TheInfoList

The pound sterling (symbol: ; ISO code: GBP), known in some contexts simply as the pound or sterling, is the official
currency A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed t ...

of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

,
Jersey Jersey ( , ; nrf, label=Jèrriais, Jèrri ), officially the Bailiwick of Jersey (french: Bailliage de Jersey, links=no; Jèrriais: ''Bailliage dé Jèrri''), is an island and self-governing Crown dependencies, Crown Dependency near the coas ...

,
Guernsey Guernsey (; Guernésiais Guernésiais, also known as ''Dgèrnésiais'', Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the Norman language Norman or Norman French (', french: Normand, Guernésiais: ''Normand'', Jèrriais: ...

, the
Isle of Man ) , anthem = " O Land of Our Birth" , image = Isle of Man by Sentinel-2.jpg , image_map = Europe-Isle_of_Man.svg , mapsize = 290px , map_alt = Location of the Isle of Man in Europe , map_caption = Location of the Isle of Man (green) in E ...

,
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "" , song = "" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = Gibraltar map-en-edit2.svg , map ...

,
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song_type = , song = , image_map = South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in United Kingdom.svg , map_caption = Location of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in the southern Atlantic Oce ...

, the
British Antarctic Territory The British Antarctic Territory (BAT) is a sector of Antarctica claimed by the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and ...

, and
Tristan da Cunha Tristan da Cunha (), colloquially Tristan, is a remote group of volcanic A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object A planet is an astronomical body orbit In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curve ...
. It is subdivided into 100 ''pence'' (singular: ''penny'', abbreviated: ''p''). The "pound sterling" is the oldest currency in continuous use. Some nations that do not use sterling also have currencies called the ''
pound Pound or Pounds may refer to: Units * Pound (currency) A pound is any of various units of currency A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Im ...
''. Sterling is the fourth most-traded currency in the
foreign exchange market The foreign exchange market (Forex, FX, or currency market) is a global decentralized Decentralization or decentralisation is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision makin ...
, after the
United States dollar The United States dollar (symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an , , or . Symbols allow people to go beyond what is n or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very diffe ...
, the
euro The euro (currency symbol, symbol: euro sign, €; ISO 4217, code: EUR) is the official currency of 19 of the Member state of the European Union, member states of the European Union. This group of states is known as the eurozone or euro area ...

, and the
Japanese yen The is the official currency of Japan. It is the third most traded currency in the , after the and the . It is also widely used as a third after the and the . The concept of the yen was a component of the late-19th century government's ...
. Together with those three currencies and the
Chinese yuan The renminbi (: RMB; ; : 元/¥; : CNY) is the official of the and one of the world's , ranking as the eighth as of April 2019. The () is the basic unit of the renminbi, but the word is also used to refer to the Chinese currency generall ...
, it forms the basket of currencies which calculate the value of
IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monu ...

special drawing rights Special drawing rights (SDRs) are supplementary foreign exchange reserve Foreign exchange reserves (also called forex reserves or FX reserves) are cash In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people inter ...
. As of mid-2021, sterling is also the fifth most-held
reserve currency A reserve currency (or anchor currency) is a foreign currency A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a ...
in global reserves. The British
Crown dependencies #REDIRECT Crown Dependencies#REDIRECT Crown Dependencies The Crown dependencies (french: Dépendances de la Couronne; gv, Croghaneyn-crooin) are three island territories off the coast of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in t ...

of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man produce their own local issues of sterling (the
Guernsey pound The pound is the currency of Guernsey. Since 1921, Guernsey has been in currency union with the United Kingdom and the Guernsey pound is not a separate currency but is a local issue of banknotes and coins denominated in pound sterling, in a similar ...
, the
Jersey pound The pound (french: Livre de Jersey) is the currency of Jersey. Jersey is in currency union with the United Kingdom, and the Jersey pound is not a separate currency but is an issue of banknotes and coins by the States of Jersey denominated in p ...
and the
Manx pound The Manx pound () is the currency of the Isle of Man ) , anthem = " O Land of Our Birth" , image = Isle of Man by Sentinel-2.jpg , image_map = Europe-Isle_of_Man.svg , mapsize = 290px , map_alt = Location of the Isle of Man in Europe , ...
) which are considered fully equivalent to UK sterling in their respective regions. The pound sterling is also used in the
British Overseas Territories The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen dependent territory, territories all with a constitutional and historical link with the United Kingdom. They are remnants of the B ...

:
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "" , song = "" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = Gibraltar map-en-edit2.svg , map ...

(alongside the
Gibraltar pound The Gibraltar pound (currency sign A currency symbol or currency sign is a graphic symbol used as a shorthand for a currency's name, especially in reference to amounts of money. Usage When writing currency amounts, the location of the symbol v ...
), the
Falkland Islands The Falkland Islands (; es, Islas Malvinas, ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece ...

(alongside the
Falkland Islands pound The Pound is the currency of the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. The symbol is the pound sign, ''£'', or alternatively ''FK£'', to distinguish it from other pound (currency), pound-denominated currenci ...
), and in
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha is a British Overseas Territory The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen territories all with a constitutional and histori ...
(alongside the
Saint Helena pound The Saint Helena pound is the currency of the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic islands of Saint Helena and Ascension Island, Ascension, which are constituent parts of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. It is f ...
), others having transitioned to dollar currencies, such as
Bermuda ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen "God Save the Queen", alternatively "God Save the King" (dependent on the gender of the reigning monarch), is the or in most s, their territories, and the British . The author of the tune is unknown, ...

in 1970. The
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

is the
central bank A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is an institution that manages the and of a or formal monetary union, and oversees their . In contrast to a , a central bank possesses a on increasing the . Most central banks also have ...

for the pound sterling, issuing its own banknotes, and regulating issuance of banknotes by private banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Sterling banknotes issued by other jurisdictions are not regulated by the Bank of England; their governments guarantee convertibility at par. The pound sterling was also used to varying degrees by colonies in the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

.

Names

The full official name ''pound sterling'' (
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...
: ''pounds sterling''), is used mainly in formal contexts and also when it is necessary to distinguish the United Kingdom currency from other currencies with the same name. Otherwise the term ''pound'' is normally used. The currency name is sometimes abbreviated to just ''sterling'', particularly in the wholesale financial markets, but not when referring to specific amounts; for example, "Payment is accepted in sterling" but never "These cost five sterling". The abbreviations "ster." and "stg." are sometimes used. The term "British pound" is sometimes used in less formal contexts, but it is not an official name of the currency.

Etymology

There are various theories regarding the origin of the term "pound sterling". The Oxford English Dictionary states that the "most plausible" etymology is derivation from the Old English ''steorra'' for "star" with the added
diminutive A diminutive is a root word A root (or root word) is the core of a word that is irreducible into more meaningful elements. In morphology, a root is a morphologically simple unit which can be left bare or to which a prefix A prefix is an aff ...
suffix "-ling", to mean "little star" and to refer to a silver penny of the English Normans. Another argument that the
Hanseatic League The Hanseatic League (; gml, Hanse, , ; german: label=Modern German New High German (NHG) is the term used for the most recent period in the history of the German language German (: , ) is a mainly spoken in . It is the most widely ...
was the origin for both the origin of its definition and manufacture, and in its name is that the German name for the Baltic is "Ostsee", or "East Sea", and from this the Baltic merchants were called "Osterlings", or "Easterlings". In 1260, Henry III granted them a charter of protection and land for their Kontor, the , which by the 1340s was also called "Easterlings Hall", or Esterlingeshalle. Because the League's money was not frequently debased like that of England, English traders stipulated to be paid in pounds of the "Easterlings", which was contracted to "'sterling".
Encyclopedia Britannica An encyclopedia (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, Ameri ...

states the (pre-Norman) Anglo-Saxon kingdoms had silver coins called 'sterlings' and that the compound noun 'pound sterling' was derived from a pound (weight) of these sterlings.

