I came across some old pennies and half pennies in a box at home while I was tidying up. Goodness, they were heavy clunky coins, What’s more when we were young, they could actually buy something. A licorice strap, a chocolate sante bar, or half a dozen aniseed balls or boiled lollies. The large penny was superseded by a small one cent coin which today has also gone, it’s presence now only exists in the electronic world, or in the written form. What’s more, this invisible one cent coin today would buy you almost nothing. I read once about an experiment, where they placed a six pence coin on the ground, just to see if the young folk of today would even bother to pick it up. It was ignored as valueless. Once it would have bought a glass of a beer, or even a packet of woodbine cigarettes.

Personally I can’t come to grips with a lot of the changes that we have gone through during our lives, When I read a report on a motor vehicle that does 7 Litres to the 100 kilometres. This means absolutely nothing to me. I have to turn it back into miles to the gallon to make any sense of the comparison. Same with somebody’s height. I can’t vitalise someone’s height at one metre seven hundred. I have to convert it back to feet and inches. Exactly the same with weight, I know I weight 81 Kilos, meaningless, I have to have it in pounds, or so many stone and pounds.

Do you remember how difficult it was to multiply divide or subtract in pounds shillings and pence? I have to admit working in decimals is so much easier. Especially in the Bank back when we didn’t have the use of computers or for that matter, even calculators. Especially when jumping between currencies. I received a lesson once that coins and money only had a value when we say it’s so. I was the accountant of the National Bank Oamaru when we changed over into decimal currency. We were responsible to collect and hold all the notes and coin that been made redundant by the change for the area. We had in our vaults all the pooled money that had been in circulation, all collected from other local Banks. This money was looked after, counted religiously. However one day a truck called from a fertiliser company. The driver had the proper accreditation. He said, ‘I’m here to pick up your old copper coin’, ‘How much do you have’? I told him the exact amount to the penny. He then casually tossed all the five pound or ten dollar bags into 45 gallon drums without any count,, He then gave me a receipt. The penny as we had known it,as well all the joy it represented to millions of kids, was gone, possibly to live another life as a trace element in a fertilizer.

I suppose a visit to a doctor sums up exactly what I’m saying. ‘Stand on the scales please’. ‘Eighty one kilos’,’ I knew that’. It was what I weighted on my last visit. But I don’t know if it’s too much or what. Out comes the thermometer. I wonder where are they going to stick it this time? Has there been any advances in this medical field since my last visit? The thermometer scale is now in centigrade, meaningless again. The Fahrenheit scale it would seem is gone too. Stand against the wall please. Height is now in metres and millimetres, means nothing again.

Have thought back about our currency that’s now missing in action. Ten shilling note turned into a dollar bill, then a coin. Pound note did the same. A Guinea as far as I was concerned, never actually had a physical presence, but something professional people wished to be paid in. It was valued at One pound one shilling. Half-crown and three pence coins both causalities of the change over. There was a time too when coins were made of silver. At one stage late in the changeover the amount of silver in coins had a value greater as bullion rather than it’s monetary value. The Reserve Bank and the general population woke up about the same time. The Reserve Bank began issuing all the new coins in nickel or copper plated steel. People were calling to buy five hundred bags of coin to sort and pick out all the silver ones to be sold as bullion. This wasn’t popular with the bank employees as each time the bags were returned they had to be counted again.

For the future, I can forecast the end of money as we know it.. Money I can see will be loaded onto smart cards which can be reloaded any time similar to some phone cards. You only have to look back to the ‘in roads’ current plastic cards have made to make payments for normal trading against both cash or cheques, even in the past decade. Personally I have just issued my last cheque from my current Cheque Book, and I have ordered a replacement. The last book was issued to me ten years ago.

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