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Full text of "History of monetary systems: a record of actual experiments in money made by various states of the ancient and modern world, as drawn from their statutes, customs, treaties, mining regulations, jurisprudence, history, archæology, coins, nummulary systems, and other sources of information"

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Author of "A History of the Precious Metals," " A History of Money 

in Ancient States," " Money and Civilisation," " The Science 

of Money," " The Politics of Money," " Sophisms of 

Money," ^c 





All rights reserved. 


npHB author concluded a former work on Money in 
J- these words : — ''That which has engag-ed the atten- 
tion without harmonising the convictions of such master 
minds as Aristotle, Plato, Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, Locke, 
Newton, Smith, Bastiat, and Mill, is surely a study which 
none can afford to approach with rashness, nor to leave 
with coaiplacency. When the principles which underlie it 
are thoroughly understood, money is pei'haps the mightiest 
engine to which man can lend an intelligent guidance. 
Unheard, unfelt, unseen, it has the power to so distribute 
the burdens, gratifications, and opportunities of life that 
each individual shall enjoy that share of them to which 
his merits or good fortune may fairly entitle him, or, con- 
trariwise, to dispense them with so partial a hand as to 
violate every principle of justice, and perpetuate a suc- 
cession of social slaveries to the end of time.'^ I begin 
the present work in the same spirit with which I closed 
the former one, that is to say, without bias concerning 
any system of money, and only anxious to examine and 
profit by the experience of the past. 

The scope of the work includes a recension of my 
former chapters on India, Greece, and Rome, a continua- 
tion of the Roman history from the monetary system of 
Augustus to the downfall of the Empire, and an examina- 
tion of the Merovingian and Carlovingian systems, the 
Moslem systems, the systems of Britain from the earliest 
times to the reign of Edward III, and the systems of 
Saxony, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany, and the 
Argentine Republic. 

As the monetary conflicts of to-day turn mostly upon 
questions concerning the relative value of gold and silver. 



the origin, nature, tendency, and influences of this Ratio 
and its amenability to legal control, I have taken especial 
pains to trace its historical development in all ages of 
which any coinage or other numismatic remains exist. 
In carrying out this design a mass of information has 
been brought together which can scarcely fail to be of 
service in future monetary discussions. 

The origin and progress of Private Coinage has also 
been an object of attention. Private coinage, or, as it is 
now euphemised, " free " coinage, namely, the license 
granted to private individuals to coin the precious metals 
without limit, or to compel the State to make coins for 
them and to confer upon such coins the legal functions of 
money, coupled with license to export and melt down the 
coins, was unknown to the ancient world. In the great 
states of antiquity money was a pillar of the constitution. 
In the republics of Greece and Rome it was a social in- 
strument, designed, limited, stamped, issued, and made 
current by the State, — in short, invented, owned, and regu- 
lated by the State. It is now generally admitted that 
the so-called gentes coins of Rome were not of private 
fabrication, but issued by the State,, and stamped with 
the gens mark of the State moneyers. There appears to 
have been no private coinage m Europe before the 
issuance of Mahomet's Koran and its scornful repudiation 
of the Roman religion and political system. The baronial 
and ecclesiastical mints of the middle ages, when not 
authorised by the German Empire, or by the princes of 
the Western States, were baronial or ecclesiastical only in 
name; they were really '^robbers' dens,'' and were so 
termed in the official proclamations of the time. Their 
trade of private coinage was both surreptitious and un- 
lawful, and was often expiated with the lives of the 
proprietors. The Plantagenet kings broke up some 
thousands of them. 

After the fall of the Roman Empire in 1204 the 
prerogative of the coinage was exercised for a brief period 


by the emperors of Germany, but soon afterwards fell to 
tlie various independent states that rose upon the ruins 
of the old Empire. In a process commenced by the 
procureur-general under Philip IV., against the Comte de 
Nevers, for melting down the coins of the realm, it was 
held that this was a royal prerogative which belonged to 
the king alone, and which in case of necessity he might 
employ, not indeed for his private advantage, but in 
defence of the State. The prerogative was, however, 
much more fully and completely laid down by Sir Mat- 
thew Hale in the celebrated case of the Mixed Moneys. 
Its unwilling surrender by the Crown took place under 
the Stuarts. Events have demonstrated that the Act is 
wholly inconsistent with the safety of the State, and that 
it demands revision. 

