Monday, February 06, 2006

A nimble sixpence is worth a slow shilling.

This is an old English proverb. The sixpence and shilling are UK coins from pre-decimalisation days. A sixpence (known as a "tanner") was worth half of a shilling (a "bob"). This proverb is telling us that a shopkeeper turning over a lot of small items can do better than when selling a few more pricey ones. There is also a subtext implying that a little guy who is smart and quick can compete with someone bigger but not so nimble witted. A small innovative business can run rings around an old slow-changing big one. Compare the story of David and Goliath in the Christian Bible. Or even Tom and Jerry in the Disney cartoons!

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