Symbol

The
currency sign A currency symbol or currency sign is a graphic symbol used as a shorthand for a currency's name, especially in reference to amounts of money. Usage When writing currency amounts, the location of the symbol varies by language. Many currencies i ...

for the pound is , which is usually written with a single cross-bar (as on modern
banknote A banknote (often known as a bill (in the US and Canada), paper money, or simply a note) is a type of negotiable promissory note A promissory note, sometimes referred to as a note payable, is a legal instrument ''Legal instrument'' is a ...
s exclusively since 1975). ("£1 1st Series Treasury Issue" to "£5 Series B") A variation with a double cross-bar () has been used intermittently with since the earliest banknotes of 1725 when both were used. Historically, a simple capital L was used in newspapers, books and letters. The symbol derives from medieval Latin documents: the
black-letter Blackletter (sometimes black letter), also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, or Textura, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 until the 17th century. It continued to be commonly used for the Danish language ...

"L" ($\mathfrak$) was the abbreviation for ''
libra The Libra Party or ''Equal List'' ( sq, Lista e Barabartë) is a list of political parties in Albania, political party in Albania. It was founded in 2016. History The party was founded by Ben Blushi, a prominent politician/writer, and Mimoza H ...

'', the basic Roman unit of weight, which became an
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

unit of weight defined as the
tower pound The pound or pound-mass is a unit Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT, a fictional military organization in the science fiction television series ''Doctor Who'' * Unit of action, a discrete piece of action (or beat) in a theatrica ...
of
sterling silver Sterling silver is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous a ...
. In the British pre-decimal (
duodecimal The duodecimal system (also known as base 12, dozenal, or, rarely, uncial) is a positional notation Positional notation (or place-value notation, or positional numeral system) usually denotes the extension to any of the (or ). More generally ...
) currency system, the term
£sd £sd (occasionally written Lsd, spoken as "pounds, shillings and pence" or pronounced ) is the popular name for the pre-decimal currencies A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversi ...
(or Lsd) for pounds,
shilling The shilling is a historical coin, and the name of a unit of modern currencies A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-D ...
s and
pence A penny is a coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal A metal (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ...

referred to the Roman words ''libra'', ''
solidus Solidus (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republi ...
'', and ''
denarius The denarius (, dēnāriī ) was the standard Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a ...
''.

Currency code

The
ISO 4217 currency code showing the price in the ISO 4217 code " EUR" (''bottom left'') and not the currency sign € ISO 4217 is a Standardization, standard published by International Organization for Standardization The International Organization for Standar ...
is GBP, formed from "GB", the
ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code In communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from ...
code for the United Kingdom, and the first letter of "pound". Occasionally, the abbreviation "UKP" is used but this is non-standard because the
ISO 3166 ISO 3166 is a standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrology), an object that bears a defined ...
country code for the United Kingdom is GB (see
Terminology of the British Isles The terminology of the British Isles refers to the words and phrases that are used to describe the (sometimes overlapping) geographical and political areas of the islands of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlanti ...
). The
Crown dependencies #REDIRECT Crown Dependencies#REDIRECT Crown Dependencies The Crown dependencies (french: Dépendances de la Couronne; gv, Croghaneyn-crooin) are three island territories off the coast of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in t ...
use their own (non-ISO) codes: GGP (
Guernsey pound The pound is the currency of Guernsey. Since 1921, Guernsey has been in currency union with the United Kingdom and the Guernsey pound is not a separate currency but is a local issue of banknotes and coins denominated in pound sterling, in a similar ...
), JEP (
Jersey pound The pound (french: Livre de Jersey) is the currency of Jersey. Jersey is in currency union with the United Kingdom, and the Jersey pound is not a separate currency but is an issue of banknotes and coins by the States of Jersey denominated in p ...
) and IMP ( Isle of Man pound). Stock prices are often quoted in pence, so traders may refer to
pence sterling The penny sterling or penny (symbol: p; plural: ''pence'') is a subdivision of pound sterling, the currency for the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Brita ...
, GBX (sometimes GBp), when listing stock prices.

Cable

The exchange rate of the pound sterling against the
US dollar The United States dollar (symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an , , or . Symbols allow people to go beyond what is n or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very diffe ...
is referred to as "cable" in the wholesale
foreign exchange market The foreign exchange market (Forex, FX, or currency market) is a global decentralized Decentralization or decentralisation is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision makin ...
s. The origins of this term are attributed to the fact that in the 1800s, the GBP/USD exchange rate was transmitted via transatlantic cable. Forex traders of GBP/USD are sometimes referred to as "cable dealers". JPY/USD is the other currency pair with its own name, known as "fiber".

Quid (slang)

A common slang term for the pound sterling or pound is ''quid'', which is singular and plural, except in the common phrase "quids in!". The term may have come via Italian immigrants from " scudo", the name for a number of coins used in Italy until the 19th century; or from Latin 'quid' via the common phrase ''
quid pro quo Quid pro quo ('what for what' in Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
'', literally, "what for what", or, figuratively, "An equal exchange or substitution".

Subdivisions and other units

Decimal coinage

Since
decimalisation Decimalisation (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American Engli ...
on
Decimal Day Decimal Day in the United Kingdom and in Republic of Ireland, Ireland was 15 February 1971, the day on which each country decimalised its respective £sd currency of pound sterling, pounds, Shilling (British coin), shillings, and penny, penc ...
in 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 pence (denoted on coinage, until 1981, as "new pence"). The symbol for the penny is "p"; hence an amount such as 50p (£0.50) properly pronounced "fifty pence" is often pronounced "fifty pee" /fɪfti piː/. This also helped to distinguish between new and old pence amounts during the changeover to the decimal system. A decimal halfpenny was issued until 1984 but was removed due to having a higher cost to manufacture than its face value.

Pre-decimal

Before decimalisation in 1971, the pound was divided into 20
shillings The shilling is a historical coin, and the name of a unit of modern currencies A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-D ...
and each shilling into 12
pence A penny is a coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal A metal (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ...
, making 240 pence to the pound. The symbol for the shilling was "''s''."—not from the first letter of "shilling", but from the Latin ''
solidus Solidus (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republi ...
''. The symbol for the penny was "''d''.", from the French ''denier'', from the Latin ''
denarius The denarius (, dēnāriī ) was the standard Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a ...
'' (the solidus and denarius were Roman coins). A mixed sum of shillings and pence, such as 3 shillings and 6 pence, was written as "3/6" or "3''s''. 6''d''." and spoken as "three and six" or "three and sixpence" except for "1/1," "2/1" etc., which were spoken as "one and a penny", "two and a penny", etc. 5 shillings, for example, was written as "5''s''." or, more commonly, "5/–". Various coin denominations had, and in some cases continue to have, special names—such as
florin The Florentine Florentine most commonly refers to: * a person or thing from Florence, a city in Italy * the Florentine dialect Florentine may also refer to: Places * Florentin, Tel Aviv, a neighborhood in the southern part of Tel Aviv, Is ...
(2s),
crown '' File:서봉총 금관 금제드리개.jpg, The Seobongchong Golden Crown of Ancient Silla, which is 339th National Treasure of South Korea. It is basically following the standard type of Silla's Crown. It was excavated by Swedish Crown Pri ...
(5s), half crown (2s6d). farthing (d),
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
(£1) and
guinea Guinea (), officially the Republic of Guinea (french: link=no, République de Guinée), is a coastal country in West Africa. Guinea borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Guinea-Bissau to the northwest, Senegal to the north, Mali to the no ...
('' q.v.''). See
Coins of the pound sterling The standard circulating coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, whe ...
and List of British coins and banknotes for details. By the 1950s, coins of Kings
George III George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1820) was King of Great Britain There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on th ...

,
George IV George IV (George Augustus Frederick; 12 August 1762 – 26 June 1830) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union A polit ...

and
William IV William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England ...

had disappeared from circulation, but coins (at least the penny) bearing the head of every British king or queen from
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

onwards could be found in circulation. Silver coins were replaced by those in
cupro-nickel Cupronickel or copper-nickel (CuNi) is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured ...
in 1947, and by the 1960s the silver coins were rarely seen. Silver/cupro-nickel shillings (from any period after 1816) and
florin The Florentine Florentine most commonly refers to: * a person or thing from Florence, a city in Italy * the Florentine dialect Florentine may also refer to: Places * Florentin, Tel Aviv, a neighborhood in the southern part of Tel Aviv, Is ...
s (2 shillings) remained legal tender after decimalisation (as 5p and 10p respectively) until 1990 and 1993 respectively, but are now officially demonetised.

