the real shilling

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Senior Member
In T.Pratchett's "I Shall Wear Midnight" Baron gives the main character Tiffany Aching a bag of gold coins for her services, saying:"These, however, are the real shilling, if you'll excuse my little joke." Tiffany excused his little joke, because she didn't get it." What does the expression "the real shilling" really mean? My best guess is it means "the real thing", anything that is untampered with. Google search wasn't as helpful as one would think, so I thought I'd better ask...
  • grubble

    Senior Member
    British English
    ..and, in case anyone didn't know, the shilling was a unit of currency in Britain before decimalisation.

    Pounds, Shillings and Pence.

    Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "the real shilling"?


    Senior Member
    British English
    Is it a cannonical phrase, grubble? I thought Pratchett made it up. :eek:
    I've heard it before.

    Here is another example of its use:

    They may be decent representatives of a company selling ENERGY EFFICIENT SAVINGS I was not convinced they were the real shilling.

    Also I have just found this which seems to offer an explanation: :idea:

    The first method is the"cap, "which consists of a small hollow case which fits over a shilling and looks exactly like one. Suppose the top of the cap is the head, of course the shilling is put down tail uppermost. Should head be called, the cap is taken up off the shilling by the pressure of the two fingers, and the real shilling is left down tail uppermost. On the other hand, should tails be called, the cap is left on, when it appears a head.


    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Great! So in that case, it really is a pun playing on the fact that the "real thing" really is money (or is real money). Thank you. :)
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