Great Britain: Fading Farthing

By an act of government, Britons last week spent their last farthing. When it was first minted back in 1279, a farthing could buy a whole chicken or a pound of beef. Its name dates even earlier, to the days when pennies were marked with a cross so that shoppers could divide them into fourths—or farthings. But its buying power has steadily dwindled, and by 1900 the farthing was already a children's coin —good only for a single sourball or a few winkles (non-U shellfish) at the seaside.

Since the war the bronze farthing, which is slightly larger than a...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!