Author Topic: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?  (Read 9100 times)

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Offline <k>

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The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« on: June 10, 2010, 10:19:53 PM »
According to this article it is:

http://www.investorglossary.com/pound.htm

But is that statement true?
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Offline chrisild

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2010, 12:10:44 AM »
But is that statement true?

It sure is, if you ignore "currencies" such as gold, and if you look at the "main unit" only. If we take sub-units into account, it gets trickier. Swiss franc maybe? Just a guess ...

Christian

Online Figleaf

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2010, 12:57:24 AM »
This is one of those "biggest in the world" claims that depend totally on definition, here on the definition of what constitutes "pound", "active" and "currency". The Frankish pound came before the English pound, so any currency called Franc today is older than the pound. However, if your claim is that the pound has precedence because its name comes from the Roman weight lira, any currency called dirham (drachme) today is older. If you define "currency" as a monetary system, the pound dates from 1968-1971 and the Indian rupee (1957) plus quite a few others are older. If "active" means struck (but not necessarily circulating) virtually unchanged today, the Dutch gold ducat would be a strong contender and easily beat out the pound and even the Swiss franc.

Peter
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Offline chrisild

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2010, 01:37:35 AM »
If "active" means struck (but not necessarily circulating) virtually unchanged today, the Dutch gold ducat would be a strong contender and easily beat out the pound and even the Swiss franc.

Then you can add the scudo (San Marino) too. :) Another pretty old currency is the ruble, but like the pound, it has come in various "shapes", with different units.

Christian

Offline Ukrainii Pyat

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2010, 02:18:08 AM »
I think it more appropriate to discuss which currency is the oldest legal tender, which means USA and Switzerland.  Coins from Britain dated before 1971 are no longer "legal tender" but legally still exchangeable if you can find a bank that will take it.

But if you want to pay me in gold rubles of Tsar Nikolai II or British sovereigns of George V, I will take them as coin of realm.
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Austrokiwi

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2010, 07:06:57 AM »
I think one other currency needs to be considered; the Amole,  Its been going for at least 2500 years, and is still in use, albeit, in rural areas only

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But if you want to pay me in gold rubles of Tsar Nikolai II or British sovereigns of George V, I will take them as coin of realm


Is there really that much difference between coin of the realm and legal tender?  When Gold coins were used they often contained less gold than their face value ( at least that's my understanding)

Offline UK Decimal +

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2010, 09:42:22 AM »
...  Coins from Britain dated before 1971 are no longer "legal tender" but legally still exchangeable if you can find a bank that will take it. ...

Not 100% true.   Some silver coins from 1816 are still legal tender, particularly Maundy money (from 1822) and also double-florins and crowns.   However, we all accept that these are very unlikely to be seen in circulation.

Bill.
Ilford, Essex, near London, England.

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Offline Ukrainii Pyat

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2010, 02:34:30 PM »
Not 100% true.   Some silver coins from 1816 are still legal tender, particularly Maundy money (from 1822) and also double-florins and crowns.   However, we all accept that these are very unlikely to be seen in circulation.

Bill.

Bill, there is a difference betwixt legal tender and exchangeable.  Indeed all pre-decimal coins back to 1816 are exchangeable at a select few banks, but they were demonetised for most denominations in the 1970s, then the sixpence was demonetised in 1980 by which time it had been circulating as a 2.5 pence coin.  The shilling and florin coins were demonetized along with their latter counterpart 5p and 10p coins in 1990 and 1995.  Unfortunately you canna take a pre-dec penny and halfcrown in and pay for something.

Indeed the Maundy money are legal tender, nothing was ever legislated with them.  I think it very highly unlikely that you would ever see one circulating though, given that the recipients of them are canny enough to sell them at exponents of their face value.
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Offline chrisild

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2010, 03:13:35 PM »
As Figleaf wrote so wisely, This is one of those "biggest in the world" claims that depend totally on definition. I don't think this "oldest currency" or "oldest legal tender" has much practical relevance anyway. Which should not keep us from arguing here :) It's just that we won't come to a conclusion in the sense of, this one is it ...

Christian

Offline Prosit

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2010, 03:20:24 PM »
A trivia question I would rather see answered is what coin currently in circulation has been in circulation without major design change for the longest time.

Dale

Offline chrisild

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2010, 04:51:01 PM »
A trivia question I would rather see answered is what coin currently in circulation has been in circulation without major design change for the longest time.

Which brings us (well, from my Western/Central European POV) back to Switzerland, I suppose. :)

Christian

Offline Ukrainii Pyat

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2010, 06:42:51 PM »
Which brings us (well, from my Western/Central European POV) back to Switzerland, I suppose. :)

Christian

The best fact of Switzerland's franc currency is that unlike practically any other currency in the last 150 years it actually appreciated vs. the USA dollar over the long term.  Back in the days of the LMU the franc was worth 20 cents USA, now it is worth over 90 cents.

I like Swiss Misses:

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Online Figleaf

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2010, 08:42:07 PM »
For my grandmother, 1 USD was 4 gulden. For my mother, it was 3 gulden. When I first went to the US, it was 2 gulden and 40 cent. I would estimate today's fair value at around 80 eurocent (which would have been 1 gulden and 76 cent...

Peter
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Offline Ukrainii Pyat

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Re: The Pound Sterling: the world's oldest active currency?
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2010, 09:05:08 PM »
I was in Netherlands in 2001 just prior to the switch to the Euro, and that exchange rate is about in the range it was.  I am glad on my many trips through Amsterdam that I never kept much change or bills, now it doesn't matter since you can spend them in most of Europe.  I do like the novelty of getting Irish coins in my change, though I have never been there.  Euros are fairly important currency in Ukraine, nobody in their right mind likes hryvnia currency for large purchases.
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