What a pound could have bought you – and what it still can

A pound could buy you 12 pints of beer in the 1940s, 20 cinema tickets in the 1930s and 48 eggs in the 1970s – see how the value of our currency has changed below.

It’s the world’s oldest existing currency, but a pound sterling seems a bit smaller now. Originally 240 silver pennies weighed a pound, which is how our currency was named, this practice dated right back to the Anglo-Saxon king Offa in the eighth century AD. 

“Sterling” silver was the basis of the pound until 1816, when gold took over – although the weight of a penny changed from 1.5g in Offa’s day to just 0.5g by the Tudor period and Henry II changed the silver used to make it more hardwearing.

But this fall was as nothing to what’s happened since the pound abandoned the gold standard in 1931. See how the value of the pound has changed below:

What a pound could have bought you through the years

Source: Research from Leeds Building Society carried out for Yahoo! Finance

[Related feature: How to spot a fake £1 coin]