Using this site

Untitled Document

Currency over time

You may read in a person's notes that he/she left an estate of £50 in 1600, and you want to convert £50 in 1600 to today's values? Not easy, and I'll let you read a full discussion of this subject at the Current Value of Old Money site to find out why and how. Purchasing power can be calculated at Measuring Worth giving you £6,767.49 using the retail price index. But this is a fairly meaningless exercise. Keep in mind that this does not measure comparative wealth. In modern economies we measure wealth in monetary terms. We put a price on a person's assets and income and come up with their "worth". Money plays a much more important role in our economy than it did in former years (or does in other cultures today). Also our "standard of living" includes a lot of stuff that people of former centuries did not have or need within their "standard of living". Compare, for instance, how far $A75 would go in Sydney, Australia, against its value in those places with a farming/ hunting/ craft/ exchange way of life, where $A75 might well be the annual money income for people - and they survive and some are "comparatively wealthy".

So making currency (purchasing power) comparisons is probably not all that helpful. Other things can be used to compare a person's comparative wealth within their time and place in history - land owned, type of housing, etc. See also Historical Value of Money in the UK and Relative Value of Sums of Money.

Australian and British currency

Australian pre-decimal currency language
poundquid
10 poundstenner
5 poundfiver
shillingbob, deaner/dena/denar/dener
2 shiilingsflorin
6 pencezack
3 pence"thripp'nce" or "thrupp'nce",
trey ("tray") or trey bit or thrippenny bit
2 pencetupp'nce
pennycopper (used of pennies and fractions)
half-penny"hayp'ny"
quarter-pennyfarthing

poundAustralian currency used to be based on the old English currency or "sterling", and indeed aligned with it. Australia went decimal in 1966. It converted the pound into two dollars:
£1 or one pound [popularly known as a quid] = $2 or two dollars.

There were twenty shillings to the pound, so 10 shillings became $1.
There were twelve pence or pennies (12d - the "d" stands for the Latin denarius) to the shilling, which became 10c, and therefore 240 pence to the pound.

This old currency was written as £xx/xx/xx representing pounds/shillings/pence.
So check it out:
6d (half a shilling that became 10 cents) became 5c or $0.05 [a sixpence was popularly known as a zack]
1/6 (one shilling and sixpence) became 15c or $0.15;
£1/1/6 became $2.15;

The Australian $1 and $2 notes were replaced with coins in 1984 and 1988 respectively. Australia stopped using 1c and 2c coins in 1992.

A guinea was £1/1/- (one pound one shilling) (AU$2.10).

A sovereign was a gold coin worth £1 (1 pound).

English currency ("sterling") also went decimal (1971) but it did so by retaining the pound unit and dividing it into 100 pence (instead of 240) and the abbreviation for this penny is "p" instead of "d". It is written in decimal form: £2.15 (two pounds fifteen pence), or, if less than £1 with a "p" following the number: 25p (25 pence).

Comparative Chart
Pre-decimal Australia 1966 England 1971
£1/-/- (one pound) $2.00 £1.00
240d (240 pence) 200c 100p
10/- (ten shillings) $1.00 50p
1/- (one shilling) 10c 5p
6d (sixpence) 5c


The Australian pound was tied to sterling (one for one) until the Australian dollar was "floated" against other currencies in 1983. So add consideration of exchange rates and the passage of time, and you will realize that you cannot say that A$1 is today worth 50p just because, in 1966 Australia, the conversion was made on that particular formula. As at July 2015, the Australian dollar could buy something like 47p (and £1 could buy A$2.12).


Other metric conversions for area, distance, weight, etc. can be done at World Wide Metric. I have tried as a rule to provide metric measurements with their equivalent in older systems, but I may have missed some.