Joint BNS/RNS Summer Conference, July 10th 2021

Currency Systems: Reforms, Renewals and Failures

Fifty years after the United Kingdom implemented the move to decimalisation, the BNS and RNS are holding an all-day joint meeting which will focus on the reform and renewal of currency systems at different times and in different places.  The conference, titled Currency Systems: Reforms, Renewals and Failures will take place on Saturday 10 July 2021, starting at 9.30 am and closing around 4.45 pm, in the Headley Lecture Theatre at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

The day will comprise a series of papers by leading scholars that will explore why changes were undertaken, what worked and what did not. It will look at the experience of currency reforms and renewal in the Ancient world, Europe and Britain c.500 – c.1650 and in the modern world after 1770. In so doing the Conference will seek to identify some common factors behind the success or failure of coinage system reform and renewal.

As a consequence of the restrictions arising from the pandemic the event will offer the option to attend in person or online (via Zoom). In person attendance will provide a welcome chance to meet up again face to face after the lockdown but places will be limited depending on the prevailing restrictions at any one time. It is expected that an easing of restrictions by July will allow more places to be available for in person attendance. Any availability of additional in-person places will be advised when available. On-line participation opens this event up to anyone interested in this subject wherever they may be.


This Conference will comprise a series of papers by leading scholars working on monetary history ranging from the Roman world, through the medieval period into modern times, and geographically, from the Mediterranean to Britain and the United States.

The day will be structured around four sessions each with two papers covering:

The Ancient World – Interpretation and Implementation

  • Interpreting the coinage reforms of Nero. Professor Kevin Butcher, The University of Warwick
  • Reforming currencies in the Roman imperial provinces: strategies and failures. Dr Dario Calomino, The University of Warwick

Europe. c.500 – c.1650 – Replacement and Revolution

  • The coinage reform of ‘abd al-Malik – why was it so successful? Marcus Phillips
  • The 13th-century Gold Revolution and the advent of the late-Medieval Gold Standard in Europe.
    Dr William Day, Medieval European Coinage Project, Fitzwilliam Museum, The University of Cambridge

Britain c.500 – c.1650 – Reform and Renewal

  • Late Anglo-Saxon England – Reform and Renovatio.  Dr Rory Naismith, Corpus Christi College, The University of Cambridge
  • Reform and Recovery: the Tudor Great Debasement.  Dr Murray Andrews, The University of Worcester

The Modern World – Transformation and Change

  • Transformation of the American Monetary System in the last years of the American Revolution.  Dr Andrew Edwards, Brasenose College, The University of Oxford
  • UK Decimalisation: Commonwealth and European Influences. Dr Andrew Cook


Attend in person at the Ashmolean, Oxford (£30/ticket), or attend online via Zoom (£10/ticket). Bona-fide students may attend online free of charge.

Initially 20 tickets for in-person attendance will be available, but if Covid restrictions ease up as expected then further tickets will be released. These will first be offered to persons who have booked to attend via Zoom (£20/upgrade ticket). Total Zoom attendees are limited to 100 persons.


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