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Monday, September 3, 2012

The Shilling

The shilling is a popular coin among coin collectors whom are looking to complete shilling series from different countries and periods. The shilling is a unit of currency used in some current and former British Commonwealth countries. The term shilling derived from the word schilling which in the past used to be an accounting term to value a cow or a sheep.

In England, a shilling was a coin used from the reign of Henry II until the Acts of Union ended the Kingdom of England (when, in the terms of Article 16 of the Articles of Union created by the Acts of Union of 1707, a common currency for the new United Kingdom was created). The slang term for a shilling as a currency unit was a "bob"  as in 'Have you got a couple of bob you can lend me?'. The origin of this term is uncertain, although a 'bobe' was a French one-and-a-half denier coin of the 14th Century.

The last regular issue shillings were minted in 1966. Two years later the new five-pence piece with identical dimensions began to be issued prior to decimalisation in 1971, although profft shilings dated 1970 were issued later. 

Shillings and 5p coins circulated together until the end of 1990, when they were superseded by a new small 5p coin. Thus ended the 488 year history of the shilling. 

The shilling was used not only in the british commonwealth countries but also in several additional countries. Shillings were issued in the Scandinavian countries until the Scandinavian Monetary Union of 1873. Shillings were used in Malta, prior to decimalisation in 1972, and had a face value of five Maltese cents.

Elsewhere in the former British Empire, forms of the word shilling still remain in informal use. In Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, selen is used in Bislama and Pijin to mean "money"; in Malaysia, syiling (pronounced like shilling) means "coin". In Egypt and Jordan the shillin is equal to 1/20th of the Egyptian pound or the Jordanian dinar.

In the thirteen British colonies that became the United States in 1776, British money was often in circulation. Each colony issued its own paper money, with pounds, shillings, and pence used as the standard units of account. Some coins were minted in the colonies, such as the 1652 pine-tree shilling in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After the United States adopted the dollar as its unit of currency and accepted the gold standard, one British shilling was worth 24 US cents. Due to ongoing shortages of US coins in some regions, shillings continued to circulate well into the 19th century, for example being mentioned as the standard monetary unit throughout the autobiography of Solomon Northup.

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