At school, prior to the 1970's. the recommendation was to learn the 12 times tables - why?
Well, prior to the English sterling Pound moving decimal, i.e 100 pennies in a Pound, it was a little different, well actually very different.
Before this time, there was the Pound sterling, which is approximately worth about two American Dollars these days, maybe a little less. The Pound sterling still exists, although it is about time we joined the European Community and adopted the Euro, which is currently about 3 Euros for 2 Pounds, and is pretty stable.
Before decimalisation, instead of 100 pennies in a pound, we had 240 old pennies in a pound!
The Pounds , Shillings & Pence story:-
The Pound sterling was very simply worth 20 shillings, each shilling was worth 12 pennies. So, there were 240 pennies in the pound. Just to make it even more confusing, there were halfpennies and farthings. The latter being a quarter of a penny. So, there were nearly a thousand farthings in a pound. [When I was a young lad, I could buy several sweets for a farthing]. If I had a Pound, I could have purchased several thousand small sweets for a Pound!!! We are talking about the 1960's, not the Victorian times, by the way.
To make matters even more confusing, although a little before my time, there was a Guinea, which was worth 21 shillings - I have no idea why this ever existed, and was generally the time when money was made in gold, 22 carat.
The gold standard existed up until the early 1900's, maybe up until the World wars, and this meant that a Pound really was a Pound, in the form of an eight gram coin of 22ct gold called a sovereign. Gold is purest as 24 carat, so 22 cart is 0.916 pure gold. The silver coinage was made in sterling silver [92.5 % pure silver until 1919, and thereafter until 1946 in 50% silver]. A typical £100 pounds [£ meaning pound weighed about 11 Kilograms].
A quarter of a pound was better known as a Crown (five shillings), a silver coin.
In the Silver Boom in the early 1980s when Russia invaded Afghanistan, an American guy by the name of Bunker Hunt made an attempt to take over the silver market, and force the price up. This forced the price of silver to magnify overnight and for a period of months. The Gold price was also greatly exaggerated during this period, and reached significant high levels that have not been attained since. The price of gold reached about $800 USA dollars per troy ounce, and silver was probably fifty times its current levels. Silver is now classified as a Base Metal, whereas it was often classified as a semi-precious metal.
In the reformations of Europe, when the Protestants were being forced from the continent by the Catholics, many Huegenot Silver workers moved to the East Anglian regions of England, e.g Suffolk. These skilled silver workers were originally known as the Oesterlings, from which the word Sterling comes from.
The common symbols for the pound, shilling and pence were -
£ = Pound Sterling
s = Shilling [sometimes shown as /-]
d = Pence
so, for example £11 4s 6d - means 11 pounds, 4 shillings and six pence.
[remember, 6d was 6 pennies, which was half a shilling, and for which a 6d existed as a coin]
I have found a few good sites on the web, but this site is magnificent - for pictures, I cannot guarantee the site, as I do not know it - browse their coins