The pound sterling is the oldest existing currency, with origins that can be traced back to continental Europe.

The name of this currency comes from the Latin word “libra”, which refers to weight and balance. For more than 300 years the Bank of England has been the authority issuing pound banknotes, and all along this time these notes have suffered many changes.

The first pound coin did not appear until 1489, under the reign of Henry VII. Pound banknotes started circulating in England shortly after the foundation of the Bank of England in 1694, and were originally handwritten notes. The pound functioned with its complicated system of shillings and pennies until the arrival of the decimal system in 1971.

In 1660 coin minting was mechanized and features in its design such as the side lettering were introduced to help eradicate money-clipping.

The pound sterling has survived as an independent currency while most of the rest of Europe adopted the euro as single currency, which at the beginning of the 21st century seemed the likely destiny of the pound sterling too.

Regarding the “pound scots”, it existed until the 1707 Union Act created a new monetary system based on the value of the pound south of the Scottish border. The Bank of Scotland was created in 1695, just one year after the Bank of England, and it still survives today as part of HBOS, a subsidiary of the Lloyds Banking Group, based in Edinburgh.

Countries using the pound sterling

The pound sterling is the official currency of the United Kingdom (made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

Current pound sterling Coins and Banknotes

Right now there are five different denominations for banknotes in circulation, for 5, 10, 20 and 50 pounds. There are also £1 notes but they are a rarity as they are printed in Scotland. All pound notes include certain security measures. For more information about these, check the web page of the Bank of England.

British pound banknotes

Regarding to coins, the ones currently circulating are of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pennies and 1 and 2 pounds. Occasionally special editions of £5 coins are issued but their circulation is merely incidental.

 

Interesting facts about the pound sterling

  • It is the oldest surviving independent currency.
  • Around 980 A.D. one pound could buy 15 heads of cattle.
  • The English expression Spend a penny means going to the bathroom, and it originated from the need to pay one penny for the use of a public WC. This practice started during The Great Exhibition of 1851.

Symbol:

£

ISO:

GBP

Date of creation:

1489

Authority:

Bank of England

Reserva online

Online money order: best price guarantee

Book online with better rates and collect your currency at the branch of your choice.

Book online
Your best rate

Why change currency with us rather than your bank

    Global Exchange Global Exchange   Your high-street bank
Variety of currencies   69. We are specialists.   Only major currencies. Travel money is just a secondary business for banks.
Availability of currencies   Immediate availability of currencies in our branches at the airport. Click and collect or walk in to our stores.   If they can actually get your exotic currency, prepare for a couple of visits to your bank before you can have the money on your hands.
Expenses   Order foreign currency online or exchange at the airport over 500 AUD (over 400 AUD if you buy AUD) to save service fee. Online orders get better rates than at the airport.   The bank sets its own margin plus a commission.
Different denominations available   At Global Exchange, you’ll get a variety of banknotes with different values, adapted to all your payment needs.   No. Prepare for refusals and complaints in foreign languages when paying with «big» banknotes.
Delivery options   Order online to collect at the branch of your choice. It’s all about convenience!   You’ll have to go first to your bank to order the currency you need, then wait for it to come and go back again to collect it. 
I HAVE AU. DOLLARS
I WANT AU. DOLLARS

AUD = 0.475719 GBP

If you request over {0} {1} you will save service fee.

save service fee

Due to internal regulations, the maximum amount that can be exchanged is AUD 15,000.00.

Minimum amount to exchange is AUD 50.00

Request online for best rates. Collect and pay at Sydney Airport.

INCLUDES 0.00 FEE

 = 0.475719 GBP

0.00 GBP fee

If you request over {0} {1} you will save service fee.

save service fee

Due to internal regulations, the maximum amount that can be exchanged is GBP 15,000.00.

We only accept banknotes.

INCLUDES 0.00 FEE

Get your travel money online at the best value