History (600 to 1945)

The pound sterling emerged after the adoption of the Carolingian monetary system in England . Here is a summary of changes to its value in terms of silver or gold until 1914. Since the suspension of the gold standard in 1931 the pound sterling has been
fiat money Fiat money (from la, fiat, ) is a type of money that is not backed by any commodity such as gold or silver, and typically declared by a decree from the government to be legal tender. Throughout history, fiat money was sometimes issued by local ...
, with its value determined by its continued acceptance in the national and international economy. The pound sterling is the world's oldest currency that is still in use and that has been in continuous use since its inception.

Anglo-Saxon

The pound was a unit of account in
Anglo-Saxon England Anglo-Saxon England or Early Medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries from the end of Roman Britain until the Norman Conquest, Norman conquest in 1066, consisted of various Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 927, when ...
. By the ninth century it was equal to 240 silver
pence A penny is a coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal A metal (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ...
. The accounting system of four farthings = one
penny A penny is a coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal A metal (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ...

, twelve pence = one
shilling The shilling is a historical coin, and the name of a unit of modern currencies A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-D ...
, twenty shillings = one pound, was adopted from that introduced by
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

to the
Frankish Empire Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom A barbarian is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most popu ...

(see livre carolingienne). The penny was abbreviated to 'd', from ''
denarius The denarius (, dēnāriī ) was the standard Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a ...
'', Latin for penny; 's' from
solidus Solidus (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republi ...
, for shilling; and 'L' (subsequently £) from ''
Libra The Libra Party or ''Equal List'' ( sq, Lista e Barabartë) is a list of political parties in Albania, political party in Albania. It was founded in 2016. History The party was founded by Ben Blushi, a prominent politician/writer, and Mimoza H ...

'' or ''
Livre LIVRE (), previously known as LIVRE/Tempo de Avançar (, L/TDA), is an eco-socialist political party in Portugal founded in 2014. Its founding principles are ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, ...
'' for the pound. The origins of sterling lie in the reign of (757–796), who introduced a 'sterling' coin made by physically dividing a
Tower pound The pound or pound-mass is a unit Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT, a fictional military organization in the science fiction television series ''Doctor Who'' * Unit of action, a discrete piece of action (or beat) in a theatrica ...
of silver in 240 parts. In practice, the weights of the coins was not consistent and 240 of them seldom added up to a full pound; there were no shilling or pound coins and the pound was used only as an accounting convenience. and farthings worth and penny respectively were also minted, but small change was more commonly produced by cutting up a whole penny.

Medieval, 1158 CE

The early pennies were struck from fine silver (as pure as was available). However, in 1158, a new coinage was introduced by King
Henry II Henry II may refer to: Kings *Henry II of England (1133–89), reigned from 1154 *Henry II of Jerusalem and Cyprus (1271–1324), reigned from 1285; king of Jerusalem in name only from 1291 *Henry II of Castile (1334–79), reigned 1366–67 and ...

(known as the '' Tealby penny'') which was struck from 92.5% silver; hence fine silver in a penny. This coinage standard, called
sterling silver Sterling silver is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous a ...
, has been maintained until the 20th century. Sterling silver is harder than the 99.9%
fine silver FINE was created in 1998 and is an informal association of the four main fair trade networks: *F Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) *I International Fair Trade Association, now the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) * ...
that was traditionally used and so sterling silver coins did not wear down as rapidly as fine silver coins. The introduction in 1266 and subsequent popularity of the larger French :fr:Gros tournois, gros tournois coins led to additional denominations in the form of Groat (coin), groats worth four pence and Twopence (British pre-decimal coin), half groats worth two pence. A gold penny weighing twice the silver penny and valued at 20 silver pence was also issued in 1257 but was not successful. The English penny remained nearly unchanged since c 800 CE and was a prominent exception in the progressive debasements of coinage which occurred in the rest of Europe. The Tower Pound (12 oz) originally of 240 pence was struck into just 243 pence as of 1279 CE. The English groat denominated as 4 pence may be contrasted with the Gros tournois, French gros tournois denominated 12 deniers (pence) and the Venetian grosso denominated 26 denari.

Edward III, 1351

During the reign of Edward III of England, King Edward III, the introduction of gold coins received from Flanders as payment for English wool provided substantial economic and trade opportunities but also unsettled the pound sterling for the next 200 years. The first monetary changes in 1344 consisted of * English pennies reduced to 20 grains of sterling silver (1.214 g fine silver), and * Gold Florin (English coin), double florins weighing 108 grains (6.998 grams) and valued at 6 shillings (or 72 pence). The resulting gold-silver ratio of 1:12.5 was much higher than the ratio of 1:11 prevailing in the Continent, draining England of its silver coinage and requiring a more permanent remedy in 1351 in the form of * Pennies reduced further to 18 grains of sterling silver (1.079 g fine silver), and * New Noble (English coin), gold nobles weighing 120 grains (7.776 g) of the finest gold possible at 191/192 or 99.48% fine, and valued at 6 shillings 8 pence (80 pence, or rd of a pound); hence 7.735 g fine gold in a noble. The gold-silver ratio was 80*1.079/7.735 = 11.2. These gold nobles, together with half-nobles (40 pence) and farthings or quarter-nobles (20 pence), would become the first English gold coins produced in quantity.

Henry IV, 1412

The exigencies of the Hundred Years’ War during the reign of Henry IV of England, King Henry IV resulted in further debasements toward the end of his reign, with the English penny reduced to 15 grains sterling silver (0.899 g fine silver) and the half-noble reduced to 54 grains (3.481 g fine gold). The gold-silver ratio went down to 40*0.899/3.481 = 10.3. After the French franc#Lancastrian War, 1425, French monetary reform of 1425, the gold half-noble (th pound, 40 pence) was worth close to one French franc#History, Livre Parisis (French pound) or 20 sols, while the silver half-groat (2 pence, fine silver 1.798 g) was worth close to 1 sol parisis (1.912 g). Also, after the Flemish monetary reform of 1434, the new Dutch Guilder (pound) was valued close to 40 pence while the Dutch stuiver (shilling) of 1.63 g fine silver was valued close to 2 pence sterling at 1.8 g. which gives the fine silver content of a Stuiver as 3.4 x 0.479 or almost 1.63 g This approximate pairing of English half-nobles & half-groats to Continental ''livres'' and ''sols'' persisted up to the 1560s.

Great slump, 1464

The Great Bullion Famine and the Great Slump (15th century), Great Slump of the mid-15th century resulted in another reduction in the English penny to 12 grains sterling silver (0.719 g fine silver) and the introduction of a new Angel (coin), half-angel gold coin of 40 grains (2.578 g), worth th pound or 40 pence. The gold-silver ratio rose again to 40*0.719/2.578 = 11.2. The reduction in the English penny approximately matched those with the French ''sol Parisis'' and the Flemish ''stuiver''; furthermore, from 1469 to 1475 an agreement between England and the Burgundian Netherlands made the English groat (4-pence) mutually exchangeable with the Burgundian ''double patard'' (or 2-''stuiver'') minted under Charles the Rash.p113 https://www.britnumsoc.org/publications/Digital%20BNJ/pdfs/1963_BNJ_33_18.pdf 40 pence or th pound sterling made one Troy weight, Troy Ounce (480 grains, 31.1035 g) of sterling silver. It was approximately par with France's French franc#History, livre parisis of one French ounce (30.594 g), and in 1524 it would also be the model for a standardised German currency in the form of the Guldengroschen, which also weighed 1 German ounce of silver or .

