Talk:Bit (money)

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Heh, is there actually anything that doesn't cost a multiple of a cent? --Ihope127 19:11, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

As a matter of fact, yes. Not that you'll be looking back here to see a response three years later, but I thought I'd answer anyway.-- (talk) 16:08, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Terminology in Canada[edit]

The article says "In Canada, 2 bits and 4 bits are common expressions used to denote 25 and 50 cents respectively." As a Canadian, I have never heard anyone use this terminology, not even on TV. So that bit of trivia seems to be just plain wrong. It may be regional slang somewhere or other, but it certainly isn't "common." I'll just add a "citation needed" for now. Ψαμαθος 17:20, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Etymological Link?[edit]

Although the article makes is clear that the term "bit" derives from it being a 1/8 piece of a Spanish milled dollar, I can't help but wonder, given that this equates to 12.5 cents, whether there is any relationship to the Hindi term "beda", used in India to refer to 12.5 paise. --BenStrauss (talk) 19:04, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

content of United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries section[edit]

Disagreement with the original section (sorry, part of it has been deleted): The term "three penny bit" was no doubt a historical British term, but it likely had no relationship whatsoever to the much much older form of Spanish/ Spanish-American reckoning in 1/8ths of a dollar. It is most likely that the term "bit" referred to the small size of the silver three penny coin (it was much smaller than the American dime, at only about 13mm). Literature reflects that before the silver threepenny was discontinued and replaced with a brass coin (about 1937), it was practically an embarassment to spend the old silver threepenny because it meant the spender was essentially broke.

Under the LSD system (prior to 1971) there were 12 pennies to a shilling, 20 shillings to a pound. The silver dollar-sized coin under this system was a heavy silver "crown" of five shillings weight and value (heavier than either the U.S. silver dollar or the Spanish 8 reales and of superior "sterling" 925 fineness as well). In fact, the shilling was the same as a U.S. quarter dollar, more or less. If there was a ever a British "bit" similar to the Spanish coin(s), the sixpence would have been the equivalent; for "two bits", the shilling would have been the equivalent; for four bits, the florin would have been the equivalent.

The relative values of the pound and dollar cited here do not enter into this discussion. Traditionally, before the First World War, the British pound equaled $4.80 in American money and the relationship was based upon the actual gold content of the gold sovereign (one pound) coin. The $2.40 United States Dollar to one British Pound was not officially in effect until after World War II (the late 1940s/ early 1950s following the Bretton Woods Agreement) and only lasted until the currency crisis of 1968. This is far outside the historical period when reckoning in "bits" would have taken place.

I would recommend that this section of the article "Bit (money) be deleted because the usage of "bit" in Britain was a reference to size, not denomination.

____________________________________________- Someone forgot the inclusion of the use of the bit in Equestria... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:48, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

Originally added to article page by ip on 21 May 2012.
Moved by Sarahj2107 (talk) 13:20, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

