Old money - pounds, shillings and pence

"Old money" or pounds, shillings and pence or appropriately for the sixties, LSD (that's Libra, Solidus, Denarius, not lysergic acid diethylamide) was in use for the whole of the fifties and sixties. All this changed on 15 February 1971, when D-Day - Decimal Day, came and Britain switched over to the new decimal currency we know today, where 100 pence made 1 pound.

From then on people asked: "What's that in old money?"

How much is a sixpence in new money?

Answer 2½p or 2 and a half new pence.

The sixpence was allowed to remain in circulation for several years after decimalisation in 1971. It was finally withdrawn in June 1980 and sadly missed ever since!

Other old money conversions

  • One shilling (or 'bob') - 5p
  • Half a crown (2 shillings and sixpence) - 12½p
  • One guinea - £1.05

Coins and Notes

If you wanted to survive in the fifties and sixties you would have to know about the old money system of pounds, shillings and pence:

10 shilling note 1966

four farthings made a penny (1d); twelve pence made a shilling (1s or 1/-) or 'bob' as in 'bob a job'; five shillings made a crown, although there was no such thing except on special occasions, such as to mark the Queen's Coronation in 1953, the death of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965 and for no apparent reason in 1960; you could have spent a half crown - that's 2/6 (two shillings and six pence); 20 shillings made a pound and there were notes for 10 shillings as well.

So there were 240d (that's pence) in £1 that's 12 (pence in a shilling) x 20 (shillings in a pound) - easy isn't it? I don't know why they ever changed it! If you needed to add up in pounds, shillings and pence you needed three columns.

Buy old money

If you want to buy a set of 'old money', the best way is to buy a complete set from a specific year. They can make great birthday present, if you can find a set dating from the year the person was born. They are not as expensive as you might think. A complete set of coins from a specific year from the 50s or 60s should cost no more than £ 25 and often a lot less. Look for:


Banknotes started at 10 shillings (50p) in today's money. The ten shilling or ten bob note disappeared in 1971, being replaced by the fifty pence coin.


Oh, and I haven't mentioned guineas. One guinea was 21 shillings - that's one pound and one shilling. There were no guinea coins, but you might still find bills in guineas from solicitors, accountants and other professionals, and if you went on holiday you might have to settle your hotel bill in guineas. It was a way of sounding posh and also making a bill seem a little bit smaller than it actually was - a bit like £9.99 instead of £10! 1967 appeared to be the last year in which the old coins were minted. However, the Royal Mint pulled a trick to stop people hoarding the last of the old money. All coins minted in old denominations from 1967 to 1970 were dated 1967.

New money

Starting from 1968 they started to mint 'new money'. In fact they started with coin denominated in 'New Pence' of values 5 and 10. These fitted in well with the old system as they were direct replacements for the one and two shilling pieces. In those days today's pence were 'new pence' and that was what was on the coins.  In 1967 you might have had any of the following in change.


Half Penny








Sixpence or tanner



One Shilling

One Shilling

1s or 1/-

Two Shillings

Two Shillings

2s or 2/-

Half Crown - Two Shillings and six pence

Half Crown

2s 6d or 2/6

How much did it cost?

So how much was a can of baked beans then?

These are some typical prices from 1965:

English butter per lb 3/-
Baked beans lb 9d
Kellogs Cornflakes 12oz 1/5
Nescafé 2oz 2/3
Omo washing powder per lb 1/11
Find out about pounds and ounces

So what's that in today's money? Translating the prices at face value, they work out at 15p for a lb of butter, 4p for the baked beans, 7p for the cornflakes, 11p for the coffee and 10p for the Omo.

But what about inflation? According to the retail price index, prices have gone up by a factor of twelve since 1965. So taking inflation into account, these prices would have been £1.25 for a lb of butter, 48p for a lb of baked beans, 84p for 12oz of cornflakes, £1.32 for 2oz of Nescafe and £1.20 for a lb of Omo (remember Omo?).

Pounds, Shillings and er...plastic?

A 1960s Barclaycard

Credit and chargecards had just started to be used in the sixties. Originally they were used mainly by businessmen for travel expenses, but all this changed when Barclaycard was launched in 1966. It was subsequently sent free to one million Barclays' customers. From the beginning, Barclaycard customers were encouraged to use the card for "ordinary shopping".

By the late sixties, there were just four general chargecards in common use, Barclaycard, American Express, Diners' Club and Eurocard. I use the word "charge" rather than "credit", because only Barclaycard gave credit.  Barclaycard was Britain's first credit card. The first ever chargecard was Diners' Club, which was started in the USA in 1950.

Bills for Diners' Club, American Express and Eurocard had to be settled by the end of the month. They also charged an annual fee of between £3 and £4 and American Express and Diners' Club members were expected to earn at least £2,000 per annum - quite a lot in the sixties. Barclaycard had no fee and was aimed at people of more modest means. Barclaycard's reputation for being accepted at more places around the world than other chargecards was yet to be earned.  In 1968 you could use it in the USA, but in Europe you were limited to the UK, Gibraltar, Malta and the Republic of Ireland.

