There are numerous slang terms concerning finance and the oldest dating back to 1800, is, indeed, Bees and Honey. The term died out in the late 19th and 20th Centuries but a fair few number of slang terms still remain when it comes to banknotes, although some have bitten the dust, gone out of circulation you could say, so let’s take a look at some of them here.
A Lady Godiva was the good old fiver and Edward Jenner, the medical scientist, is remembered as a tenner as well as his invention of a smallpox vaccine in the late 18th century, a time when millions were dying of the virus. A score, the most popular, is obviously still twenty-pounds, a pony is fifty-pounds and also a reference to a trip to the loo due to a far more unsavoury rhyming slang. A ton is, equally obvious, a hundred quid and a grand still represents one thousand pounds.
We all know those terms I’m sure so all that leaves is a monkey, the description of five-hundred pounds, a term still used at racecourses where tick-tack men have their own language as secretive as some cockney rhyming slang.
The term monkey harks back to the brutal days of The British Empire and hails from India where a five-hundred-rupee banknote boasted the inscription of a monkey. British soldiers brought the notes back home as souvenirs after their skirmishes ended and thus the monkey came to be adopted into British currency although a monkey in British money was worth far more than its Indian counterpart.
To continue reading this chapter click on this absolutely stunning picture I painted not unlike Bruegel.