(james benedict brown) on the road

Castle Acre bookshop discoveries #2

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 23 January, 2009

Back in the summer I made a habit of spending a few hours a week helping out at the Friends of Castle Acre Church Charity Bookshop, not far from my rural hideaway (every unemployed architect needs a rural hideaway, that’s where we go to when the drudgery of unemployment gets too much).

As with previous sessions helping out with the largely jumbled and unordered collection of books, the most rewarding discoveries aren’t always books (sometimes they’re Danish promotional material about cheese). This time was no exception, with the discovery of a full colour leaflet produced by the long-forgotten Decimal Currency Board.

Monday 15 February 1971 was D (for Decimal) Day, when Britain’s archaic currency of pounds, shillings, pence, crowns, farthings and ha’pennies were replaced by the decimalised pounds and pence. This 22 page leaflet (and its pull out Shoppers’ Table was distributed, perhaps in six figure quantities, to help people make the transition without confusion or the lingering doubt that they might be being ripped off by dishonest tradesmen.

Not withstanding the obvious advances in new media and technology, the message is pretty much the same as that given to European citizens who have seen their currencies superseded by the Euro.

Perhaps a modernised equivalent of this leaflet will one day be distributed on the streets of Britain (or via text message, internet and interactive television) in the event of a conversion to the Euro? If nothing else, this little discovery has finally helped me comprehend the hierarchy of Britain’s “old money” designations.

The Friends of Castle Acre Church Charity Bookshop is open (subject to volunteers being available) 10:00 – 16:00 every Saturday and public holiday, and is found at the eastern end of Castle Acre’s high street in west Norfolk. Thousands of paperbacks and hardbacks already in stock, with no small number containing similarly delightful little historic documents between their pages.


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