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DECODING THE QUID

Historical Tidbit offered by Linda Needham author of MY WICKED EARL

Did you ever wonder why the British pound is called a pound? The answer might not surprise you: it's because the pound is a pound- a pound of sterling silver, that is.

12 silver pennies in a shilling 20 shillings in a pound 240 silver pennies in a pound

If you remember trying to calculate in Base 12 in math class, you can easily imagine why the British adopted the simpler decimal valuations.

The partial pences (halfpenny, farthing, etc) got their names from Medieval times and later when one actually cut the coin into halves or fourths and "clipping" off a bit of the edge of an imprecisely molded coin was a crime punishable by death or... castration. Okay, but what does all this mean in terms of one's Victorian pocket book. For a number of reasons it's nearly impossible to translate the value of consumer items in the 1800's into a 2001 economy. One reason is because of the relative size and wealth of our modern middle class in comparison to the smaller, more struggling middle class of earlier times--and because an average middle class family didn't buy carriages in the same way we buy cars. It helps to know that a family had to make a minimum of 200 pounds a year in order to afford a maid-of-all-work. Here are a few examples to help put prices into perspective. ** Please note that the pence is designated with a "d" - meaning "denier" a very old word. Go figure!

References: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, by Daniel Pool and the advertising pages in Dicken's serialized Nicholas Nickleby.


Linda Needham ~ The Winding Road To Romance

I started along the path in 1972 with an overcooked Thanksgiving turkey and my nose buried in a delicious copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss's first novel. Reading has always been one of my favorite obsessions, but The Flame and the Flower fused the passion of history with the enchantment of romance, and from then on, I was hooked. Nearly twenty-five years and thousands of romances later, my own first novel--For My Lady's Kiss--was released by Avon Books in February 1997. My sixth and most recent book from Avon will be MY WICKED EARL, an historical Regency to be released in August 2001.


 
     
 
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