Long before Uber became the enemy of taxi drivers across the country, there was a silver coin that Victorian cab drivers simply hated.
The coin was in circulation for less than 20 years, but that was plenty long enough to cause offence to horse and carriage drivers.
It all came about because people were too awkward to ask for change…
The driving force behind the coin’s introduction was MP Joseph Hume. He argued that a fourpence coin was required for convenience of paying cab fares.
The story goes that the average cab fare was around four pence, but the passenger would give the cab driver a sixpence piece and, more often than not, be too nervous to ask for change.
The cabbie would make a nice little extra on top of the fee for the journey.
The Silver Groat
The fourpence is also known as a groat, which comes from the Dutch word grootpennig. That basically translates to “big penny“.
Not the best description for the coin. It measured 16mm, just over half the diameter of a Victorian bronze penny.
But it was struck from Sterling Silver.
That didn’t save the Groat from its fate though.
The first one was introduced in 1836, but by 1845 the threepence was introduced in an attempt to make British coinage more convenient for purposes of change.
With the new threepence coin proving markedly more popular, the fourpence was consigned to history, with the last coins made for circulation in 1855.
If you’re interested…
I have just secured 50 Silver Groats from the reign of Queen Victoria.
You don’t see many around today – at least not in anything like acceptable condition where you can see the coin’s design, so I was very strict with my supplier that the Groats must be the absolute best he could find.
He only found 50, but you might be surprised to learn that you can pick one up for the relatively modest price of £125.
You’ll be doing well to find such a short-lived UK coin with such a fascinating story for a price as good as that.