SILVER COINS. The British silver coins are :—Crown, Double Florin, Half-crown, Florin, Shilling, Sixpence, Groat, Three pence, Twopence. Penny. The Groat, Two pence, and silver Penny are now only coined in very small quantities as Maundy money (q.v.).
They are a legal tender only to the amount of forty shillings. Silver coins are tokens ; that is, the value of the silver in them is less than the legal value which is attached to the coins. There is no weight fixed below which silver coins cease to be legally current.
Where a bank has an accumulation of silver which it cannot get rid of to its own customers or to another bank, it may be taken to the Bank of England. The Bank, however, usually makes a charge of 5s. per cent. for taking quantities of silver.
The silver checker is a necessity where large quantities of silver are dealt with. After silver has been counted into bags it is desirable to weigh the bags before paying it away or taking it into stock. Where silver requires sorting into the various denominations, as for the payment of wages, the sorting box may be used. This box contains a number of trays, and each tray is made so that all coins may slip through except the particular coins which it is intended to retain. When a quantity of silver is poured in at the top of the box, the openings in the top tray allow all coins to pass through, except crowns ; the next tray has the openings rather less and retains four-shilling pieces ; the tray lower down in the box has still smaller openings and holds all half-crowns, and the succeeding trays in turn have each smaller openings, so that florins are retained in one, shillings in one, sixpences in one, and finally all threepenny pieces will be found on the last tray at the bottom of the box.
Silver is generally stored in paper bags with the name of the bank and the branch where they are used printed thereon. Each bag is also clearly printed /5, -(10, or 120, as the case may be, and the bags may be obtained with perforations so that the contents may be visible without the necessity of opening them. For sums of /50 paper bags are sometimes used, but canvas bags are more suitable. Stocks of sixpences and threepenny pieces are often kept in small envelopes or packets containing 10s. or ?:1 in each. Paper bags containing silver are usually of a different colour from the bags containing copper, to prevent mistakes in paying away. (See COINAGE.)