Poll

For how long should the UK have retained the sixpence after decimalisation ?

Demonetising it in June 1980 was right
0 (0%)
It should have been retained for three years only, until February 1974
1 (33.3%)
It should have been retained for one year only, until February 1972
0 (0%)
It was not a decimal coin and should never have been retained
0 (0%)
I am neutral on the matter
2 (66.7%)
Don't know
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 3

Voting closed: August 28, 2017, 02:56:12 PM

Author Topic: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation  (Read 1338 times)

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Offline Alan71

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2017, 06:31:17 PM »
I voted for neutral on the matter.  What was London Underground's plea then?  And parking meters?  For how long were these concerns relevant?  There must have been a reason why it lasted the nine years?  Therefore I'm not sure I could make a judgement until I know the facts.

Coinage seems to be more about evolution than revolution, doesn't it?  Radical plans never quite come to fruition and changes are usually a compromise. 

Offline <k>

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2017, 06:48:34 PM »
What was London Underground's plea then?  And parking meters?

See my first post:

Apparently it was widely used in parking meters, and sixpence was also a common fare when buying Tube tickets from self-service machines, believe it or not. That was the rationale for keeping it.
 
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For how long were these concerns relevant?

That's what I don't know. Given rapid inflation from about 1973 onwards, I doubt sixpence / 2½p would have bought very much. I was hoping some oldies would remember.

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There must have been a reason why it lasted the nine years?

Sheer inertia and muddling through, as well as pressure from the nostalgics ("Save Our Sixpence", etc.). The transition to decimalisation ran like clockwork, but nobody had planned the END of the transition. I'd have said, back in 1968, OK, by February 1974 all predecimal coins will have been removed, and the word "NEW" (though I'd have used "DECIMAL" instead) will be omitted from the legends - and arrangements should have been put in place for that. Then we would have had a clean, coherent and fully decimal system, rather than "NEW" and sixpences and florins scaring children and tourists.

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Coinage seems to be more about evolution than revolution, doesn't it?  Radical plans never quite come to fruition and changes are usually a compromise.

True, but more planning could have gone into the process, in this case. It was a big and important change.

Offline Alan71

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2017, 09:17:40 AM »
The end of the transition, for all intents and purposes, was 31 August 1971 wasn't it?  That was when the penny and threepence were withdrawn after a six-month changeover period (which has largely been stuck to ever since for other withdrawn coins, including the round £1).  Keeping the 5p and 10p coin sizes was an important link between old and new, and keeping the "New" for more than 10 years was OK in the long run.  Since 1998 the word can only be found on early 1p and 2p coins.

The stay of execution for the sixpence is a bit of an anomaly, but if it helped the decimal coinage gain greater acceptance then that's good.  And the fact that probably no one mourned it when it finally was called in is a testament to the public's ability to adapt to change, as long as it's an evolutionary process and not a revolutionary one.

Offline <k>

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2017, 11:24:14 AM »
The end of the transition, for all intents and purposes, was 31 August 1971 wasn't it?

That was not the end. It was not even the beginning of the end. But it was, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

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Keeping the 5p and 10p coin sizes was an important link between old and new

Keeping the sizes was a bad choice. The link in value was the only important link- the one that couldn't be severed. I would have ditched the weight-to-value ratio from day one in the decimal system. Then, I would still have issued the 5p and 10p in 1968, but at markedly smaller sizes. Maybe the 5p would have had to be polygonal and brass, to distinguish it from the small sixpence. But that's what I would have done. I would have explained to the public that inflation had made them too heavy for their worth. They would still have used the same till spaces as the shilling and florin - it didn't matter. As it was, as early as the end of the 1970s, the Mint wanted to reduce the 5p and 10p - see: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage - proving that it had been a bad decision.

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and keeping the "New" for more than 10 years was OK in the long run.  Since 1998 the word can only be found on early 1p and 2p coins.

No, the "NEW" was illogical. The original "DECIMAL" would have been better. Keeping it for only 3 years would have sent a clearer signal. I have run projects and know they must have a clear cut-off date. Too often Britain is content to muddle through. I prefer efficiency. And by your own admission, the "NEW" confused you as a child,  but coins should be immediately intelligible within their environment.

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The stay of execution for the sixpence is a bit of an anomaly, but if it helped the decimal coinage gain greater acceptance then that's good.

It didn't help. It pandered to the nostalgics. It made Britain look as if it still had one foot in the past. It made the coinage look shoddy and incoherent, with all these predecimal remnants confusing tourists and scaring children like you and making them wet the bed. Decimal coinage gained immediate and total acceptance from February 1971, because it was a done deal and people were then using it every day. Sometimes politicians have to lead from the front.

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And the fact that probably no one mourned it when it finally was called in is a testament to the public's ability to adapt to change, as long as it's an evolutionary process and not a revolutionary one.

It's a testament to the fact that it could have been done far earlier, for instance 1974, and it would have made Britain look more efficient and its coinage more coherent and logical. Some nostalgics did in fact mourn it, and it even had a couple of champions in parliament, but there is no point in clinging to the past or pandering to nostalgics.

The retention of the sixpence and keeping of the 5p and 10p at the size of the shilling and florin, plus the lack of a 20p coin to bridge the gap between the 10p and the 50p, all led to problems, and by the end of the 1970s, the Royal Mint had a small list of issues to be tackled. Ever more heavy 10p coins were needed through the 1970s - a problem exacerbated by the lack of a 20p, and their large size added to the excess weight of the coinage and the cost of keeping it adequately supplied. The bad decisions made at the beginning of decimalisation therefore led to a slew of problems in the late 1970s and exacerbated those problems. Getting rid of the shillings, florins and sixpences by February 1974, and adopting a 20p in the first place, would have given the Mint a much clearer run in the second half of the 1970s. A pound coin could have been introduced earlier, and a 2 pound coin a couple of years afterwards. As it was, the Mint had to decide which of its problems to tackle first, so the reduction of the over-heavy 5p, 10p and 50p had to wait until the 1990s. Both the Mint and the Treasury had really wanted a pound coin around the size of the large 10p, but the large 10p was still in existence, so compromises had to be made. The problems the Mint had created for itself reduced its own room for manoeuvre in the 1970s.

So get with it, and get efficient.  :P  No looking backwards, no reactionary poses to pander to the nostalgics.

Offline <k>

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2017, 11:55:17 AM »
Some of our older members from Continental Europe, Asia and the Americas, must have visited the UK during the years from 1971 to 1993, when predecimals were still circulating. What did they make of that situation? These predecimals were still circulating in the early 1990s, for goodness' sake! But your reactions may have been mitigated by the fact that you were also coin collectors, of course.

Offline <k>

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2017, 12:37:58 PM »
When you think about it, the half crown was equivalent to 12½p, so why wasn't that retained too? I'm glad it wasn't, of course. It was our highest circulating denomination, prior to 1971, so we dropped down 2½p, come D-Day. Not bridging the gap between the 10p and the 50p was a mistake, but it was a policy supported by the Duke of Edinburgh, who didn't want to see "too many denominations". I think our members should write to him, asking for an apology.

 
« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 02:49:59 PM by <k> »

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2017, 02:44:23 PM »
When you think about it, the half crown was equivalent to 12½p, so why wasn't that retained too? I'm glad it wasn't, of course. It was our highest circulating denomination, prior to 1971, so we dropped down 2½p, come D-Day.

Er, the 50p had been in use for nearly 18 months come D-Day...  ;)

Offline <k>

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #22 on: August 22, 2017, 02:49:28 PM »
You're right, of course. Get your brain in gear, <j>.  I mean <k>.  :-\

Offline Alan71

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #23 on: August 22, 2017, 07:54:52 PM »
Keeping the shilling and florin sizes for 20 years and more after decimalisation is nothing compared to Australia, where both still circulate over 50 years after they ditched £sd.  If you think the UK had one foot in the past then where did that leave the Aussies?  And New Zealand did until 2006.  There were probably several other countries with £sd-derived currencies that kept them well after 1971 too, so I have to completely disagree with you on this.  I don't read about any Australians moaning about the sizes of their coins!

Offline <k>

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2017, 08:01:20 PM »
Keeping the shilling and florin sizes for 20 years and more after decimalisation is nothing compared to Australia, where both still circulate over 50 years after they ditched £sd.  If you think the UK had one foot in the past then where did that leave the Aussies?  And New Zealand did until 2006.  There were probably several other countries with £sd-derived currencies that kept them well after 1971 too, so I have to completely disagree with you on this.

As usual, mostly.  ::)  However, just because a couple of countries got it badly wrong, that doesn't mean we should have emulated them.

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I don't read about any Australians moaning about the sizes of their coins!

Well, some nations just lack any discernment, you know. And look at how those Australians made their 2 dollar coin smaller than their dollar, even though both coins are made of the same yellowish alloy.  :D

Offline Alan71

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2017, 09:36:34 PM »
I think people in general - with perhaps the exception of you! - lack any discernment on this issue.

I'm largely happy with the way things are.  Perhaps the 20p could have come sooner but when it did it was done properly.  The £2 should definitely have come sooner, and should have been done properly.  Perhaps retailers prefer the £1 coin, I don't know.  That's ultimately the only thing I'd change though - introduce the £2 but make sure the £1 isn't issued anymore and have the things lying in bank vaults whilst the £2 takes over, then reissue it in smaller numbers in 2017 so that offering more than one in change rarely has to happen.

Offline <k>

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #26 on: August 22, 2017, 09:42:09 PM »
Well, if you're mainly happy to muddle through. Me, I'm a bit of a perfectionist.

Offline Alan71

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #27 on: August 22, 2017, 09:57:58 PM »
I'm a perfectionist too but this is something no one can do much about.  Most of it is history and can't be changed or re-written.  It took 120 years, for goodness sake, to even get decimalisation after the florin was introduced.  The fact that said florin was then "allowed" to live on for over 20 years is nothing really.

I'm forgetting which topic I'm in now!  There's a separate one for shilling and florin sizes isn't there?  They'll all kind of merging into one as they're all variations of a thene!

Offline <k>

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Re: Parking meters, Tube ticket machines, sixpences and decimalisation
« Reply #28 on: August 22, 2017, 10:30:35 PM »
I'm a perfectionist too but this is something no one can do much about.

Not now, but even at the time, by looking at best practices elsewhere, things could have been improved. And when you do your projects at work, you also plan how to finish them and tie up the loose ends. Even if they'd kept the coins as an interim first series, as the South Africans did from 1961 to 1965, they could have learnt from the experience and then produced a better system after a while.