Bygone Guernsey and its Coins

By Bill Exley

  • View 1/29.. Market Square, St Pierre, Guernsey. (1890's or early 1900's) - A busy Market day in St. Peter Port, one of my favourite scenes, looking up the Market Steps to Market Square / Place.. Note the elegant Victorian attire of the crowd, with the chatting couples conversing in the local 'Guernsey Patois', English or pure French. They are always proud to maintain using their 'Patois', as so the Welsh in using their own unique Celtic language / dialect, or - Cymraeg - e.g. / yr iaith Cymraeg - (the Welsh language)

In the mens' pockets you would have found a mix of English, French, Guernsey, or Jersey coins, as they were all gladly accepted as legal tender. Guernsey coins were first struck in 1830 and made up of the 8 Doubles, equiv. to our old Penny. 4, 2 and a tiny 1 double coin - Half a farthing!

For 1834 and 1858 the 8 Doubles (or Penny) was a huge Thick & heavy pure Copper coin , for those 2 years only. In 1864 and 1874 onwards, it changed to a lighter Bronze composition, so the coin was then a smaller slimmer size, like our old Penny of the 1950's / 60's

  • For interest, in 1797 for one year only, England minted a large Copper Two-Penny coin (like the 1834 / 1858 - 8 Doubles) using the first ever steam driven Stamper/ Press, and it was nick-named the Cartwheel Penny/ or Tu'pence. - They weighed excactly - 2 ozs (Av) - so Copper was a penny per ounce in value , and so accurate they were utilised for Scale-Weights in shops . Minted at the Soho mint in Birmingham by a Matthew Boulton, later to beome Boulton & Watts business partners.

The small Guernsey 1 Double coin was issued 12 times over 100 years, from 1830 to 1938, so it must have been required. - Food and labour costs were relatively low, so the 1-Doubles were used daily.

Some hourly rates, for various labour, was in Doubles per hour and small Timber, for domestic builds, was advertised at La Charroterie Mills priced at so many Doubles per foot. - : - In 1830, (my E1 in my book - Guernsey Coinage : 1968), - the tiny 1 Double , 1,648,640 coins were struck, so in daily use. ( equiv. to half our old Farthing or 1/8th of a Penny ! )

  • Samples above - my E56 (Coin Book) - 1 Double 1902 = to half our old Farthing, or 1/8th of a Penny / E80 the 2 Doubles 1917 = to a Farthing / E85 - 4 Doubles 1920 = a Halfpenny / - and my E52 = 8 Doubles 1893 = our old Penny, and the same size. - Refs. my 'Guernsey - Coin ' book / 1968. - N.B. The 1917 - 2 Doubles, E80 is the rarest coin with a 'low' mintage figure of only 14,524, compared to 84,000, 156,400 and 117,600 for the other 3 values - - (1,4 and the 8D's)
  • Origin - a 'Double' , from the Double-Tournois & Liard coins, both small French copper coins and equiv to 1/8th of a larger denomination (was, e.g. the Sol) from c1612 to 1770 - via the Tours Mint of yesterday's France. Records now show - 3 denier = 1 Liard, 4 Liards = 1 Sol (recent) , 20 Sols = 1 Livre - / - Equiv. to our £ , s, d - curencey (prior to 15/2/71) when we converted to Decimal. - Latin - libra, solidus and denarius / ancient Roman coins.
  • The source : of some of my best condition Guernsey Doubles in my collection, came from the 'London-Calibre' local jewellers in the Shopping Arcades, off the High street. The owners liked to present a Visitor with a Pristeen example of our coins, as a Souvenir of Guernsey, when they made a purchase. - (I saw them come out of Mahogany multi - drawer / cabinets in the open Vaults)
  • They were in waxed rolls direct from the Royal Mint, via the Banks, so in Pseudo - Proof like condition, untouched or marked. They charged me 6 old pennies per coin I bought of different dates, they got them from their Banks in the High St at face value. As tradesmen they could ask for this service. (e.g. 's my 1, 4 and 8 Doubles above, in F.D.C. condition, or Fleur de coin )
  • - In grading we have, Poor, fine, V.f. and Extra fne, / e.f. / then Bunc , Bright uncirculated and F.D.C. / Fleur de Coin , the best of all , then Proof.. A special Minting but slower..
  • Jersey - also had their own coinage from 1841, the currency, believe it or not, was 13 Pennies to the Shilling. It had 1/13th of a Shilling' inscribed, so a Halfpenny, 1/26th, and a Farthing for the year 1841 only, at a 1/52nd. It is now a very rare coin to find (valued at £100 - c2018) so minted for 1841 only, then dropped.
  • In 1877 - The States of Jersey 'reset' their currency to twelve pence to the Shilling, so now 1/12th, 1/24th, and for 1877 only, a Farthing, inscribed 1/48th. I had a complete Jersey Collection which has now returned home, in Mar 1988, and now rests in the Library of Philip Malet de Carteret, St Ouen's Manor, Jersey. This 900-year-old Manor has 'never' been bought or sold. The family Manor and grounds command a prime spot in the centre of the Island.