Acceptance of any of these cards in shops and restaurants, even in the UK, was patchy. Barclaycard was most useful for paying for petrol. In theory it could be used in any kind of shop, but according to a 'Which' report, very few of the large department stores, chain stores or supermarkets accepted any chargecards, apart from their own. Barclaycard remained unchallenged in the UK until Access was launched in 1972 by a group of banks, including Lloyds, Midland and National Westminster.

As well as the general chargecards, there were also store cards which were given to account customers at well-known department stores in the sixties. There was also a GPO card, similar to the cards issued by BT today. Customers could, for a fee of 5s per quarter, have telephone calls charged to the account whenever they were made. They would need to telephone the operator and ask for the call to be charged to the account. Unfortunately, operator transferred calls often worked out more expensive than STD calls (STD was new in the sixties - read more about telephone service). One other advantage, mentioned by 'Which', of having a GPO card was that you could make calls from vandalised telephone boxes. More of a problem in the sixties, than it is today.

Credit cards were very new in the sixties and the 'Which' report referred to above warned people to be careful of overspending, particularly when they first got the card.

Add your comments

"what is six pence in the 60s" kymcoats 29/05/2012
"Six pence was 6d or six old pence in the 60s. In today's money it would be 2 and a half pence." Steve 29/05/2012
"Can anyone tell me what "The Horizon" means in old money please?" bill street 28/06/2012
"The only thing I can think of is the horizon on the one penny piece, where the sea meets the sky behind Britannia." Steven 28/06/2012
"i have alot of pence 1955 and older. just would love to know if can sell them i am from Antigua. would u like me send you some pictures." Deno Chritian 28/01/2013
"Does anyone know where online we can see the official conversions that the Government published at the time? I remember well that they had this available everywhere - there was a table of exactly how you should convert every penny value up to a shilling, and of course they had to include the new halfpenny. I know we can calculate it, but I'd love to see what was actually published at the time." Nevilley 05/04/2013
"My father was a coin collecter for years an has a lot of very old coins an book sets of coins do you know were the best place for me to get a guide to what they would be worth or where I should try to sell them. Thanks may" may 05/07/2013
"Please let me know how can someone exchange old chilling money to get current currency?" Fatema Miah 22/07/2013
"I think you are a little too late for that. We've had decimal currency in the UK since 1971. More than likely pre 1971 coins and banknotes are worth more than their face value anyway to collectors." steven 22/07/2013
"I am looking to buy a few pennies from 1959 as it was the year of my birth. Are you able to help me please?

Kind regards,

Penny Main" Penny Main 12/09/2013
"Funny you should mention baked beans being 9d because it's one of the things I will never forget post decimalisation, was how a tin of beans started cost 9p instead of 9d..." Bob 01/05/2014
"Is there such a thing as a half crown note?It was on the quiz show 15 to 1,William G Stewert asked the question,which was the lowest british bank note printed,the contestant answered,the 10 shilling note,he replied,no it was the half crown note,is this true as i cannot find any information on this." Janet Walyon 23/02/2015
"I was about to say I've never heard of half crown notes, but it appears they do exist. It looks like they were issued in the US. In the 18th Century. However, I believe 10 shillings was the smallest note issued by the Bank of England." Steven 23/02/2015
"1968 was a special year for me and I have searched many times to find a pre-decimal penny as a token reminder of that time with no luck. No wonder! Its only now, after all this time,that I`ve found out it doesn't exist thanks to this site. Search over....." Mike Jones 26/03/2015
"some of the post that I have read mentioned that you're looking for values or that you're looking to get rid of old coin collections or just old coins that you have lying around. I'm a collector if you would send me the dates or pictures of coins I can give you values. I am also interested in buying certain points myself, and other coins that I don't know I can point you in the right direction for you to either sale or exchange for cash because even though the UK is on the decimal system all of the old coins can be exchanged for example a to shilling coin can be exchanged for whatever the current value is. It is still legal tender you just need to take it to a bank to exchange it for X number of dollars pounds or whatever. But there was one post that stated that there probably worth more than the exchange rate in some cases that is correct but most not really if it's a proof coin for example a 1970 2 Schilling coin can go for as much as $20 US. But it is rare for most of the 60s or 70s coins to go for a a huge chunk of change there are a few coins within that era that are very valuable but not Manny the reason for that particular coin was 1970 was the last year of the pre-decimal system. Anyway you can contact me at recrowe578@gmail.com" Robert Crowe 11/08/2015
"I have paper Money Rands,coin mony old Money I'm in south Africa how can I sell it" mbuso 06/09/2015
"I have paper,and coin old Money" mbuso 06/09/2015
"Have a pound note serial number H55H 156639 no idea if it's worth anything" Caroline 30/10/2015
"what would 80 shillings per quarter be?" nathan 27/11/2015
"That would be £4 per quarter, i.e. £4 every three months." Steven 28/11/2015
"For an article on the price of a particular cookbook printed in 1796, I would appreciate knowing what Two Shilling Three Pence would be worth in American money today." Elise Bernard 01/12/2015
"Hi Elise,
Two Shillings three pence would have been 11.25 pence (in UK money). There are many ways you could convert this. According to the Bank of England's inflation calculator 11.25p in 1796 would be worth £11.36 today. Converting to USD at today's rates gives you $17.04. Best regards" Steven 02/12/2015
"Hi Elise,
Two Shillings three pence would have been 11.25 pence (in UK money). There are many ways you could convert this. According to the Bank of England's inflation calculator it 11.25p would be worth £11.36. Converting to USD at today's rates gives you $17.04. Best regards" Steven 02/12/2015
"I like old money" Ethan 03/12/2015
"Thank you, Steven." Elise Bernard 14/12/2015
"Where u name the old coins,u named 1 wrong and missed 21st, the 2shilling piece was known as a florin, you also forgot the farthing a quarter of a penny came before the halfpenny and after the threepence the funny shaped one,you then have a silver threepence which came before the sixpence which was also commonly known as the tanner" Mr malcolm kirkwood 01/01/2016
"I'm a film maker and have been trying to find what a cup of coffee would have cost in 1971. I remember it increased beyond reason in a local Milk Bar the day after decimalisation but cant remember the actual price - 5p? 6p? from a pre Feb '71 price of about 4d?
Please help!" Michael Alley 26/03/2016
"You make it sound so complicated and it really wasn't.

