The 50th anniversary of decimalisation day on Monday 15 February not only marked half a century since the death of the florin, the crown and the friendly little threepenny bit.
It also marked the end of the line for a tastan, a leth-chrùn or for the inspiring sailing shop aboard the bonn-a-sia.
‘Old money’, as we learnt to call pre-decimal coinage, had its own familiar language in Gaelic as well as in English, commemorated here by Comann Eachdraidh an Rubha (Point Historical Society).
The Gaelic vocabulary of old money was originally shown several years ago as part of the society’s first exhibition at Knock School, where numerous historic items connected with shops and shopping went on display.
Comann Eachdraidh secretary Catriona Dunn said: “I can remember taking arithmetic tests at school, which included calculations in pounds, shillings and pence.
“It was as natural as anything at the time, but now people talk about pre-decimal currency as if it was complicated and difficult.”
Here’s a revision list for your old Gaelic, old money vocabulary:
- Fàirdean: farthing – a quarter of an old penny
- Bonn-a-sia: halfpenny or ha’penny – half an old penny
- Sgillin: penny – there were 12 in a shilling and 240 in a £. (Apologies! Earlier error here.)
- Trì sgillin: threepence or threepenny bit – a quarter of a shilling
- Sia sgillin: sixpence – half a shilling
- Tastan: shilling – there were 20 in a £
- Dà tastan: a florin or two shillings – 10 to a £
- Leth-chrùn: half a crown – a crown was five shillings, so a half crown was 2/6.
- And now we come to think of it, yes, it does look a bit complicated!
Picture courtesy of Comann Eachdraidh an Rubha.