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  #1  
Old 12-05-2011, 01:36 PM
AndyLee AndyLee is offline
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Has The British Pound Always Been Worth More Than The Dollar?

This is what I mean by my title.

If I ask how much is ONE British pound in US Dollars. It seems as long as I can remember (I'm in my early 30s), ONE pound is always more than ONE dollar

For instance, I looked it up on Google today and it says

1 pound = 1.5688 dollars

Have the pound and the dollar ever been 1:1

Or has the dollar ever been worth more? Like maybe during WWI or WWII?

And since I know nothing about money, am I even phrasing the question right?
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  #2  
Old 12-05-2011, 01:43 PM
SpoilerVirgin SpoilerVirgin is offline
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Based on this graph, yes. It dropped down to $1.05 in 1985, but that was the lowest. I remember living in London in 1984, and still thinking in terms of a 2-1 exchange rate, when that was no longer accurate.
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Old 12-05-2011, 02:45 PM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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Originally Posted by SpoilerVirgin View Post
Based on this graph, yes. It dropped down to $1.05 in 1985, but that was the lowest. I remember living in London in 1984, and still thinking in terms of a 2-1 exchange rate, when that was no longer accurate.
I still do. A dollar to me is 50p. I know it's not accurate, but it's ingrained in my head from childhood.
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  #4  
Old 12-05-2011, 04:14 PM
Mk VII Mk VII is offline
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Remember that, until the demise of the Gold Standard during and after the Great War, the values of most currencies was tied to gold. After the convertibility of sterling was suspended in 1914 it was worth around $4.70
http://www.miketodd.net/encyc/dollhist.htm (though I detect some inaccuracy in his relation of the history of the post-war American Loan)
and gradually dropped, with occasional rallies, in the decades that followed. In 1967 the Wilson government was forced to devalue from $2.80 to $2.40 so that one penny was worth one cent for a while.
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  #5  
Old 12-05-2011, 04:30 PM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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Originally Posted by SpoilerVirgin View Post
Based on this graph, yes. It dropped down to $1.05 in 1985, but that was the lowest. I remember living in London in 1984, and still thinking in terms of a 2-1 exchange rate, when that was no longer accurate.
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Originally Posted by Candyman74 View Post
I still do. A dollar to me is 50p. I know it's not accurate, but it's ingrained in my head from childhood.
A little off-topic (though the OP has already been answered), but another thing that was drilled into my head as an American child was that Canadian dollars were worth substantially less than American dollars. You'd get a book and it always had a price printed on it which was something like $13.95 in the US / $18.95 in Canada. People would even occasionally use it as a jab against Canada "let's see, this costs $10 in the U.S. so what would that be, about 500 dollars Canadian? Har har har!"

I was a little shocked, though not really surprised due to the economic debacle of the last few years, to see that recently Canadian dollars were actually trading for more than US Dollars! According to here, the low point was Nov. 2nd, 2007, when 1 USD was trading for 0.9327 CAD. Then the relative value of the USD rose back above the CAD for a while until 2011, when it again dipped below that of the CAD (and when I first noticed it). Right now, the USD is only very slightly ahead, trading for 1.0171 CAD.
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  #6  
Old 12-05-2011, 04:37 PM
Danger Man Danger Man is offline
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This has always bothered me. Pound worth more than the dollar? Isn't that really arbitrary? The US could suddenly one day choose to rename all dollars cents and rename the 100 dollar bill a 1 dollar bill, and suddenly the dollar is worth a lot more than the pound!
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  #7  
Old 12-05-2011, 04:39 PM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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Originally Posted by Rigamarole View Post
A little off-topic (though the OP has already been answered), but another thing that was drilled into my head as an American child was that Canadian dollars were worth substantially less than American dollars. You'd get a book and it always had a price printed on it which was something like $13.95 in the US / $18.95 in Canada. People would even occasionally use it as a jab against Canada "let's see, this costs $10 in the U.S. so what would that be, about 500 dollars Canadian? Har har har!"
Really? But it's not a measure of superiority. It's just the unit chosen. The Canadians could choose to use a Gribbet instead of a dollar as their base unit (a Gribbet being the price of a small car) and say "har har, look how crap American dollars are!"

The French used to use Francs, which were about 10p (so I guess 16 US cents). That doesn't mean anything. Just the unit they chose.
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:31 PM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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Originally Posted by Candyman74 View Post
Really? But it's not a measure of superiority. It's just the unit chosen. The Canadians could choose to use a Gribbet instead of a dollar as their base unit (a Gribbet being the price of a small car) and say "har har, look how crap American dollars are!"

The French used to use Francs, which were about 10p (so I guess 16 US cents). That doesn't mean anything. Just the unit they chose.
I didn't say it made any sense - just that some people used it as yet another way to make fun of Canada.
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  #9  
Old 12-05-2011, 05:38 PM
Eyebrows 0f Doom Eyebrows 0f Doom is online now
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Originally Posted by Danger Man View Post
This has always bothered me. Pound worth more than the dollar? Isn't that really arbitrary? The US could suddenly one day choose to rename all dollars cents and rename the 100 dollar bill a 1 dollar bill, and suddenly the dollar is worth a lot more than the pound!
Not really. Comparatively the pound would still be worth more, unless you think in that scenario that prices for goods & wages would remain the same as they are now.
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  #10  
Old 12-05-2011, 06:07 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Quote:
Not really. Comparatively the pound would still be worth more, unless you think in that scenario that prices for goods & wages would remain the same as they are now.
So a silly nomenclature change in the US would cause a real increase of the value of the pound by a factor of 100? How do you figure? No, if the US redefined the dollar to be worth 100 times the current value, then the new dollar would most definitely be worth more than the pound.
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  #11  
Old 12-05-2011, 06:13 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rigamarole View Post
A little off-topic (though the OP has already been answered), but another thing that was drilled into my head as an American child was that Canadian dollars were worth substantially less than American dollars. You'd get a book and it always had a price printed on it which was something like $13.95 in the US / $18.95 in Canada. People would even occasionally use it as a jab against Canada "let's see, this costs $10 in the U.S. so what would that be, about 500 dollars Canadian? Har har har!"

