny copper
 2 pencetwopence tuppence
 3 pencethreepence thruppence
 4 pencegroat tuppence
 6 pencesix-pence tanner, bender
One Shilling (s)12 penceshilling bob, hog
 2 shillingsflorin  
 2s 6p, 2 1/2 shillingsHalf-crownhalf a crown 
 Crown5 shillings Bull, coachwheel
One Pound20 shillings, or
1 pound (£)
new in 1817
1-pound noteCanary, quid, yellow-boy
Guinea21 shillings, or
1 pound 1 shilling
last minted 1813

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©D. W. This site last updated March 2003 by