1 If in view of the existing monetary conflict, the reader 
should be led to inquire whether this is a " monometallic" 
or " bimetallic '' work, the answer is, It is neither. 
These terms, and many others employed in the monetary 
literature of to-day, the author regards as misleading. 
They involve doctrines which are fallacious, and defeat a 
correct comprehension of this difficult subject, by pro- 
moting the discussion of false issues, or the adoption of 
make-shift or mischievous measures. Monometallism and! 
bimetallism both imply that money consists of a metal orj 
metals, and that this is what measui'es value. The im- 
plication is erroneous ; the theory is physically impossible. 
(Value is not a thing, nor an attribute of things; it is a' 
relation, a numerical relation, which appears in exchange.) 
Such a relation cannot be accurately measured without 
the use of numbers, limited by law, and embodied in a 
set of concrete symbols, suitable for transference from 
hand to hand. It is this set of symbols which, by 
metonym, is called money. In the Greek and Roman 
republics it was called (with a far more correct appre- 
hension of its character) nomisma and nummus, because 
the law (nomos) was alone competent to create it. The 

viii PREFACE. 

number of the symbols may be limited, but rudely ; the 
limit may even — though equitably it should uot — be left 
to the chances of conquest or mining discoveries, still, 
repeated experiments prove that it is the number of the 
symbols that definitively measures value, not the quantity 
or quality or merit of the materials of which they may be 
composed, A ready pi'oof that it is the numbers and 
not material of money which measures value is this : If 
the sum or integer of the symbols is altered, so will be 
the expression of value (the price) of all thiugs ; whereas 
the material may be altered, e. g. from gold to silver, or 
from one to both, or from both to inconvertible paper, 
without at all affecting the expression of value — provided 
that the combined denominations or sum and legal function 
of the symbols remain unchanged. 

These principles of money — namely, that Money is a 
Measure, and must be of necessity an Institute of Law, 
that the Unit of money is All Money within a given legal 
jurisdiction, that the practical Essence of money is. 
Limitation, and that coins and notes alike are Symbols of 
money — are fully disdussed. and illustrated in my " Science 
of Money." It is true that at the present time their 
operation is greatly obscured by the license and abuse of 
Private Coinage, but even through this bewildering 
medium they can still be discerned. It is out of the 
confusion created by this practice, it is from the fallacy 
of mistaking metal (which, apart from numbers, cannot 
measure value any more accurately than barter can) for 
money (which, apart from metal, can and does accurately 
measure value) that all contentions on the subject have 
arisen ; nay, more, ■ this confusion is to-day imperilling 
the peace of the world, CThe wheels of Industry are at 
this moment clogged, and what clogs them chiefly is that 
gross, that sensual, that materialistic conception which 
mistakes a piece of metal for the measure of an ideal 
relation, a measure that resides not at all in the metal, 
but in the numerical relation of the piece to the set of 


pieces to which it is legally related, whether of metal, or 
paper, or both combined./ In short, it is this "misconception 
which is responsible for the Demonetisation of Silver in 
the Western world, and the consequences traceable to 
that event. 

While such are the views of the authoi-, he must do 
himself the justice to say that he has not laid his historical 
works under contribution to support them, nor has he 
any currency scheme to propose. To entertain, rightly 
or wrongly, a distinct conception of money, and the 
manner in which its function is mechanically fulfilled, is 
one thing ; to apply such conception to a given condition 
of affairs is another. This may only be done by the 
statesman, who is not satisfied to inquire what is correct, 
but must also know what is practicable and what is 
prudent. The political circumstances of each state have 
usually moulded, and must continue to mould, its monetary 
system ; and rash are those teachers who have sought or 
who yet seek to change it for any other reason or upon 
any other grounds. 

These views indicate in another Way the scope of the 
present work : it is not confined to gold money, nor silver 
money, nor paper money ," it embraces all money, and it 
seeks, by analysing the various experiments that have 
been made with this subtle instrument, to derive from 
them whatever light they may be able to throw upon 
the questions that vex us to-day. 


