By George Anthony Selgin
Sturdy funds tells the attention-grabbing tale of British brands' problem to the Crown's monopoly on coinage. within the 1780s, whilst the commercial Revolution used to be accumulating momentum, the Royal Mint did not produce sufficient small-denomination coinage for manufacturing unit proprietors to pay their employees. because the forex scarcity threatened to derail business development, brands started to mint personalized cash, known as "tradesman's tokens." quickly gaining extensive reputation, those tokens served because the nation's most well-liked foreign money for wages and retail revenues till 1821, while the Crown outlawed all moneys other than its own.Economist George Selgin provides a full of life story of enterprising brands, technological ideas, substitute currencies, and struggles over the appropriate to coin felony money.George Selgin is Professor of Economics within the Terry university of industrial on the college of Georgia and learn Fellow on the self reliant Institute in Oakland, California (www.independent.org).
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Additional resources for Good Money: Birmingham Button Makers, the Royal Mint, and the Beginnings of Modern Coinage, 1775-1821
10 GOOD MONEY pound, or 5,400 grains, of sterling silver, which was equivalent to 4,995 grains of fine silver. 12 By the beginning of the seventeenth century, the pound had been reduced to only 1,719 grains of fine silver, where it remained for more than a hundred years. Then, in the first decades of the eighteenth century, the term pound sterling ceased to refer to any quantity of silver, becoming instead a unit consisting of 113 grains of fine g~ld. As we shall see, this happened quite unintentionally.
Retailers could also err in the opposite direction: when one Birmingham hawker went so far as to advertise his willingness to trade for counterfeits, his audacity landed him in court (\Vager 1977, 16). BRITAIN'S BIG PROBLEM 33 ularly serviceable; and yet such is the ingratitude of mankind in general, that my name in public is universally despised and disowned, even by those who in private endearingly caress me. 34 "Good" (that is, convincing) counterfeits were another matter, for while they also appeared to alleviate shortages, their ability to fool even Royal Mint authorities meant that they could be placed into circulation even where legitimate coins weren't in short supply, potentially leading to a surplus.
As long as the British government failed to officially recognize the fiduciary status of its silver and copper coins, it couldn't be expected to take seriously the requirements for an adequate token coinage and especially the requirement that such a coinage be safeguarded from counterfeiting. As long as it denied relying on tokens, the government felt obliged to retain the appearance, if not the reality, of bimetallism (if not trimetallism). Great Britain's blundered-into gold standard was therefore forced to lead a shadowy existence, playing mistress to an economy 24 GOOD MONEY still married, in the eyes of the law, to a silver standard, and giving birth to a bastard token coinage system that public authorities disavowed.