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Decimal Day
15 February 1971

What was Decimal Day?

Decimal Day (15 February 1971) was the day the United Kingdom and Ireland decimalised their currencies.

image: farthing
image: Florin
image: shilling
image: half crown

Today's Currency

The British currency is the pound sterling. The sign for the pound is pound sign

Since decimalisation in 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 pence.

The pound (pound sign) is made up of 100 pence (p)

image; 1 penny
image: 2 pence
image: 5 pence
image: 10 pence
one penny
two pence
five pence
ten pence

image: 50 pence
image: pound
image: 2 pounds
fifty pence
one pound
two pounds

Before 1971

Up until 1971, the pound was made up of 240 pence.

There were twelve pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound.

Why was the currency decimalised?

Adding up sums of money was more complicated than with a decimal currency.

People outside the countries were confused with how much the following coins were worth:

image: farthing
image: Florin
image: shilling
image: half crown
Half Crown

1 'farthing' worth one quarter of an old penny

1 'florin' worth 2 shillings (2s)

1 'shilling' (1s) worth 12 pence

'half-crown' - worth two shillings and sixpence, or one eighth of a pound).

Pre-decimal Decimal
Common name Amount
Halfpenny ½d. 5⁄24p ≈ 0.208p
Penny 1d. 5⁄12p ≈ 0.417p
Threepence 3d. 1¼p
Sixpence 6d. 2½p
Shilling 1/- 5p
Florin 2/- 10p
Half crown 2/6 12½p
Crown 5/- 25p


All British coins have the head of the Queen on one side. Do you know which way she always faces?

On the back of the British bank notes are famous people. Who do you think should be given the honour of having their picture on a bank note? Why?


Understanding old British money

British coins used today

Bank Notes

Also on this day ....

Collop Monday
Named after the traditional dish of the day: collops of bacon served with eggs.
Find out more

Parinirvana / Nirvana Day (Buddhists)
Mahayana Buddhist festival marking the final passing away from this world of Gautama Buddha at Kushinagara, India, at the age of 80.


Multifaith Calendar

Buddhist Religion


See Teaching Resources for today's date

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