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GBP - British Pound Sterling

British Pound Sterling Converters

The conversion rates from British Pound Sterling to other currencies were last updated 7 minutes ago.

Currency Facts

ISO 4217 Code GBP Symbol £
Country United Kingdom Region Europe
Central Bank Bank of England Website of the Central Bank bankofengland.co.uk
Sub Unit 1 GBP = 100 pence Minor Unit 1/100 pence
Inflation 1.5% (May 2014) Source of Inflation UK National Statistics
Printer of the GBP Banknotes Bank of England, Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, Northern Bank, First Trust Bank, Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland, States of Guernsey, States of Jersey, Isle of Man Government Producer of Coins (Mint) Royal Mint

Symbol

The British pound sterling is one of the most recognizable currencies in the world and is also recognized as the sterling, the pound, the British pound and its symbol is £.

Subdivision

There are two distinct and different divisions throughout the history of the British pound sterling. This all relates to the introduction of decimalization in 1971.

Subdivision of GBP before 1971 were as follows:

  • 1 pound = 20 shillings
  • 1 pound = 240 pence
  • 1 shilling = 12 pence

Subdivision of GBP now:

  • 1 pound = 100 pence

This new decimal system makes conversions with other currencies a lot simpler to deal with and helped with international business transactions. A lot of modern currencies are using the decimal system and it makes dealing with different types of foreign currencies less confusing and there is less room for calculation errors.

Countries using GBP

After the introduction of the Euro in 1992 with the Maastricht Treaty the use of the British pound sterling has been dropped from some areas. The United Kingdom has decided not to adopt the newer Euro as their official currency but would be allowed to if they came to consensus on the change.

There are now less than 10 countries and territories that use the British pound sterling on a daily basis. These areas are made up of the

  • United Kingdom, which consists of
    • England,
    • Northern Ireland,
    • Scotland and
    • Wales,
  • and two small island territories which are
    • the Isle of Man and
    • the Channel Islands.

Global Exchange of British Pound Sterling

Although Euro seemed to overtake Europe, that doesn’t mean that British pound sterling is useless in other parts of the world. A lot of countries still have banks that will exchange British pounds for the local currency so tourists are able to make purchases. Since the introduction of the Euro though, the exchange rate for British pounds in foreign countries has slipped. Be prepared to pay a premium to have your British pounds exchanged at banking institutions in other countries.

History and Introduction of the British Pound Sterling

The British pound sterling is officially the oldest currency in the world that is still in use.

It has been through many changes and modifications in its long history and can be traced back to the year 760 when it was first introduced, in a very different form than we know today, by a man named King Offa of Mercia. For the first 400 years the standard silver penny was made exclusively from fine silver.

In the year 1158 there was a silver penny constructed of sterling silver, hence the reason why it is called the British pound sterling. These coins were 92.5% pure silver and were entered into circulation by King Henry II as a way to ensure that coins had a longer life and better durability.

For almost the first 600 years of the pound existing it was always made of silver. At the time silver was still the standard at which value was comparable. In the year 1344 the first gold noble was struck but silver was still the currency people trusted.

It wasn't until almost 500 years later that the gold standard would come into play. There was an unofficial gold standard mentioned in 1663 when the guinea was first produced but do not get this confused with the official gold standard of 1816.

The shilling and the pound were first struck in 1487 and 1489 respectively. During the period before this a there were a few more important additions to British currency.

1964 Then in 1964 the first money printed on paper was released which changed the way people started to think about currency.

In conclusion the British pound sterling has a long and interesting history. There has been a lot of change and fluctuation over the years but the residents of the United Kingdom have pride in their official currency and will continue to use it for the foreseeable future.

British Sterling Pound Banknotes and Coins

There have been many different denominations used throughout its history.

Current coin denominations

  • £ 0.01
  • £ 0.02
  • £ 0.05
  • £ 0.10
  • £ 0.20
  • £ 0.50
  • £ 1
  • £ 2
  • £ 5

Current paper note denominations

  • £ 5
  • £ 10
  • £ 20
  • £ 50

There is one exception in Scotland where one bank still prints and issues a small amount of £ 1 paper notes every year.

Material used to manufacture British Pound banknotes

For the first 130 years of offering paper currency they were still handwritten by employees of the banks. The material that is being used nowadays is unknown.

Material used to manufacture British Pound coins

There are several different metals used for British Pound coins including:

  • Copper,
  • Nickel-plated steel,
  • Copper-plated steel,
  • Cupric-nickel.

Sizes

Each note of paper currency has a different official size. The size increases as the value of the note increases. This was originally done in place of adding braille to the currency for people with vision handicaps. The size vary starting at approx. 135mm x 70mm and ending at approx. 156mm x 85mm.

The GBP coins have different sizes as well. They do not take the value of the coin in consideration. The smallest coin measures a diameter of 18 mm whereas the biggest coin has a diameter of 38.61mm

Design of British Pound Sterling banknotes

The British pound sterling is one of the only currencies that has a different design based on which area it is printed in.

These is the design of the current denominations issued by the Bank of England

Bank note Front Side Back Side
£ 5 Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth Fry
£ 10 Queen Elizabeth II Charles Darwin
£ 20 Queen Elizabeth II Adam Smith
£ 50 Queen Elizabeth II Matthew Boulton and James Watt

Design of British Pound coins

There is no unified design assigned to the GBP coins and changes with almost every edition.

Interesting to know is that if you try to pay for a larger purchase in all coins a store cashier is legally allowed to refuse the transaction.

Printing and Minting

Printers

Depending on the area, there are different entities printing the GBP banknotes.

  • English (inc. Wales) notes:
    • Bank of England
  • Scottish notes:
    • Bank of Scotland
    • Royal Bank of Scotland
    • Clydesdale Bank
  • Northern Irish notes:
    • Northern Bank
    • First Trust Bank
    • Ulster Bank
    • Bank of Ireland
  • Crown dependency notes:
    • States of Guernsey
    • States of Jersey
    • Isle of Man Government

Mint

There is only one institution that produces the GBP coins and that is the Royal Mint.

Central Bank

The central bank of England is called Bank of England.

Nicknames

A well known nickname for the British Sterling Pound is Quid.


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