The Collection - The Disease

Dear Marjorie - My husband is 46 years old and spends most of his time playing with toy trains. He doesn't pay any attention to me these days.

Dear M - You have my deepest sympathy! Unfortunately, this condition is well known and is usually terminal. Very few people ever fully recover. However, you can turn this situation to your advantage! Trainaholics are so oblivious to their surroundings that you can bring as many men back to the house as you want - your man will never know!

Whatever you do though, don't get rid of your train fanatic - they are notoriously good at paying the bills! Blessings

When I first read this letter in a women's magazine I was shocked, devastated, mortified........

It took me a while to comprehend the truth in these words, but I am determined to 'clean up' my act.

No more trains!

The disease started .......... continue reading my incredibly boring history


Monday, February 9, 2009

Old Money - New Money

Money For Nothing

This old train set originated from green, soggy and extremely overcrowded island of Britain ( I could cope with green, but the other two symptoms provided sufficient incentive to get out whilst the going was good. We now reside in the white, frozen and barren wastes of Canada. Fair swap? Hmmmm…some might not think so.

Because, the train set pre-dates 15th February 1971 it was all bought and paid for with REAL money. Proper stuff, that actually contained some of the precious metal that it purported to contain in order to render it of value. We tend to forget that ‘notes’ are nothing more than I.O.U’s, which could be exchanged for something of actual value – coinage. These days beggars and phone boxes are the only places that accept coins and the phone boxes are virtually obsolete!

In February 1971, the British government pulled a great financial coup on the people of the country, by replacing the old standard coinage with a new system called ‘Decimal’ (that took a lot of thinking up). The marketed feature of ‘Decimalization’, was that it was so incredibly easy to use, whilst obfuscating the fact that the money was no longer connected to the principle of bullion value. In other words, take away the silver from the people and replace it with some cheap metal, then melt down the silver from the old coins and hey presto – the government is rich again!

The first problem is that many people didn’t understand the New Money system and the second problem was that overnight, the price of most goods skyrocketed. What once carried the price ticket of two shillings and sixpence (2/6) or 30pence,, when converted into New pennies cost more than twice as much!

Old Money consisted of:

Farthing ( = 1/4d)
Halfpenny (Ha’penny or 1/2 d)
Penny (symbol ‘d’ for Denarius – an old Roman coin – the penny was affectionately called a ‘copper’)
Thruppence (3d or 3 pennies)
Sixpence (6d - also called a ‘tanner’)
Shilling (symbol ‘s’ = 12d - also called a ‘bob’)
Florin (2 shillings = 24d or a ‘two bob bit’)
Half Crown (30d or 2shillings and sixpence = 2/6)
Crown (60d or 5s = 5 shillings)

I am guessing that the 'Crown' was the preferred name for the Sovereign and it's pal the Half-Sovereign.

There were some other peculiar coins like:

Groat (equivalent to 4d) I’ve never seen one
Sovereign (one pound silver coin – replaced the guinea)
Half Sovereign (worth five bob – If you had one of these you were stinking rich!)
Guinea – (originally this was worth one pound and contained real gold with the market value of one pound. There were forty four and a half guineas to one Troy pound of the finest gold…… at least there used to be.
Amongst a whole string of others, Charles II did his level best to wreck the economy and a bit of skulduggery in the mid seventeenth century lead the guinea to be traded at a premium. The last mint of golden guineas was in 1813 to pay the Duke of Wellington’s army (because the men would only accept gold ….can you imagine that happening today? Actually, I can! I will bet my left shoe that within the next two years gold will become the coin of demand once more) The guinea in 1813 cost 27shillings to produce, because they were honest about the amount of gold each coin contained. Can you imagine ANY government doing such a thing now?

Anyway, one guinea was worth one pound and one shilling or 21shillings. Horses were always purchased in guineas, the reason being that the extra shilling over the pound was for the stable boy to take good care of the horse and feed it the best hay. The same applied to other livestock purchases, but the horsey people being a bit stuck-up really enjoyed flashing their gold around. There’s even a famous horse race called the Golden Ginuea.

Finally, before you fall off your stool with boredom, there is a fascinating connection between the Elephant & Castle pub (public house or bar for the uninitiated) and the Golden Guinea, but that’s for another day.


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How many to the pound?

960 farthings in a pound
480 ha’penny in a pound
240 pennies in a pound
40 tanners in a pound
20 shillings in a pound
10 Florins to the pound
8 half crowns in the pound
4 Crowns to the pound

This was the real stuff – introduced by King Henry II to represent REAL weight in silver.
One penny was equivalent to One Troy pennyweight of silver and there were 240 pennyweights in a Troy pound of silver.

What was New Money?

Half Pence (no longer legal tender)
Penny (Referred to as One ‘P’ or Pee - about half the size of the old penny and everyone over-emphasized the letter ‘P’)
5 pence piece (this WAS the same size as the shilling, now the size of a sixpence)
10 pence piece (originally the size of a florin, now roughly the size of a shilling)
50 pence piece (getting smaller by the minute)
One pound (some rather dubious quality metal involved with this thing)

Overnight on 21st February 1971

One shilling dropped from 12d value to 5p
One florin dropped from 24d to 10p
One pound dropped from 240d to 100p

Shopkeepers beyond the age of 'new tricks' didn’t have a clue and all went out of business
…..and the less than honest shopkeepers simply changed the ‘d’ for a ‘p’ and more than doubled their income!

AND….the point of this article is that many of the boxes in the train set still bear the price tags.

The Duchess of Montrose cost 79/6. How much is that?

Work it out yourself!
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