Two Quick Questions On Life In England, c. 1940-1950

In Victoria.Australia – which copied English labour and school laws – “15” meant you needed permission to leave before 15. Which they automatically gave at 14.5 if you had a job to go to. Younger than 14.5 meant you could only do full-time work if you could find an employer who would employ you – family, self-employed, or slightly shady.

But that’s the same for a most currencies. Here in Sweden the öre (1/100 of a krona) is now practically non existent. They systematically got rid of the coins as you couldn’t really do much with them due to inflation. 100 SEK in 1956 is 1,405.4 SEK now:

The US is the same. A dollar in 1913 is worth 26.30 USD today.

When did UK go off fixed exchange rates? I seem to recall when I was first aware of exchange rates - mid-60’s? - that the exchange rate was unsustainably fixed at $4.80(? Or had it changed to $2.40?) and there were limitations on how much money could be taken out of the country. About that time they went to floating rates. My grandmother was limited on how much money she could send to use in Canada each year. I recall a Punch cartoon from the time, which showed a family driving off the ferry and while being interviewed by customs the little girl is saying “tell him about your money belt, daddy!”

The control on money going out was also, IIRC, a plot point of “Trustee From The Toolroom” by Nevil Shute.

1971, collapse of the Bretton Woods system.

Wikipedia shows the pound as being worth $4.86 (US) until 1940; $4.03 until 1949, when it became $2.80. Then in 1967 to $2.40. During WW2, my parents (in the UK at the time) routinely used a 5 to 1 ratio for a quick conversion (a shilling was worth a quarter). A few shillings could buy a decent meal.

I don’t think the US calculator goes back to 1209, though.

Wikipedia shows the pound as being worth $4.86 (US) until 1940; $4.03 until 1949,

My parents’ generation (born before WW1) would occasionally refer to a half-crown (=one eighth of a £) as “half a dollar”. It was a coin of some worth in daily transactions until into my childhood: e.g. in WW2, the equivalent of food rationing in restaurants was to require them to charge no more than 5 shillings (=two half-crowns) for a meal.

Currencies were largely pegged to the price of gold until WW1. The war (not surprisingly) caused massive economic dislocations, which upset the system of exchange rates. In the UK, Churchill, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, put the UK back on the gold standard (i.e. a fixed rate ) n 1924, as a marker of national pride, which turned out to be unsustainable as the Great Depression struck, and it was abandoned in 1931. The way so many countries pursued “beggar my neighbour” trade and fiscal policies to try to gain some advantage in the 20s and 30s led to the post-WW2 system of “fixed but variable by agreement and subject to conditions” régime (known as “Bretton Woods”) that lasted until 1971. Under that scheme devaluation, as in 1949 and 1967 in the UK, was seen as a major humiliation, and was one of the reasons why Labour acquired the reputation for fiscal irresponsibility.