Updated: Aug 20, 2021

An English gold coin first struck in 1661 in the reign of Charles II. It was so called because the coins were initially minted from gold that came from the Guinea Coast in West Africa, which was then a British colony. It continued in use until 1816, when it was replaced by the sovereign. When first used it was worth twenty silver shillings but, as silver fell in value compared with gold, its worth increased until at one time it reached thirty shillings in exchange. In 1717 its value was fixed at twentyone shillings. The sovereign that replaced it in 1816 was of a gold value of twenty shillings.

Although the guinea coin had not been in circulation since 1816, the term remained in use, representing twenty-one shillings, and was a unit in which many professional fees were fixed. Officially, this practice ceased were fixed. Officially, this practice ceased discontinued the shilling, but there is a tendency for fees still to be expressed in the decimal equivalent of guineas.

Reference: The Penguin Business Dictionary, 3rd edt.

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