How long should the shilling and florin have circulated after decimalisation ?

Started by <k>, August 22, 2017, 01:31:41 PM

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When should the shilling and florin have been demonetised ?

They were demonetised in 1990 and 1993 respectively, and that was right
2 (22.2%)
They should never have been kept on after decimalisation
0 (0%)
1972: one year after decimalisation
1 (11.1%)
1974: three years after decimalisation - ample time for everybody to have adapted
1 (11.1%)
June 1980 - the same time as the sixpence
1 (11.1%)
1982, when "NEW" was removed from the decimal coins
0 (0%)
Mid-to-late 1980s
0 (0%)
It was irrelevant to me - as a collector, I enjoyed seeing them in circulation
3 (33.3%)
I am neutral on the matter
0 (0%)
Don't know
1 (11.1%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Voting closed: August 30, 2017, 01:31:41 PM

Alan71

I wouldn't say I was siding with anyone.  The general consensus that I sense on here is "does it really matter?" and my own posts in here clearly show I'm in this camp.  I can't help but think things have been over-exaggerated here, and the problems that have been highlighted weren't nearly as big as have been made out.

"New Pence" - I will concede I didn't understand why they were "new" but as I was born three months after "old pence" disappeared, I think I can be forgiven.  I think I just accepted things as they were and moved on - no big deal.

"Sixpence" - had I ever encountered one prior to June 1980, I might possibly have wondered if it was worth a penny more than 5p, but if I had, I don't think it would have been a major issue.  Someone would have pointed out that it wasn't the case and again, I would have accepted that and moved on.

<k>

Quote from: Alan71 on August 29, 2017, 11:21:20 PM
The general consensus that I sense on here is "does it really matter?"

Well, enough people have thought it did matter enough to argue with me about it. So maybe you need to see the entomologist about your consensus antennae.  :D

Quote
I can't help but think things have been over-exaggerated here, and the problems that have been highlighted weren't nearly as big as have been made out.

You are entitled to your opinion. I was positing a different way of doing things, to show that there's more than one way to crack an egg. One way to bring things into focus is to compare and contrast, and that's just what I did. I have also learnt one or two things from the exchanges. And the topic has had about 320 views now, and people just keep coming back to comment, despite thinking it's too pointless to comment about.  ;D
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Alan71

A different way of doing things is fine, even though historical events can't be changed.  It has been interesting to read.  Until this topic, I hadn't realised anyone was that unhappy with how decimalisation went.

I saw the 1990s re-sizings as completely separate to decimalisation.  The 1993 withdrawal of the old 10p and florin were often described as symbolising the completion of the decimalisation process, but I didn't see it like that.  Having lived through no previous re-sizings, this was a big deal to me and helped get me into coin collecting in the first place.  I liked the retention of the 5p and 10p reverse designs.  It was comforting, just as the 1968 retention of the specifications must have been.

<k>

Well, this is your seventh post in my rubbish topic. I find you are just obsessing about it. I'll have to charge you a 51 pence piece per view.  >:D

I'm not actually "that unhappy with how decimalisation went" - it's just an intellectual exercise, thinking how else it might have been done - or done better. As a collector, I enjoyed the different twists and turns. As an analyst, I think things could have been done better.
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<k>

Quote from: Alan71 on August 29, 2017, 11:39:52 PM
I liked the retention of the 5p and 10p reverse designs.  It was comforting, just as the 1968 retention of the specifications must have been.

Aw - your mum should have bought you a soother.  ;D

Yes, it's interesting to look at the switch to decimal in all the countries that did it, and see what points of continuity they kept. Ireland wanted to keep all the Metcalfe designs but felt they couldn't. Result: two very different styles of designs within one set. A big mistake, IMO - but some liked it. Australia kept most of the sizes but none of the designs - apart from the coat of arms, but it was radically redesigned. The UK moved the portcullis from the 3d to the 1p and Britannia from the 1d to the 50p - but they were new designs, not just the old ones. The Gambia had no problem moving all its predecimal designs to the decimals, even though some of the values did not match, i.e. the shilling design might not have ended up on its true decimal counterpart - but the Irish didn't dare do this, for fear of confusing its citizens.
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FosseWay

One common thread throughout <k>'s discussions on alternative decimal histories seems to be that the authorities were perhaps overly conservative in their estimates of what the public could cope with, and how fast. The same is true with the transfer to the euro.

