WEEKENDER: Celebrating the return of the 12-sided piece

File photo dated 31/12/08 of a pound coin as the £1 coin celebrates its 30th birthday on Sunday - although the pound in your pocket does not go as far now as it did in 1983. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday April 19, 2013. The coin

A general view of a one pound coin from 1983 as the £1 coin celebrates its 30th birthday on Sunday - although the pound in your pocket does not go as far now as it did in 1983. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday April 19, 2013. The c

File photo dated 18/09/12 of general view of some UK pound coins and banknotes, as many members of a leading union are asking for financial help amid a continuing pay freeze for public sector workers..Unison said nurses, home care assistants, school clea

Undated handout photo issued by HM Treasury showing the obverse or âheadsâ side of a 12-sided three pence piece or âThreepenny" bit which was in circulation from 1937 until decimalisation in 1971, as a.new one pound coin annou

Undated handout photo issued by HM Treasury of the side of a new one pound coin announced by the Government, which will be the most secure coin in circulation in the world, the new coin will have the same shape as the 12-sided pre-decimal three pence piec

A general view of one pound coins as the £1 coin celebrates its 30th birthday on Sunday - although the pound in your pocket does not go as far now as it did in 1983. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday April 19, 2013. The coin was fir

Undated handout photo issued by HM Treasury of the side of a new one pound coin announced by the Government, which will be the most secure coin in circulation in the world, the new coin will have the same shape as the 12-sided pre-decimal three pence piec

First published in News

THE demise of the pound coin - signalled by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne this week - and the first sight of its 12-sided replacement, has triggered some fond memories of early pocket money 'treats'.

Back in the heady days of pre-decimalisation, the threepenny bit was to me and my friends the key to the kingdom of the good old mixey bag.

A few threepenny bits from my grandma on a Thursday evening would clank about in my pocket at school the following day until, on the way home, a group of us would push open the creaky door of the newsagents and begin the serious business of choosing some gooey sweets.

And that could be a lengthy process. Nowadays, lots of shops only allow two or three children in at a time for the after-school sweet-buying ritual, and while that is mainly a security issue, it is also a practical measure to prevent hoards of youngsters gathering around the sweet shelves and clogging up the aisles.

For the few of us who lived off the beaten track however, our newsagent's shop was a tea-time haven where we could take our time under the watchful but indulgent eyes of the owner, in retrospect the gaze of a benevolent dictator.

Looking back, it is a mystery to me how the sweets that made up a classic late 1960s/early 1970s mixey bag were priced up.

My five-, six-, and seven-year-old self also had no real idea how much a threepenny bit was actually worth.

A quick trawl of the internet has brought up a suggestion that it was valued at around one eightieth of a pound, which is basically more than one pence in today's money, but substantially less than two pence.

And more than 40 years on, I'm still confused by how exactly one should pronounce the word 'threepenny'.

My grandma used to say 'thrup'ny', while grandad, born three whole miles down the road from her, said 'threp'ny'. Other versions include 'thrip'ny', 'thruppence', 'threppence' and a 'three 'un'.

Confused? I am now, but I wasn't then. However it was pronounced somehow, instinctively, we kids knew how full a mixey bag our money would buy. And a couple of threepenny bits could go a long way when it came to buying confectionery.

In they would go - marshmallow lobsters, candy cigarettes (these were the days when the term politically incorrect did not exist), milk chews, gummy bears, a bit of liquorice, chocolate drops - until it was time to hand over your money.

At least half of the bag would be gone by the time you got home, but if you were really patient, or got distracted, you'd still have some left to gnaw on come Saturday morning.

So the threepenny bit was a big part of my early childhood, and I must admit to a wee tingle of excitement at the re-introduction of coin in that shape into the currency. In theory at least, it should be easy to identify by touch alone, without having to hoist a handful of change out of your pocket every time you need one.

And though I haven't spoken to her about it, I suspect my mum too will be pleased by the return of a 12-sided coin to her purse.

I remember decimalisation, on February 15 1971, and a few days later my mum exploding - metaphorically rather than literally - in rage and frustration in the village post office as she struggled to come to terms with the new UK currency. Suddenly all her mental sums didn't make sense and she seemed lost.

Others in the queue sympathised and soon there was a debate in full flow, which probably involved communal ranting about the country was going to the dogs, and if this was meant to be progress then "They" know where they can stick it.

Etc. Etc.

Me? I probably scoffed the last of my Friday mixey bag and wished they would hurry up, as I wanted to go to pick up my weekly comic. Scorcher, I believe it would have been.

However, I digress...

The new pound coin is being introduced largely because the old one, being round and made of a single metal, is getting easier to forge. A 12-sided, two-metal coin presents much more of a challenge to the ne'er-do-wells, apparently.

And while we're at it, we'd better stick with the description '12-sided'. The alternative - dodecagonal - is far too difficult to pronounce, especially with a mouth full of those marshmallow lobsters.

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