Posts Tagged ‘history’

Things You Probably Don’t Know About UK Currency (But Should Know)

Posted on: January 7th, 2019 by Ian Stormnet

Moolah, cash, wedge, wonga the list goes on. No matter how you look at it, money really does make the world go round; we all need it, and we’d all like rather more of it.

However, our UK currency has rather a lot of history attached to it or rather some bizarre but interesting facts. We have put together some of the best ones we have found. Before you ask, no you can’t have a pound for every one you have heard before.

The direction of the Monarch faces on coins changes with each appointment

God save the Queen! However, when we finally do have a new monarch, the first job for them will be to approve a likeness of their face which will adorn the currency for the nation. Here is hoping the new monarch be it Prince Charles or Prince William left side is their best side as that is what we will be seeing when we hand over the cash. New currency will be phased in over time once a new monarch has been appointed and will take around three years to complete.

Two coins weigh the same as one coin!

What you may say! But it is true. Two 1p coins weigh the same as one 2p coin and two 5p coins weigh the same as one 10p coin. We bet that surprised you!

It’s true a million pound note and £100m notes do really exist

While the £50 note is the highest-value banknote in general circulation in the UK, deep down (and we are talking way deep) in the Bank of England’s vaults, there are a small number of real £1m and £100m notes respectively known as “giants” and “titans. They are not supposed to ever appear on the streets, but instead play a role in the financial system by backing the value of the everyday notes issued by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland; according to the BBC, “for every pound an authorised Scottish or Northern Irish bank wants to print in the form of its own notes, it has to deposit the equivalent amount in sterling with the Bank of England.”
Imagine popping into your local shop with a million pound note and needing change!

How the Farthing came about

Between 1860 and 1956 the farthing was in use. It was worth one quarter of a penny and spanned six monarchs. Farthing was a corruption of ‘fourthing’, which makes total sense when you think about it, and yet we’d never thought about it before. As far back as 1060, an English coin which was minted was shaped like a clover – any of the four leaves could then be broken off and used as separate pieces of currency.

The Brits are world leaders at counterfeiting

In these uncertain times, where Britain is increasingly uncertain of its place in the global world order, it’s truly comforting to know that we’re still good at important things, like counterfeiting bank notes. According to the central banks, there are 300 fake notes in every one million sterling notes, compared to 100 for the US dollar, 50 for the Euro and 10 for the Swiss franc. It’s amazing what you can do with a scanner and a decent printer isn’t it? But we don’t recommend you try this at home!

The Nazis tried to flood the UK with counterfeit notes during the Second World War

In an effort to devalue British currency and destabilise the economy, Nazi Germany produced huge quantities of counterfeit sterling notes during the Second World War. By 1945, a staggering 12 per cent of the value of notes in circulation were fake. They tackled the problem by removing higher denomination notes from circulation, and putting metal threads through new notes, to make them harder to forge. Churchill himself would surely have approved of his image adorning the new polymer fivers, which are designed to be the hardest to copy yet.

Stamps are not legal tender

Despite what David Brent form the Office might think, stamps are not, in fact, legal tender. In the words of the Royal Mint: “While you are free to accept stamps as payment for a service or goods, there is no legal obligation for you to accept them when offered and you have no legal recourse if payment in stamps is refused!”

Don’t go having any funny ideas about paying fines in pennies

Despite regular stories of disgruntled motorists paying their parking fines using nothing but pennies, be advised that the council is under no obligation to accept them. While relevant parties can choose to accept any type of payment they wish – be they coins or otherwise – in England and Wales, restrictions apply on sums below £1, where they are only obligated to accept the following amounts: Up to £10 in 20p, up to £5 in 10p and 5p, and up to just 20p in 2p and 1p.

The £5 note is not indestructible

If you haven’t already tried we have!

It is not illegal to burn money

Before you rush to report us for the above crime, it is a little-known fact that it is not illegal to burn money – as long as you destroy it. However, defacing money is subject to a penalty under the Currency and Bank Notes Act 1928. The reason for this is that damaged notes could be kept in circulation, whereas destroying them simply lowers the money supply – inadvertently gifting everyone else in the UK a very small proportion of the money that you have destroyed, as the total value of the remaining currency remains the same as previously. The K Foundation (parent organisation of The KLF) famously burned a million pounds in 1994, but would not have faced any charges for this act. Ironically, they had already been fined £9,000 plus £500 reprint costs for defacing that million pounds when they’d previously nailed a load of £50 notes to an art gallery wall.

