Australian Pre-Decimal Coins

The Coins of the Australian pound arose when the Federation of Australia gave the constitutional power to Commonwealth of Australia to mint its own coinage in 1901. 

With the adoption of a Federal government in Australia, British coins continued to be used until 1910 when the first Australian silver coins were introduced. These new coins, which included florins, shillings, sixpences and threepences, were all minted with a portrait of Edward VII. A year later Australian pennies and half-pennies entered circulation. In 1931 gold sovereigns stopped being minted in Australia. A crown or five-shilling coin was minted in 1937 and 1938.

I was talking with my Dad the other day, who was lucky to see both forms of Australian Currency (Pre-decimal and Decimal). He made this amazing write up documenting some of the nicknames and terms used in the day for specific Pre-Decimal denominations. Read on for an insight into the past from the man himself!

Pre-decimal coin names:
  • Threepence = a trey
  • Sixpence = a zac
  • A shilling = a deenah
  • However, One shilling = one bob
You would say "That cost me a deenah" but you couldn't say "That cost me one deenah"
You would instead say "That cost me one bob"
If you spoke of multiple shillings you would always say "bob". Example "That was five bob" You would never say "That was five bobs"

  • A ten shilling note was called "Ten bob"
  • A pound was called "a quid"
  • Quid like bob was both singular and plural. You would say "fifty quid" you would never say Fifty quids"
  • A five pound note was called a "fiver"
  • A ten pound note was called a "tenner"
  • Trey, zac and deenah were the names I knew but I can't say they were used universally throughout Australia" They may have been local to Sydney. Also, I can't vouch for the spelling.

Numerical form:
You wrote Pounds/shillings/pence
  • Example £5/-/- = five pounds
Note that we used a dash instead of a zero
  • £5/19/- = five pounds and nineteen shillings (20 shillings to a pound)
  • £5/19/11 = five pounds, nineteen shillings and eleven pence (12 pence to a shillings
If there were no pounds you left them out.
  • 19/11 = nineteen shillings and eleven pence
If there were no pounds and no shillings you wrote the number of pence followed by a "d"
  • 6d = six pence
If you had pounds and pence but no shillings you wrote
  • £5/-/11 = five pounds and eleven pence

Saying it:
You always say pounds but only said the shillings or pence if they were on their own.
You would only use the plural form of pound if there were no shillings involved.

  • £5/-/- = "five pounds"
  • £5/19/- = "five pound nineteen"
  • £5/19/11 = "five pound nineteen and eleven"
  • 19/- = "nineteen shillings"
  • 19/11 = "nineteen and eleven"
  • 11d = "eleven pence"

If there were pounds and pence but no shillings you would indicate this by saying " pence" at the end. Plus if it was more than one pound you would say the plural form of pound"
£5/-/11 = "five pounds and eleven pence"