In 1971 the UK switched to a decimal currency, leaving the old £sd (pounds, shillings and pence) behind and introducing the decimalised coins we know today. You might even remember decimal day yourself, or using conversion charts and rhymes to learn the new currency. And if you’re like me, then you’ll probably remember the excitement of seeing the new coins in your change.
But decimalisation actually started under Queen Victoria, when two new decimal denominations were introduced. These were coins that were blamed for sickness, famine, and the unemployment of barmaids. In fact, they were so controversial that decimalisation had to be delayed for over a century!
The Godless Florin
The florin first appeared in 1849 with a value of 1/10th of a pound, or 24 pence. It was rumoured to have borrowed its name from a similar shaped coin from the Netherlands and was issued as a test to help the public warm to decimalised currency. However, its introduction didn’t go as well as hoped.
The Gothic Head portrait of Victoria was used on the first florins that were issued, and it featured the monarch wearing a crown for the first time in over 200 years. Another unusual design change was the exclusion of the abbreviation “D.G”, meaning “by the grace of God”. In a society where religion was important, the coin was thought to have angered God, so it became known as the ‘Godless Florin’ and was reportedly blamed for Cholera outbreaks and famine at the time.
The Godless Florin was quickly withdrawn from circulation in 1851 and was replaced by a Gothic florin, which had the same design, but included the “D.G” inscription in an attempt to appease the public.
The Barmaid’s Ruin
Attempt number two at decimalisation came in the form of a double florin, equivalent to 1/5th of a pound. It was introduced in 1887 and featured the new Jubilee Head portrait of Queen Victoria, but it was withdrawn by the end of 1890 making it one of the shortest circulating denominations in British history.
One of the features that makes the double florin stand out in history is that it was almost indistinguishable from the crown coin. Neither carried the denomination and the only difference between the two, apart from the value, was that the double florin was 2mm smaller – not something that was easy to spot by eye.
This meant that the coins were easily confused, and the story goes that crafty patrons would trick barmaids into accepting the double florin as a crown. The double florin then became known as the ‘barmaid’s ruin’, because this act resulted in barmaids losing their jobs.
The first attempts at decimalisation happened over 170 years ago, and although the double florin was withdrawn from circulation after just four mint years , the florin was much more successful, surviving until 1993 before it was demonetised. It circulated alongside the 10p coin, which was introduced in 1968 to try and help the public warm to decimalisation – this time it was finally successful!
The Victorians experienced monumental changes in culture, industry, technology, and empire in their time, but it seems they just weren’t ready for the change of their currency.
If you’re interested…
Own a piece of history with the ‘Barmaid’s ruin’, the coin that caused barmaid’s to lose their jobs. Click here to order it today>>>
I can still remember crawling under my bed sheets as a child at night armed with a torch, and reading, fascinated, about the adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy – the Famous Five – as they set off in their rowing boat to explore Kirrin Island and uncover shipwrecked gold, stumbling into all sorts of hijinks and thwarting crime in the process.
I still have that copy of the Famous Five’s first adventure, Five on a Treasure Island – now passed on to my children and, I hope, one day to my grandchildren.
But for me – and I’m sure for the many Famous Five lovers across the world – the joy of the “Five” novels is more than just the story.
Part of it is, of course, the beauty of the illustrations bringing the words to life. But it’s also the classic design of the books’ front covers, instantly recognisable and perfectly sized for a child’s hands. Books that are cherished as collectable in their own right.
And that’s why I have been so excited over the last few months to be able to work personally on an exclusive and highly collectable representation of Five on a Treasure Island. Something I’m confident will be passed from children to grandchildren in years to come, just like my battered family copy of the Famous Five.
Authenticity, heritage and limited edition
That’s because, for the very first time, the actual book fronts of the Famous Five novels are being faithfully reproduced on a series of Limited Edition Silver-Plated Ingots.
As you can see from the enclosed photos above and below, the first Ingot is a perfect limited edition recreation of the Five on a Treasure Island book cover, including the original coloured illustration that you, I, and many generations of children have grown up to love.
Throughout the process, authenticity and heritage have been paramount. And that’s still the case when you turn your Five on a Treasure Island Ingot over. As you do so, you reveal the words: “There was something else out on the sea by the rocks – something dark that seemed to lurch out of the waves… What could it be?” – the very text from one of the book’s most dramatic scenes.
Importantly, each Ingot has been struck to the very highest standards. The ingots themselves have been specially created to match the exact proportions of the original book and are finished with fine silver-plate.
Your invitation to SAVE £10.00 when you order today
Today, I would like to personally invite you to own the Five on a Treasure Island Silver-Plated Ingot for JUST £9.99 – an exclusive SAVING for you of £10.00.
Since it was first published in 1942, over 100 million copies of the Famous Five series have been sold. Today, two million copies of the books are still sold each year! And that’s when you realise where the collectible significance of this newly released Silver-Plated Ingot lies.
Only 9,995 ingots have been authorised.
Almost certainly,that’s far from enough for all the Famous Five lovers in Britain, let alone the rest of the world.
It’s a tradition that dates back to the time of the Bible. During the Last Supper, Jesus famously washed the feet of his disciples as a sign of his humility, and it was this religious event that inspired an Easter tradition which takes place to this day.
Since the thirteenth century, members of the Royal Family have followed Jesus’ example, giving gifts to the poor and washing their feet on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. By the eighteenth century, the act of washing feet was discontinued and the accompanying gifts were replaced by a money allowance, known as Maundy money.
And it was this change that created one of the most interesting of all the historic Royal Mint releases.
The first Maundy money ceremony took place in the reign of Charles II, when the King gave people undated hammered coins in 1662. The tradition has continued for over 350 years and today’s recipients of Royal Maundy are elderly men and women, chosen because of the Christian service they have given to the Church and the community.
At the ceremony, the monarch hands each recipient two small leather string purses. A red purse contains ordinary coins, while a white one contains the extremely special silver Maundy coins, amounting to the same number of pence as the years of the sovereign’s age.
Its deeply historical roots are what makes Maundy Money a rare highlight in any classic coin collection. But because of their extremely limited mintage and the fact they have never been issued into general circulation, they now stand as a one of the most highly sought after Easter gifts in the world!
If you’re interested…
We have just 20 Victorian Maundy Silver coins currently available for collectors. But with such low numbers available you’ll need to act now if you want to secure this classic Easter coin for your collection. Click here to secure yours now >>>