Pound Sterling - It's History and Outlook
The British Pound Sterling is the official legal currency of the
country known as the United Kingdom. In addition to being the currency
of the United Kingdom, it is also the currency used in the United Kingdom’s Crown dependencies (the Isle of Man
and the Channel Islands) and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands,
plus the British Antarctic Territory. Some other Crown possessions, such
as Gibraltar, use a currency called the pound, but it is not the exact same money as the British Pound
Sterling used in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
The British Pound Sterling is the world's oldest currency still in
use, its first use recorded as being during the reign of King Offa who ruled a small kingdom in what is now
central England in the last part of the 8th century CE. Though the valuation of the pound has fluctuated and
changed by decree many times, it has remained the one currency used in the kingdom since its beginning all of
those centuries ago.
For much of its history the pound and smaller denomination coins have
been metal but in recent centuries the Bank of England has issued pounds in paper notes, which because of their
reduced weight are easier to carry.
Though most people simply call the money by the name “pound,” that is
not its official name. Nor is the commonly used “British pound” or “Great Britain Pound” the official name for the
monetary denomination. To be completely correct, the money should be called “British Pound
The sterling part of the name has a long history and has to do with the
metal with which it is made. Way back in 1158, new metal coins were introduced by King Henry II to replace the
previous silver pennies that had been in circulation for centuries. In those earlier times the pennies were made of
100% silver. What King Henry II did was make the new pennies from 92.5% silver.
This allow of 92.5% silver was called “sterling
silver” to distinguish it from pure silver. The reason the King did this was because
sterling silver is harder than the pure silver that was traditionally used. The harder sterling silver coins lasted
longer and resisted wear much better than pure silver coins. These sterling 92.5% silver became the standard into
the 20th century. The sterling silver coins became so synonymous with the British pound that the name soon became
British Pound Sterling.
have over centuries been a symbol of British pride, strength and commerce. People the world over
would respect and accept the value in British Pound Sterling. Being a member of the European Union, the
United Kingdom could adopt the Euro as its currency but the idea of switching to the euro from the British
Pound Sterling remains extremely politically controversial. In short, the majority of United Kingdom people
and the members of their government are against such a chance and it is same to say that it will not happen
in the near or foreseeable future.