The Real Value of Coins and Banknotes

Is the penny overdue for withdrawal? Isn't it about time we got a circulating £5 coin? This graph attempts to answer that kind of question by showing the real value of the various banknotes and coins circulating in England and Wales since 1900.


Thick lines are banknotes, thin lines are coins, and the vertical scale is their value in 2008 pounds sterling. Inflation figures come from the ONS Consumer Price Indices data, series CDKO. Dates of introduction and withdrawal of currency units are from Wikipedia. Notes issued other than by the Treasury and the Bank of England are omitted, as is the period before 1900 because long-term inflation was basically zero then.

The code to generate the graph is held in Bazaar. You can get your own copy by running

bzr branch

Source: National Statistics website:

Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI). Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence.