The shilling is a historical coin, and the name of a unit of modern currencies
formerly used in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and other British Commonwealth
Currently the shilling is used as a currency in five east African countries: Kenya
. The East African Community
additionally plans to introduce an East African shilling
thumb|upright|Silver 4 shilling coin of Hamburg
The word ''shilling'' comes from Old English "Scilling", a monetary term meaning twentieth of a pound, from the Proto-Germanic root skiljaną
meaning 'to separate, split, divide', from (s)kelH-
meaning 'to cut, split.' The word "Scilling" is mentioned in the earliest recorded Germanic law codes, those of Æthelberht of Kent
There is evidence that it may alternatively be an early borrowing of Phoenician
'', Punic ''sql'' (sə'kel) meaning 'weigh' and 'coin'. The two meanings given in the literature in both Germanic and Semitic word are the same for both a fixed weight and a certain coin. The term would come from the German understanding of shekel as shkel with the common Germanic suffix ''-ling''.
In origin, the word shilling designated the solidus
of Late Antiquity, the gold coin
that replaced the aureus
in the 4th century. The Anglo-Saxon ''scillingas'' of the 7th century were still small gold coins.
In 796, Charlemagne
passed a monetary reform, based on the Carolingian silver pound (about 406.5 grams).
The shilling was one twentieth of a pound, or about 20.3 grams of silver. One shilling had 12 denarii
. There were, however, no silver shilling coins in the Carolingian period, and gold shillings (equivalent to twelve silver pennies) were very rare.
In the 12th century, larger silver coins of multiple penny weight were minted, known as ''denarii grossi'' or groat
. These heavier coins were valued at between 4 and 20 of the silver denarii.
In the late medieval period, states of the Holy Roman Empire
began minting similar silver coins of multiple penny weight, some of them denominated as shilling.
In the 16th century, numerous different types of "shilling" were minted in Europe.
The English shilling
was the continuation of the ''testoon'' coin under Edward VI
, from 1551 minted in 92.5% "sterling" silver.
By the 17th century, further devaluation resulted in shillings in the Holy Roman Empire, with 48 shillings to one Reichsthaler
, to no longer being struck in silver but in billon
The English (later British) shilling continued to be minted as a silver coin until 1947.
Kingdom of England
A shilling was a coin used in England from the reign of Henry VII
(or Edward VI
around 1550). The shilling continued in use after the Acts of Union of 1707
created a new United Kingdom from the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, and under Article 16 of the Articles of Union, a common currency for the new United Kingdom was created.
Kingdom of Scotland
The term ''shilling'' ( sco|schilling) was in use in Scotland from early medieval times.
Great Britain and the UK
Slang terms for the old shilling coins include "bob" and "hog". While the derivation of "bob" is uncertain, John Camden Hotten
in his 1864 ''Slang Dictionary'' says the original version was "bobstick" and speculates that it may be connected with Sir Robert Walpole
One abbreviation for shilling is s (for ''sestertius
'', see £sd
). Often it was expressed by a solidus symbol
("/"), which may have originally stood for a long s or ſ
, thus 1/9 would be one shilling and ninepence (and equivalent to 21pennies
expressed as ''denarii'', "d" for short; the shilling itself was equal to 12pennies
or pence). A price of one shilling with no additional pence
was written with a solidus and a dash: 1/- . Two shillings and sixpence (half a crown or an eighth of a £) was written as 2/6.
During the Great Recoinage of 1816
, the mint was instructed to coin one troy pound
(weighing 5760 grains or 373 g) of standard (0.925 fine) silver
into 66 shillings, or its equivalent in other denominations. This set the weight of the shilling, and its subsequent decimal replacement 5 new pence coin, at 87.2727 grains or 5.655 grams from 1816 until 1990, when a new smaller 5p coin was introduced.
The common currency created in 1707 by Article 16 of the Articles of Union
continued in use until decimalisation
in 1971. In the traditional pounds, shillings and pence
system, there were 20 shillings per pound and 12 pence
per shilling or half or a florin, and thus there were 240 pence in a pound.
Three coins denominated in multiple shillings were also in circulation at this time. They were:
* the florin
, two shillings (2/–), which adopted the value of 10 new pence (10p) at decimalisation;
* the half-crown
, two shillings and sixpence (2/6) or one-eighth of a pound, which was abolished at decimalisation (otherwise it would have had the value of 12p);
* the crown
(five shillings), the highest denominated non-bullion UK coin in circulation at decimalisation (in practice, crowns were commemorative coins not used in everyday transactions).
