«Speaking Coins»

Britain and the Pound Sterling

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For the first 400 years of the Christian era, England was a Roman province, «Britannia». The word «pound» comes from Latin: the Roman pondus was divided into twelve unciae, which in turn gives us our English word “ounce”. In weighing precious metals the pound Troy of 12 ounces is used, 373 grams in metric units. In France, instead of pondus, the Latin word libra, weighingscales, was used instead, so that «pound» in French is livre. That is why, when we weigh meat, for example, and want to write seven pounds, we write 7 lb., as if we were saying librae instead of pounds. And if we’re talking about pounds in the monetary sense, we also use a sign that reminds us of the Latin libra – the pounds sign, £, is actually only a stylised letter L.

Britain and the Pound Sterling