In both cases, the legacy currency swiftly disappeared from use, far more quickly than the official timetable (I'm excluding from that those coins that were officially intended to circulate for much longer). While there were undoubtedly individual instances of confusion (like the old woman in 1971 who said they should have waited till all the old people died before introducing decimal currency), in general people took to the new system far more quickly than anticipated. What confusion did result is likely to have been in converting sums of money, not recognising how the new coins relate to one another.

With that in mind, I think the decision to retain the shillings and florins (and therefore be bound to their sizes) was partly unnecessary. It was probably practically useful, in that it gave the RM a ready stock of coinage that it therefore didn't have to mint in advance, but the "continuity" aspect was probably overstated. I doubt the introduction of decimal currency would have been any less smooth if the 5p and 10p had been completely different from the shilling and florin. The same is true of NEW, DECIMAL or whatever else might have been used in addition to the number of pence.

The changeover for the euro happened even more smoothly IME, especially given that it was a mentally bigger hurdle to overcome (not just new coins, but a whole new main unit that for most countries did not have an easily visualised relationship to the legacy currency).

Ultimately, people learn the value of money very quickly. It is not in their interests to make too many mistakes, so they subconsciously ensure that they are clued up. If a coin is marked "sixpence" but is actually worth 2½p, people grasp that as soon as they encounter the issue for the first time, and that is pretty much the most extreme example of such potential confusion. That is not an excuse for making changes unnecessarily complicated, but it might be a reason for being a bit bolder in the future.

Figleaf

I largely agree with Fosseway. I realised I knew practically nothing about the Dutch decimalisation around 1815. I googled around in Dutch and found almost nothing. There seems to have been no preparations, almost no education or information. School books were reformed as a matter of course and the larger coins got mentions like 100 cent on the gulden. There were complaints that there there weren't enough decimal coins, apparently the only bottleneck, and that was it. Pre-decimal coins remained in circulation for a while, but the decimal coins were preferred. It may have made a difference that a number of pre-decimal nicknames could be retained, such as "stuiver" for 1/20th of a gulden (5 cent) and "dubbeltje" for double stuiver (10 cent). Keep in mind that Dutch and English genes do not vary significantly. It's not the people that made the transition painless but the circumstances.

Circumstances were not the same, of course. The decimal French franc had already circulated for a while and there was no resistance against the principles of the French revolution - even in the face of resistance against French rule. On the contrary, they were welcomed as modernisations. There was also decimalisation of weights and measures and people were talking about decimal time measurement. Decimalisation was "fashionable" and readily accepted. Mentions like "50 cent" on the coins were so unnoticed, that they became another useless tradition. They were removed only decades later.

Not quite the same, but still illuminating is the transition from gulden to euro. There was quite a bit of hoopla, information and education. My impression is that it served mostly to turn many people into collectors. Significantly, there were nifty calculator-like gadgets that could be pre-programmed to convert an amount in euros to an amount in the pre-programmed pre-euro currency. My company gave one to each employee. I gave mine to my wife who didn't use it. She said calculating in her mind was faster than typing the numbers. I remember the little white carton boxes sitting unopened on many desks months later.

The conversion rate was certainly more complicated than decimalisation: from euros to gulden, multiply by 2 and add 10%; from gulden to euro divide by 2 and deduct 10%. Nevertheless, even young schoolchildren could do that by heart. Conversion just wasn't a problem. In fact, for a short while people suffered from the illusion of taking the gulden as 1:1 to the euro, finding everything cheap and forcing themselves to convert, then, disappointed, concluding that everything was expensive.

