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Paddy

Pre-decimalisation coin still legal tender?

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Question from the Daily Mail "Answers to Correspondents" section today:

"Just before decimalisation, what was the oldest coin that was still legal tender?"

I thought it ought to be easy and jumped straight to the first milled coins of Charles II and even Oliver Cromwell, but then I began to wonder if the hammered coins from earlier would still have been legal tender, no matter how unlikely that someone would have tried to use them as such? And then one could get drawn into the debate of the interpretation of "legal tender" - we have the daft situation now where the £5 coins are legal tender, but not even the banks have to accept them...

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Just from the top of my head I think all hammered silver coins were removed from legal tender during the reign of William III and early milled not long after 'the great re-coinage' of 1816, 1824 rings a bell. Think all copper was removed from legal tender a few years after the bronze issues of 1860. However I suspect something like Maundy issues were never removed from legal tender so there might lie the answer. Or it could be the simple answer, the 6d, 1/- and 2/6d issues of 1816.

The interpretation of legal tender, even going back as early as 1970, was a lot more strictly applied, there were less alternatives to cash and fewer RM rip offs.

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Just before decimalisation? I'd go with shillings and sixpences dated 1816. Halfcrowns had ceased being legal tender, florins were decades away, and crowns didn't appear for a couple of years.

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Posted (edited)

When were guineas demonetised? We know they stopped making them in 1813, but as the weight was 5% over the sovereign i.e. pro-rata, there was no need to demonetise them. The sovereign of 20s was more convenient than the 21s guinea. The fact that the new coinage in 1817 was reduced pro-rata, suggests the guinea continued to be legal tender. In fact there was no case for demonetising these other than on account of their odd value.

Edited by Rob
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21 hours ago, Rob said:

When were guineas demonetised? We know they stopped making them in 1813, but as the weight was 5% over the sovereign i.e. pro-rata, there was no need to demonetise them. The sovereign of 20s was more convenient than the 21s guinea. The fact that the new coinage in 1817 was reduced pro-rata, suggests the guinea continued to be legal tender. In fact there was no case for demonetising these other than on account of their odd value.

This, from the interweb (source not stated, sadly):

""In 1891 a proclamation was made that members of the general public could hand in any gold coins that were underweight and have them replaced by full-weight coins. Any gold coin struck before 1837 also ceased to be legal tender."

so it would seem that Guinea may have ceased to be legal tender in 1891 as they were made from gold and struck before 1837
."

However, this from Wikipedia:

"The Coinage Act 1889 also authorised the Bank of England to redeem worn gold coins from before Victoria's reign but on 22 November 1890, all gold coins from before her reign were called in by Royal Proclamation and demonetised effective 28 February 1891.["

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Maundy coins are still legal tender, having been redenominated to their value in decimal pence by the Coinage Act 1971 s. 2(2). 

It's not really clear to me what the earliest legal tender maundy money is though; can we go back to the undated Charles II milled issues, or can only "modern" Maundy money post-1822 be spent ? 

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2 hours ago, JLS said:

Maundy coins are still legal tender, having been redenominated to their value in decimal pence by the Coinage Act 1971 s. 2(2). 

It's not really clear to me what the earliest legal tender maundy money is though; can we go back to the undated Charles II milled issues, or can only "modern" Maundy money post-1822 be spent ? 

I doubt anywhere would accept Maundy, and I'm prepared to bet that wasn't the answer to the quiz question.

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I think the 1816 sixpence and shilling are going to win, as Peck suggested.

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