thirteenpence-halfpenny pieces

< Previous | Next >

enkidu68

Senior Member
turkish
Hi folks,
it's cited from Colonel Jack by Defoe.
what I got from the passage,
there was a paper full of old coins
but what I did not understand how many different size of those money were in that paper?
if they were crooked, (if he meant fake) they were not in currency at that time?
(By the way, I looked at similar threads here, and I have a bit knowledge about English currency.

How he did to whip away such a bag of money from any man that was
awake and in his senses I cannot tell; but there was a great deal in
it, and among it a paperful by itself. When the paper dropped out of
the bag, "Hold," says he, "that is gold!" and began to crow and hollow
like a mad boy. But there he was baulked; for it was a paper of old
thirteenpence-halfpenny pieces, half and quarter pieces, with
ninepences and fourpence-halfpennies-
-all old crooked money, Scotch
and Irish coin; so he was disappointed in that.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I know a bit about older English currency - angels and nobles and groats and so on - but none of those denominations sound familiar, or indeed useful. Thirteenpence halfpenny is an eighth of nine shillings, which isn't a fraction of either a pound or a guinea, for example. The Scottish pound was worth much less than the English pound, so even real Scottish coins of smaller denomination would be disappointing; presumably the same was true for Irish money. The OED has no special currency sense under 'crooked', so I don't know whether it means they're fake.

    Aha, but under 'ninepence' I find they did have ninepences, and moreover 'ninepence' was also used for an eighth* of a Spanish dollar, so fourpence-halfpenny was half that again. So these are probably all (except the Scottish and Irish ones) dollars cut up in various ways.

    * Actually the quote has them the other way round, and says 'respectively', but this doesn't make as much sense:

    1892 A. E. Lee Hist. Columbus, Ohio I. 398 The coin in circulation at that time [c1821] was almost entirely Spanish, consisting of the silver dollar and its half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth, the last two being known as ‘four pence-ha'penny’ or ‘fippeny bit’, and ‘ninepence’ respectively.
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    for it was a paper of old thirteenpence-halfpenny pieces, half and quarter pieces, with ninepences and fourpence-halfpennies--all old crooked money, Scotch and Irish coin;

    because it was a paper that contained old [worn/well-used] thirteenpence -in halfpenny pieces, and some half and quarter pieces1, together with ninepences and fourpence in halfpennies--all of it was old [worn/well-used] crooked money [crooked - not to be useable/classed as "real" money in the way that English money was], Scotch and Irish coin [currency];

    I wonder if
    1. "ninepences" is an irregular plural for "nine pennies."
    2. the repetition of "halfpennies" might indicate that Singleton was counting the Scotch and Irish coins separately.

    1Etb might correct me, but I suspect that half and quarter pieces, are whole coins that have been cut into half or a quarter.
     
    Last edited:

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes, the parrot's cry 'pieces of eight' refers to Spanish dollars, which were commonly cut up into smaller pieces. 'Two bits' was therefore a quarter of a dollar, and is still used in colloquial AmE for the quarter or 25c coin.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    A
    1892 A. E. Lee Hist. Columbus, Ohio I. 398 The coin in circulation at that time [c1821] was almost entirely Spanish, consisting of the silver dollar and its half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth, the last two being known as ‘four pence-ha'penny’ or ‘fippeny bit’, and ‘ninepence’ respectively.
    This seems to be the key to it. A thirteenpence-halfpenny piece is presumably a single coin worth thirteen and a half pence: that is, equal to an eighth (four and a half pence) and a sixteenth (nine pence) added together.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top