Money Changers: Working out Regency Money

Money was undergoing a change during the Regency. It began during the early part of the Napoleonic wars, in 1797 to be exact, when the guinea was discontinued officially. Guineas were still in circulation, though, and people spoke in terms of items costing X number of guineas.

So what was a guinea? 21 shillings.

Clear as mud?

Let’s break this down to the simplest terms possible.

1807 Farthing

1807 Farthing

Farthing (as in “I don’t give a farthing for that.) ¼ pence

Hapenny or half penny: ½ penny or pence

Episode II of The Bargain

Penny: a penny or pence shown as amount in numbers with a d.

Tuppence: two pennies

Thrupence: three pennies

Sixpence: six pennies or half a shilling

1816 Shilling

Shilling: 12 pennies r pence and shown as amount in numbers with an S

Half Crown: 30 pence or 2S 6D

1819 Crown Piece

1819 Crown Piece

Crown: 60d or 5s

Pound: 20s

Pony: Slang term for 25 pounds

Monkey: Slang term for 500 pounds.

Sovereign: In 1816, Great Britain went on the gold standard and issued the sovereign, which was a pound in a gold coin.

South facade of Bank of England, London

South Facade of Bank of England, London, 19th Century

Although bank notes were issued for convenience, they were not legal tender as we think of paper money nowadays. That didn’t occur until a little over a decade after the Regency ended. Bank notes were promissory notes saying that the bearer could exchange it for the face value of the note in gold coins. This was one way in which money passed from bank to bank.

To explain the banking system and how it worked before even telegrams could be exchanged to verify accounts is a complicated subject that will have to wait for another post.