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

FosseWay

Quote from: Figleaf on August 30, 2017, 09:41:07 AM
I largely agree with Fosseway. I realised I knew practically nothing about the Dutch decimalisation around 1815. I googled around in Dutch and found almost nothing. There seems to have been no preparations, almost no education or information. School books were reformed as a matter of course and the larger coins got mentions like 100 cent on the gulden. There were complaints that there there weren't enough decimal coins, apparently the only bottleneck, and that was it. Pre-decimal coins remained in circulation for a while, but the decimal coins were preferred. It may have made a difference that a number of pre-decimal nicknames could be retained, such as "stuiver" for 1/20th of a gulden (5 cent) and "dubbeltje" for double stuiver (10 cent). Keep in mind that Dutch and English genes do not vary significantly. It's not the people that made the transition painless but the circumstances.

I haven't done a lot of digging with this subject specifically in mind, but my impression of the decimalisation process in Sweden (from reading contemporary material, fiction and non-fiction) is that the changes to the currency went largely unremarked, while the changes to other units were far more drawn-out. Not as much so as in the UK, but perhaps consistent with Australia and New Zealand. Sweden changed its currency twice: first, a decimalisation of the riksdaler in 1855, where the main unit remained the same but was redivided into hundredths (as in the UK in 1971); and then the introduction of the krona as common currency with Denmark and Norway in 1874, which involved a change in the main unit as with the euro in 2002. In neither case does it appear that people quoted the previous system in brackets or anything. The term "riksdaler" is still used as rather outdated slang for krona - at least in Sweden, I can't vouch for Denmark or Norway - but otherwise there weren't any non-numerical names to take over from the previous system, analogous to stuiver in Dutch or bob, quid in English.

This broadly supports what I was saying before - that people, even relatively uneducated and possibly illiterate people, will adapt very quickly to changes in the money. There is less of a pressing need to adapt for other weights and measures, as the UK's experience makes abundantly clear, so it has to be driven more proactively by the authorities.

andyg

I think my point was lost somewhat - I agree this is an interesting subject, worthy of thinking about certainly - It's just not worth falling out with everyone, over something that happened a number of years ago!

As an aside - when someone gives some change does everyone read what it says on the coin or just look at the colour and the metal?

I know I fall into the latter category - certainly when I'm in a rush - which is how come I ended up with with a 1 euro coin today in lieu of a new pound....
always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....

SandyGuyUK

Quote from: andyg on August 30, 2017, 10:23:52 PM
I know I fall into the latter category - certainly when I'm in a rush - which is how come I ended up with with a 1 euro coin today in lieu of a new pound....

At this rate, in another week or two, you'll be "quids"-in (pardon the pun) if that happens the way the exchange rate is going these days :(
Ian
UK

Figleaf

My case is far worse than Andyg's. I accept change passively and only pretend I am looking at the coins. I do become active when the cashier hesitates or corrects herself, but more to help than to check. I think many people fall in Andy's category*. In other words, as long as shillings as 10p coins were in the same metal and of the same size, many people would have had no trouble accepting them side by side in circulation.

@Hertfordian: the absolute level of a currency is not important. If you reform a currency by lopping off e.g. three zeroes, it has psychological effects only, but the effects on the exchange rate are negligible (apart from the zeros, of course). What is important is the movement of the rate over time. GBP is sinking under the weight of Brexit, while EUR is lifted by optimism over the deflation danger. You cannot predict how long it will take until both are fully priced in, how central banks will react and how expectations will develop.

Peter

* My wife is a special case. She accepts change without counting, but takes out any intruders (non-euro coins and euro coins she doesn't recognise) and fakes and puts the shiny-shiny coins aside for me. Only then, often while the cashier is already helping the next client, will she check if the cashier's ticket specifies how much change she should have had (she's into letters, not numbers ;)) and checks the amount she got.
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

<k>

It's an interesting issue. When did we first encounter a certain coin? Sometimes our memories of childhood are hazy, non-existent, or just wrong. Sometimes they are right, but usually we remember things that stood out for us as unusual.