Tudor, 1551

The last significant depreciation in the pound sterling's silver standard occurred amidst the 16th century influx of precious metals from the American continent arriving through the Habsburg Netherlands. Enforcement of monetary standards amongst provinces of the Netherlands, its constituent provinces was loose, spending under King Henry VIII was extravagant, and England loosened the importation of cheaper continental coins for exchange into full-valued English coins. All these contributed to The Great Debasement which resulted in a significant rd reduction in the bullion content of the pound sterling in 1551. The troy ounce of sterling silver was henceforth raised in price by 50% from 40 to 60 silver pennies (each penny weighing 8 grains sterling silver and containing fine silver). The gold half-angel of 40 grains ( fine gold) was raised in price from 40 pence to 60 pence (5 shillings or pound) and was henceforth known as the Crown (British coin), Crown. Prior to 1551, English coin denominations closely matched with corresponding sol (2d) & livre (40d) denominations in the Continent, namely: * Silver; see #Medieval, 1158 CE, ''Medieval'': Farthing (English coin), farthing (d), Halfpenny (British pre-decimal coin), halfpenny (d), Penny (English coin), penny (1d), Twopence (British pre-decimal coin), half-groat (2d), & Groat (coin), groat (4d) * Gold; see #Edward III, 1351, ''1351'': noble (20d), noble (40d) & noble or Angel (coin), angel (80d). After 1551 new denominations were introduced, weighing similarly to 1464-issued coins but increased in value 1 times, namely: * In silver: the Threepence (British coin), threepence (3d), replacing the half-groat; the Sixpence (British coin), sixpence (6d), replacing the groat; and a new Shilling (English coin), shilling or testoon (1/-). * In silver or gold: the Half crown (British coin), half crown (2/6 or 30d), replacing the angel of 20d; and the Crown (English coin), crown (5/- or 60d), replacing the angel of 40d. * And in gold: the new half sovereign (10 shillings) and Sovereign (British coin), sovereign (£1 or 20 shillings)

Establishment of modern currency

The
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

was founded in 1694, followed by the Bank of Scotland a year later. Both began to issue paper money.

Currency of Great Britain (1707) and the United Kingdom (1801)

The pound Scots once had much the same value as the pound sterling, but it suffered far higher devaluation until in the 17th century it was currency peg, pegged to sterling at a value of 12 pounds Scots = 1 pound sterling. In 1707, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland merged to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. In accordance with the Treaty of Union, the currency of Great Britain was sterling, with the pound Scots soon being replaced by sterling at the pegged value. In 1801, Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland were united to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. However, the Irish pound continued to exist and was not replaced by sterling until January 1826. The conversion rate had long been 13 Irish pounds to 12 pounds sterling. In 1928, six years after the Anglo-Irish Treaty restored Irish autonomy within the British Empire, the Irish Free State re-established the Irish pound, pegged at par to sterling.

Use in the Empire

Sterling circulated in much of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

. In some parts, it was used alongside local currencies. For example, the gold sovereign was legal tender in Canada despite the use of the Canadian dollar. Several colonies and dominions adopted the pound as their own currency. These included Australian pound, Australia, Barbados, British West African pound, British West Africa, Cypriot pound, Cyprus, Fiji, British India, the Irish pound, Irish Free State, Jamaican pound, Jamaica, New Zealand pound, New Zealand, South African pound, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. Some of these retained parity with sterling throughout their existence (e.g. the South African pound), while others deviated from parity after the end of the gold standard (e.g. the Australian pound). These currencies and others tied to sterling constituted the sterling area. The original English colonies on British North America, mainland North America were not party to the sterling area because the above-mentioned silver shortage in England coincided with these colonies' formative years. As a result of equitable trade (and rather less equitable piracy), the Spanish dollar, Spanish milled dollar became the most common coin within the English colonies.

Gold standard

During the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic wars,
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

notes were legal tender, and their value floated relative to gold. The Bank also issued silver tokens to alleviate the shortage of silver coins. In 1816, the gold standard was adopted officially, with silver coins minted at a rate of 66 shillings to a troy pound (weight) of sterling silver, thus rendering them as "token" issues (i.e. not containing their value in precious metal). In 1817, the
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
was introduced, valued at 20 shillings. Struck in 22‑karat gold, it contained 113 grains or of fine gold and replaced the Guinea (coin), guinea as the standard British gold coin without changing the gold standard. By the 19th century, pound sterling notes were widely accepted outside Britain. The American Nellie Bly carried Bank of England notes on Around the World in Seventy-Two Days, her 1889–1890 trip around the world in 72 days. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many other countries adopted the gold standard. As a consequence, conversion rates between different currencies could be determined simply from the respective gold standards. The pound sterling was equal to 4.87
United States dollar The United States dollar (symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an , , or . Symbols allow people to go beyond what is n or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very diffe ...
s, 4.87 Canadian dollars, 12.11 Dutch guilders, 25.22 French francs (or equivalent currencies in the Latin Monetary Union), 20.43 German gold mark, German marks, 9.46 Ruble, Russian Rubles or 24.02 Austro-Hungarian krone. After the International Monetary Conferences, International Monetary Conference of 1867 in Paris, the possibility of the UK joining the Latin Monetary Union was discussed, and a Royal Commission on International Coinage examined the issues, resulting in a decision against joining monetary union.

First world war: suspension of the gold standard

The gold standard was suspended at the outbreak of First World War in 1914, with Bank of England and Treasury notes becoming legal tender. Before that war, the United Kingdom had one of the world's strongest Economy of the United Kingdom, economies, holding 40% of the world's overseas investments. But after the end of the war, the country was highly indebted: Britain owed £850 million (about £ today) with interest costing the country some 40% of all government spending. The British government under Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Chancellor of the Exchequer Austen Chamberlain tried to make up for the deficit with a deflationary policy, but this only led to the Depression of 1920–1921, Depression of 1920-21. By 1917, production of gold sovereigns had almost halted (the remaining production was for collector's sets and other very specific occasions), and by 1920, the silver coinage was debased from its original fineness, .925 fine to just .500 fine. That was due to a drastic increase in silver prices from an average 27s 6d [£1.375] per troy pound in the period between 1894 and 1913, to 89s 6d [£4.475] in August 1920.

Interwar period: gold standard reinstated

To try to resume stability, a version of the gold standard was reintroduced in 1925, under which the currency was fixed to gold at its pre-war peg, but one could only exchange currency for gold bullion, not for coins. On 21 September 1931, this was abandoned during the Great Depression in the United Kingdom, Great Depression, and sterling suffered an initial devaluation of some 25%.

World War II

In 1940, an agreement with the US pegged the pound to the United States dollar, U.S. dollar at a rate of £1 = \$4.03. (Only the year before, it had been \$4.86.) This rate was maintained through the World War II, Second World War and became part of the Bretton Woods system which governed post-war exchange rates.

History (1946 to present day)

Bretton Woods

Under continuing economic pressure, and despite months of denials that it would do so, on 19 September 1949 the government devalued the pound by 30.5% to \$2.80. The move prompted several other currencies to be devalued against the dollar. In 1961, 1964, and 1966, the pound came under renewed pressure, as speculators were selling pounds for dollars. In summer 1966, with the value of the pound falling in the Foreign exchange market, currency markets, Exchange Controls in the United Kingdom, exchange controls were tightened by the Harold Wilson, Wilson government. Among the measures, tourists were banned from taking more than £50 out of the country in travellers' cheques and remittances, plus £15 in cash; this restriction was not lifted until 1979. The pound was devalued by 14.3% to \$2.40 on 18 November 1967.

