Bank of England currency
Nicknames: Pound Sterling, Sterling, Quid, Nicker
Freq Used: £1, £2, 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p
Freq Used: £5, £10, £20, £50
Rarely Used: £100
Bank of England
The United Kingdom's central bank is the Bank of England. As the fourth most traded currency, the British Pound is the third most held reserve currency in the world. Common names for the British Pound include the Pound Sterling, Sterling, Quid, Cable, and Nicker.
Importance of the British Pound
The British Pound is the oldest currency still in use today, as well as one of the most commonly converted currencies. The Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, and Saint Helena are all pegged at par to the GBP.
Early Currency in Britain
With its origins dating back to the year 760, the Pound Sterling was first introduced as the silver penny, which spread across the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In 1158, the design was changed and rather than pure silver the new coins were struck from 92.5% silver and became to be known as the Sterling Pound. Silver pennies were the sole coinage used in England until the shilling was introduced in 1487 and the pound, two years later, in 1489.
British Pound Notes and the Gold Standard
The first paper notes were introduced in 1694, with their legal basis being switched from silver to gold. The Bank of England, one of the first central banks in the world, was established a year later, in 1695. All Sterling notes were handwritten until 1855, when the bank began to print whole notes. In the early 20th century, more countries began to tie their currencies to gold. A gold standard was created, which allowed conversion between different countries' currencies and revolutionized trading and the international economy. Great Britain officially adopted the gold standard in 1816, though it had been using the system since 1670. The strength of the Sterling that came with the gold standard led to a period of major economic growth in Britain until 1914.
The British Pound and the Sterling Area
The British Pound was not only used in Great Britain, but also circulated through the colonies of the British Empire. The countries that used the Pound became to be known as the Sterling Area and the Pound grew to be globally popular, held as a reserve currency in many central banks. However, as the British economy started to decline the US Dollar grew in dominance. In 1940, the Pound was pegged to the US Dollar at a rate of 1 Pound to $4.03 US Dollars and many other countries followed, by pegging their respective currencies. In 1949, the Pound was devalued by 30% and a second devaluation followed in 1967. When the British Pound was decimalized and began to float freely in the market, in 1971, the Sterling Area was terminated. Following, the British Pound experienced a number of highs and lows.