The English used in this article may not be easy for everybody to understand. (June 2012)
The shilling is a unit of currency used in some current and former British Commonwealth countries. The word shilling comes from scilling, an accounting term that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times where it was said to be the value of a cow in Kent or a sheep elsewhere. The word is thought to derive from the base skell-, "to ring/resound" and the diminutive suffix -ling. The slang term for a shilling as a currency unit was a "bob".
The abbreviation for shilling is s, from the Latin solidus, the name of a Roman coin. Often it was informally represented by a slash, standing for a long s: e.g., "1/6" would be 1 shilling and sixpence, often pronounced "one and six" (and equivalent to 18d; the shilling itself was valued at 12d). A price with no pence would be written with a slash and a dash, e.g., "11/-". Quite often a triangle or (serif) apostrophe would be used to give a neater appearance, e.g., "1'6" and "11'-". In Africa it is often abbreviated sh.
During the Great Recoinage of 1816, the mint was instructed to coin one troy pound (weighing 5760 grains) of standard (0.925 fine) silver into 66 shillings, or its equivalent in other denominations. This effectively set the weight of the shilling, and its subsequent decimal replacement 5 new pence coin, at 87.2727 grains or 5.655 grams from 1816 to 1990, when a new smaller 5p coin was introduced.