Decimalisation

Until decimalisation, amounts were stated in pounds, shillings, and pence, with various widely understood notations. The same amount could be stated as 32s 6d, 32/6, £1 12s 6d, or £1/12/6. It was customary to specify some prices (for example professional fees and auction prices for works of art) in guineas (one guinea was 21 shillings) although Guinea (British coin), guinea coins were no longer in use. Formal parliamentary proposals to decimalise sterling were first made in 1824 when John Wrottesley, 1st Baron Wrottesley, Sir John Wrottesley, MP for Staffordshire (UK Parliament constituency), Staffordshire, asked in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, House of Commons whether consideration had been given to decimalising the currency. Wrottesley raised the issue in the House of Commons again in 1833, and it was again raised by John Bowring, MP for Kilmarnock Burghs (UK Parliament constituency), Kilmarnock Burghs, in 1847 whose efforts led to the introduction in 1848 of what was in effect the first decimal coin in the United Kingdom, the florin, valued at one-tenth of a pound sterling. However, full decimalisation was resisted, although the florin coin, re-designated as ''ten new pence'', survived the transfer to a full decimal system in 1971, with examples surviving in British coinage until 1993. John Benjamin Smith, MP for Stirling Burghs (UK Parliament constituency), Stirling Burghs, raised the issue of full decimalisation again in Parliament of the United Kingdom, Parliament in 1853, resulting in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Gladstone, announcing soon afterwards that "the great question of a decimal coinage" was "now under serious consideration". A full proposal for the decimalisation of sterling was then tabled in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, House of Commons in June 1855, by Sir William Brown, 1st Baronet, of Richmond Hill, William Brown, MP for South Lancashire (UK Parliament constituency), Lancashire Southern, with the suggestion that the pound sterling be divided into one thousand parts, each called a "mil", or alternatively a farthing, as the pound was then equivalent to 960 farthings which could easily be rounded up to one thousand farthings in the new system. This did not result in the conversion of the pound sterling into a decimal system, but it was agreed to establish a Royal Commission to look into the issue. However, largely due to the hostility to decimalisation of two of the appointed commissioners, Samuel Jones-Loyd, 1st Baron Overstone, Lord Overstone (a banker) and John Hubbard, 1st Baron Addington, John Hubbard (Governor of the Bank of England), decimalisation in Britain was effectively quashed for over a hundred years. However, the pound sterling was decimalised in various British colonial territories before the United Kingdom (and in several cases in line with William Brown's proposal that the pound be divided into 1,000 parts, called mils). These included British Hong Kong, Hong Kong from 1863 to 1866; British Cyprus, Cyprus from 1955 until 1960 (and continued on the island as the division of the Cypriot pound until 1983); and the Mandate for Palestine, Palestine Mandate from 1926 until 1948. Towards the end of the Second World War, various attempts to decimalise the pound sterling in the United Kingdom were made. Later, in 1966, the UK Government decided to include in the Queen's Speech a plan to convert the pound into a decimal currency. As a result of this, on 15 February 1971, the UK decimalised the pound sterling, replacing the shilling and the penny with a single subdivision, the new penny. For example, a price tag of £1 12s 6d became . The word "new" was omitted from coins minted after 1981.

Free-floating pound

With the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system, the pound floating currency, floated from August 1971 onwards. At first, it appreciated a little, rising to almost \$2.65 in March 1972 from \$2.42, the upper bound of the band in which it had been fixed. The sterling area effectively ended at this time, when the majority of its members also chose to float freely against the pound and the dollar.

1976 sterling crisis

James Callaghan became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister in 1976. He was immediately told the economy was facing huge problems, according to documents released in 2006 by the National Archives. The effects of the 1973 oil crisis were still being felt, with Stagflation of the 1970s, inflation rising to nearly 27% in 1975. Financial markets were beginning to believe the pound was overvalued, and in April that year ''The Wall Street Journal'' advised the sale of sterling investments in the face of high taxes, in a story that ended with "goodbye, Great Britain. It was nice knowing you". At the time the Government of the United Kingdom, UK Government was running a budget deficit, and the Labour government at the time's strategy emphasised high public spending. Callaghan was told there were three possible outcomes: a disastrous free fall in sterling, an internationally unacceptable siege economy, or a deal with key allies to prop up the pound while painful economic reforms were put in place. The Federal government of the United States, US Government feared the crisis could endanger NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC), and in light of this the United States Department of the Treasury, US Treasury set out to force domestic policy changes. In November 1976, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced the conditions for a loan, including deep cuts in public expenditure.

1979–1989

The Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party was elected to office in 1979 United Kingdom general election, 1979, on a programme of fiscal austerity. Initially, the pound rocketed, moving above US\$2.40, as interest rates rose in response to the monetarist policy of targeting money supply. The high exchange rate was widely blamed for the deep Early 1980s recession, recession of 1981. Sterling fell sharply after 1980; at its lowest, the pound stood at just \$1.03 in March 1985, before rising to \$1.70 in December 1989.

Following the Deutsche Mark

In 1988, Margaret Thatcher's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, decided that the pound should "shadow" the West German Deutsche Mark (DM), with the unintended result of a rapid rise in inflation as the economy boomed due to low interest rates. (For ideological reasons, the Conservative Government declined to use alternative mechanisms to control the explosion of credit. For this reason, former Prime Minister Edward Heath referred to Lawson as a "one club golfer".) Following German reunification in 1990, the reverse held true, as high German borrowing costs to fund Eastern reconstruction, exacerbated by the political decision to convert the East German mark, Ostmark to the DM on a 1:1 basis, meant that interest rates in other countries shadowing the DM, especially the UK, were far too high relative to domestic circumstances, leading to a housing decline and recession.

Following the European Currency Unit

On 8 October 1990 the Conservative government (Third Thatcher ministry) decided to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), with the pound set at Deutsche Mark, DM2.95. However, the country was forced to withdraw from the system on "Black Wednesday" (16 September 1992) as Britain's economic performance made the exchange rate unsustainable. "Black Wednesday" saw interest rates jump from 10% to 15% in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the pound from falling below the ERM limits. The exchange rate fell to DM2.20. Those who had argued for a lower GBP/DM exchange rate were vindicated since the cheaper pound encouraged exports and contributed to the economic prosperity of the 1990s.

Following inflation targets

In 1997, the newly elected Labour Party (UK), Labour government handed over day-to-day control of interest rates to the
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

(a policy that had originally been advocated by the Liberal Democrats (UK), Liberal Democrats). The Bank is now responsible for setting its base rate of interest so as to keep inflation (as measured by the Consumer Price Index (United Kingdom), Consumer Price Index (CPI)) very close to 2% per annum. Should CPI inflation be more than one percentage point above or below the target, the Governor of the Bank of England is required to write an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer explaining the reasons for this and the measures which will be taken to bring this measure of inflation back in line with the 2% target. On 17 April 2007, annual CPI inflation was reported at 3.1% (inflation of the Retail Prices Index (United Kingdom), Retail Prices Index was 4.8%). Accordingly, and for the first time, the Governor had to write publicly to the UK Government explaining why inflation was more than one percentage point higher than its target.

Euro

In 2007, Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, ruled out membership in the eurozone for the foreseeable future, saying that the decision not to join had been right for Britain and for Europe. On 1 January 2008, with the Republic of Cyprus switching its currency from the Cypriot pound to the euro, the British sovereign bases on Cyprus (Akrotiri and Dhekelia) followed suit, making the Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Sovereign Base Areas the only territory under British sovereignty to officially use the euro. The government of former Prime Minister Tony Blair had pledged to hold a public referendum to decide on the adoption of the Euro should "five economic tests" be met, to increase the likelihood that any adoption of the euro would be in the national interest. In addition to these internal (national) criteria, the UK would have to meet the European Union's economic convergence criteria (Maastricht criteria) before being allowed to adopt the euro. The Cameron–Clegg coalition, Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government (2010–2015) ruled out joining the euro for that parliamentary term. The idea of replacing the pound with the euro was always controversial with the British public, partly because of the pound's identity as a symbol of British sovereignty and because it would, according to some critics, have led to suboptimal interest rates, harming the British economy. In December 2008, the results of a BBC poll of 1000 people suggested that 71% would vote no to the euro, 23% would vote yes, while 6% said they were unsure. The pound did not join the Second European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II) after the euro was created. Denmark and the UK had opt-outs from entry to the euro. Theoretically, every EU nation but Denmark must eventually sign up. As a member of the European Union, the United Kingdom could have adopted the
euro The euro (currency symbol, symbol: euro sign, €; ISO 4217, code: EUR) is the official currency of 19 of the Member state of the European Union, member states of the European Union. This group of states is known as the eurozone or euro area ...

as its currency. However, the subject was always politically controversial, and the UK negotiated an opt-out on this issue. Following the Brexit, UK's withdrawal from the EU, on 31 January 2020, the Bank of England ended its membership of the European System of Central Banks, and shares in the European Central Bank were reallocated to other EU banks.