The foUoicing list of hooks is to he read in connection icith the I iutt published 
in the author's previous ivorks on the Precious Metals and Money. The 
numbers at foot of each title are the press-marks of the British Museum 

Abhaxdlungen des Arcliiieolojjisch-Epiirraphisclien Semiiuires der Univer- 
sitiit W'ien. Heft 2. Julius Duerr, on the Travels of Hiulriiiii. Vienna, 
1883. Svo. Ac. 803/2, 

AcADEMiE der Wissenscliaften, Wien : (<See Bergmaxn). 

Adams (Henry C.) : Public Debts. New York, 1877. Svo. 8226, ee, 34. 

■ Another edition. L mdon, 1888. 8vo. 8246, g, 1. 

Taxation in the United States, 1789-1816. Iklt., 1882. Svo. 

Ac. 2689. 

Agathahchides : De Mari Erytbrfpo. Ed. 1855. Svo. 2052, g. 

Allen andTexeiea: Monnaies d'Or, Sueve-Lu>itaniennes. Extrait de la 
Kevue Nuniisuiatique, Nouvelle Serie, tome x, 1865, by Edwardo Augusto 
Alien and Henrique Nunes Texeira. Pamphlet. Oporto, 1865. Svo. 

7755, bb. 

Al-Makkahi (Ahmed, ibn Mohammed) : Selections from his History of the 
JMohametan dynasties. Translated from Arabic to English by Pascual 
de Gayangos. London, 1840-43 2 vols., 4to. 752, m, 1-2. 

Anderson (James) : History of Commerce. Loudon, 1787. 4 vols., 4to, 

Aerian (Flavins) : The Anabasis of Alexander, literally translated by E. J. 
Chinuock. London, 1884. Svo. 9026,' ff, 18, 

Voyage rouud the Euxine Sea. Translated by W. Falconer. Oxford, 

1805. 4to. 

Voyage of Nearchus and Periplus of the Erythrean Sea. Greek and 

English, translated by W. Vincent. Oxford, 1»09. 4to. 570, g, L 

Avila (Gil Gousalez de) : Spanish Numismatic Work. 

Babelon (Ernest): Desci'iption historique et chronologique des monnaies de 
la Repuldique llomaiue, vulgairement appelees monnaies consulaires. 
Paris, 1885. 2 tom. Svo. 2032, a. 

Baillt (M. a.) : Histoire Financiere de la France, depuis I'origine de la 
Monarchic jusq'a la fin de 1786, par M. A. Bailly, Inspecteur generale 
des Finances. Paris, 1830. Svo. 

Les Finances de France, par M. A. Bailly. Paris. Svo. Written on 

the plan of Sinclair's History of the British Revenue, and possiblv its 
model. 2083, a. 

Bazinghen : Traite des Moiinoies et de la jurisdiction de la Cour des Mon- 
noies, en forme de Dictionnaire, par Frtin(^ois, Abot de Bazinghen. Paris, 
1764. 2 vols., 4to. A dictionary of money. Under " Livre " he follows 
Denis Godefroy in a table showing the supposed weight of the livre during 
each reign since the year 768, the first year of Charlemagne. This is 
constructed on the pound-for-pound theory, and may luive been the 
original used by 'I'ooke and others. Bazinghen's Eiiglisli tables, are from 
Lowndes and Fleetwood. As a c-ambist the work is almost as complete 
as Kelly's. Foreign nionevs are arranced under ajipropritite heads, etc. 

603, g, 1, 2. 


Beccaeia : Del disordine e de remedii delle Monete nello Stato de Milano 

uel 1762, by the Marquis Cesare Bouesaiia Beccaria, of Milan. Lucca, 

1762. 8vo., pp. 50. A short treatise ou the disordered coinage of Milan, 

140, a, 26. 
Political Economy, by same author, published in the Scrittori Classici 

Italiani, wherein Beccaria is ranked as one of the three ablest economists 

of his age. ( See Italiani Sckittoei.) 
Beegmann (Dr. E. von) : Die Nominate der Miinzreform des chalifen Abdul- 

melik. Ak. der Wissenschaf teu v. Wien, May, 1870. Sitzungs berichte. 

Pliilosoph. liistor. classe. Ac. 810, 6. 

