BRITISH MONEYAs a unit of currency, the term pound originates from the value of one pound Tower weight of high purity silver known as sterling silver. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. The word sterling is believed to come from the Old Norman French esterlin (meaning little star) transformed in stiere in Old English (strong, firm, immovable).
BRITISH MONEYThe currency sign is the pound sign, originally ₤ with two cross-bars, then later more commonly £ with a single cross-bar. The pound sign derives from the '£sd' pronounced, and sometimes written as 'LSD'. The abbreviation comes from librae, solidi, denarii (libra was the basic Roman unit of weight; the solidus and denarius were Roman coins). '£sd' was the popular name for the pre-decimal currencies pounds, shillings, pence of the Britain and other countries.
Writing and Saying Amounts of Money. When we write amounts of money in figures, the pound symbol £ is always shown in front of the figures. For example: 'three hundred pounds' --- > '£300'. If an amount of money consists only of pence, we put the letter 'p' after the figures. For example: 20p is often pronounced "twenty pee" rather than "twenty pence". The singular of pence is "penny".
Writing and Saying Amounts of Money. If an amount of money consists of both pounds and pence, we write the pound symbol and separate the pounds and the pence with a full stop. We do not write 'p' after the pence. For example: 'six pounds fifty pence' --- > '£6.50'. When saying aloud an amount of money that consists of pounds and pence, we do not usually say the word 'pence'. For example: '£6.50' -- > 'six pounds fifty'.
Old British Money. Prior to decimalization in 1971 Britain used a system of pounds, shillings and pence. ('£sd' or 'LSD'). The smallest unit of currency was a penny, the plural of which was pence (or pennies). There were 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound. The pound came in the form of a paper bill, called a note, or a gold coin, called a sovereign.
Old British Money. A guinea (first issued on February 6th, 1663) was sometimes used as a unit of account. A guinea was a gold coin, originally made of gold from the Guinea coast of Africa, worth 21 shillings (or one pound and 1 shilling) in old British money. A guinea was considered a more gentlemanly amount than £1. A gentleman paid his tailor in shillings, but his barrister in guineas.
Slang Terms for British Money. The slang term for a pound or a number of pounds sterling is 'quid' or 'nicker' and there are other slang terms for various amounts of money. The slang money expression 'quid' seems first to have appeared in late 1600's England, probably derived from the Latin 'quid pro quo' - 'something exchanged for something else'. The term 'nicker' is probably connected to the use of nickel in the minting of coins.