Recent exchange rates

The pound and the euro fluctuate in value against one another, although there may be correlation between movements in their respective exchange rates with other currencies such as the US dollar. Inflation concerns in the UK led the Bank of England to raise interest rates in late 2006 and 2007. This caused the pound to appreciate against other major currencies and, with the US dollar depreciating at the same time, the pound hit a 15-year high against the US dollar on 18 April 2007, reaching US\$2 the day before, for the first time since 1992. The pound and many other currencies continued to appreciate against the dollar; sterling hit a 26-year high of US\$2.1161 on 7 November 2007 as the dollar fell worldwide. From mid-2003 to mid-2007, the pound/euro rate remained within a narrow range (€1.45 ± 5%). Following the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, global financial crisis in late 2008, the pound depreciated sharply, reaching \$1.38 (US) on 23 January 2009 and falling below €1.25 against the euro in April 2008. There was a further decline during the remainder of 2008, most dramatically on 29 December when its euro rate hit an all-time low at €1.0219, while its US dollar rate depreciated. The pound appreciated in early 2009, reaching a peak against the euro of €1.17 in mid-July. In the following months the pound remained broadly steady against the euro, with the pound valued on 27 May 2011 at €1.15 and US\$1.65. On 5 March 2009, the
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

announced that it would pump £75 billion of new capital (economics), capital into the Economy of the United Kingdom, British economy, through a process known as quantitative easing (QE). This was the first time in the United Kingdom's history that this measure had been used, although the Bank's Governor of the Bank of England, Governor Mervyn King, Baron King of Lothbury, Mervyn King suggested it was not an experiment. The process saw the Bank of England creating new money for itself, which it then used to purchase assets such as government bonds, secured commercial paper, or corporate bonds. The initial amount stated to be created through this method was £75 billion, although Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling had given permission for up to £150 billion to be created if necessary. It was expected that the process would continue for three months, with results only likely in the long term. By 5 November 2009, some £175 billion had been injected using QE, and the process remained less effective in the long term. In July 2012, the final increase in QE meant it had peaked at £375 billion, then holding solely UK Government bonds, representing one third of the UK national debt. The result of the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016 UK referendum on EU membership caused a major decline in the pound against other world currencies as the future of international trade relationships and domestic political leadership became unclear. The referendum result weakened sterling against the euro by 5% overnight. The night before the vote, the pound was trading at €1.30; the next day, this had fallen to €1.23. By October 2016, the exchange rate was €1.12 to the pound, a fall of 14% since the referendum. By the end of August 2017 the pound was even lower, at €1.08. Against the US dollar, meanwhile, the pound fell from \$1.466 to \$1.3694 when the referendum result was first revealed, and down to \$1.2232 by October 2016, a fall of 16%.

Annual inflation rate

The Bank of England had stated in 2009 that the decision had been taken to prevent the rate of inflation falling below the 2% target rate. Mervyn King, Baron King of Lothbury, Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, had also suggested there were no other monetary options left, as interest rates had already been cut to their lowest level ever (0.5%) and it was unlikely that they would be cut further. The inflation rate rose in following years, reaching 5.2% per year (based on the Consumer Price Index (United Kingdom), Consumer Price Index) in September 2011, then decreased to around 2.5% the following year. After a number of years when inflation remained near or below the Bank's 2% target, 2021 saw a significant and sustained increase on all indices: , Retail Price Index, RPI had reached 7.1%, Consumer Price Index, CPI 5.1% and CPIH 4.6%.

Coins

Pre-decimal coins

The silver penny (plural: ''pence''; abbreviation: ''d'') was the principal and often the only coin in circulation from the 8th century until the 13th century. Although some fractions of the penny were struck (see farthing and halfpenny (British coin), halfpenny), it was more common to find pennies cut into halves and quarters to provide smaller change. Very few gold coins were struck, with the gold penny (worth 20 silver pence) a rare example. However, in 1279, the ''groat (coin), groat'', worth 4d, was introduced, with the half groat following in 1344. 1344 also saw the establishment of a gold coinage with the introduction (after the failed florin (English coin), gold florin) of the ''noble (English coin), noble'' worth six shillings and eight pence (6/8) (i.e. 3 nobles to the pound), together with the half and quarter noble. Reforms in 1464 saw a reduction in value of the coinage in both silver and gold, with the noble renamed the ''ryal'' and worth 10/– (i.e. 2 to the pound) and the ''angel (coin), angel'' introduced at the noble's old value of 6/8. The reign of Henry VII of England, Henry VII saw the introduction of two important coins: the
shilling The shilling is a historical coin, and the name of a unit of modern currencies A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-D ...
(abbr.: ''s''; known as the ''testoon'', equivalent to twelve pence) in 1487 and the pound (known as the ''
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
'', abbr.: ''£'' or ''L'', equivalent to twenty shillings) in 1489. In 1526, several new denominations of gold coins were added, including the ''
crown '' File:서봉총 금관 금제드리개.jpg, The Seobongchong Golden Crown of Ancient Silla, which is 339th National Treasure of South Korea. It is basically following the standard type of Silla's Crown. It was excavated by Swedish Crown Pri ...
'' and '' half crown'', worth five shillings (''5/–'') and two shillings and six pence (''2/6'', ''two and six'') respectively. Henry VIII of England, Henry VIII's reign (1509–1547) saw a high level of debasement which continued into the reign of Edward VI (1547–1553). This debasement was halted in 1552, and new silver coinage was introduced, including coins for 1d, 2d, threepence (British coin), 3d, 4d and sixpence (British coin), 6d, 1/–, 2/6 and 5/–. In the reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603), silver d and d coins were added, but these denominations did not last. Gold coins included the half-crown, crown, angel, half-sovereign (10/–) and sovereign (£1). Elizabeth's reign also saw the introduction of the horse-drawn screw press to produce the first "milled" coins. Following the succession of the Scottish King James VI to the English throne, a new gold coinage was introduced, including the ''spur ryal'' (15/–), the ''unite (English coin), unite'' (20/–) and the ''rose ryal'' (30/–). The ''laurel (English coin), laurel'', worth 20/–, followed in 1619. The first base metal coins were also introduced: tin and copper farthing (British coin), farthings. Copper halfpenny (British coin), halfpenny coins followed in the reign of Charles I of England, Charles I. During the English Civil War, a number of siege coinages were produced, often in unusual denominations. Following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the coinage was reformed, with the ending of production of hammered coins in 1662. The ''
guinea Guinea (), officially the Republic of Guinea (french: link=no, République de Guinée), is a coastal country in West Africa. Guinea borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Guinea-Bissau to the northwest, Senegal to the north, Mali to the no ...
'' was introduced in 1663, soon followed by the , 2 and 5 guinea coins. The silver coinage consisted of denominations of 1d, 2d, 3d, 4d and 6d, 1/–, 2/6 and 5/–. Due to the widespread export of silver in the 18th century, the production of silver coins gradually came to a halt, with the half crown and crown not issued after the 1750s, the 6d and 1/– stopping production in the 1780s. In response, copper 1d and 2d coins and a gold guinea (7/–) were introduced in 1797. The copper penny was the only one of these coins to survive long. To alleviate the shortage of silver coins, between 1797 and 1804, the Bank of England counterstamped Spanish dollars (8 reales) and other Spanish real, Spanish and Spanish colonial real, Spanish colonial coins for circulation. A small counterstamp of the King's head was used. Until 1800, these circulated at a rate of 4/9 for 8 reales. After 1800, a rate of 5/- for 8 reales was used. The Bank then issued silver tokens for 5/– (struck over Spanish dollars) in 1804, followed by tokens for 1/6 and 3/– between 1811 and 1816. In 1816, a new silver coinage was introduced in denominations of 6d, 1/–, 2/6 (half-crown) and 5/– (crown). The crown was only issued intermittently until 1900. It was followed by a new gold coinage in 1817 consisting of 10/– and £1 coins, known as the half sovereign and
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
. The silver 4d coin was reintroduced in 1836, followed by the 3d in 1838, with the 4d coin issued only for colonial use after 1855. In 1848, the 2/– ''
florin The Florentine Florentine most commonly refers to: * a person or thing from Florence, a city in Italy * the Florentine dialect Florentine may also refer to: Places * Florentin, Tel Aviv, a neighborhood in the southern part of Tel Aviv, Is ...
'' was introduced, followed by the short-lived double florin in 1887. In 1860, copper was replaced by bronze in the farthing (quarter penny, d), halfpenny and penny. During the World War I, First World War, production of the Sovereign (British coin), sovereign and half-sovereign was suspended, and although the gold standard was later restored, the coins saw little circulation thereafter. In 1920, the silver standard, maintained at .925 since 1552, was reduced to .500. In 1937, a nickel-brass 3d coin was introduced; the last silver 3d coins were issued seven years later. In 1947, the remaining silver coins were replaced with
cupro-nickel Cupronickel or copper-nickel (CuNi) is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured ...
, with the exception of Royal Maundy#Maundy coinage, Maundy coinage which was then restored to .925. Inflation caused the farthing to cease production in 1956 and be demonetised in 1960. In the run-up to decimalisation, the halfpenny and half-crown were demonetised in 1969.

