The Wikipedia article about the "Cisalpine Republic" includes a photograph of what seems to me an indescribably beautiful silver coin struck by this seedy (and very temporary) North Italian Napoleonic client state of the French 'Enlightenment'. In my humblest of opinions, it is fine enough to have been forged for ... if not by ... Winckelmann himself.
(Why do I have a weakness for Neoclassicism? I can assure you that the W among my initials doesn't stand for Winckelmann.)
As I admired this coin, I realised that it represented one-and-a-half Librae ... equivalent to 30 Solidi /Soldi. And I recollected the eternal Truth that there are 12 Denarii in a Solidus.
I wonder how many other parts of Old Europe enjoyed a monetary system based on £/s/d, 1/20/12. How privileged I was to live with that system for some three decades! I wonder how the teaching of Mathematics has been disadvantaged by its abolition. (If a dozen apples cost five farthings, how many apples can I buy for £2 3s 2d?)
I know what you're going to say: those even more archaic sums which include 13s 4d or 6s 8d are even better fun.
Is it true that the members of the College of Arms are still paid in Marks?
In a collection of much-abraded English coins which I extracted from general circulation in the 1940s, there is a poorly designed (very non-Winckelmann) Gothick silver coin dated 'mdccclxx' with the information "one florin one tenth of a pound" on the reverse. I presume this represents the great triumph of Planty Palliser's great campaign. His statues should be daubed. Gatherum Castle should be sacked. His dukedom should be attainted, if dukedoms are subject to attainder. Death to Whiggery.
I got interested in the Cisalpine Republic when I read somewhere that the reason why churches down the West Bank of Lake Garda have a stall (coro ligneo) round the back and sides of the Altar was to accommodate the Arciprete and the chaplains of the parochial schools and confraternities (of the Most Holy Sacrament ... of the Holy Rosary ... etc..); which guilds, I gather, were disappropriated (incamerati) by ... er ...
When those clerics were not laudably sitting there reciting together the canonical Hours, they were busy educating the young.
After they lost their pre-enlightenment incomes, I bet they never got very much sight of large silver coins, least of all of any indescribably beautiful neoclassical examples.
4968 apples (or, if you prefer, 2 and 7/8 great gross of apples), with a ha'penny left over.
... and Mr J Lopuszynski was very fast with this ...
As far as I remember from my arithmetic books of the mid-to-late sixties, it used be: "if a housewife/woman (they didn't use the / but housewife and woman were understood to be interchangeable) buys 2 lbs of flour for 2/6, how much would a stone cost?". But it was always: "If a man buys a car for £400 how much would 3/4 of a car cost?"
Well, maybe not quite like that but not far off. You get the general drift. As we all did. I well recall the chanted rhyme: "12 pence in a shilling, 20 shillings in a pound, 40 sixpences, eighty thruppences (as 'twas pronounced) and 8 half-crowns".
We learned wet measure as well: gills, pints, quarts etc. I didn't understand that all that well at the time, but do now. Eheu. Father, from his time in Kerry, will understand that the Irish spirit measure, at 1/8 gill, is a bit more generous than that in the UK (except for NI, which still has sense).
New Zealand adopted decimal currency in 1967, when I was ten, so I can just remember the old currency. There were no farthings, but we had a ha'penny, a thruppence, a florin (two shillings) and half-a -crown (two shillings and sixpence).
The most striking coins were the large copper pennies: new ones with a portrait of the Queen, then a mere 15 years into her reign, older pennies with a portrait of a clean-shaven monarch, and ancient pennies with a portrait of a bearded King-Emperor. I never saw paper money: I was never worth more than about six shillings in pocket money.
I'm absurdly proud of the fact that I managed to solve the problem given above in my head, while lying in bed this morning. (Well, almost...ironically I stumbled on the last straight-forward addition.)
Two pounds three shillings is 43 shillings, times 12 is 430 + 86=516, plus tuppence is 518 pennies.Times four is 2072 farthings. Divide by five is twice 207.2 or 414.4 lots of a dozen apples each. Times 12 is 4144 + 828.8....or...four thousand...nine hundred and er...sixty-twelve (as the French would say) point eight. ...4,972.8 apples. Let's round up the last apple and call it 4,973.
As a ha'penny buys 2/5 or 0.4 of a dozen= 4.8 apples, this squares with Joshua's answer.
If it takes a forty man orchestra 40 minutes to play Beethoven's 5th symphony, how long does it take a sixty man orchestra ?
A few of the older coinages are still current across the pond. The phrase "penny wise and pound foolish" was used by the New York Times on July 13, 2016 in an article on the budget, despite centuries of using the American dollar:
"The entire funding for the act, which includes services like training and job placement, adds up to less than $3 billion. That looks like a penny-wise, pound-foolish strategy."
On the other hand, I was horrified to hear one of my colleagues update the proverb to "penny wise and dollar foolish".
During the American Civil War, the soldiers from places like Illinois were confused on arriving in Maryland, where prices were still reconed in pounds, shillings and pence. To this day, horses are sold in Guineas, even though it is not twenty one silver shillings, or a gold coin with the same value, but just plain old 1.05 in New Money. Obviously, the whole decimal thing has been a charade designed to cover up the massive de-valuation of the currency. When my dad lived in London, a driver for London Bus made 5 pound a week, and that was considered a good wage at the time, around 1950. Right up to the conversion, money had greater value than it had afterwards. I used to love the British and Irish money that came my way, whenever my grandad or dad came back from Ireland or the UK, especially the pennies. That old money was full of romance and imagination to a young boy's mind. Looking at old prices, my dads sunday missal cost, I think, ten shillings, making it very expensive at the time, but a pound could get you twenty pints of beer (or was that 10?) twenty years later. Everyday things were cheap, and even in the 1980's you could get a suit at Huntsman's for something like 400 pounds. America did not have the opportunity to hide the big rip-off during the 1970s, because we were always decimal, but I feel like those bad days are here again, and the money is losing all of its value.
Lindybeige the Youtuber has a very nice video on old UK money, which actually explained the whole pounds, shillings, pence thing to me. I was unaware that the various coins' weights used to represent their exact value, and there was a very nifty money scale in the video.
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