At decimalisation in 1971, the shilling coin was superseded by the new five-pence piece
, which initially was of identical size and weight and had the same value, and inherited the shilling's slang name of a ''bob''. Shillings remained in circulation until the five pence coin was reduced in size in 1991.
Between 1701 and the unification of the currencies in 1825, the Irish
shilling was valued at 13 pence and known as the "black hog", as opposed to the 12-pence English shillings which were known as "white hogs".
In the Irish Free State
and Republic of Ireland
the shilling coin
was issued as ''scilling'' in Irish
. It was worth 1/20 of an Irish pound
, and was interchangeable at the same value to the British coin, which continued to be used in Northern Ireland
. The coin featured a bull on the reverse side. The first minting, from 1928 until 1941, contained 75% silver, more than the equivalent British coin. The original Irish shilling coin (retained after decimalisation) was withdrawn from circulation on 1 January 1993, when a smaller five-pence coin was introduced.
n shillings, twenty of which made up one Australian pound
, were first issued in 1910, with the Australian coat of arms
on the reverse and King Edward VII
on the face. The coat of arms design was retained through the reign of King George V
until a new ram's head design was introduced for the coins of King George VI
. This design continued until the last year of issue in 1963. In 1966, Australia's currency was decimalised
and the shilling was replaced by a ten cent coin (Australian)
, where 10 shillings made up one Australian dollar
The slang term for a shilling coin in Australia was "deener". The slang term for a shilling as currency unit was "bob", the same as in the United Kingdom
After 1966, shillings continued to circulate, as they were replaced by 10-cent coins of the same size and weight.
New Zealand shilling
shillings, twenty of which made up one New Zealand pound
, were first issued in 1933 and featured the image of a Maori warrior carrying a taiaha "in a warlike attitude" on the reverse. In 1967, New Zealand's currency was decimalised
and the shilling was replaced by a ten cent coin of the same size and weight. Ten cent coins minted through the remainder of the 1960s included the legend "ONE SHILLING" on the reverse. Smaller 10-cent coins were introduced in 2006.
The shilling ( mt|xelin, pl. ''xelini'') was used in Malta
, prior to decimalisation
in 1972, and had a face value of five Maltese cents
In British Ceylon
, an shilling ( si|Silima, ta|Silin) was equivalent to eight fanams
. With the replacement of the rixdollar
by the rupee
in 1852, a shilling was deemed to be equivalent to half a rupee. On the decimalisation of the currency in 1869, a shilling was deemed to be equivalent to 50 Ceylon cents. The term continued to be used colloquially until the late 20th century.
East African shillings
The East African shilling
was in use in the British colonies
s of British Somaliland
from 1920, when it replaced the rupee
, until after those countries became independent, and in Tanzania
after that country was formed by the merger of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964. Upon independence in 1960, the East African shilling in the State of Somaliland
(former British Somaliland) and the Somali somalo
in the Trust Territory of Somalia
(former Italian Somaliland
) were replaced by the Somali shilling
. The State of Somaliland
, which subsequently regained its independence in 1991 as the republic of Somaliland
, adopted the Somaliland shilling
as its currency.
In 1966, the East African Monetary Union broke up, and the member countries replaced their currencies with the Kenyan shilling
, the Ugandan shilling
and the Tanzanian shilling
, respectively. Though all these currencies have different values at present, there were plans to reintroduce the East African shilling
as a new common currency by 2009, although this has not come about.
In the thirteen British colonies
that became the United States in 1776, British money was often in circulation. Each colony issued its own paper money
, with pounds, shillings, and pence
used as the standard units of account
. Some coins were minted in the colonies, such as the pine tree shilling
in the Massachusetts Bay Colony
. After the United States adopted the dollar
as its unit of currency and accepted the gold standard
, one British shilling was worth 24 US cents
. Due to ongoing shortages of US coins in some regions, shillings continued to circulate well into the nineteenth century. Shillings are described as the standard monetary unit throughout the autobiography of Solomon Northup
[Solomon Northup. ''Twelve Years a Slave''. Auburn, Derby and Miller; Buffalo, Derby, Orton and Mulligan; tc., etc.1853]
and mentioned several times in the Horatio Alger Jr.
story ''Ragged Dick
The Somali shilling is the official currency
. It is subdivided into 100 ''cents'' (English), ''senti'' (Somali, also سنت) or ''centesimi'' (Italian).