One thing which has always annoyed me since D-Day is this: The singular was previously "one penny" and the plural was "two pence", "three pence", "four pence" (usually pronounced "tuppence", "thrippence"), "fourpence" all the way up to "elevenpence". That is just standard English. It has nothing to do with currency and therefore nothing to do with decimal conversion.

Where, oh, where did that awful expression "one pence" come from????? Will someone PLEASE explain and put me out of my mysery? No-one says "one cars" or "one houses" (thank goodness) so how can there possibly be "one pence"? There can, of course, be "twenty-one pence", "thirty-one pence" since 21 and 31 are plural but 1 is singular (isn't it??)" Pete 02/04/2016
"I agree with you Pete - I think it annoys many people. However it is not the only abuse of our great language these days!
Can anyone help with my query above about an accurate price for a cup of coffee - when there was mainly just black or white coffee!!" Michael Alley 11/04/2016
"In 1970 Little Chef charged 9d for a cup of tea or 4p. A cup of coffee was 1/3 or 9p. At Golden Egg, earlier in the 60s coffee was 1/- and tea 6d. However, they charged 1/3 for coffee and 9d for tea on Saturday after 6pm and all day Sunday.

I hope this helps." Steven 11/04/2016
"I've just found an old receipt from my Grandmothers belongings. It is for £32'10'0 can anyone tell me what that may be in todays money?" BeckyBbythesea 10/05/2016
"Hi Becky,That is £32 and 10 shillings or £32.50 in modern currency. It would have been quite a lot of money in those days." Steven 11/05/2016
"How much would 26 guineas in 1952 be worth now?" Brendan Rossiter 19/07/2016
"It depends on what you are asking exactly. To convert into modern currency, it would be £26 and 26 shillings. I.e. £27 6s or £27.30 in new money. How much it would be worth in today's money taking account of inflation is another matter. Using the RPI it would convert to about £650. Best regards" Steven 21/07/2016
"In 1913 our local council spent £29 5s and 10d on park maintenance for the month. How much would this be now? Can anyone help please?

Many thanks" Kate 08/08/2016
"I'm writing a story set in the 1960s and trying to find out how much a B&B / Guest House would have cost for a night. Can anyone help please? All I can find online is how much shopping cost, or the cost of a house or car!" Annalise 13/08/2016
"How many pounds would 25 shillings be?" Julicia 15/08/2016
"£1.25 in new money
best regards" Steven 17/08/2016
"i have old money lebannesse since 1952" joe antonios 03/09/2016
"The reason why we had 240 pennies to the pound, indeed the reason we call them pennies, can be attributed to the Vikings. Their name for the silver penny, the single and only unit of currency back then, was peninga, (pronounced pen-ing-ga). Apparently I am reliably informed that the Iclandic word for money is peningar, which is obviously from the same root as the old Norse. When coins were minted back then, just over a 1000 years ago, a person licensed to make coin had to get 240 pennies from a pound weight of silver, hence 240 pennies to the pound. They were very accurate at this, despite not having modern tools and equipment. A quarter penny was known as a fourth thing, a fourth part, hence farthing." Fiona 22/09/2016
"Hello, my mum still has a one shilling postal order sent by her nan for me when I was a year old in February 1958 ! - we have no intention of trying to cash it in at our local post office but we did wonder what it's worth ..." Laurence Sully 22/09/2016
"why was it called L S D for pounds shillings and pence why the L and D understand the S" paddy 20/10/2016
"It means Libra Solidus Denarius. They are Latin words meaning Pounds, shillings and pence." Steven 21/10/2016
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