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(There is a little skipping on the audio but it does not detract too much from my velvet tones)


For those of you under the age of 50 some explanation might be needed – probably on a number of levels.

First of all, “3d” was thre’pence under “old” money.

Second, the “d” stood for denarii – a valuable legacy of Roman coinage.

Third, and perhaps most important, you’ll need an understanding of how the wonderful pre-decimal currency worked.

There weren’t 100 pennies in the pound as is confusingly the case now but the altogether more convenient number of 240.  A shilling (1/-) or bob (solidi in the abbreviation Lsd) was 12 pennies while a 6d was a tanner.  Thre’pence came in the form of a thre’p’ny bit.

In order for you newcomers to get your bearings, a 1/- therefore equated to 5p now, a tanner to two and a half p and a thr’ep’ny bit to half of that.

Moving on, 24 pennies (2/-) made a two bob bit and 30 a half-a-crown (2/6d).  There was a crown but by my time these were largely ceremonial.  10/- was a ten bob note.  There was no nine bob note which was a disgraceful simile of its time used to describe homosexuals.  Two ten bob notes therefore made up a pound note or quid.

The system also regressed downwards from a penny with a ha’pe’ny and a farthing – not a distant object as you might assume but a quarter of a 1d.  These were phased out when Modern Times arrived in 1961, although their value held in the form of 4 Blackjacks to the 1d for some time after.

You’ll see at a glance, therefore the superiority in terms of convenience of this “old” money compared with today’s decimalised currency which is nothing short of a French plot to undermine our British economy and why it is spoken of in such hallowed tones by dewy-eyed Brexiteers.

All very interesting but simply an overly long diversion to the thrust of this post which is, you remember, about “3d back on the bottle”.

In those days of smoke-belching power stations gorging themselves on 100m tonnes of black gold ripped from the bowels of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North-East etc, “3d back on the bottle” was incentivised recycling, decades ahead of its time.

You’ll have gathered already how it worked.  Once your dad had finished off his weekly crate of Mackeson, you took the empties back to the beer-off and got thre’pence back on each bottle. 

A spin-off to this noble act of environmental sustainability was that it also encouraged gutter-snipes like us to go litter picking (well, bottles at least!).

The pinnacle of this entrepreneurial recycling would see us climbing over Sabin’s back wall after dark to pinch back the crates we had taken in days before.  Give it a couple more days, then Bingo! Take them in again.

3d back on the bottle, see?




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John Coopey

Fri 1st Mar 2024 12:00

And five and a half yards = ?
How many sheds in a barn?

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 1st Mar 2024 01:48

Not to mention "chains", JC.😌 Which brings to mind a big hit record by "The Cookies" back in the day.

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John Coopey

Thu 29th Feb 2024 18:35

I would have thought an old glimmer like you, MC, would still be working in cubits. And thanks for the Like, Stephen.

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M.C. Newberry

Thu 29th Feb 2024 18:15

There was method in that far-off juvenile gladness! And it
worked very well. As for various old terms, there were also
common use reasons,. Measurements, were often based in
human terms, like the length of an arm, thumb or reach. Oh...the
changes I have seen in my own long life! Perhaps my old brain
should have short-circuited in the process in an age that seems
now fixated - perhaps unsurprisingly - on Altzheimer's Disease.

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John Coopey

Thu 29th Feb 2024 16:51

Years ahead of our time, Tony

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Tony Earnshaw

Thu 29th Feb 2024 15:25

Nipping over the back wall of the 'offy' after taking bottles in was a widespread pastime in my neck of the West Riding as a youth. Recycling in perpetual motion

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John Coopey

Thu 29th Feb 2024 12:12

Groats were before my time, Kevin. You’ll remember them though! I do have however a couple of dozen silver sixpences my father-in- law has given me.

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kJ Walker

Thu 29th Feb 2024 09:35

I can remember nicking and returning the same bottles three times in the same night. It was pushing our luck, and I don't know how we got away with it.

By the way you forgot to mention groats. 4d

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John Coopey

Wed 28th Feb 2024 13:39

Ours was like a small square porthole in a box the size of a small wardrobe, Uilleam. You had to keep moving the aerial around the parlour to stabilise the vertical hold from scrolling up and down.

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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Wed 28th Feb 2024 13:17

89 inches!
I remember the first telly I ever saw was at my auntie's, all 12" of it, showing mickey mouse, when all the world was black n white, an it rained all the time.😊

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John Coopey

Wed 28th Feb 2024 13:07

Who are you kidding, Graham? I bet you’ve still got ha’p’nies your grandad gave you!
And, Uilleam, the legacy of the ha’p’ny lives on in the bar game shove ha’p’ny. The board is under the 89” Sky Sports plasma screen.

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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Wed 28th Feb 2024 12:42

Thanks John, very instructive.
I remember my school friends talking about pop bottles and jam jars "jeely jars" as the Glaswegians call them, being used as currency to get into the flicks.
We still jest about "coppering up", whilst sorting my change out on the bar top, even though I doubt there's much actual copper in modern currency?

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Graham Sherwood

Wed 28th Feb 2024 12:06

Could you just run through that again JC? 😇

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