Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland

Here's another rewrite of the currency and prices thing - hope this time people are happier with it.

Adventurers will often want to buy things, and may even want to work for a living if they can't find alternatives. Most of the Forgotten Futures worldbooks include prices for items that might come up the course of play, and construction rules for items such as flying machines, spacecraft, and automata which suggest purchase prices. This section (expanded from material in FF II) explains the complexities of British currency, and gives real-world wages and prices for everyday items from around 1900, a period of relative stability and little inflation; they should be adjusted up for later periods, down for earlier settings. For simplicity add 5% in 1906-10, 10% in 1911-15, 15% in 1916-20, and so forth.

British currency is based on a gold standard until 1914, and from 1925 to 1931. Until metrication in 1972 the Pound Sterling (£ or occasionally L) is divided into 20 shillings (s), each worth 12 pence (d). This form of currency is used in most British scientific romances. Occasional references to "LSD" in period fiction refer to money, not drugs!

Confusingly the Guinea (gn), worth 21 shillings, is used for legal and other professional fees, and by the most expensive shops. There were no coins or notes for this amount after 1813, but prices are often given in Guineas, and cheques can be written for Guineas. A half Guinea (10s 6d) is also occasionally used for smaller fees.

    Reading Prices
      There is very little standardisation of the way prices are written; For example:
    • £2 6s 6½d = Two pounds, six shillings and sixpence-ha'penny
    • 2s 6d or 2/6 = Two shillings and sixpence = half a crown
    • 19/11 = 19s 11d = Nineteen shillings and eleven pence
    • 10/6 = 10s 6d
    • 25s = £1 5s
    • Half a guinea = 10s 6d
    • 5gn = 5 guineas = £5 5s
    • 5½gn = 5½ guineas = £5 15s 6d

More details of Britain's currency are in the table below. There are spreadsheet templates for conversion between these units and the modern decimal currency on the Forgotten Futures site and the FF CD-ROM.


One Pound = 20 shillings
= 240 pence
One Shilling = 12 pence
Copper Coins
Silver Coins
3dThreepenny bit or "Joey" 1
6dSixpence or "tanner"
1sShilling or "Bob"
2sFlorin, "Two Bob"
2s 6dHalf Crown
5s (uncommon)Crown
Gold Coins 2
10s (rare)Half sovereign, "Ten Bob"
£1Sovereign, "Quid"
Bank Notes 3
£5 (very rare)"Fiver"
1Replaced by bronze coin 1937-41
2Ceased to be legal tender in the 1920s
3Higher values VERY rare. 10s and £1 notes introduced 1914
Housemaid£12-30 per year
Cook/Housekeeper£80 per year
Page boy£10 per year
ButlerUp to £100 per year
Skilled engineer36s 6d per week
Assistant to above19s per week
Bricklayer38s per week
Assistant to above18s per week
Clerk£1 10s per week
Foreman£2 5s per week
Miner£1 15s per week
Craftsman in London£2 per week
Cabinet minister£2000 or £5000 per year
(£38 or £96 per week)
Income tax4%


Hovel4s per week
4 room rural cottage5s per week, £200 to buy
Small inner London house£200 per year, £1000 to buy
Small suburban house£50 per year, £500 to buy
Boarding house room£1 1s per week

Men's Clothing

Collars for above (12)6s 6d
Detachable cuffs1s
Leather gloves3s 3d
Handkerchiefs (12)8s
Good quality boots11s
Light boots7s
Walking shoes14s
Trousers7s 6d
Bowler hat12s 6d
Top hat25s
Soft felt hat7s 6d
Hat box, leather15s

Women's Clothing

Combinations5s 6d
Stockings6 ½d
Shoes12s-£1 8s
Blouse£1 5s 11d
Railway fare1d / mile
Omnibus5d (long trip)
Family car£200

Food & Drink

1 lb Almonds2d
1/2 lb tea8d
2lb sugar5d
1 lb butter1s
2 oz tobacco6d
1 lb fish1 ½d
1 lb ham9 ½d
1 lb steak11d
Marmite, 2oz7d
Bovril, 4oz1s 10d
1 lb chocolate 1s 2d
1 lb soap 3d
1 lb currants 3d
Pint beer 2d
1 lb Biscuits 2d
Loaf bread 2 ¼d
12 Bottles Cider 14s
12 Bottles Champagne £4 18s
12 Bottles Claret £2 10s
12 Bottles Port £1 14s
12 Bottles Sherry £2 2s
Bottle Whisky 7s
Bottle Brandy 9s 10d
Bottle Gin 4s 6d
Bottle Rum 7s 6d


Electricity 6d per unit (kilowatt-hour) *
* rate held high to protect small generating companies
1 lb Candles 10d
Safety matches, box 1d
"Thermos" Vacuum flask £1 1s pint, £1 15s quart **
** both leather with silver fittings
Chest of drawers 17s
Simple bed £1 15s
Luxury bed £19
Piano, upright £105
Piano, grand £210
Violin £2 10s
Kodak cameras £1 to £8 7s 6d
Flash for camera 12s 6d ***
*** uses explosive magnesium flash powder
Cricket bat 12s 10d
Golf clubs 6s
Golf balls 10s per dozen
Watch, good quality £10
Watch, for schoolboy 12s
Sewing machine £1 10s
Stamp (letter)1d
Telegram, max 12 words6d - extra words ½d
The Daily Mail1d
The Times2d
Tooth extraction1s
Set false teeth1 gn.
Alarm clock4s 6d
Microscope£1 15s
Opera Glasses5s

Toys and Games

Teddy bear4s 3d - 18s 6d
"Dribble" beer mug2s 9d
Air pistol with six darts 1s 10½d
"Banger" firework1d
Catherine wheel firework8d
Pocket grease paint kit3s 4½d

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