Replica Coins

The English monetary system used the basic denominations of Pounds (£), Shillings (s), and Pence (d) and often journals note the prices of goods in the £/s/d format, ie. 3/4/2 is 3 Pounds, 4 Shillings, and 2 Pence. Collectively the format is known as sterling. The relationship between these denominations is:

2 Farthings = 1 Halfpenny
2 Halfpence = 1 Penny (aka Pence)
4 Pence = 1 Groat
6 Pence = Sixpence (aka Tanner)
12 Pence = 1 Shilling (aka Bob, ie. six bob)
2 Shillings = 1 Florin (aka two bob bit)
2 Shillings and 6 Pence = 1 Half Crown
5 Shillings = 1 Crown
13 Shillings and 4 Pence = 1 Mark
20 Shillings = 1 Pound (aka Quid)
21 Shillings = 1 Guinea

In 1775 the Continental Congress pegged the value of the Continental dollar to the Spanish dollar (Pieces of Eight) and in commerce with England, the Spanish dollar was valued at 4s, 6d., or 54 pence sterling. By the Fall of 1777 high inflation caused the value of the paper Continental Dollar to depreciate rapidly against English and European hard money (coins), which gave rise to the phrase "not worth a Continental". The United States did not issue coins until the 1790's but during the Revolutionary War to create "change for a dollar" it did print fractional currency with values such as $1/6, $1/3, $2/3 along with the familiar whole dollar amounts. This fractional currency was used until inflation caused its value to become less than the cost of the paper it was printed upon. So the only coins a soldier or civilian would have seen would have come from England or Europe.

Many Colonies/States also issued paper currency which used the familiar sterling denominations of Pound, Shilling, and Pence. However currency of the same denomination didn't have equal value between the states or England. In other words, an 8 New York shilling note did not equal the value of an 8 Rhode Island shilling note, or 8 shilling coins from England. The following table of exchance is valid until late 1777 when inflation, which was greater in some states than others, caused the ratios to become obsolete. After 1777 the value of the currency varied state-to-state, so money changing required a complex chart.

1776 Exchange Rate
1 Spanish Dollar or 54 English Pence (4s/6d) equals:
8 Colonial Shillings of New York or North Carolina currency.
7 Colonial Shillings, 6 Pence of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, or Maryland currency.
6 Colonial Shillings of Virginia or New England currency.

1775 Rate of Pay
Continental Army privates earned $6 2/3 per month, (approx 30 English shillings) which was increased to approx $10 in late 1776. Neither of which was actually paid to the soldiers on a regular schedule, and often only after depreciation made the pay nearly worthless. British Army privates earned 20 English shillings (20s) per month. This is before stoppages or deductions for food, shoes, stockings, shaving, medicines, hospital, repairs to arms; and fees to the paymaster, surgeon, and regimental agent which reduced the net pay to nearly nothing. A typical wage for 1763-1775 Massachusetts civilian laborer is 15 Colonial shillings per day and assuming a 6-day workweek, the earnings would equate nearly to 49 English shillings per month.

So how does this relate to 2004 wages and prices? One method to determine this is to use the price of gold. As of this writing, gold is approx $410 per troy ounce. One troy ounce of gold = 31.103481 grams, and a George III gold guinea weighs 8.4 grams with 91.46% gold content (approx 22kt). At current gold prices a guinea is worth $101, and since there are 21 shillings to a guinea, an 18th Century English shilling is $4.82 and £1 (one pound sterling) is $106.26 in today's money. Over 225 years of inflation has resulted in the Pound Sterling to be worth $1.75 in 2004 US dollars.

Thus the annual pay, in 2004 dollars, is $1,729 for the 1775 Continental soldier ($2,592 in 1776), $1,157 for the British soldier, and $16,848 for the civilian laborer. For reference, $2,500 is the typical annual wage of today's unskilled factory worker in Mexico.

Source: History of Wages and Prices in Massachusetts 1752-1883, Carroll D. Wright, Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, 1885

I presently do not offer replica coins. I don't know when or if I will do so again.


  George III Guinea, 1773 - gold. $.50 each
  George II Shilling, 1745 - silver. Marked LIMA under the King's bust to indicate that it was made from silver captured by Admiral George Anson in his 1743 round-the-world voyage. $.50 each
  George II Shilling, 1734 - silver. $.50 each
  George II Sixpence, 1745 - silver. Marked LIMA under the King's bust. $.50 each
  George II Sixpence, 1734 - silver. $.50 each
  George II Threepence, 1762 - silver. $.50 each
  George II Threepence, 1762 - silver. Has hole above bust $.50 each
  Anne Threepence, 1706 - silver. $.50 each
  Spanish Dollar - silver. $1.00



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