Bl^US (Jacobus) : La France Metallique. Paris, 1636. Fol. 

Numisniata Imperatorum Romauorum. 

BiE (Jacques de) : See Bl^us. 

BiBCHEEOD (Thomas Broderus) : Specimen Antique Rei Monetarise Danarum, 

etc. Hafnise, 1701. 4to. 603, d, 20 (2). 

Blacas (Louis C. P. Casimir, due de) : Histoire de la Monnaie Romaine, par 

Th. Mommsen, traduit. Paris, 1865. 8vo. 2031, c 

BiANCius (Franciscus): See Le Blanc. 
BoDEN (otherwise Bodiu and Bodinus) : The Republic, by John Bodeu. First 

published in Frencli, 1577, and afterwards in Latin, 1586. Translated 

into English by Knolles. Boden opposes all changes in the value of 

money as affectiug contracts. 
BoiSAED (Jean) : Traite des Monuoyes. Paris, 1714. 2 vols., 12mo. An 

u^eful aud excellent work with a good index. 
Beandis (Johanus) : Das Miinz Mass und Gewichtswesen in Vorderasien, 

bis aut Alexander den grossen. Berlin, 1866. 8vo. 7756, dd. 

Beebeu'ood (Edward) : De Ponderibus et Preiiis Veterum Xummorum. 

London, 1614. 4to, An useful little tract, with a chapter on the Ratio. 
Beoggia (Antonio) : Trattato delle Monete. Florence, 1751. Another 

edition, 1803, 8vo. An useful work, in which the author discusses the 

influence of money on prices and considers whence the precious metals 

are to be got. He contradicts the theories of Melon. 
Betjgsch (Heinrich) : On the relative value of gold and silver in ancient 

times; an article in the Deutsche Rundschau, a periodical published 

at Berlin, 1874, etc. 8vo, PP. 4478, 1, d. 

Bttesian (Conrad) : Jaliresbericht uber die Fortschritte de classischen Alter- 

thumswis-enschaf't. Berlin. 8vo. In progress. 2097, g. 

Btel (M. Gabriellis) : De Moneti*. The author was a licentiate of Spires, 

who died in 1495. 
Cambeidge Essays : pp. 267—269. 
Camden (William) : Remains. Art. " Money," p. 241. 

Britannia. Original edition in Latin. London, 1586. Svo. English 

translation by P. Holland. London, 1610. 

Caedan : Trattato di numei i e mi.-ure. 1555 to 1560. 

Caeli : Treatise on Money. 1760. {See Italiani Sceittobi.) 

Caetailhac (Emile) : {See Revue d'Antheopologie). 

Caete : History of England. Fol. 

Casteo y Cavallebo: Spanish Numismatic Work. (5ee Gaecia.) 

Cavalleeo: (.See Gabcia). 

Chablevoix : Histoire et Descript'on Generale du Japon, par le Pierre de 

Charlevoix (Jesuit). Paris, 1736. 2 vols., 4to. 147, b, 8. 

CiESZKOWSKi (August von) : Du Credit et de la Circulation. Paris, 1884. 

Cobbett : Lectures on the Currency, by William Cobbett. London, 1829. 

The Curse of Paper Money and Banking, by William Cobbett. 

London, 1833. 12mo. 

15IBLI0GRAPHY. xiii 

CoCHETArx : The Connection of Monetary Systems. Pamplilet. Brussels, 
1884. Svo. 

CoHEX (Henri): Description historique des Monnaies frappees sous I'empire 
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CoiGKAED : Essai snr les Monnois, ou Reflexions sur le Ilapport entre I'argent 
et le denrees. Paris, 1746. 

CoLQUHOUN (Patrick) : Roman Law. 4 vols., Svo. London, 1849-60. 

5207, c. 

Comixes, or Commixes (Philip de) : Meinoires. (On the leathern coins of 
John, see vol. i, p. 507.) 

CoPEEXicrs : Treatise on Money. Translated bv Wolowski. Paris, brochure, 

CusT0Di(P.): (5ee Italiani Schittoei.) 

D'AvAXT (Poey) : Monnaie Feodale. Paris, 1875. 4to. 

