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The (old) penny is an obsolete unit of the Sterling monetary system.


The symbol for the old penny is $\oldpence$

Note that the $.$ is part of that symbol.

\(\ds \) \(\) \(\ds 1\) old penny
\(\ds \) \(=\) \(\ds \frac 1 {240}\) pound sterling
\(\ds \) \(=\) \(\ds \frac 1 {12}\) shilling
\(\ds \) \(=\) \(\ds 2\) (old) halfpence
\(\ds \) \(=\) \(\ds 4\) farthings
\(\ds \) \(=\) \(\ds \dfrac 5 {12}\) (new) pence

Historical Note

The (old) penny descended from the Roman denarius, defined as $\dfrac 1 {12}$ of a shilling.

The penny, along with the shilling, was discontinued in $1971$ when the UK coinage system was decimalized.

In its place was put the (new) penny, which was a completely new coin, $\dfrac {12} 5$ of the (old) penny: physically smaller, but of a similar material.

At that point, a penny was referred to as an old penny, while the new penny was gradually and progressively referred to just as a penny, in the natural order of evolution of language.

Linguistic Note

The usual plural of the word penny is pence.

However, the word pennies is sometimes used in rhetorical speech if it is required to emphasise the paltry quantity of the money in question.

Pennies is also used to refer to the specific coins themselves:

I have five pennies in my pocket

would be taken to mean:

I have five coins in my pocket which are penny coins


I have five pence in my pocket

would be taken to mean:

I have money to the amount of $5 p$ in my pocket.