Feb 15, 2023 1:20 p.m past verb
“I got a letter from my girlfriend in London, moaning terribly. You can’t get used to the ten number system. They’ve been tormented by it for a third week now. There’s a conversion table in every school notebook and notepad. They even sell a ballpoint pen that you can use to read the conversion.” . the Hungarian newspaper In March 1971, he spoke of the chaos in the minds of Londoners caused by the daily use of the decimal number system. On February 15, 1971, the transition to the new monetary system officially began in Great Britain and its nine overseas territories.
A toolkit has been produced to ease the D-Day transition (Wikipedia/Mandtplatt/CC BY-SA 4.0)
The fact that the Islanders were managing so well with the No. 12 system also contributed to the shock effect. The author of the aforementioned article, Clara Feher, went on to write with some irony:
“For for many centuries the English monetary system was very simple: there were twenty shillings in a pound, and twelve pence in a shilling, that is, two hundred and forty pence in a pound, and, in addition, there was a guinea, which was not actually coming out…”
There was a man standing on his two feet, traveling through the Channel from Continental Europe, which operated on the basis of a ten-digit system, adapting it to the peculiar monetary system of this island that had been in use for hundreds of years.
The situation of the Continental citizen was further complicated by the fact that the guinea, once a gold currency and officially non-existent since 1820, was located in establishments frequented by the top ten thousand – such as an upscale restaurant or luxury shops in London – that were treated as a unit. Cash and prices are given in gins.
By the way, a guinea was worth one pound and one shilling, or 21 shillings if you like. In addition, there were coins such as the faring, which was equal to 48 shillings, and the half-crown coin, which was equal to 1/8th of a pound.
Soon, foreigners were confused by this pile of money. British politicians and financial professionals felt it too and tried to reform the UK’s financial system. Of course, the change did not start solely and exclusively because of the tourists.
European integration accelerated in the 1960s, and Great Britain officially became a member of the European Economic Community in 1973, which required reform of its monetary system.
The process really began in the middle of the nineteenth century: in 1853, 1857 and 1918 royal commissions investigated the feasibility of introducing a decimal number system, but with little success. No wonder, because various financial structures based on the 12 number system have a history of more than a thousand years in the country.
However, the use of the decimal number system became increasingly urgent, so in 1966 the United Kingdom Decimal Currency Board was set up to prepare the changes.
Experts discussed two versions before the introduction. In addition to retaining the pound, the majority proposed that instead of the former division of 20 shillings and 240 pence, one pound should be 100 pence. This method led to the end of the shilling.
According to the other proposal, which was closer to the ancient system, the basic unit was the half pound, which they wanted to divide into 100 parts. This evening they would have kept the shilling (half a pound would have been worth 10 shillings). In the end, the members of the committee decided in favor of the first solution, because they did not want to change the value of the pound treated as a basic unit, as this would have resulted in devaluing the pound as a reserve. currency.
At the beginning of 1971, six weeks before the introduction of the new system, which the islanders simply referred to as D-day after the initial letter of the decimal system, the British Post Office was already operating at full strength.
Postmen had to deliver at least 22 million information booklets to the country, with which British citizens could learn about the mysteries of the decimal number system. The printers also worked at a frantic pace, as they had to print millions of decimal checks and bank slips for banks.
But this was only the tip of the iceberg: millions of office machines had to be replaced in Britain, as well as calculators and many equipment in technical factories. But the cigarette and chocolate machines, of which there were more than a million in circulation in England, had to be redesigned because of the new coinage, not to mention cash registers and street telephones. Experts estimated the cost of introducing the new monetary system at 180 million pounds based on the value of that time.
During the transition, both types of change have been in effect for a while – and this has caused a lot of confusion. Stores can still operate under the No. 12 system for a year and a half. In addition to Great Britain, the new monetary system was also introduced in the Republic of Ireland. The British did not support the change, and according to contemporary opinion polls, half the population was against conversion.
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