Decimal coins

British coinage timeline: * 1968: The first coins of the pound sterling, decimal coins were introduced. These were
cupro-nickel Cupronickel or copper-nickel (CuNi) is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured ...
Five pence (British decimal coin), 5p and ten pence (British decimal coin), 10p coins which were the same size as, equivalent in value to, and circulated alongside, the Shilling (British coin), one shilling coin and the Florin (British coin), florin (two shilling coin) respectively. * 1969: The curved equilateral heptagonal cupro-nickel fifty pence (British decimal coin), 50p coin replaced the Bank of England 10s note, ten shilling banknote (10/–). * 1970: The Half crown (British coin), Half crown (2/6, 12.5p) was demonetised. * 1971: The decimal coinage was completed when decimalisation came into effect in 1971 with the introduction of the bronze Halfpenny (British decimal coin), half new penny (p), Penny (British decimal coin), new penny (1p), and Two pence (British decimal coin), two new pence (2p) coins and the withdrawal of the Penny (British pre-decimal coin), (old) penny (1d) and Threepence (British coin), (old) threepence (3d) coins. * 1980: Withdrawal of the Sixpence (British coin), sixpence (6d) coin, which had continued in circulation at a value of p. * 1982: The word "new" was dropped from the coinage and a Twenty pence (British decimal coin), 20p coin was introduced. * 1983: A (round, brass) one pound (British decimal coin), £1 coin was introduced. * 1983: The p coin was last produced. * 1984: The p coin was withdrawn from circulation. * 1990: The Crown (British coin), crown, historically valued at five shillings (25p), was re-tariffed for future issues as a commemorative coin at £5. * 1990: A new five pence (British decimal coin), 5p coin was introduced, replacing the original size that had been the same as the Shilling (British coin), shilling coins of the same value that it had in turn replaced. These first generation 5p coins and any remaining old shilling coins were withdrawn from circulation in 1991. *1992: A new ten pence (British decimal coin), 10p coin was introduced, replacing the original size that had been the same as the Florin (British coin), florin or two shilling coins of the same value that it had in turn replaced. These first generation 10p coins and any remaining old florin coins were withdrawn from circulation over the following two years. * 1992: Penny (British decimal coin), 1p and Two pence (British decimal coin), 2p coins began to be minted in copper plating, copper-plated steel (the original bronze coins continued in circulation). * 1997: A new fifty pence (British decimal coin), 50p coin was introduced, replacing the original size that had been in use since 1969, and the first generation 50p coins were withdrawn from circulation. * 1998: The bi-metallic coins, bi-metallic Two pounds (British decimal coin)#The modern circulating coin (1997–present), £2 coin was introduced. * 2007: By now the value of copper in the pre-1992 Penny (British decimal coin), 1p and Two pence (British decimal coin), 2p coins (which are 97% copper) exceeded those coins' face value to such an extent that melting down the coins by entrepreneurs was becoming worthwhile (with a premium of up to 11%, with smelting costs reducing this to around 4%)—although this is illegal, and the market value of copper has subsequently fallen dramatically from these earlier peaks. * In April 2008, an extensive redesign of the coinage was unveiled. The Penny (British decimal coin), 1p, Two pence (British decimal coin), 2p, five pence (British decimal coin), 5p, ten pence (British decimal coin), 10p, twenty pence (British decimal coin), 20p, and fifty pence (British decimal coin), 50p coins feature parts of the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, Royal Shield on their reverse; and the reverse of the pound coin showed the whole shield. The coins were issued gradually into circulation, starting in mid-2008. They have the same sizes, shapes and weights as those with the old designs which, apart from the round pound coin which was withdrawn in 2017, continue to circulate. * 2012: The five pence (British decimal coin), 5p and Ten pence (British decimal coin), 10p coins were changed from cupro-nickel to Nickel electroplating, nickel-plated steel. * 2017: A more secure twelve-sided bi-metallic £1 coin was introduced to reduce forgery. The old round £1 coin ceased to be legal tender on 15 October 2017. , the oldest circulating coins in the UK are the Penny (British decimal coin), 1p and Two pence (British decimal coin), 2p copper coins introduced in 1971. No other coins from before 1982 are in circulation. Prior to the withdrawal from circulation in 1992, the oldest circulating coins had usually dated from 1947: although older coins (shilling; florin, sixpence to 1980) were still legal tender, inflation meant that their silver content was worth more than their face value, which meant that they tended to be removed from circulation. Before decimalisation in 1971, a handful of change might have contained coins 100 or more years old, bearing any of five monarchs' heads, especially in the copper coins.

Banknotes

The first sterling notes were issued by the
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

shortly after its foundation in 1694. Denominations were initially handwritten on the notes at the time of issue. From 1745, the notes were printed in denominations between £20 and £1000, with any odd shillings added by hand. £10 notes were added in 1759, followed by £5 in 1793 and £1 and £2 in 1797. The lowest two denominations were withdrawn after the end of the Napoleonic wars. In 1855, the notes were converted to being entirely printed, with denominations of £5, £10, £20, £50, £100, £200, £300, £500 and £1000 issued. The Bank of Scotland began issuing notes in 1695. Although the pound Scots was still the currency of Scotland, these notes were denominated in sterling in values up to £100. From 1727, the Royal Bank of Scotland also issued notes. Both banks issued some notes denominated in guineas as well as pounds. In the 19th century, regulations limited the smallest note issued by Scottish banks to be the £1 denomination, a note not permitted in England. With the extension of sterling to Ireland in 1825, the Bank of Ireland began issuing sterling notes, later followed by other Irish banks. These notes included the unusual denominations of 30/- and £3. The highest denomination issued by the Irish banks was £100. In 1826, banks at least from London were given permission to issue their own paper money. From 1844, new banks were excluded from issuing notes in England and Wales but not in Scotland and Ireland. Consequently, the number of private banknotes dwindled in England and Wales but proliferated in Scotland and Ireland. The last English private banknotes were issued in 1921. In 1914, the HM Treasury, Treasury introduced notes for 10/- and £1 to replace gold coins. These circulated until 1928 when they were replaced by Bank of England notes. Irish independence reduced the number of Irish banks issuing sterling notes to five operating in Northern Ireland. The World War II, Second World War had a drastic effect on the note production of the Bank of England. Fearful of mass forgery by the Nazis (see Operation Bernhard), all notes for £10 and above ceased production, leaving the bank to issue only 10/-, £1 and £5 notes. Scottish and Northern Irish issues were unaffected, with issues in denominations of £1, £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100. The Bank of England reintroduced £10 notes in 1964. In 1969, the 10/- note was replaced by the 50p coin to prepare for decimalisation. £20 Bank of England notes were reintroduced in 1970, followed by £50 in 1981. A £1 coin was introduced in 1983, and Bank of England £1 notes were withdrawn in 1988. Scottish and Northern Irish banks followed, with only the Royal Bank of Scotland continuing to issue this denomination. UK notes include raised print (e.g. on the words "Bank of England"); watermarks; embedded metallic thread; holograms; and fluorescent ink visible only under UV lamps. Three printing techniques are involved: offset litho, intaglio (printmaking), intaglio and letterpress; and the notes incorporate a total of 85 specialized inks. The Bank of England produces notes named "giant" and "titan". A giant is a one million pound note, and a titan is a one hundred million pound bank note. Giants and titans are used only within the banking system.

