Before 15 February 1971
, the British pound
was divided this way:
) = 1s (shilling
20s = one pound
"penny" is the singular of "pence", as today. There were 240 pennies in a pound.
Why 'd'? One penny (1d) was formally called a 'denarius
' after the Roman
coin. This term was never used in popular language.
Sums below one pound (and sometimes over) were written s/d, such as 12/6 (said: twelve and six) or 5/- (said: five shillings).
There were a whole slew of interesting coins, including:
1/4d = farthing (from Anglo-Saxon, 'a fourth')
1/2d = ha'penny (half a penny)
3d = thruppence (a fourth of a shilling)
6d = sixpence (half a shilling)
2s = florin ("two bob bit"). A tenth of a pound.
2/6 = half crown ("two and six"). An eighth of a pound.
At the time of conversion, one shilling equaled 5p and one florin (two shillings) equaled 10p. A shilling in 1970 had approximately the value of 84p or $1.25 today.
The old pounds, shillings, pence system was a remnant of the early Middle Ages
! Continental Europe
was all decimal coinage by the end of the 19th century. Tradition-bound Britain soldiered on until the beginning of the 70s.