MEMORIES of money were sparked at a Derbyshire care home after residents were loaned a reminiscence box from The Royal Mint Museum.
The “museum in a box”, containing out-of-circulation replica and original coins, photographs, pamphlets and newspapers, was sent to Springbank House Care Home, Ashgate Road, Chesterfield.
The initiative was launched by The Royal Mint Museum to mark the 50th anniversary of Britain’s switch to decimal currency in February 1971.
Residents were able to handle the items, each fitted with a special micro-chip that, when placed on the box, played audio clips telling the history of the object.
Among the items was a wallet containing a set of Britain’s first decimal coins, a photograph of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visiting Llantrisant, Wales, to open the new mint, an information booklet and decimal currency poster.
The activity sparked memories among many of those living at the care home, some of whom can recall the change from the centuries old system of pounds, shillings and pence to a new currency based on 100 pennies to the pound.
For Eric Martin, 86, the coins were a reminder of how prices have inflated over the years. He said: “Pre-decimalisation, the cost of a pack of 10 Park Drive cigarettes was 27p and these days it’s £6.”
After looking at the old coins, Harry Newman, 93, wondered how many hands one of them had passed through. He said: “How many people must have held this old penny? I wonder about all the things it could have been spent on.
“My mother used to make money selling ginger ale from a shop in our living room.”
Derek Bothamley, 88, arranged the coins in order of value and was able to tell the care home staff their slang names, including “bob”, “tanner”, and “threepenny bit”.
Karen Busby, home manager at Springbank House Care Home, said: “The museum in a box experience was so wonderful for the residents – who shared their memories of the switch to the decimal currency.
“Residents Eric, Derek and Harry particularly enjoyed looking through the selection of old coins and listening to the interactive information, which everyone found interesting.
“We compared prices of everyday household items from before decimalisation and now and were shocked at the difference.
“We’d all like to thank The Royal Mint Museum for loaning us the museum in a box. Everyone at the home thoroughly enjoyed it.”
The museum’s well-being project is part of a national programme of activities with the aim of sparking memories of the currency changeover. To learn more visit www.royalmintmuseum.org.uk/decimalisation.