Author Topic: Of Guineas and pounds  (Read 3411 times)

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Offline africancoins

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Of Guineas and pounds
« on: August 14, 2008, 01:01:01 AM »
Previously in this thread translateltd mentioned two things....


The upper professional classes (lawyers, doctors) would quote their fees in guineas (21 shillings once the value of that gold coin had stabilised), and the practice continued into the 1970s (as £1.05) but I suspect didn't last long once decimalisation had properly taken hold.  The advantage was that the amount being paid sounded less (100 guineas doesn't sound much different to 100 pounds, but is actually 105 pounds, for instance).

And to confuse things still further, the Egyptian pound is called (in Egyptian Arabic), gineah (pick your preferred transcription), from, you guessed it, guinea ...


The Guinea (as £1.05) continues to be used here for livestock (and perhaps some other) auctions.

The Egyptian Pound of 100 years ago was not equal to the British Pound. The British Pound (Sovereign) was equated to 97.5 Piastres ( = 975 Milliemes) and so the British Guinea (1 Pound and 1 Shilling) would have been 102.375 Piastres ( = 1023.75 Milliemes) and the Egyptian Pound was 100 Piastres ( = 1000 Milliemes). Hence the Egyptian Pound was pretty much inbetween the Sovereign and the Guinea. I imagine this is why both words got used.

Thanks Mr Paul Baker

Offline tonyclayton

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Of Guineas and pounds
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2008, 11:43:47 AM »

And to confuse things still further, the Egyptian pound is called (in Egyptian Arabic), gineah (pick your preferred transcription), from, you guessed it, guinea ...

Unless the African country called Guinea derived its name from the Arabic word for the Egyptian pound, I think this is not so. The guinea was so named because the gold coin minted by Charles II initially valued at one pound was made from gold mined in Guinea. As the standard was silver, the value of gold coins fluctuated, reaching quite high amounts before settling at one pound and one shilling (21 shillings)

translateltd

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Of Guineas and pounds
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2008, 12:40:41 PM »
Hi Tony,
I think you may have interpreted my message the wrong way round - the Arabic word for pound is definitely derived from the English word "guinea" (doubtless itself based on a misinterpretation of the coin term).  Your explanation of the origin of the *English* guinea denomination is of course correct, but is unconnected with the Arabic story entirely :-)

I quote from my Arabic-English dictionary:

>Gineh (*Engl. guinea*), also gunaih, pl. gunaihat, pound (Egyptian); Gineh inglizi, pound sterling, English pound; Gineh misri, Egyptian pound.

Egyptian pound coins clearly read "gunaih" (pick your transliteration) in Arabic, as does the Saudi "guinea" of 1950, which just happens to have the same weight and fineness as a sovereign!  I posted on this subject in the Yahoo "Coins Club" group just this morning, by coincidence.

Martin
NZ


BC Numismatics

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Of Guineas and pounds
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2008, 12:47:43 PM »
Martin,
  What has the Saudi Arabian 1 Guinea medal-coin got to do with the Manx 1/2d. trader's currency token?

I don't see any connection.

Aidan.

translateltd

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Of Guineas and pounds
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2008, 01:16:07 PM »
It's called  "topic shift", Aidan.  It happens all the time in Internet-land.  But yes, one should be more careful and change the subject line at the time, as I have now done.

In the meantime, I've realised the cause of the mix-up earlier - I wasn't suggesting that the English word "guinea" had an Arabic origin, but rather that the Arabic "gineah" was borrowed from English.  Hope that clears that point up, anyway.

Martin
NZ

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Of Guineas and pounds
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2008, 02:48:59 PM »
Just to add fuel to this highly interesting thread: the words Guinea / Guiana / Guyana / Guyane / Guayana /Guiné / Guyenne / Aquitaine are rooted in Portuguese but became a Berber expression  for the habitat of their clients on the other side of the Sahara: land of the blacks. Interestingly, some blacks are blacker than others in the eyes o the beholder. For the Dutch and British, the polynesians of New Guinea were apparently blacker than the Melanesians. For the French, Dutch and British, the Indians of their respective Guineas must have looked blacker than their Caribbean brothers.

Funny how the word came to mean a coin. As for the Egyptian pound, I think Paul made a useful point. With his figures, I calculate that the Egyptian pound must have been £1.0.61/4 [(1000/975*240) pence] in UK money.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

translateltd

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Re: Of Guineas and pounds
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2008, 08:58:40 PM »
As for the Egyptian pound, I think Paul made a useful point. With his figures, I calculate that the Egyptian pound must have been £1.0.61/4 [(1000/975*240) pence] in UK money.

Peter

The maths may be correct but I'm skeptical that the valuation was related to the choice of name - surely it was just a case of the two "pounds" having slightly different values.  After all, the Australian and New Zealand pounds (when they existed) were valued differently in relation to each other, and to sterling, as was the case with the other "pound" countries - Ireland, Malta, South Africa, probably Palestine too, in its day.  We treat the Palestine 50 mils (1/20 pound) as if it were a shilling, but was the value the same?  The same applies to the various dollar-denominated currencies today, which all have widely varying values compared to each other.  From the US, you need go no further than Canada to see what I mean, before even considering anywhere like Australia, New Zealand ... or Zimbabwe.

The fact that the Egyptian pound was tariffed ever so slightly higher than the British was perfectly normal, in other words.

Martin
NZ

BC Numismatics

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Of Guineas and Pounds.
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2008, 08:43:36 AM »
Martin,
  The Palestinian Pound was tied at par to the Pound Sterling,as was both the Cypriot Pound & the South African Pound.The Irish Pound was tied right up until 1979,but the Guernsey,JerseyManx,Falkland Islands,St. Helenian,& Gibraltarian Pounds are also still tied to the Pound Sterling.

Although Guineas ceased to be coined in 1813,there was a numismatic item in circulation denominated as 1 Guinea right up until the decimal changeover in the U.K. - the 21/- postal order.In 1969,21/- postal orders were issued with the wrong poundage - 6d. instead of 4d..These ones are pretty scarce.

Aidan.