Sterling

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STERLING. Current money of Great Britain, but anciently a small coin, worth about one penny; and so called, as some suppose, because it was stamped with the figure of a small star, or, as others suppose, because it was first stamped in England in the reign of King John, by merchants from Germany called Esterlings. Pounds sterling, originally signified so many pounds in weight of these coins. Thus we find in Matthew Paris, A.D. 1242, the expression "Accepit a rege pro stipendio tredecim libras esterlingorum." The secondary or derived sense is a certain value in current money, whether in coins or other currency. Lowndes, 14. Watts' Gloss. Ad verbum.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in classic literature ?
6000 or 8000 pounds sterling); yet it had been bought by one of the English Associations for an ounce of gold (3l.
#300 sterling a year; I mean, worth so much in England.
In these distant seas, coal is worth three or four pounds sterling a ton.
At length, after five years, when Mrs Nickleby had presented her husband with a couple of sons, and that embarassed gentleman, impressed with the necessity of making some provision for his family, was seriously revolving in his mind a little commercial speculation of insuring his life next quarter-day, and then falling from the top of the Monument by accident, there came, one morning, by the general post, a black-bordered letter to inform him how his uncle, Mr Ralph Nickleby, was dead, and had left him the bulk of his little property, amounting in all to five thousand pounds sterling.