Once we learn to recognise a coin, we simply take in its visible features without, as you say, looking at the denomination, the legend, "FID DEF", etc. Various people need to be able to recognise coins quickly, and this includes the sighted, the partially-sighted, the blind, and those whose sense of touch has been impaired - apparently this can happen as a result of arthritis.

The Royal Mint's research has shown that blind people recognise coins by their size, shape and edge. However, edge does not apparently include the rim. The Royal Mint gave the UK 20p an extra wide rim (making it in effect countersunk) to aid the blind. However, what had particularly aided the blind, when testing the trials at Nottingham University, was their sharp edges. Once the Mint had to put the 20p into mass production, it found that the sharpness of the edges caused problems and they had to become more rounded. The result? Apparently a lot of blind people mistook the 20p for a penny. Royal Mint documents briefly spoke of making the penny milled, on the basis that a lot of the earlier pennies would naturally drop out of circulation, being saved in bottles, etc., so solving the legacy problem. In the end, sadly, the issue was just shelved.

When it comes to size, it's amazing what small sizes people can detect. When I learnt that the decimal halfpenny was to be demonetised, I mentioned it to my sister, who said, while holding one, "Well, it's very small - TOO small". "So how did it compare to the sixpence?" I asked. She felt it and replied, "The sixpence was bigger - definitely. And not as thin". And this was somebody who had no interest in coins.

Whiling testing the trial pound coins, the Royal Mint discovered that, with a thickness of 2.5 mm (same as the Guernsey round pound of 1981), around 24 people in their small test group at Nottingham University mistook them for a 5p. At 2.7 mm, this went down to around 15; at 3.1 mm, only 4 people made mistakes. The issued round pound had a thickness of 3.15 mm. Strange how such a tiny increase in thickness could make such a big difference. Both the 20p and round pound had to be squeezed into the slot between 20 and 23 mm. My better alternative initial planning, discussed elsewhere, would have led to fewer problems at this stage. Having the thick heavy pound for 15 years, until the 2 pound coin began to come in, was a nuisance, and even then the 2 pound coin was slow to circulate. I believe the round pound was based on the French 10 francs coin, so it's not too late to give France back to Belgium as a punishment.  >:D
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<k>

Quote from: hertfordian on August 30, 2017, 10:55:18 PM
At this rate, in another week or two, you'll be "quids"-in (pardon the pun) if that happens the way the exchange rate is going these days :(

Some months have now elapsed since the warning here about the very real risk of a run on the pound sterling (GBP). Though – thus far, anyway – the currency's value has eroded rather than crashed, the relentless, almost daily setting of new lows is starting to look ominous.

Down and running?
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Figleaf

That's amateur-babble. A minimum of one basic mistake per paragraph. I can't disprove all the mistakes, so here's a vital one.

Currencies don't float in the air. The only way to say something about a currency is with a currency pair and a time span. I have attached the longest daily series I could rapidly construct: 180 days of GBP versus EUR and USD. Indeed, GBP has been losing ground against EUR (blue line) from end April onward. Before April, it was going up. However, GBP has gained ground against USD (green line) until early May, when it stabilised at around 1.30. Conclusion 1: we are talking about 3 months only. Conclusion 2: we are talking about EUR only. Conclusion 3: we are mainly talking about EUR strength, not GBP weakness. Those conclusions take the central underpinning away from the story. Garbage remains.

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

<k>

Quote from: Figleaf on August 31, 2017, 03:22:57 PM
However, GBP has gained ground against USD (green line) until early May, when it stabilised at around 1.30....we are mainly talking about EUR strength, not GBP weakness.
Peter

Well, you have included only three players. What if the US is weak too? After all, it has trillions of dollars' worth of debt and has in the past resorted to huge QE. Which Third World countries could resort to QE and be allowed to get away with it? Why can't Venezuela do what the US has done?
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.