13 October 2019
The shilling (1/-) was a coin used in the United Kingdom and its dependencies, worth one twentieth of a pound sterling, or twelve pence. Discover more about the coin, its history, and its value in our collecting guide.
Value of a shilling in pence
Prior to the decimalisation of the UK currency in 1971, one pound was equal to 240 pence.
Twelve pence (12d) was equal to a shilling, and so twenty shillings made a pound (20 x 12 = 240).
Any values that were less than a pound were referred to in shillings and pence. A popular value was 'three and six' (meaning three shillings and six pence) which was actually 42 pence (3 x 12 = 36, plus six pence = 42).
The shilling was also known as a 'bob', for example, 'can you lend me ten bob?'
How much are shilling coins worth?
Since the shilling has been used in a variety of different forms, designs and across many years and different reigns, the value of the shilling coin can vary dramatically. Notable auctions of shillings in recent months include the following:
The 1850 shilling (pictured below) was recently sold for £2,750 by London Coins (www.londoncoins.co.uk). The lot description noted: 'All 1850 Shillings very rare, with the overdate variety even more so. The second finest example of this type we have offered, only the Andrew Wayne Collection example was superior.'
A brief history of the shilling
References of the phrase 'scilling' or 'scylling' can be found as far back as Anglo-Saxon times, though at that point there was no specific coin with this value.
A coin worth 12d was first produced in the early 16th century (around 1503-4) and at that time was known as a testoon, due to the depiction of a specific monarch on the coin, rather than a generic representation (the name for the coin came from the Italian coin testone, meaning 'head', which had been introduced in the 15th century).
The shilling became the name of the coin during the reign of Edward VI and the earliest dated shilling is from 1548. These coins show the date in Roman numerals.
Shilling issued during the reign of Charles I are particularly interesting to the collector. English towns such as Pontefract and Newark were under siege and so shillings were produced using an array of different metals.
Special print offer for UK readers!
Join Coin Collector magazine today and get your first issue FREE! Your subscription will then continue at just £12.99 a year on Direct Debit. You'll never miss an issue and they'll be delivered direct to your home.
Here's editor Matt with a quick message about the magazine and the offer…
Edward VI image credit: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com