I was a little shocked, though not really surprised due to the economic debacle of the last few years, to see that recently Canadian dollars were actually trading for more than US Dollars! According to here, the low point was Nov. 2nd, 2007, when 1 USD was trading for 0.9327 CAD. Then the relative value of the USD rose back above the CAD for a while until 2011, when it again dipped below that of the CAD (and when I first noticed it). Right now, the USD is only very slightly ahead, trading for 1.0171 CAD.
That's happened before -- often!

When I was a child, we frequently took vacations on the North Shore (Duluth to Thunder Bay area). And if you bought something at a Canadian souvenir store with American dollars, it was always a few cents more than the marked price, due to the 'exchange rate'. And then a day or 2 later, back in America and paying at a store with Canadian money, again it was a few cents more, because the 'exchange rate' had dropped.

Or maybe those shops near the border had a bit of a game going, possibly?
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  #12  
Old 12-05-2011, 07:45 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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The British pound was typically though not always worth more than the Irish pound (or punt). This was a bit of a nightmare in our bookstore because the UK price would be printed in British £, and we'd have a label over it with the Irish £, which was almost invariably a higher figure. We got accused of gouging on a number of occasions even though they were different currencies.
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  #13  
Old 12-06-2011, 04:21 PM
Mk VII Mk VII is offline
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At one time the pound Irish was pegged to the level of sterling, this ceased in 1979 and it was allowed to float (within the European Monetary System, aka 'the snake'); for a while the punt was actually worth more than sterling.

Last edited by Mk VII; 12-06-2011 at 04:22 PM..
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  #14  
Old 12-06-2011, 04:31 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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Oh I didn't realise they were pegged that late on. I was born in '81 so it always fluctuated during my childhood and for most of it sterling was worth more. It was a pain when we'd visit family in the north. Things would appear deceptively cheap.
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  #15  
Old 12-06-2011, 04:53 PM
Lust4Life Lust4Life is offline
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Originally Posted by Candyman74 View Post
I still do. A dollar to me is 50p. I know it's not accurate, but it's ingrained in my head from childhood.
I'm an old git, but a "dollar" in local parlance rather then the real thing was always five "bob" ie. five shillings or in this new fangled money 25pence, and half a dollar was "half a crown", or "Two and Six", twelve and a half pence decimal.
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  #16  
Old 12-06-2011, 05:21 PM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
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And in Damon Runyon stories a "pound note" was a five-dollar bill.
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  #17  
Old 12-06-2011, 06:14 PM
Lord Feldon Lord Feldon is offline
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Originally Posted by Lust4Life View Post
I'm an old git, but a "dollar" in local parlance rather then the real thing was always five "bob" ie. five shillings or in this new fangled money 25pence, and half a dollar was "half a crown", or "Two and Six", twelve and a half pence decimal.
The old coins were pretty close in size and weight to the equivalent US coins if you used the £4:$1 ratio, too.
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  #18  
Old 12-07-2011, 06:47 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
The old coins were pretty close in size and weight to the equivalent US coins if you used the £4:$1 ratio, too.
That's $4:£1, of course.
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  #19  
Old 12-07-2011, 07:31 AM
Miss Mapp Miss Mapp is offline
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In films from the WWII era (I'm thinking particularly of Michael Powell's "A Canterbury Tale," though I've seen it elsewhere too), in scenes where Americans interact with Brits, a quarter and a shilling are treated as pretty much equivalent pieces of money. Given 4 quarters/dollar and 20 shillings/pound, it's easy enough to work out the exchange rate.
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  #20  
Old 12-07-2011, 08:08 AM
Kamino Neko Kamino Neko is offline
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Originally Posted by Rigamarole View Post
A little off-topic (though the OP has already been answered), but another thing that was drilled into my head as an American child was that Canadian dollars were worth substantially less than American dollars. You'd get a book and it always had a price printed on it which was something like $13.95 in the US / $18.95 in Canada. People would even occasionally use it as a jab against Canada "let's see, this costs $10 in the U.S. so what would that be, about 500 dollars Canadian? Har har har!"
I know someone who was still doing that when the Canadian dollar was something like $1.10 American. He's finally stopped since we've been consistently wavering around par with frequent changes of which dollar's higher for 4 years, but it took him a while.
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  #21  
Old 12-07-2011, 09:22 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Originally Posted by Candyman74 View Post
Really? But it's not a measure of superiority. It's just the unit chosen. The Canadians could choose to use a Gribbet instead of a dollar as their base unit (a Gribbet being the price of a small car) and say "har har, look how crap American dollars are!"

The French used to use Francs, which were about 10p (so I guess 16 US cents). That doesn't mean anything. Just the unit they chose.
However, units of currency that come with strings of zeroes on the end of any meaningful amount do tend to be associated with economies that are (or have been) less than robust. Countries don't tend to start off with currency units so small that you need a thousand of them to buy anything.

I'm thinking of the Italian lira, which IIRC was running at about 2,500 to the pound when I first visited in the 1990s (There was a 500,000 lira note circulating by the time of the euro's introduction). Or the old Turkish lira, of which you got about 2 million to the pound before they lopped off six zeroes. Both legacies of rampant inflation.

The French franc, which you mention, was also revalued. The franc that was replaced by the euro was actually equal to 100 pre-1960 francs.

Last edited by Colophon; 12-07-2011 at 09:24 AM..
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