The distinction between old money and new money is a social one and has very little to do with actual money. Rather, it is a remnant of past cultures, in which only those who were members of a ruling court or part of the gentry could be landowners and amass large amounts of money.
Not only custom but also law itself dictated that such inheritances be kept in the family, and they were usually passed to the oldest son. With the emergence of the Industrial Revolution, however, people who had been subjected to the whims of wealthy landlords could amass great wealth. These people became known as "new money," and although those who were considered new money were as financially secure as their old money counterparts, they were perceived as less refined and genteel from a cultural perspective. In contemporary society, the distinctions made between old money and new money are cultural ones that, in many cases, have been passed down through generations. Those with new money are sometimes still viewed by some people with old money as more reckless with their finances and less culturally developed. Those who are considered new money are also sometimes looked down upon for lack of pedigree.