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Saint Helena pound

Saint Helena pound
ISO 4217 code SHP
Government Government of Saint Helena
User(s)  St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (only in Saint Helena and Ascension Island), alongside Pound sterling
Inflation 3.2%
 Source The World Factbook, 1997 est.
Pegged with pound sterling at par
 1/100 penny
Symbol £
penny pence
Coins 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 pence, £1, £2
Banknotes £5, £10, £20

The Saint Helena pound (also called simply "pound") is the currency of the Atlantic islands of Saint Helena and Ascension, which are constituents of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. It is fixed at parity with the pound sterling and is subdivided into 100 pence.

Tristan da Cunha, the third part of the territory, uses Pound sterling rather than the St Helena pound. However, there are occasionally commemorative coins minted for the island.[1]


  • History 1
  • Coins 2
  • Banknotes 3
  • Exchange rates 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Initially, the British Pound Sterling circulated on Saint Helena, with the pound subdivided into 20 shillings, and each shilling into 12 pence.

This was supplemented by occasional local issues of paper currencies. One coin, a copper halfpenny, was also struck specifically for use in the islands in 1821, which intermingled British coinage. The notes were denominated in Pounds and Shillings and valued to the British Pound at par.

Prior to February 1961, the South African pound, which was then equal in value to sterling, was also accepted on the island, but this stopped with the introduction of the new decimal South African Rand, such that one rand was worth only ten shillings sterling.

In 1976, the St. Helena government began issuing new, decimal denominated banknotes for use on the island, with the introduction of circulation coins intended for use on St. Helena as well as Ascension beginning in 1984. The use of these coins and notes was extended from St. Helena and Ascension island later on to Tristan da Cunha as well.

For a more general history of currency in the South Atlantic region, see The Sterling Currency in the South Atlantic and the Antarctic.


The first coins were first introduced in 1821, in which copper Half Pennies were issued for Saint Helena by the East India Trading Company and these were used for a majority of the Company's influence in the area. During this period the island was also used as a penal ground for high-ranking political prisoners, including Napoleon Bonaparte. Circulating coinage for St. Helena would not be issued again for another 163 years, in 1984.

Prior to 1984, both Saint Helena and Ascension Island had issued non circulating commemorative coins but officially used British circulation coins. The St. Helena issued banknotes circulated alongside British coins and banknotes.

In 1984, circulation coins were first introduced in the names of St. Helena and Ascension in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50 pence and 1 pound. The coin series was designed by engraiver and coin designer Michael Hibbit. All of the coins are the same size and composition as the corresponding British coins and valued with the British Pound at par. Each coin depicts flora and fauna unique to the islands. Both the coins and notes of St. Helena and Ascension are also in use on the Island of Tristan Da Cunha, along with British coins and notes. It is not included on the series by name as the Tristan da Cunha chain was originally not politically incorporated into the St. Helena and Ascension Colony at the time of the currency's official release. Later issues have also yet to include Tristan da Cunha's name as an incorporated territory. Tristan da Cunha still considers the British Pound as its official currency.

There are also non circulating commemoratives and unofficial coin issues separately under the name of Tristan da Cunha as well as the uninhabited Gough Island but are not recognised tender.

Queen Elizabeth's effigy was redesigned on most of the denominations in 1991, followed by the rest in 1998. Seven sided 20 pence coins were also first introduced in 1998, and older 5 and 10 pence were replaced by downsized issues featuring new animal designs that same year. However, the 50 pence was not actually downsized until 2003. Until that time the original, larger sized 50 Pence continued to circulate before being phased out. In 2002, Nickel-Brass 2 Pound coins were introduced to replace the note, and Bimetallic 2 pound coins were also first introduced to the islands the following year. The edge inscriptions of the 2 pound coins are (in capitals) "500th Anniversary" for the 2002 coin and "Loyal and Faithful" for the 2003 coin.

All circulation coins have on the obverse side a portrait of the head of Queen Elizabeth II, "Queen Elizabeth II", "St. Helena • Ascension" and the year written. Many of the commemorative coins over the years however only have written either "St. Helena" or "Ascension Island".

Some of the coin reverse designs have changed since 1984. The five pence pieces issued prior to 1998 showed the Saint Helena plover (the "wirebird", which is the national bird of St Helena), whilst the ten pence coins issued prior to 1998 showed orchids. The following table shows the current designs:

Depiction of St Helena and Ascension coinage (reverse side)
£0.01 £0.02 £0.05
Tuna Donkey with firewood "Jonathan" the giant tortoise
£0.10 £0.20 £0.50
Dolphin Ebony Green sea turtle
£1.00 £2.00
Sooty tern Coat of arms of Saint Helena  


St. Helena has had a very long history of its own currencies which have come and gone over extended up and down economic periods, especially in comparison to other British colonies.

From 1716, the Governor and Council of the Island of St Helena issued notes for 2½ and 5 shillings and 1 and 2 pounds. These were issued up until the late 18th century.

The next issue of notes occurred sometime after 1917. It was produced by the St Helena Currency Board in denominations of 5, 20 and 40 shillings.

In 1976, the currency board of the Government of Saint Helena began issuing 1- and 5-pound notes, followed by 50-pence and 10-pound notes in 1979.[2]

The 50 pence and 1 pound notes were withdrawn and replaced by coinciding coins in 1984, with 20-pound notes first being introduced in 1986.

A redesign of the 5-pound note was introduced in 1988.

In 2004, a new series of 5, 10, and 20-pound notes was introduced featuring a redesign and newer security features, produced by De La Rue Banknote and Engraving Company. At the issuance of this new series, the 1-pound note was discontinued and withdrawn from circulation.

Exchange rates

The latest exchange rates are published by the Bank of St Helena.

Indicative rates for other currencies can be obtained as follows:

See also



  1. ^ Tristan da Cunha Coins
  2. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Saint Helena". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA: 


  • Krause, Chester L., and Clifford Mishler (1991).  
  • Pick, Albert (1994).  

External links

  • Numismondo St Helena banknotes (historic and current)
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