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Coin collection helps me cash in on money-changing memories

By IAN MORRISON | China Daily | Updated: 2021-02-05 08:28
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When I was young, 50 years ago seemed so far away. As a child in the late 1970s, five decades prior to that was the era of the Great Depression, The Charleston, the arrival of movies with sound, and radio was still in its infancy.

To me, it may as well have been another world, a world which could only be seen through the black-and-white images of Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd or Charlie Chaplin films, or imagined with the help of my grandparents' reminiscences-as they were all born in the early 1920s.

But as we get older, our perception of time changes dramatically, and events and happenings from decades ago seem to be much more recent in our memories.

This was all brought home to me recently when I was chatting to a work colleague about my coin collection (I have been a keen coin collector since my childhood), and I mentioned that I had two quite historically significant sets of coins from the United Kingdom: one for the first year Britain adopted the decimal currency system in 1971, and the other for the previous year's issue of the final series of coins in the old currency system of pounds, shillings and pence.

Later I remembered that the anniversary of Britain's adoption of the decimal currency system is coming up on Feb 15. Then the thought crossed my mind that it was the 50th anniversary.

That suddenly made me feel quite old, as, although I was born two years after the introduction of the decimal currency system in Britain, it was still a very "new" thing when I was growing up-so "new" that the decimal currency was still referred to as "new pence",and this name appeared on the coins.

At the time, we were still using two coins from the old system (two shillings and one shilling), as these were identical in size and value to the 10 and 5 new pence coins, so that meant some coins in circulation in my childhood dated back to 1948 and had the portrait of King George VI-the father of Queen Elizabeth II-on them (so that makes me feel even older).

So, that's half a century passed since the introduction of something which I considered to be new when I was a child. That's significant in itself, as it's the first time in my life that I have measured a period of time directly related to my life using "century" as the unit of measurement.

In another half-century, which "new" things of our era will be considered totally out of date and belonging to another age?

The way the trend of electronic payment is going, I wouldn't be surprised if coins were a thing of the past by that time, and they will have gone the same way as The Charleston, silent movies and King George VI.

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