[DWJ] currencies (was: more not-spoiler, Pinhoe Egg)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Sep 15 06:21:14 EDT 2006

>>>> leave the currency alone just as they would if it were "nobles" or
>>>> "quintups" or any other non-our-world coinage.
>> Philip pointed out
>>>A Noble was 6 shillings and eightpence, last time I looked ;-)
>> The lawyer's fee.  Yup.  But since it isn't still being it, or at
>> least not as legal tender, it counts as a not-our-world unit of
>> currency, I think.
>> (Bring back the Groat, that's wot I sai.)
>Had to laugh at that one.

<mode=Baby Grumpling>

It was a very old wall.


>Not too long ago I was toying with currency reform for an imaginary
>Old currency: 1 noble = 80 pence.  Coins: Noble, half noble, ounce
>(20d), half ounce, groat (4d), half-groat and penny.

Why change it?  It's a perfect system, easy to subdivide, and each unit
fits into the others without need of small change to pad gaps.

>Proposed reform:

I'd rather call it "change"?  As with "progress", which can mean "moving in
the wrong direction" just as much as it means "moving in the right
direction", "reform" has come to be seen as inevitably improvement, which
it isn't, always.  "Change" doesn't yet have that cosy veneer of automatic
acceptability as conferring benefits.

> after much debate as to whether the noble or the penny
>should be kept, the system that was chosen was 1 Noble = 100 cents.  The
>half-groat and penny will be phased out as coins, being too small for
>everyday use.  The groat, now the smallest coin, will be worth 5 cents;
>the half ounce (12.5 c) will need to be replaced by a ten-cent piece
>(the committee voted overwhelmingly against calling it a Dime), but the
>larger coins can continue in use as before.

Why this slavish insistence on a decimal system?  It's not ideal for the
people who actually use the small units of a currency, merely more
convenient for the people who add up large amounts of it and don't notice
that their tax-demands (which to them are merely numbers with lots of
noughts on the ends) make the difference between food and no-food, heat and
cold, to their victims.

(Actuarial thought leads to inate dishonesty, is my theory: I reached this
position when an actuary calmly mentioned that National Insurance
contributions -- for which read "enforced levies" -- which in my innocence
I had assumed were intended to pay towards the National Health, were just
thrown in to the common pot from which money was drawn to buy nuclear
warheads or more roads or advertising for political parties (this last on
the QT).  He couldn't see it when I said, "But isn't it wrong to take
people's money and tell them it is for a thing that they want to buy, and
then spend it on something else that they don't necessarily want at all?
If I did that it would be called fraud or something and I would be sent to

>So I'm all in favour of both groats and nobles, even though I've just
>had to add groats to my spelling checker dictionary!

They've been in mine for a long time.  :-)

>PS a secondhand bookseller friend, now retired, once told me of a
>request from the curator at a local museum.  The museum was setting up
>an exhibit for some period (can't remember when, but can't have been too
>long ago) and wanted some authentic books from the period.  My friend
>said yes, he could provide some books, and they'd be about thirty bob
>each.  He was astounded when the curator didn't know what "thirty bob"

For several years after Dismal Guernsey was inflicted on this country, the
*other* George brother who had a bookshop in Bristol, not the "George's" on
Park Street that was bought up by Blachwell or someone in the end but the
little scruffy one on Christmas Steps, went on selling his books in pounds
shillings and pence (more shillings and pence than pounds) and giving
change in real money if it was an odd number of d that wouldn't fit into
the newfangled p rubbish.  My theory was that this was just because he
didn't want to have to write a new price into every book, but it was a
small joy for quite a long time until he inevitably vanished from the
booktrading scene.


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