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How Much Is A Shilling Worth In 2022?

The shilling is an old British coin that hasn’t been in official circulation for decades, yet its name still holds meaning and value for historians and coin collectors alike. So you may be wondering, what is a shilling worth today?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: In 2022, one shilling is worth around 12 pence.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the history of shillings, how their value and purchasing power have changed over time, and what shilling is worth in modern British currency.

A Brief History of Shillings

The shilling is a historic unit of currency that has been used in various countries throughout history. It originated in England during the reign of King Henry VII in the late 15th century.

At that time, the shilling was a silver coin that was equivalent to 12 pennies. The word “shilling” itself is believed to come from the Old English word “scilling,” which means “a division.”

Origins and Early Usage of the Shilling

The shilling was first introduced as a means to simplify trade and commerce. Prior to the introduction of the shilling, various forms of currency were in circulation, including pennies, groats, and pounds.

The shilling’s value was based on the weight and purity of the silver it contained, making it a reliable and consistent form of currency.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the shilling became the standard unit of currency in England and was widely used for everyday transactions. It was also commonly used in other countries within the British Empire, such as Scotland and Ireland.

Over time, the design and composition of the shilling evolved. In the early 19th century, the silver shilling was replaced by a coin made of cupronickel, which is a copper-nickel alloy. This change was made to prevent the hoarding and melting down of silver coins for their intrinsic value.

The Decimalization of British Currency

In 1971, the British currency underwent a major change known as decimalization. Prior to this, the pound was divided into 20 shillings, and each shilling was divided into 12 pennies. However, with the introduction of decimalization, the pound was divided into 100 new pence.

This change meant that the shilling was no longer used as a separate unit of currency. Instead, it became a subdivision of the new pence. One shilling was equivalent to 5 new pence. The shilling’s value was effectively replaced by the 5p coin.

Today, the shilling is no longer in circulation in the United Kingdom or its former colonies. However, it remains a fascinating piece of history and a symbol of the evolution of currency over time.

The Purchasing Power of Shillings Over Time

Shillings in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, the value of a shilling varied depending on the region and the specific time period. In England, for example, a shilling was equivalent to 12 pence. It was a significant amount of money and could buy a variety of goods and services.

However, the purchasing power of a shilling was limited compared to today’s standards. Inflation was minimal during this time, but the cost of goods and services was generally lower, so a shilling could go further.

During this era, shillings were often made of silver, which added to their value. They were commonly used for trade and were a symbol of wealth and status. Merchants and nobles would often carry bags of shillings with them as a sign of their affluence.

Shillings in the 20th Century

In the 20th century, the value of shillings continued to fluctuate. In the United Kingdom, for example, the shilling was used as a form of currency until 1971, when it was replaced by the decimal system. The value of a shilling during this time varied depending on economic factors such as inflation and government policies.

During the mid-20th century, a shilling was worth 12 pence, or 1/20th of a pound. It could buy everyday items such as a loaf of bread or a pint of milk. However, as inflation increased over time, the purchasing power of a shilling decreased.

It’s important to note that the value of a shilling in other countries during this time may have been different. Currency exchange rates and economic conditions varied across the globe, leading to different purchasing power for shillings in different countries.

Shillings Today

Today, the shilling is no longer in circulation in most countries. However, in some countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, the shilling is still used as the official currency. The value of a shilling in these countries fluctuates depending on economic factors.

It’s worth noting that the purchasing power of a shilling today is significantly different from what it was in the past. Inflation and changes in the cost of living have made the value of a shilling decrease over time. Today, a shilling may only be able to buy a small item or a fraction of a larger purchase.

Converting Shillings to Modern British Currency

For those curious about the value of a shilling in today’s world, it’s important to note that the shilling was phased out as a form of currency in the United Kingdom more than four decades ago.

In 1971, the UK switched to decimal currency, replacing the shilling with the new pence. However, if you’re interested in understanding the value of a shilling in today’s terms, there are a few factors to consider.

The 1971 Conversion Rate

When the UK transitioned to decimal currency in 1971, the conversion rate was set at 1 shilling to 5 new pence. This means that if you were to convert a shilling into modern British currency, it would be equivalent to 5 pence. So, if you find an old shilling lying around, it would have the same value as a modern 5 pence coin.

Accounting for Inflation

While the conversion rate provides a basic understanding of the shilling’s value in modern terms, it’s important to account for inflation over the years. Inflation erodes the purchasing power of money over time, meaning that what a shilling could buy in the past would require more money today.

Unfortunately, there is no official conversion rate or formula to accurately calculate the value of a shilling in today’s pounds. However, various online calculators and websites can provide estimates based on inflation rates and historical data.

For example, the Bank of England’s inflation calculator allows you to input a specific year and currency amount to see how its value has changed over time.

It’s also worth noting that the value of a shilling can vary depending on its condition, rarity, and historical significance to collectors. In some cases, a shilling may be worth more as a collectible item than its face value in today’s currency.

Ultimately, the value of a shilling in 2022 is mostly sentimental or collector-driven rather than having a direct conversion rate. So, if you come across an old shilling, it may be worth keeping as a piece of history rather than trying to convert it into modern British currency.

The Continued Relevance of Shillings

Despite the modernization of currency systems around the world, shillings continue to hold a special place in the hearts of collectors, historians, and even everyday people. These historic coins have a rich legacy that transcends their face value, making them valuable in more ways than one.

Collectible Value of Vintage Shilling Coins

One of the main reasons why shillings remain relevant today is their collectible value. Vintage shilling coins, especially those from specific time periods or with unique features, can be highly sought after by numismatists and coin enthusiasts.

These collectors appreciate the craftsmanship, historical significance, and rarity of these coins, often willing to pay a premium to add them to their collections.

For example, a 1933 British Shilling in excellent condition can fetch up to $500 in the market. Similarly, a rare 1923 Irish Shilling, with only a few known examples, can command prices upwards of $10,000. These prices are a testament to the enduring appeal of shillings among collectors, who see them as tangible pieces of history.

Shillings in History and Folklore

Shillings also hold a special place in history and folklore, contributing to their continued relevance. In many countries, shillings were once the primary unit of currency, representing the economic power and cultural identity of the nation. They were used for everyday transactions, from buying groceries to paying for services.

Moreover, shillings often feature prominently in historical events and stories. For example, in Britain, the 1971 decimalization of the currency system, which replaced shillings with the decimal pound, marked a significant milestone in the country’s monetary history.

This event is still remembered and discussed today, showcasing the lasting impact of shillings on the collective memory of the nation.

Furthermore, shillings have also made their way into popular folklore and literature. From the tales of pirates searching for buried treasure to the iconic phrase “pieces of eight” in pirate lore, shillings have become symbols of adventure, mystery, and fortune. These cultural references ensure that shillings remain a topic of fascination for many, even in the digital age.


While shillings have long since gone out of circulation, they still hold an important place in British history and culture. Understanding what a shilling was worth opens a window into the past. Whether you’re a historian or just curious, we hope this guide has helped explain the changing value and relevance of the humble shilling.

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