A Real Farthing

woolies I was looking through some old stuff at Mum’s this weekend. I’d asked about my grandfather’s World War 1 service medal and when looking for it we came across two strange little envelopes. The envelopes were marked on the outside with the message,

“A Real Farthing! Keep it for Luck and a reminder of Woolworths’ Lower Prices”

Inside the envelope was a farthing. Well the envelope we opened had a 1944 farthing in it. For those of you that are too young to remember pre-decimal currency in Australia, when we had pounds, shillings and pence as our currency, the farthing originally was the smallest value coin. Made of copper, two farthings went to make a half penny. Two halfpennies (pronounced as “ha’pennies”) made a penny. These were all copper coins. We then had silver coins for thruppence (three pennies), sixpence, a shilling (twelve pence) and a florin (two shillings).

There was also for the years 1937 and 1938 a crown (worth five shillings).

We then had notes, for pounds (20 shillings) and guineas (21 shillings).

Anyway, it seems that sometime prior to 1966 Woolworths had a store promotion and gave away the farthings as a gift to loyal customers.

That is all the information I have about this. If I find any more out I will post more information here.

Note on 3 August 2009: It was occurring to me as I was driving home from Mum’s last night that I seem to recall a rhyme as a child that went something like “see a farthing and pick it up, for the rest of the day you’ll have good luck”. I then turned to that source of everything in the Universe, Google, but try as I might, I could not find a result in that search engine based around farthings and luck (good or otherwise).

I just can’t help thinking though that there must have been a relationship between farthings and luck for Woolworths to give them away, especially with the words that were on the outside of the envelope it came in.

Drop me a note or make a comment here if you can recall the rhyme please and put me out of my mental anguish!  🙂

2 thoughts on “A Real Farthing

  1. Mark 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Hi Thomo, I can remember pre-decimal coinage and as soon as I saw the title of the post the rhyme came to mind. I mentioned it to a work colleague and he said he thought the rhyme was about a penny. the link below would bear this out





  2. thomo the lost 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Thanks for that Mark … and I am starting to remember it more clearly now as "Find a penny". In fact the rhyme is "Find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck" which 250 links to that expression seems to back up.

    Mind you, if asked, I would not have phoned a friend, I would have sworn it was a farthing … maybe I just came from a poor family and they couldn't afford a penny 🙂

    Thanks for the comment and the link – some interesting superstitions around pennies there.

    Oh, and I can still remember the lessons with Miss Wells at school in 3rd class in 1963 – three years before decimal currency arrived in Australia – trying to learn the arithmetic of the old pounds, shillings and pence but knowing that decimal currency was coming.


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