Thursday, 6 December 2012

Remarkable, but still True: a Note regarding money

I have not attempted to give modern equivalents of the money of the day, but rather to place it in context to give an idea of value.

It was generally estimated at this time that a yearly income of £150 was the bare minimum for middle-class life, and that a family needed £300 to live respectably in a town, where expenses were higher.  A good urban artisan's wage in 1835 was round about a pound a week.  An income of £1,000 put a man at the top end of the middle class.

For those unfamiliar with pre-decimal coinage:-
  • 12 pence (12d)  =  1 shilling  (1s. or 1/-)
  • 20 shillings  (20s. or 20/-)  =  £1
  • One pound and one shilling  (£1-1s or £1/1/0)  =  1 guinea (1 gn.)
The penny was subdivided:-
  • One-quarter of a penny  (¼d)  =  1 farthing
  • Half a penny  (½d)  =  one halfpenny
(pronounced "haypny" and sometimes written "ha'penny")

A half-crown, or half-a-crown (mentioned in Chapter 6) was a coin worth 2s 6d

The suffix "-pence" is now usually pronounced as it is spelt.  This practice only began after decimalisation, when for a time "pence" was usually prefixed by "new".  Previously, "-pence" (in compound words) was always shortened to something nearer "pnce".

For example, in "threepence", the ee and e were pronounced short ("thrupnce" or "threhpnce").

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