The use of gold in coins ended when the First World War broke out

Prior to 1914, the gold sovereign, worth £1 was in circulation in the UK. However, upon the outbreak of war, the government asked the public to hand in their sovereigns, as the gold could be used to pay off international debt, support the Bank of England’s reserves and fund the war effort – in its place came the £1 and £10 notes. By the summer of 1915, gold had all but disappeared from circulation.

There’s a gloriously huge amount of cockney rhyming slang terms

Cockney rhyming slang has given us myriad examples of wonderful wordplay and, the East Enders seem to be more than a little obsessed with money – perhaps due to the City of London’s activities on its doorstep. So, just so you know how to do that next dodgy deal down the Ten Bells and you want to speak the proper lingo, here is your official translation guide:

Archer = £2000
Bag of Sand = £1000
Grand = £1000
Monkey = £500
Carpet = £300 (in car dealing)
Ton = £100
Carpet = £30
Pony = £25, Macaroni = £25
Apple Core = £20
Score = £20
Speckled Hen = £10
Uncle Ben = £10
Nigel Been = £10
Paul McKenna = £10
Ayrton (Senna) = Tenner
Lady (Godiva) = Fiver
Taxi Driver = £5

Coppers are not made of copper, but non-copper coins are made of copper

That’s right, since 1992, 1p and 2p coins have been made of steel, (albeit plated with copper), while every coin worth more than 10p is made mostly of copper. Prior to 1992, 1p and 2p coins were made of bronze (97% copper), but by May 2006, these coins contained 3p worth of copper, which was confusing for everyone involved.

The M11 has an exit but not an entry on Junction 5 to prevent would-be thieves escaping

The M11, a brilliant motorway completed back in 1980 that linked London and Cambridge, But an interesting story surrounds the mysterious junction 5, at which you can leave the motorway, but cannot join it to go Northbound, or Southbound. There’s no clear reason why this isn’t a fully functioning junction but legend has it that there is no entry due to its proximity to the De La Rue Currency factory – which prints banknotes for the Bank of England. This way, any potential bank robbers wouldn’t be able to quickly make good their escape onto a motorway and out of London. While we agree this is not a facet, we are certain no authorities will be in a hurry to confirm this!

Foreign Coin History

Posted on: August 25th, 2012 by Ian Stormnet

Foreign coin history

Foreign coin history is an interesting subject as they were the earliest form of money and have survived the test of time to be still used today. Despite credit and debit cards accounting for a huge amount of transactions (especially online) the humble coin still plays an important part in our day-to-day monetary system.

In the Western World it’s estimated that coins were invented around 700 BC – it’s thought that they were originated in Aegina Island. Coins nowadays are quite complex in their make-up however early coins were also made up of a number of combined metals such as electrum combined with silver and copper. Electrum itself is a light yellow coloured metal that contains a mix of both silver and gold.

Roman and Greek coins are very popular with collectors. The Byzantine Empire was prolific when it came to coin production, their coins would depict emperors and the Christian cross.

When it comes to foreign coins that were cast instead of hammered then we can go all the way back to the 11th Century to see samples. Tong Bei coins was commonplace with the Han Dynasty and the Warring States Period.

It’s interesting to note that in the same way that different animals had different ‘trade’ values (such as a cow being worth more than a chicken) then this was mirrored in the production of some coins. Some early coins for example were shaped the same as various animals (such as a cow).

As with many foreign coins today they are and were predominantly round, however there were a few that were square in shape. It was also common for many coins to have a hole in the middle so they could be threaded on a piece of string. This you can still see today with some Asian coins and coins from the Nordic region.

Gold and silver features heavily throughout the history of foreign coins, from the colour that we see today through to some coins containing various levels of these precious metals. The earliest pure gold and silver coins date back to the 7th Century and are the gold Dinar and silver Dirham.

Interestingly the most valuable gold coin in the world is the 1933 Gold Double Eagle which sold for an incredible $7.5 million back in 2002. This coins has a very interesting history on it’s own and you can read more here:

For many of us who go abroad or accept foreign coins as part of a business or charity then you’ll know that they can’t be changed at a bank. However, we offer a fast, efficient and easy way to exchange foreign coins. If you have any foreign or old coins that you’d like to exchange then please go to our page ‘How to send us coins‘.  We make it simple and fast to get your coins changed and we even sort and count them for you saving you even more time.  We give you the service that the bank won’t and we would be delighted to give you assistance with your leftover coins.