No doubt you have seen old photographs of Portsmouth, now Old Portsmouth, when it was surrounded by fortifications with massive embankments of earth pierced by several fine gates. Landport Gate in St George’s Road is still in its original position.
The cost of building those ramparts, put up at the time of Elizabeth I, was huge and some of the cost was defrayed by profits from the first state lottery.
The scheme comprised 400,000 tickets each costing 10 shillings (50p) and the prizes were, wait for it, pieces of plate and trinkets.
The first draw was made on June 11, 1659, and continued day and night until August 6.
I cannot work out what ten bob (yes, I was named after the shilling) would be worth in today’s money, but a sight more than the £2 we pay today I am sure.
One pound in 1901 is now worth £109 so the difference over nearly 400 years must be vast.
I am not sure winning ‘a trinket’ would encourage many to buy a ticket either. Unless they were solid gold.