An exciting week this week and from today you can pre-order a copy of
A Gentleman’s Folly here http://bit.ly/138xRdb
One of the things I found most difficult when writing A Gentleman’s Folly was values of things. I recall the old money system, just, so I was familiar with shillings and pennies and could recall what I’d been told about farthings. I knew the first bank notes weren’t issued until 1759 and people used guinea coins prior to that date.
My problem came with valuing things. How much was a night’s stay at an inn, meal included? What did Charles new wedding coat cost him? How much was the hire of the coach so he and Katherine could get to Cranly in Gloucestershire from London? How much did it cost to send a letter from London to Bath? The questions were endless.
I did a spot of research and some of it made a bit of sense.
The currency in England in the 1750’s was, guinea’s, pounds, shillings and pence, half pence and farthings.
2 farthings make half a penny
4 farthings made one penny
2 halfpennies made one penny
12 pennies made one shilling
Ten shillings and sixpence made half a guinea
Twenty shillings made one pound
Twenty-one shillings made one guinea
I like farthings. They are a quarter of a penny and sweet little coins. I have one dated 1772, it is very special to me even if it is a bit worn and the king’s head has gone all smooth. It sits on my table looking at me as I work, it has a partner dated 1943 that is much crisper. I like to think no matter what I’ve got two brass farthings to rub together.
Anyway now you have an idea of what the coinage was, the big question is; what was it worth?
It is all very well knowing the coins names, but if you have no idea of value there is no point.
In my story Charles is forced to sell his signet ring and sword to pay for his wedding, his new coat and the coach hire from London to Gloucestershire.
A good silver hafted sword such as he might have had would have sold for about £6.00 the gold signet for perhaps £2.00 or maybe £3.00 if he told a good enough tale.
His new coat would have cost him approximately £1.15.
The coach hire would have been very expensive, at about £4.0o.
The marriage license would have cost 10 shillings.
Added to this is the night’s entertainment at the Cross Key’s Inn before his marriage and what he owed. There wasn’t much left.
Here are a few other values for you to think on.
1d (that means 1 penny) enough gin to get drunk on.
2d enough to get floored (very) drunk on.
3d cost of postage for a letter going 80 miles, paid by the person to whom the letter is addressed as so often letters went astray. Naughty highwaymen to blame.
8d the cost for a coach and four horse on a toll road.
1 shilling the cost of a pound of perfumed soap
2 shillings 10 pence, a pound weight of candles
5 shillings, a bottle of claret at Vauxhall Gardens.
7 shillings, a dozen rabbits in the market.
7 shilling and 16 pence, a pound of tea.
2 guineas, admittance to the masquerade ball at Ranelagh Gardens
Entertainment didn’t come cheap it would seem.