St Ouen's Manor, Jersey C.I.

Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man are all part of the U.K, but independent, with their own Tax and Judicial Laws. such as Corporal Punishment, e.g. Applying the Birch, in the presence of a doctor within St Peter Port Prison. This was later banned in the late 1960's, sometimes given to Drinking Louts / or Troublemakers, this also happened in Jersey and the I.O.M. - (1945 to 1976). -

Those being Deported from Jersey via Guernsey, enroute back home to the U.K. were sometimes met at the quay by the Guernsey police, waiting as a deterrent, as the boat only stopped to carry out transfers, then continue on to England. - *

  • The Mainland, the term as used by many locals as they are very strong in their loyalty to Guernsey and would not dream of ever leaving the small Island. There is a strong rivalry between Guernsey and Jersey in Football (the annual ' Murrati ' - fm. 1905) , swimming and athletics, but in sporting respect. I met some locals who had never seen a train in their lives and pictured England via feedback from the media, re Strikes, Unions, Violence, fast Motorways and pace of life in general.

Guernsey and Jersey are very strict in maintaing their Tourist clientele , usually those of a descerning nature, from Victorian times up to the present day . . It is well known for it's many Bays, Cliff path walks and the tranquil way of life, together with good hotels providing quality food and service. - An atmosphere of old - world Normandy still prevails in these Sunshine Islands. - so I recomend a day trip from Guernsey to St. Malo & Dinard to complete my jigsaw..

There used to be a quaint Cycle Tax of approx. 10p per year (2/6d) and you had a changing-coloured disc in its own mounted bracket on the bike. A Car Road Tax is, or was, adjusted, to its C.C rating for charges due, making it fairer all-round.

We had to comply with a 'Chicken' or 'Poulage Tax' , of seven Shillings & Sixpence (or 35p) being equiv. to the price of 2 - Chickens and only payable, in person, to the Royal Court office on behalf of the Queen. This tax comes under a centuries old Feudal Dues tax system still existent today. ( I assume ) - These taxes do not apply to every property, it is a hit and miss, as to the Site or Plot history, and previous owners or farmers.

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  • Market Square - view 1/29 above, to the left are the Market Halls, or States Arcade, built in 1822 with huge lofty separate areas. They sold Flowers, on massive, tiered shelves, I can still recall the fragrances now, Fruit and Vegetables, Meats then the Fish Market, (ref view 11/29) This area exits out into Fountain Street, Le Bordage and Mill Street. The markets were the place to hear the Patois spoken on a Saturday morning. On the right of Market Square are the French Halles with the Assembly Rooms above, later to become the Guille-Alles Library, an excellent source for reference and records going way back.
  • Update - I think now in 2018, it has all been changed into mini - commercial units, catering for locals and the many Island Visitors. In my title scene of Guernsey life, notice on the right the Horse drawn Char-a-Bancs (or Char-a-Bang) used to take people home. I can still remember that way back in the 1940's, 50's there would be changing lines of six to ten, waiting at the White Rock berth to transfer passengers. They were locals and visitors off the Mail boats arriving from the U.K. after a night or day crossing.
  • Later, we knew a 'Chara-Bang' as an excursion, day out or trip to the coast. Ships brought in Mail, (hence Mailboats), Newspapers and Cargo from England including White Goods, new Cars, and other heavy cargo. Mail and passengers are now served by regular daily flights from the U.K.
  • Under Sail - during the 1700's and 1800's, it would have been a very rough crossing , until the tall funneled Steam ships, then the 'Diesel-Engine' later came into service. The new bigger and more stable ships of the 1920s, 30s and 1940s made for a much faster and more comfortable crossing for the passenger..
  • A Record of some Bygone Ships -that came into Guernsey - these were, - - The Earl of Chesterfield 1794 / Dasher 1827 / The Lydia 1840s & 50s, also a Worldwide Immigrant ship, - Ibex 1891 / Alberta c1900s / Sarnia (1) in 1910 - later sadly, torpedoed in 1918 , - St. Julien 1925 - / The R100 Airship - in 1929 - / Isle of Guernsey & Isle of Jersey 1930 / - Isle of Sark 1932 - / Brittany 1933 / St.Patrick, St. David, & Falaise all in 1947 / Caesarea 1960 / Sarnia (2) 1961 / Earl of Granville 1973 and Havelet 1977 . // . A 'sample' from records researched, as at 17th Oct 2018.
  • Another type of Ship : for interest, the R100 Airship which came Into/Over St. Peter Port, Guernsey - on 26th July 1930 - Courtesy of our Sir Barnes Wallis Designer, of the Airship, Bouncing -Bomb and Wellington Bomber aircraft. (ref. - an old Guernsey Postcard / photo) For more on the R100 and R101 Airships, visit The Crown - Blunham Pub/Ale house - / - Mr Blex - 8/ 4 / 2022