I'd strongly support the preceding comment on the use of the term 'bit' in the UK - it's in no way related to the American usage. As the article explains, in the US (and other parts of the Americas) a 'bit' was originally a particular denomination of coin, an eighth of a dollar in value, and the word continues in use to represent multiples of that same value. In Britain it is (was) used of coins in the same sense as 'piece' - when I was growing up in the days of pre-decimalisation coins, what we familiarly called a 'two-bob bit' was more formally known as a 'two-shilling piece'. What the Oxford English Dictionary says is "bit: colloq. A small coin or 'piece' of money, the value being generally named, as seven-shilling bit (an obs. English gold coin), sixpenny bit, fourpenny bit, and threepenny bit."
The term was used only of coins representing multiple values - a penny was simply a 'penny', not a 'penny bit', a shilling was simply a 'shilling', a half-crown was a 'half-crown' - but anything valued at more than a unit attracted the term 'bit' - thus two-shilling bit, sixpenny bit, threepenny (pronounced thrupenny) bit. These were the only 'bit' coins still in common use right up to the time of decimalisation - previously there had been others like 'fourpenny bits'.
Since decimalisation of the British coinage in 1971, I suspect the term 'bit' has gone out of general use. At least I can't recall hearing (for example) the 50p coin referred to as a 'fifty-penny bit' - it usually seems to be called a 'fifty-pee'!
The question is whether to simply delete the section, or to rewrite it as a sort of internal disambiguation, to explain that in the UK 'bit (money)' has a meaning that's unrelated to that in the US.
Would someone with an interest in monetary matters like to comment - or propose edits that would clarify the text? John A Clark (talk) 10:42, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
See revised version. John O'London (talk) 17:21, 12 April 2013 (UTC)
To latest anonymous editor - thanks for tightening up the first couple of sentences.
But the reason a shilling wasn't a 'bit' coin was because it wasn't a multiple - it represented a single unit of one shilling. The fact that it represented the same value as a number of pennies is irrelevant. If anyone ever thought of imagining it as a 'twelve-pence coin' they could have equally called it a 'twelve-penny bit'. Half-a-crown is interesting - it's a 'half' - less than a unit, so obviously it doesn't take 'bit'. Twopence - I don't know. I see no reason why someone wouldn't call a maundy or a cartwheel tuppence a 'tuppenny bit' - but I don't know any evidence for or against the usage, so it's better omitted!
I see no point in putting translations into old penny values after each coin value (eg two shillings (24d)). This article isn't about British currency it's about a linguistic topic - the naming of particular coins. The implication that there were 240 pence to the pound doesn't matter - because actually there weren't - there were 12 pence to the shilling, 20 shillings to the pound - a two stage process using three units of account. Two shillings was just two shillings, not 24 pence. Hence the old 'pounds, shillings, pence' routine - and the wikilink to the '£sd' article needs to be restored. Multiples of pennies (but not single pennies) got 'bit' added; multiples of shillings (but not single shillings) took 'bit'; half-a-crown is a 'half', so didn't take 'bit'. In theory a five-shilling coin might be either a 'crown' (a unit, so no 'bit') or a 'five-bob bit' (multiple, so 'bit') - but they weren't in general circulation, so I don't know what the 'colloquial' usage might have been. All completely logical!
What would be useful would be confirmation from someone whether this usage of 'bit' actually was also common in Australia and the other '£sd' countries before their equivalent decimalisations. - John O'London (talk) 15:59, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
I've tried a rewrite of the section - I hope it's clearer now. John O'London (talk) 10:04, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

How Can a Bit Equal 0.125 US Dollars?[edit]

That does not make any sense. There is no US coin worth less than one cent, and you cannot have a partial person for anything. Cbsteffen (talk) 03:28, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Not sure what you mean -- a bit was originally 1/8th of a Spanish silver dollar, and this was transferred to 1/8th of a U.S. dollar. The Half cent (United States coin) was minted until 1857, and fractional cent amounts were commonly used in the payment of taxes in the U.S. until well into the 20th century... AnonMoos (talk) 00:23, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Not only did the U.S. make Half Cent coins until 1857, Spanish Eight Reales, its fractional denominations, as well as many other foreign coins were legal tender in the United States until 1857! It was not uncommon for early circulating banknotes, what are now commonly referred to as Obsolete Currency (usually issued by private banks), to be denominated in fractions of a dollar including one bit, i.e., 12-1/2 cents and a half-bit, i.e., 6-1/4 cents. Furthermore, until only a few years ago stocks on U.S. exchanges were quoted in fractions of 1/8 and 1/16 of a dollar, remnants of the early basis of the U.S. dollar upon the Spanish "Dollar"/8 Reales. ... Sam I am47 (talk) 04:03, 10 May 2014 (UTC) User:Sam I am47
As a historical curiosity, this is also the exact reason that the US stock market was priced in eigths of a dollar until very recently. (talk) 04:00, 17 December 2014 (UTC)