Interesting facts about the pound sterling
1. The pound sterling is the oldest existing currency, with origins that can be traced back to continental Europe, It is the oldest surviving independent currency.
2. The name of this currency comes from the Latin word “libra”, which refers to weight and balance. For more than 300 years the Bank of England has been the authority issuing pound banknotes, and all along this time these notes have suffered many changes.
3. The first pound coin did not appear until 1489, under the reign of Henry VII. Pound banknotes started circulating in England shortly after the foundation of the Bank of England in 1694, and were originally handwritten notes. The pound functioned with its complicated system of shillings and pennies until the arrival of the decimal system in 1971.
4. In 1660 coin minting was mechanized and features in its design such as the side lettering were introduced to help eradicate money-clipping.
5. The pound sterling has survived as an independent currency while most of the rest of Europe adopted the euro as single currency, which at the beginning of the 21st century seemed the likely destiny of the pound sterling too.
6. Regarding the “pound scots”, it existed until the 1707 Union Act created a new monetary system based on the value of the pound south of the Scottish border. The Bank of Scotland was created in 1695, just one year after the Bank of England, and it still survives today as part of HBOS, a subsidiary of the Lloyds Banking Group, based in Edinburgh.
7. Countries using the pound sterling
8. The pound sterling is the official currency of the United Kingdom (made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
9. Current pound sterling Coins and Banknotes
10. Right now there are five different denominations for banknotes in circulation, for 5, 10, 20 and 50 pounds. There are also £1 notes but they are a rarity as they are printed in Scotland. All pound notes include certain security measures. For more information about these, check the web page of the Bank of England.
11. Regarding to coins, the ones currently circulating are of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pennies and 1 and 2 pounds. Occasionally special editions of £5 coins are issued but their circulation is merely incidental.
12. Around 980 A.D. one pound could buy 15 heads of cattle.
13. The English expression Spend a penny means going to the bathroom, and it originated from the need to pay one penny for the use of a public WC. This practice started during The Great Exhibition of 1851.
15 Fun Facts about the Pound Sterling
Discover a few fun, interesting facts about the Pound Sterling, AKA Pound, Quid or GBP. We’ve rounded up a bit of fascinating information about this popular currency, which has the highest value of all major currencies, and here it is before you. Will we manage to amaze you? Let’s find out.
1. The Pound Sterling is the world’s oldest currency which is still in use
2. It is not only the currency of the United Kingdom, but also of Jersey, the British Antarctic Territory, the Isle of Man, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Tristan da Cunha and Guernsey
3. A long long time ago, British cashiers had to sign and fill in the name of each payee by hand on every single banknote. This practice ended in 1853, when the first fully printed notes were introduced
4. In 1971 the GBP was converted to a decimal measurement. Up until then, it had a highly confusing system of division: Shillings and pennies. Not so confusing, you say? Try dealing with 240 pennies to a pound, 12 pennies to a shilling and 20 shillings to a pound. Let us know how it works out.
5. There are £1 million and £100 million banknotes in existence – called Giants and Titans respectively. Scottish and Northern Irish banks hold them, because they must have an equal amount in GBP as notes issued in their local currencies.
6. Reigning UK monarchs appeared on coins for a minimum of 1000 years, however…
7. The first UK monarch to appear on an English banknote was no other than King George V, during World War One.
8. Since 1960, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on every Bank of England banknote
9. During World War Two, Germany produced massive quantities of counterfeit of British sterling banknotes in hope of devaluing the currency and harming the British economy. By 1945, it is estimated that 12% of the value of all banknotes in circulation were forgeries
10. In 2009 the Royal Mint allowed about 200,000 20p coins into circulation without the date of productions. This was a valuable mistake for collectors as such coins are now worth substantially more than their monetary value
11. The British currency is part of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights Basket, which also includes the USD, JPY, euro and – recently added – the Chinese yuan
12. The GBP is the fourth most-traded currency in the world, preceded by the USD, the euro, and the Japanese yen
13. Nowadays, many people invest in the GBP against other currencies through CFD trading, which you can learn more about at iFOREX
14. The English expression ‘Spend a penny’ simply means going to the restroom. It comes from the 1850s, when women were required to pay one penny for using (unlocking) public WC
15. The most expensive UK coin ever (at least for now) was an Edward III Florin, sold for £460,000 at an auction. Only three of these coins are known to exist