The Royal Mint marks 50 years of the decimal currency

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The Royal Mint has created unique "memory boxes" for care homes containing shillings and other forms of old money, as it marks the 50th anniversary of decimalisation.

A special 50p commemorative coin has also been launched by the Llantrisant-based organisation.

The switchover to a decimal currency, a move which broke with centuries of monetary tradition, happened 50 years ago.

Clare Maclennan, divisional director for commemorative coin at the Royal Mint, said, "The Royal Mint made decimalisation happen 50 years ago, introducing the coins we use and collect today.

"We're celebrating with a special Decimal Day 50p featuring 'old money' as well as launching memory boxes for care homes - helping people with dementia recall their memories of 'the changeover'.

"Although we are famous for making coins, we make so much more and have changed a lot over 50 years.

"Decimalisation offers a great opportunity to celebrate our past, and look to our future and the exciting changes we've [been] making."

To mark the occasion the Royal Mint has created 50 "museums in a box", which are touring care homes to help people with dementia.

Each box contains pre-decimal coins, posters and conversion charts which aim to bring back childhood memories.

The Royal Mint Museum is making the boxes available to care homes free of charge. Each care home will receive a box for two weeks and they will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between uses.

The Royal Mint recently launched a coin into space celebrating the life and career of David Bowie Credit: PA Images/Royal Mint

Switching over to a decimalised currency prompted a huge information and education campaign at the time.

The new currency was based on 100 pennies to the pound. Under the previous system there were 12 pennies to a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound.

It took around five years of planning, after the decision to go decimal was announced in 1966.

The first of the new coins made their way on to high streets in 1968, giving people time to familiarise themselves with them before the full switch.

Although it was reported that some shoppers initially refused to take them.

Some retail staff were given special training to help customers understand the new money in their purses and wallets. At Harrods in London, there were "Decimal Penny" assistants helping customers with the new coins.

A Decimal Currency Board was also set up to oversee the switchover.

To meet the challenge of striking the new coins a new factory was also needed, along with new machinery, production techniques and processes.

The Mint is also asking coin collectors to share images of their pre-decimal coins for its online gallery.

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