Polymer banknotes

The Northern Bank £5 note, issued by (Northern Ireland's) Northern Bank (now Danske Bank (Northern Ireland), Danske Bank) in 2000, was the only polymer banknote in circulation until 2016. The Bank of England introduced £5 polymer banknotes in September 2016, and the paper £5 notes were withdrawn on 5 May 2017. A polymer £10 banknote was introduced on 14 September 2017, and the paper note was withdrawn on 1 March 2018. A polymer £20 banknote was introduced on 20 February 2020, followed by a polymer £50 in 2021.

Monetary policy

As the
central bank A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is an institution that manages the and of a or formal monetary union, and oversees their . In contrast to a , a central bank possesses a on increasing the . Most central banks also have ...

of the United Kingdom which has been delegated authority by the government, the
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

sets the monetary policy for the British pound by controlling the amount of money in circulation. It has a monopoly on the issuance of banknotes in England and Wales and regulates the amount of banknotes issued by seven authorized banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland. HM Treasury has reserve powers to give orders to the committee "if they are required in the public interest and by extreme economic circumstances" but such orders must be endorsed by Parliament within 28 days. Unlike banknotes which have separate issuers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, all UK coins are issued by the Royal Mint, which is an independent enterprise (wholly owned by the Treasury) which also mints coins for other countries. In Britain's Crown Dependencies, the
Manx pound The Manx pound () is the currency of the Isle of Man ) , anthem = " O Land of Our Birth" , image = Isle of Man by Sentinel-2.jpg , image_map = Europe-Isle_of_Man.svg , mapsize = 290px , map_alt = Location of the Isle of Man in Europe , ...
,
Jersey pound The pound (french: Livre de Jersey) is the currency of Jersey. Jersey is in currency union with the United Kingdom, and the Jersey pound is not a separate currency but is an issue of banknotes and coins by the States of Jersey denominated in p ...
, and
Guernsey pound The pound is the currency of Guernsey. Since 1921, Guernsey has been in currency union with the United Kingdom and the Guernsey pound is not a separate currency but is a local issue of banknotes and coins denominated in pound sterling, in a similar ...
are unregulated by the Bank of England and are issued independently. However, they are maintained at a fixed exchange rate by their respective governments, and Bank of England notes have been made legal tender on the islands, forming a sort of one-way de facto currency union. These currencies do not have ISO 4217 codes, so "GBP" is usually used to represent all of them; informal codes are used where the difference is important.
British Overseas Territories The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen dependent territory, territories all with a constitutional and historical link with the United Kingdom. They are remnants of the B ...

are responsible for the monetary policy of their own currencies (where they exist), and have their own ISO 4217 codes. The
Falkland Islands pound The Pound is the currency of the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. The symbol is the pound sign, ''£'', or alternatively ''FK£'', to distinguish it from other pound (currency), pound-denominated currenci ...
,
Gibraltar pound The Gibraltar pound (currency sign A currency symbol or currency sign is a graphic symbol used as a shorthand for a currency's name, especially in reference to amounts of money. Usage When writing currency amounts, the location of the symbol v ...
, and
Saint Helena pound The Saint Helena pound is the currency of the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic islands of Saint Helena and Ascension Island, Ascension, which are constituent parts of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. It is f ...
are set at a fixed 1:1 exchange rate with the British pound by local governments.

Legal tender and national issues

Legal tender in the United Kingdom is defined such that "a debtor cannot successfully be sued for non-payment if he pays into court in legal tender." Parties can alternatively settle a debt by other means with mutual consent. Strictly speaking, it is necessary for the debtor to offer the exact amount due as there is no obligation for the other party to provide change. Throughout the UK, £1 and £2 coins are legal tender for any amount, with the other coins being legal tender only for limited amounts.
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

notes are legal tender for any amount in England and Wales, but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland. (Bank of England 10/- and £1 notes were legal tender, as were Scottish banknotes, during World War II under the Currency (Defence) Act 1939, which was repealed on 1 January 1946.) Channel Islands and
Isle of Man ) , anthem = " O Land of Our Birth" , image = Isle of Man by Sentinel-2.jpg , image_map = Europe-Isle_of_Man.svg , mapsize = 290px , map_alt = Location of the Isle of Man in Europe , map_caption = Location of the Isle of Man (green) in E ...

banknotes are legal tender only in their respective jurisdictions. Bank of England, Scottish, Northern Irish, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, and Falkland banknotes may be offered anywhere in the UK, although there is no obligation to accept them as a means of payment, and acceptance varies. For example, merchants in England generally accept Scottish and Northern Irish bills, but some unfamiliar with them may reject them. However, Scottish and Northern Irish bills both tend to be accepted in Scotland and Northern Ireland, respectively. Merchants in England generally do not accept Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, and Falkland notes but Isle of Man notes are generally accepted in Northern Ireland. Bank of England notes are generally accepted in the Falklands and Gibraltar, but for example, Scottish and Northern Irish notes are not. Since all of the bills are denominated in pounds sterling, banks will exchange them for locally issued bills at face value, though some in the UK have had trouble exchanging Falkland Islands pounds. Commemorative Five pounds (British decimal coin), £5 and British twenty-five pence coin, 25p (crown) coins, and coins made for traditional wedding ceremonies and Christmas gifts, rarely seen in circulation, are legal tender (at face value rather than their actual purchase price), as are the bullion coins issued by the Mint.

Value

In 2006, the House of Commons Library published a research paper which included an index of prices in pounds for each year between 1750 and 2005, where 1974 was indexed at 100. Regarding the period 1750–1914 the document states: "Although there was considerable year on year fluctuation in price levels prior to 1914 (reflecting the quality of the harvest, wars, etc.) there was not the long-term steady increase in prices associated with the period since 1945". It goes on to say that "Since 1945 prices have risen in every year with an aggregate rise of over 27 times". The value of the index in 1751 was 5.1, increasing to a peak of 16.3 in 1813 before declining very soon after the end of the Napoleonic Wars to around 10.0 and remaining in the range 8.5–10.0 at the end of the 19th century. The index was 9.8 in 1914 and peaked at 25.3 in 1920, before declining to 15.8 in 1933 and 1934—prices were only about three times as high as they had been 180 years earlier. Inflation has had a dramatic effect during and after World War II: the index was 20.2 in 1940, 33.0 in 1950, 49.1 in 1960, 73.1 in 1970, 263.7 in 1980, 497.5 in 1990, 671.8 in 2000 and 757.3 in 2005. The following table shows the equivalent amount of goods and services that, in a particular year, could be purchased with £1. The table shows that from 1971 to 2015 the British pound lost about 92 per cent of its buying power. The smallest coin in 1971 was the p, worth about 6.4p in 2015 prices.

Exchange rate

The pound is freely bought and sold on the
foreign exchange market The foreign exchange market (Forex, FX, or currency market) is a global decentralized Decentralization or decentralisation is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision makin ...
s around the world, and its value relative to other currencies therefore fluctuates.

Reserve

Sterling is used as a
reserve currency A reserve currency (or anchor currency) is a foreign currency A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a ...
around the world. , it is ranked fourth in value held as reserves.

* Commonwealth banknote-issuing institutions * List of British currencies * List of currencies in Europe * List of the largest trading partners of United Kingdom * Pound (currency)other currencies called "pound"