Clive S. writes: In UK old currency, before decimalisation, we referred to the currency as L S D. I assume the L was similar to the £ sign, the S was for Shillings, but do you know what the D was for? If it was a P then that obviously would be for Pence, but D, … I would be very interested in the answer.
British history is securely tied to that of the ancient Romans. The pound/shilling/pence system derives from the Roman standard of the bronze “as”, bronze “sestertius” and silver “denarius”. Though the original denarius was a silver coin, over centuries of inflation, it eventually was debased to copper. (During Roman rule, the denarius originally equaled 10 asses then later, 16 asses. Twenty-five denarii = 1 gold aureus.)
For five centuries beginning about 780 AD, the Middle Anglo-Saxon period in England, virtually the only circulating coin was the denarius or sceatta the first English penny, though it was again struck in silver. (Under the Merovingian Franks it was called a denier). Under Alfred The Great (871-899 AD) the weight of the silver penny was set at 24 grains, still known today as a “penny-weight”.
When England returned to multi-denominational monetary system, the denarius or penny was preserved, though again in base metal, and tradition continued, at least on paper, to describe the penny with its original Latin name “denarius”, thus “£/s/d”.