By the way, we are a bit disappointed with the new pound coin. – Jim

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3 Responses to Inflation

  1. alfy says:

    One of the minor cultural losses of decimalisation was the disappearance of a variety slang terms for the old coinage. Disappointingly, no comparable terms have emerged for the far more convenient decimal money. The three-penny bit was a “joey”, and the sixpence a “sprarsie” or a “kick”.
    In George Orwell’s “Down and out in London and Paris”, the author goes to a “spike” or “casual ward” of the workhouse for a night’s lodging. He is greeted politely by a youth taking the cash for the stay, “That’ll be a hog, guv’nor,” meaning a shilling. A two shillings and sixpenny coin, officially “half-a-crown”, was a “tosheroon”, “tosher”, “half a dollar” or “two and a kick”. The brown-printed ten shilling note (0.5 pound) was “half a bar”. Only “quid” for a pound sterling has survived.
    These terms were in common use by workmen, youths, and particularly by street traders on market stalls, who were probably the main spreaders of the slang. These non-standard words were thought vulgar and never used by the middle and upper classes.
    The word, “guv’nor”, an abbreviation of “governor”, was a polite form of address used by a trader to a customer. Soon after decimalisation, while visiting London, and now heading homewards towards Euston station, I stopped at a street stall to buy some fruit. “Is that right, a quid for a melon?” I asked. “Thirty pee to you, guv’nor.” replied the trader. There were clearly two prices, one for the tourists confused by the new money, and one for the locals who knew what the correct cost should be.

    • Deskarati says:

      How times have changed Alfy.
      We always called a sixpence a “Tanner”, which was nick named after John Sigismund Tanner who was an engraver, making dies for coins and medals.

      ‘Tanner worked mostly for the Royal Mint at the Tower of London and was its Chief Engraver from 1741 until shortly before his death. Tanner designed a sixpence for the Royal Mint during the reign of King George II, the coin became popularly known as the “tanner” and this appellation preserved until decimalization in 1971.’

      By the way, a melon today will cost you around two quid!

  2. alfy says:

    Quite right, Jim. I had forgotten the tanner, and knew nothing of its origins as a person’s name. One always learns something from deskarati.

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