The colloquial British-English noun nuppence means no money, nothing.
This noun is from:
– n- in the determiner no, meaning not any;
– -uppence in the noun tuppence, variant of twopence.
The noun nuppence occurs, for example, in the review of Little Joe (2019), a drama film directed by Jessica Hausner, starring Emily Beecham—review by Charlotte O’Sullivan, published in the Evening Standard (London, England) of Friday 21st February 2020:
Whether you’re groping for all-consuming bliss via work, children, pets, anti-depressants, therapy, OCD rituals or late-night chats with Alexa, the film will force you to take stock. Timeless, topical, Little Joe was made for nuppence. It’s a little film. But it’s epic.
The earliest occurrences of the noun nuppence that I have found are as follows, in chronological order:
1-: From Day Dreams of a Schoolmaster (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1864), by the British scholar D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1829-1902), Professor of Greek at Queen’s College, Galway, Ireland:
In Algebra, I speak of a man as possessing + two pennies or – two pennies; which expressions interpreted into common speech mean that the man has either twopence in his pocket, or owes twopence, which he will have to give up as soon as he gets that sum. But how can I grasp the idea of a man’s having no pennies? how shall I illustrate his condition? The fact is, the instant the idea of a penny is presented to my mind, the idea of negation becomes impossible. What could a man do with no pennies or nuppence? Could he play heads or tails with it? or put it in the bank? or in the plate at church? He might swallow it, perhaps, without doing himself harm; or give it to a beggar, without doing him much good.
I have a dim idea that past tenses begin with negative infinity; and that future tenses end in positive infinity; and that the grammatical present is the mathematical zero.
Are you a little confused, Reader, with the apparent irrelevance of Nuppence and Present Time? If you were the writer of this little book, you would know how closely connected were these intellectually-illusory, but practically-palpable ideas.
2-: From one of the unconnected paragraphs making up Notes, published in The Sporting Times (London, England) of Saturday 2nd March 1878:
That “Foreign Letter Box” in the Era is surely a fraud. Half the letters are from duns of the mother country, and the remainder written by the “true artists” themselves to themselves, to get their names into the paper for nuppence.
3-: From A Bookman’s Purgatory, by the British anthropologist, classicist and historian Andrew Lang (1844-1912), published in Longman’s Magazine (London: Longmans, Green, and Co.) of September 1883:
On the very day before that of which the affecting history is now to be told, Blinton had been running the usual round of crime. He had (as far as intentions went) defrauded a bookseller in Holywell Street by purchasing from him, for the sum of two shillings, what he took to be a very rare Elzevir. It is true that when he got home and consulted ‘Willems,’ he found that he had got hold of the wrong copy, in which the figures denoting the numbers of pages are printed right, and which is therefore worth exactly ‘nuppence’ to the collector. But the intention is the thing, and Blinton’s intention was distinctly fraudulent.
4-: From At the Sign of the Ship, by Andrew Lang, published in Longman’s Magazine (London: Longmans, Green, and Co.) of March 1886:
One of Henri Murger’s heroes hired a man to waken him every morning, tell him what the weather was like, and ‘what Government we are living under.’ Without being a prophet, no man can tell what Government we shall be under when this talk is published, but it is certain that Lord Salisbury wished to do something for International Copyright. Matters cannot be much worse than they are. The Americans can get our books, and do get them, and republish them and give us nothing—that awful minus quantity, ‘nuppence’! And then a critic in the Nation (a very good New York paper, though somewhat harsh and crabbed) accuses many of our novelists of ‘getting money under false pretences.’ He does not care for our recent romances, this courteous reviewer in the Nation, and he cries out that he is being defrauded. I make him my compliments, and am reminded of the fable of the Wolf and the Lamb. ‘You trouble the stream from which I drink!’ says the Wolf; and the Lamb in vain replied that he himself drank lower down the water.
5-: From The Western Morning News (Plymouth, Devon, England) of Friday 11th November 1887:
It will speedily be no charge against the Church of England that its clergy do not observe what is wrongly supposed to be the Apostolic rule of taking no contributions for their services. In the Diocese of Peterborough, where most of the incomes of the clergy are dependant upon glebes which are less productive every year, things are getting to such a pass that the Bishop has now to appeal for clergymen who will give their services for the exact sum of £0 0s. and nuppence. He has a living in his gift which in 1880 was worth £325 a year nett, which is now, he declares, worth literally nothing.