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Year the UK said farewell to pounds, shillings and pence and went decimal; FIRST COINS INTRODUCED IN 1968 IN SLOW BUILD-UP TO FEBRUARY 1971.

Byline: ANDY RICHARDS Content Editor

DECIMAL 5p and 10p coins were introduced for the first time on April 23, 1968 - and not without some confusion.

Under the old currency of pounds, shillings and pence, the pound was made up of 240 pence (denoted by the letter d for Latin denarius and now referred to as "old pence"), with 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings (denoted by s for Latin solidus) in a pound.

Under the new system, the pound was retained but was divided into 100 new pence, denoted by the symbol p. New coinage was issued alongside the old coins.

The 5p and 10p coins were the same size, composition, and value as the shilling and two shillings coins in circulation with them.

They caused initial confusion to shoppers, many of whom refused to take them.

In October 1969 the 50p coin was introduced, with the 10s note withdrawn on November 20, 1970. This reduced the number of new coins that had to be introduced on Decimal Day which would follow in 1971 and meant that the public was already familiar with three of the six new coins. Small booklets were made available containing some or all of the new denominations.

The old halfpenny was withdrawn from circulation on July 31,1969, and the half-crown (2s 6d) followed on December 31 to ease the transition. The farthing had last been minted in 1956 and had ceased to be legal tender in 1960.

There was a substantial publicity campaign in the weeks before Decimalisation Day, including a song by Max Bygraves called Decimalisation.

The BBC broadcast a series of five-minute programmes, Decimal Five, to which The Scaffold contributed some specially written tunes.

Banks received stocks of the new coins in advance and these were issued to retailers shortly before Decimalisation Day to enable them to give change immediately after the changeover.

Banks were closed from 3.30pm on Wednesday, February 10, 1971 to 10am on Monday, February 15, to enable all outstanding cheques and credits in the clearing system to be processed and customers' account balances to be converted from PSsd to decimal. In many banks the conversion was done manually, as most bank branches were not yet computerised. February had been chosen for Decimal Day because it was the quietest time of the year for the banks, shops and transport organisations.

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 24, 2018
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