De Rochas (.NI.A.): Alclieniists' Gold, by M. A. De Rochas, in the Popular 
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De Viexxe : Origines de la livre d' Argent, by Colonel ^Maurice de Yienne. 
Paris, 1887. 8vo. Brochure. 

DoUBLEDAT (Thomas) : Financial, Monetary, and Statistical History of 
Enghind, from the Uestor.ition of 1688. London, 1847. 8vo. It is the 
author's opinion that money measures the value of other things by being 
in itself of one unvarying value. This unvarying value arises from 
Providence having so distributed the precious metals, of which money 
can alone be made, that their quantity, upon the whole, cannot be sud- 
denly either much increased or diminished. They are obtained only with 
difficulty, and as the expense of mining or gathering them from the 
bowels of the earth becomes equal to the value they bear, the work of 
mining stops. The quantity of money is much the same at wW times. 
As an offset to these romantic notions, the book contains some useful 

Daties (C. M.): History of Holland. London, 1842. 3 vols. Svo. (For 
pasteboard dalers of Leyden.) 2084, e. 

De Luzac (Jeiin) : La Richessede la Hollande. London, 1778. 2 vols., Svo. 

DuERE (Julius) : Die Reisen des Kaisers Hadrian. See Abhand. des Archaeol. 
der Univer. Wien, 18S3. 

Du Halde (Father Jean Baptiste, Jesuit): History of China. Trans, into 
Eng. London, 1736. 4 vols., Svo. 

DrEAXD (David) : La Chute de I'Homme, et les Ravages de I'Or et de 
I'Arsent ; poeme. Histoire Naturelle de I'Or et de I'Argent, extrait 
de la Pline. 1729. Fol. 443, i, 19. 

DcEEAU de la Malle (A. J. C. A.) : Economic politique des Romaines. 
Paris, 1840. 2 torn., Svo. 7702, bb, 7. 

DrxoT: Finances and Commerce of France. 1739. Svo. Eng. Trans. 

1139, k, 15. 

Egypt: La Reform e Monetaire en Egypte. Le Caire, 1885. 4to. A collec- 
tion of interesting financial essays. 

ExGLAXD, Present State of. (Mentions 2d. and 3d. sterlings.) 

Fauchee (Leon) : Precious Metals. Trans, by Thomas Hunkey, jun.. 
Governor of the Bank. Eng. London, 1852. Svo. 8226, c, 73. 

Fichte (J. G.) : Tlie Science of Rights. Trans, by A. E. Kmeger, of 
St. Louis. Phila. (Lippincott), 1869. Svo, pp. 504. SOOo, cec. 

FiLMEE (Sir Robert) : Discourse ou Usury. London, 1678. 12mo. 

FiXLAT (George, LL.D.): Roman and Byzantine Money, in his Hist, of 
Greece, etc. London, 1877. 7 vols., Svo. 2067, h. 


FiNLAT (George, LL.D.): Greece under the Romans. Edinburgh, 2ud edit., 

1857. 8vo. 1306, k, 9. 

Fleetwood (Bishop William): Chrouicon Preciosum. Loudon, 1707. 8vo. 

FOXSECA (15. A. R.): El Dii^esto del emperador Justiniano. TrHUslated into 

Spani>h, with both the Latin and Spanish texts, by Don B. A. Rodriquez 

de Fonseca. Revised from an old edition of 1772. Madrid, 1872-5. 

3 vols., 4to. 5383, g. 

FfiEHEKi (Marquardi) : De Re Monetaria Veterum Romanorum. Lubduni, 

1605, 4to. 812, e, 6. 
De Constantiui Impenitoris Byzantini Numismate, etc. Paris, 1604. 

4to. A reply to Sealiger. ' 602, c, 14 (4). 

Gabcia (Jose C'avallero) : Breve cotejo y valance de las Pesas y Medidas de 

varios naciones, couiparadns y reducidas a las que coireu en estos reynos 

de Castilla. Madrid, 1731. '4to. 
Gent.'s Magazine, 1756, p. 465, and 1812, p. 331. Dr. Samuel Pegge on 

the Liku, or Licchus. 
Gibbon (Edward): Decline and Fall of the Rom. Emp. London, 1781. 