The Somali shilling has been the currency of parts of Somalia since 1921, when the East African shilling
was introduced to the former British Somaliland protectorate
. Following independence in 1960, the somalo
of Italian Somaliland
and the East African shilling (which were equal in value) were replaced at par in 1962 by the Somali shilling. Names used for the denominations were cent, centesimo (plural: centesimi) and سنت (plurals: سنتيمات and سنتيما) together with shilling, scellino (plural: scellini) and شلن.
That same year, the ''Banca Nazionale Somala'' issued notes for 5, 10, 20 and 100 scellini/shillings. In 1975, the ''Bankiga Qaranka Soomaaliyeed'' (Somali National Bank) introduced notes for 5, 10, 20 and 100 shilin/shillings. These were followed in 1978 by notes of the same denominations issued by the ''Bankiga Dhexe Ee Soomaaliya'' (Central Bank of Somalia
). 50 shilin/shillings notes were introduced in 1983, followed by 500 shilin/shillings in 1989 and 1000 shilin/shillings in 1990. Also in 1990 there was an attempt to reform the currency at 100 to 1, with new banknotes of 20 and 50 new shilin prepared for the redenomination.
Following the breakdown in central authority that accompanied the civil war
, which began in the early 1990s, the value of the Somali shilling was disrupted. The Central Bank of Somalia, the nation's monetary authority, also shut down operations. Rival producers of the local currency, including autonomous regional entities such as the Somaliland
territory, subsequently emerged.
Somalia's newly established Transitional Federal Government
revived the defunct Central Bank of Somalia in the late 2000s. In terms of financial management, the monetary authority is in the process of assuming the task of both formulating and implementing monetary policy.
Owing to a lack of confidence in the Somali shilling, the US dollar is widely accepted as a medium of exchange alongside the Somali shilling. Dollarization
notwithstanding, the large issuance of the Somali shilling has increasingly fueled price hikes, especially for low value transactions. This inflationary environment, however, is expected to come to an end as soon as the Central Bank assumes full control of monetary policy and replaces the presently circulating currency introduced by the private sector.
The Somaliland shilling
is the official currency of Somaliland
, a self-declared republic that is internationally recognised as an autonomous region
The currency is not recognised as legal tender
by the international community, and it currently has no official exchange rate
. It is regulated by the Bank of Somaliland
, the territory's central bank
. Although the authorities in Somaliland have attempted to bar usage of the Somali shilling, Somalia's official currency is still the preferred means of exchange for many peoples in the region.
Elsewhere in the former British Empire, forms of the word ''shilling'' remain in informal use.
and Solomon Islands
, ''selen'' is used in Bislama
to mean "money"; in Malaysia
, ''syiling'' (pronounced like ''shilling'') means "coin". In Egypt
the ''shillin'' ( ar|شلن) is equal to 1/20 (five ''qirshes'' — ar|قرش, en|piastre
s) of the Egyptian pound
or the Jordanian dinar
. In Belize
, the term ''shilling'' is commonly used to refer to twenty-five cents.
*The Austrian schilling
was the currency of Austria between 1 March 1924 and 1938 and again between 1945 and 2002. It was replaced by the euro
at a fixed parity of €1 = 13.7603 schilling. The schilling was divided into 100 groschen.
*In the principalities covering present Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg, the cognate term ''schelling'' was used as an equivalent 'arithmetic' currency, a 'solidus' representing 12 'denarii' or 1/20 'pound', while actual coins were rarely physical multiples of it, but still expressed in these terms.
*Shillings were issued in the Scandinavian countries ''(skilling
)'' until the Scandinavian Monetary Union
of 1873, and in the city of Hamburg
''szeląg'' was used.
*The ''soll'', later the ''sou'', both also derived from the Roman solidus
, were the equivalent coins in France
, while the (nuevo) sol
(PEN) remains the currency of Peru
*As in France, the Peru
vian sol was originally named after the Roman solidus, but the name of the Peruvian currency is now much more closely linked to the Spanish word for the sun (''sol''). This helps explain the name of its temporary replacement, the inti
, named for the Incan
* Mays, James O. "The Romance of the English Shilling," ''History Today'' (Dec 1971), Vol. 21 Issue 12, pp 848–855, online. Covers 1504 to 1971.
- Information about British coins.The History of the Shilling