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British. Iron rings were used for money by the ancient Britons, and Segonax, a petty king under Cassivelân, is the first whose head was impressed on the coin. Gold, silver, and copper coins were struck by Cunobelin.

The Romans introduced their own coins into the island.

The oldest Anglo-Saxon coin was the sceatta (pl. sceattœ), sixth century. In the reign of Ethelbert, King of Kent, money accounts were kept in pounds, mancuses, shillings, and pence. One of the last being equal to about 3 pence of our money. 5 pence = one scilling, 30 scillings one manca or mancus, and 40 one pound. Mancuses were in gold and silver also.

The Normans introduced pence with a cross so deeply impressed that the coin could be broken either into two or four parts, hence the terms half-pence and fourthings.

The Angel, a gold coin (7s. 6d.), was introduced by Edward IV., and had a figure of Michael slaying the dragon.

The Bawbee first came into use in the reign of James VI. of Scotland. (French, bas-billon, base copper coin.)

The Carŏlus (20s.) was a gold coin of the reign of Charles I.

The Crown (5s.) was first issued in 1553. Crowns and half-crowns are still in common circulation.

English Dollars (4s. 6d.) were introduced in 1798.

Florins, a gold coin (6s.), were issued by Edward III.; but the silver florin (2s.) in 1849.

The Guinea (a gold coin = 21s.) was first issued in 1717; but a gold coin so-called, of the value of 30s., was issued in 1673, reduced in 1696 to 22s.

Our Sovereign was first issued in 1816, but there were coins so called in the reigns of Henry I. (worth 22s.), Edward VI. (from 24s. to 30s.).

Shillings of the present value date from 1503; pence made of bronze in 1862, but copper pence were coined in 1620, half-pence and farthings in 1665.


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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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