30th March 1921

Guernsey adopts Sterling currency

On 30 March 1921, Guernsey adopted Sterling. It had taken the island a long time to align itself with the mainland. Over the previous 300 years, it had used a series of currencies. Some were its own, but many had been aligned with France.

Until 1834 Guernsey used the French Livre. This might sound like common sense, given its location, but France itself had abandoned the Livre in 1795. In 1830 Guernsey introduced its own currency, the Double, which it used alongside the Livre. The Doubles were a series of copper coins, established at 80 Doubles to each French Franc. A Guernsey penny was worth eight Doubles, and 12 Guernsey pennies made a single Guernsey Shilling. A Shilling, was therefore worth either 96 Doubles, or 1.26 French Francs, depending on which currency you were paying with.

If you wanted to settle a bill using a mixture of different currencies, the mental mathematics must have been a challenge, made worse by the fact that the currencies were pre-decimal.

Guernsey Double currency coins

Four years after introducing the Double, Guernsey dropped the French Livre. This would have made things far simpler – had it not introduced the French Franc at the same time. Thus, it was once again operating two currencies side by side, with Doubles and Francs in circulation for the next 100 years.

Switch to Sterling

In the years immediately following the First World War, the Franc was struggling. Its value fell against Sterling, which made British imports to Guernsey considerably more expensive.

In 1921, therefore, the Royal Court issued an ordinance adopting the British pound as Guernsey’s legal currency. It would use it alongside its existing Double coins across Guernsey, Sark, Herm and Jethou. From that date forward, Bank of England notes, any notes issued on Guernsey since the start of March 1921, and any copper coin issued by the States of Guernsey would be valid.

Fortunately, the changeover shouldn’t have been too confusing. The Double to Sterling exchange rate was almost the same as it had been for Francs, with twelve eight-double pieces to each Bank of England shilling.

Photo of Guernsey Double coins by Centpacrr at Wikimedia English


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Other events that occured in March

Debut of Guernsey-set comedy This is Jinsy 1st
Channel 4 broadcasts Sark-based Mr Pye 2nd
First ever broadcast of Puffin’s Pla(i)ce 3rd
Dead man appointed to run Guernsey Airport 4th
Guernsey’s entire police force is arrested 5th
Isle of Guernsey delivered to its new owners 6th
Guernsey players set darts record
Guernsey heads call for an end to the Eleven-plus 7th
Guernsey’s first governor, Edmund Weston, is appointed 8th
Occupying forces mount a desperate raid on Granville 9th
Guernsey emergency services prepare for a disaster 10th
Birth of Baron James de Saumarez 11th
First publication of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea 12th
Building work starts on Guernsey Airport 13th
Guernsey’s island-wide police force is established 14th
Guernsey exchange student goes missing in Virginia 15th
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is published 16th
BBC Radio Guernsey takes to the air
Guernsey clears up after heaviest snow in years 17th
Torrey Canyon spills oil on Guernsey’s beaches 18th
Guernsey issues banknotes featuring famous locals 19th
Guernsey guidebook pioneer Henry Inglis dies 20th
Soldiers staged a mutiny at Fort George 21st
Alderney arrest sparks a “riot” 22nd
Guernsey nurse Elizabeth Lincoln elected to the States 23rd
Famed printer Thomas de la Rue born 24th
Guernsey votes for equal age of consent 25th
Guernsey to UK telephone connection inaugurated 26th
Condor Liberation enters service 27th
Guernsey Post Office is established 28th
Enemy at the Door comes to the end of its run 29th
Guernsey adopts Sterling currency 30th
Guernsey and France tackle the Amoco Cadiz oil spill 31st