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Currency

The unit of currency in use in the Australasian colonies in the late nineteenth century was the British pound sterling (£), divided into 20 shillings (s.), each of 12 pennies or pence (d.). A half-crown (30M was equivalent to 2s. 6d. A sixpence (239:5) and a threepence (153:36) were small silver coins; the penny, halfpenny and farthing (one quarter of a penny, see note 14 for p. 184) were copper. "Three pound ten"(184:7) was £3. 10s.; a shilling was colloquially termed a "bob" (124:11) and in fashionable slang a sixpence was a "demi-bob" (438:12). A sovereign (140:24) was a gold coin, of the (nominal) value of £1. Sovereigns were minted in Australia after 1872.

Based on the gross domestic product price deflator index (Australian Historical Statistics, 1988), and the Reserve Bank of Australia Bulletin, Table G2, Prices and Wages (December 1992, p. S96), £1 in 1890 was worth approximately $A96 in 1991-92 value. On this basis Mr Paget's Sydney professorial salary of "over a thousand a year" (18:6) would be worth c.$96,000 (the salary set for the Chair of Classics at Adelaide University in 1875 was £600, the equivalent Of $57,600). The 9s. a day earned by 'Zilla Jenkins (49:3) would equal $43.20, or $259 a week (the average weekly wage of miners (and artisans) in the 1890s was £2–£3 a week, i.e. $102–$288 in 1991-92 terms). At £ 19. 10s. for six months, the rent for the little cottage that Trevaskis uses (218:7) would be $1872, or $72 a week for 26 weeks (at the revised figure of £9. 10s. in the Adl and Bentley (E1) versions, it would be $35 a week). The 540 oz. of gold that Trevaskis sells at£3.18s. per oz. (240:20) gains him £2,106 (Cf. 193:40) which would be $202,176.

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