the Gilded Pearl

Stuart Coinage and Prices

by Master Luke Knowlton

The first half of the 17th century saw the circulation of a variety of coinage in England of silver, gold and even copper. There is an excellent explanation of the English monetary system in a webpage of a southern English living history organization:

It has charts of the various denominations and their equivalent values for coinage from the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I. There is also a section on exchange rates with French and Dutch currency, the value of silver and exchange rates between England and Scotland (remember they were separate countries until 1707).

An Englishman of the period would have used pence and shillings for his daily monetary transactions and would have thought about values of objects, services and wages in those terms. English coinage was based upon the Roman model, 12 pence = 1 shilling, 20 shillings = 1 pound, abbreviated d., s. and L. The word pence is the plural of penny, so you would speak of one penny or two pence but not two pennies (it would have been pronounced 'tuppence'). A penny was VERY roughly worth US$2-3 but it must be noted that prices of food were fairly cheap, as where those of manufactured goods were fairly high.

The same website mentioned above also contains a page of prices of goods and services of the period:

Back to Gilded Pearl GalleryBack to the Gilded Pearl Gallery