Interesting Facts about the British Pound

The pound sterling, as is well known, is the currency of the United Kingdom which covers the area of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. At present, it is the oldest existing currency in the world. The heyday of the British pound was during the 19th century and the early-20th century. With the gradual fall of the British Empire and the rise of the United States of America and its currency US$, the importance of the British pound declined too in the international market. However, the British economy is still one of the largest in the world and pound sterling is a highly valued currency. We have gathered some interesting facts about the British currency which you should know.

  1. The symbol £ is used to denote the pound sterling. The symbol came from the Latin alphabet ‘L’ which stands for Libra- the Latin for pound.
  2. Apart from the United Kingdom, several overseas territories of Britain also used the GBP (£). This included but not limited to Isle of Man, Jersey, and Bailiwicks of Guernsey.
  3. Before 1971, the pound sterling was not a decimalized currency system.
  4. Before 1971, £ 1 was divided into 20 shillings and it was again divided into 12 pennies. Well, this was not the end. A penny was further divided into 4 farthings. The worth of a farthing was so little that it became practically obsolete in 1961.
  5. The pound sterling system was reformed and decimalized on 15th February, 1971. £ 1 was divided into 100 pence. As a result of this most of the old coins were demonetized and ceased to be legal tenders. It also simplified the currency system.
  6. The pound banknotes are printed under the supervision of several authorities. In England, the Bank of England; in Scotland the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Bank of Scotland, and the Clydesdale Bank issue the banknotes. The Bank of England notes are also used in the Wales.
  7. The largely circulated pound sterling notes are of denominations of £5, £10, £20, £50, and £100.
  8. However, there are also Giants and Titans. These are the £1 million pound and £100 million pound notes respectively. They are apparently not for the use of the ordinary masses. The Giants and Titans are held by the note issuing banks of Scotland and Northern Ireland as a guarantee for the notes they issued in pound sterling currency.
  9. The front of the banknotes carries a portrait of the reigning monarch. The back of the notes also carry the images of famous British personalities from the past. So far many famous Britons have adorned the back of the pound sterling notes including William Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, Arthur Wellesley, Michael Faraday, Charles Dickens, etc.
  10. The pound sterling coins come in several denominations such as 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, and £2.
  11. On several occasions commemorative coins have been issued. A special commemorative 25p coin was issued in 1981 to celebrate the wedding ceremony of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

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