Since I mentioned the bizarre monetary unit of a ‘mark’ last week, I thought it was probably time to try to understand fourteenth-century money. Even within my lifetime, some of which took place pre-decimalisation, odd monetary units have been used. In the 60s, my first piano, an upright which even then was more than fifty years old and had spent most of its life in pubs, cost my parents 7 guineas. What, you might ask, is a guinea? It was one pound and one shilling and it was replaced by the pound as the main unit of currency in 1816. The concept continued to be used, mainly for luxury goods, for another hundred and fifty years. It was a good way of making things sound less expensive than they were, because you really weren’t paying attention to the shillings. The term fell out of use after decimalisation in 1971.
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