1956 Elizabeth II UK shilling showing English and Scottish reverses
The shilling is a unit of currency formerly used in Austria, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States and other British Commonwealth countries.Currently the shilling is used as a currency in four east African countries: Kenya (Kenyan shilling), Tanzania (Tanzanian shilling), Uganda (Ugandan shilling) and Somalia (Somali shilling). It is also the proposed currency that the east African community plans to introduce (east African shilling).The word shilling comes from old English "Scilling", a monetary term meaning twentieth of a pound, and from the Proto-Germanic root skiljaną meaning 'to separate, split, divide.' The word "Scilling" is mentioned in the earliest recorded Germanic law codes, those of Æthelberht of Kent.
Slang terms for the old shilling coins include "bob" and "hog". While the derivation of "bob" is uncertain, John Camden Hotten in his 1864 Slang Dictionary says the original version was "bobstick" and speculates that it may be connected with Sir Robert Walpole.
One abbreviation for shilling is s (for solidus, see £sd). Often it was represented by a solidus symbol ("/"), which may have originally stood for a long s or ſ, thus 1/9 would be one shilling and ninepence (and equivalent to 21d; the shilling itself was equal to 12d). A price with no pence was sometimes written with a solidus and a dash: 11/–.
During the Great Recoinage of 1816, the mint was instructed to coin one troy pound (weighing 5760 grains or 373 g) of standard (0.925 fine) silver into 66 shillings, or its equivalent in other denominations. This set the weight of the shilling, and its subsequent decimal replacement 5 new pence coin, at 87.2727 grains or 5.655 grams from 1816 until 1990, when a new smaller 5p coin was introduced.
In the past, the English world[clarification needed] has had various myths about the shilling. One myth was that it was deemed to be the value of a cow in Kent or a sheep elsewhere.
A shilling was a coin used in England from the reign of Henry VII (or Edward VI around 1550). The shilling continued in use after the Acts of Union of 1707 created a new United Kingdom from the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, and under Article 16 of the Articles of Union, a common currency for the new United Kingdom was created.
Kingdom of Scotland
The term shilling (Scots: schilling) was in use in Scotland from early medieval times.
Three coins denominated in multiple shillings were also in circulation at this time. They were:
the florin, two shillings (2/–), which adopted the value of 10 new pence (10p) at decimalisation;
the half-crown, two shillings and sixpence (2/6) or one-eighth of a pound, which was abolished at decimalisation (otherwise it would have had the value of 12½p);
the crown (five shillings), the highest denominated non-bullion UK coin in circulation at decimalisation (in practice, crowns were commemorative coins not used in everyday transactions).
At decimalisation in 1971, the shilling coin was superseded by the new five-pence piece, which initially was of identical size and weight and had the same value, and inherited the shilling's slang name of a bob. Shillings remained in circulation until the five pence coin was reduced in size in 1991.
Between 1701 and the unification of the currencies in 1825, the Irish shilling was valued at 13 pence and known as the "black hog", as opposed to the 12-pence English shillings which were known as "white hogs".
In the Irish Free State and Republic of Ireland the shilling coin was issued as scilling in Irish. It was worth 1/20th of an Irish pound, and was interchangeable at the same value to the British coin, which continued to be used in Northern Ireland. The coin featured a bull on the reverse side. The first minting, from 1928 until 1941, contained 75% silver, more than the equivalent British coin. The original Irish shilling coin (retained after decimalisation)) was withdrawn from circulation on 1 January 1993, when a smaller five pence coin was introduced.