During the 1940's / 60's the traveler to Guernsey, had a choice of using the midnight departure time from Southampton, or a more enjoyable daytime crossing via Weymouth. (a night crossing gave you more Holiday time on the island) .Guernsey is a tiny Island, lying about 90 miles S.W. of Lands End, and about 30 sq. miles, it's coastal road is apprx. 24 miles long, so in perspective, it would fit into the Isle of Wight 4 times. (148 Sq miles)

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Here is a Montage of a 'Bygone Guernsey' from views saved for 65 years. A link to my book, Guernsey Coinage in 1968 - see Index page - or 1st Guernsey Sea Scouts 1946 - '53, memories by my mate, Billy Hill of Guernsey - (2018) . - . Or some food for thought, just trivia / then visit my Misc and Mash - / - or my Rock Climbing days in Guernsey, 1950s - back to Index Page. - / - Mr Blex / 29/5/22

 

  • View 2/29.. A unique scene capturing the actual time the 'Arcade' in St Peter Port was being created, from land down below, being hacked from Granite Cliffs. The sheer Tenacity and Will Power to do the job, with no modern machinery. Artist - Louis Haghe. 1806/85 / ref Betty.

  • View 3/29.. High Street, Guernsey, a charming scene of 18th century High Street showng houses which were chiefly those of Gentry, but by the early 19th century adaptations to them began. The Town Church of St Peter Port forms a pleasant background of liveliness and interest. There has been a Le Riche shop to our right for many, many years selling fine wines, spirits and groceries, they even provided a 'Home - Delivery' service around the Island in the 1960's, and probably well before..
  • View 4/29.. The Quay, St Peter Port, Arist - Paul Naftel , where you would arrive coming out from my view below. The tallest building, in shadow on the left, is, or was, The Albion Hotel, with the quaint tiny pub, The Cosy Corner on the ground floor. ( enjoyed a Pint on a Sat morning, during 1962/69 ) The rear being the start of High Street, then the Arcade, Smith Street, Le Pollet and all the shops.
  • View 5/29.. Cow Lane, or Rue des Vaches , Artist - a charming sketch by a Mrs Montgomery, c1831, - leading through the archway to The Quay (previous view) and Old Harbour, . The cobbled view point is taken from the bottom of Hgh street, with the entrance to the Town Church a few yards to our right. To the left has been a well known shop, Le Lievres, selling Fine China and delicate Glass wares for many years, it may have been there in 1831, but I have no supporting records.

  • View 6/29.. A street scene of old Guernsey, taken from the windows of Marshall's Hotel, St Pierre, Guernsey, to the right ,with shoppers, is the steep slope of Smith Street . It is en fête for a royal occasion, with festoons cross Smith Street, we see a few smart troops marching.
 
  • View 7/29..
  • View 8/29.. above. - Artist a Mrs Montgomery
  • View 9/29..
  • View 10/29.. above
  • View 11/29.. Market Place, St Pierre, Guernsey. - c1831 a fine study of the Market taken from the middle entrance in Fountain Street, looking through the vaulted crossway with it's fan windows high up, to Clifton Steps in the background. At this time, the Fish and Meat Markets would be on the left side and the vegitable market on the right. In the 1950's and before, to the far right, masses of flowers fos sale on high tiered shelves. This then leads to wide stone steps leading down to a lower level and exit onto the Market Square and steps - ( my Header View - 1/29 )
 
  • View 12/29.. above - Similar to my Header view, but titled Market Place / by Charles Haghe - (d. 1888)
 
  • View 13/29..
  • View 14/29.. above
  • View 15/29.. - Part of St Pierre, Guernsey. - 1832 . - Note the Shipbuilding in progress .
  • View 16/29 .. above
  • View 17/29.. - Artist - Geo. Barnard
  • View 18/29 .. above - An annual swim takes place from these Castle Rocks, of apprx 800/900 yds, back to one of the 4 Victorian Tidal Pools / or La Vallette. - It is a 'goal' for local youngsters to aim for, one year a 60 yr old chaperoned Blind Man did the swim, the Pools are to the left of this town view. ( I did the Castle Swim in the Sept. of 1952,53 & 1954 )
  • View 19/29.. above - by local artist - P. Le Lievre
  • View 20/29 ..

 


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Links to my book, Guernsey Coinage - 1968 - (Adope reader, Acrobat File, large) , or 1st Guernsey Sea Scouts (1946 - '53) - Memories - by Bill Hill , Guernsey. (Dec - 2018) / or Rock Climbing in Guernsey - 1950's

  • Fully protected by 'Copyright Law' , Reproduction of any Images or Text for Commercial use Strictly Prohibited . ( - * - © : 1968 & 1985) - Reg. in London - U.K..

Back to Index page - : - or a Yesterdays' Guernsey - 1937 to c1969 - visit 'The tales of Mr Blex'

Last revision made : by Bill Exley on - / - 13th Aug- 2022 :