2nd ed., 6 vols., 4to. 

■ Miscellaneous Works. London, 1815. 3 vols., 4to. 

Gibbons : Pliysics and Metaphysics of Money, by R. Gibbons. Xew York, 

1886. 8vo. A pamphlet which deuies that law can create value or 

establish a monetary system. 
GiBBS (Henry H.) : A Colloquy on Currency. London, 2nd edition, 1895. 

GoDEFEOT (Denis) : Monnoyes de France, par Denis Godefroy, procureur du 

I'oy en la tour des monno\es (17th century). 
Ge^carum The.<aurus Antiquitatum. Lugduni Batavorum, 1699. 12 vols., 

Gbeat Britain: An Account of the Constitution and Present State of Great 

Britain. London, 1760. 8vo. 
Ghonovius : De Numismate Antiquis; included in Grcecarum Thesaurus 

{which see). 
GEOTirs (Hugo): De Jure Belli et Pacis. Cambridge, 1853. 3 vols., 8vo. 

Lib. II., c:ip. xii., Michael Ephesius t^ays, and after him Grotius 

repeats that, " whatever is adopted as the measure of value ought to be 

itself the least subject to change.' " 
GukEABD : Polyptique de I'Abbe Irminon. Edited and annotated by Benj. 

E. C. Guerard. Paris, 1884. 4to. This work is one of the Collection 

des documents inedits sur I'Histoire de France. Its full title is "Polyp- 
tique de I'Abbe Irminon, ou Denombremeut des Manses, des Serfs, et des 

Revenues de I'Abbaye de Saiut Germain des Pres, sous le regne de 

Charlemagne." The annotations or " Eclaircissements " of M. Guerard 

occupy pp. 907 — 975. 
GriEANUS (Gaillardus) : Explicatio duorum Vetustorum Xumismatum, etc. 

Rabanum, 1655. 4to. 
Hale (Sir INlatthew) : Essay on Population. London, 1782. 4to. 436, d, 24. 

Inrolling and Registring ol Land Conveyances. London, 1664. 4to. 

e, 1973 (4) 

Pleas of the Crown. London, 1716. 8vo. 6281, aaa, 13. 

Treatise on Sheriffs' accounts and Money. London, 1683. 8vo. 

883, h, g. 
Halhed (Xathaniel Brassey) : Code of Gentoo Laws. Eng. Trans. Loudon, 

1776. 4to. 
Hawkins (Edward) : Silver Coins of England. 3rd ed., with alterations and 

additions by R. L. Kenyon. London, 1887. 8vo. 2032, d. 


Heiss (Alois) : Description gencrale des Moniiais Antiques de I'Espap^ne, 
Paris, 1870. 4to. 7755, f. 

DescripcMOu general de las Monedas Hispauo-Cristianos. Madri<i, 

1865-y. 3 vols., 4to. (The best work on the subject of Spmiish 
moneys yet met with.) 7757, i, 6. 

Monnois des rois Visigoths d'Espagne. Paris, 1872. 4to. 

Hemixbtjrgh : {See Walteeus). 

Hemim'ord : {See Waltertjs). 

Heyne (Christiiiu Gotlobb) : On the Relative Value of Copper in Ancient 
Times, an aiticle in the " Academia Georgia Augusta;" Novi com- 
meutaiii, etc., v. 41. Edited by C. G. H.; Gottingen, 1771, etc. Svo. 

449, g, 5-8. 

HoTMAN (Frangois). Sometimes Hotimani and Hottoman : De re numaria. 
Paris, 1585. 2 parts, Svo. 602, b, 4. 

HuLTSCH (Frederick) : Griechische und Romische Metrologie.^JBerlin, 1862. 

Hussey (Robert) : Essay on Ancient Weights, Monev, and Measures, 
Oxford, 1836. 8vo. " 602/c/lO. 

Ihminon : {See Gueraed). 

Italiani Sceittoei Classici. Florence, 1751. Svo, series. 

John of Nikios. Chronique de Jean, eveque de Nikiou. Texte Ethiopien. 
Publie et traduit par H. Zotenberg. Paris, 1883. 4to. 753, k, 18. 

[This is an epitome of general history from the creation of the world 
to the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs, compiled by a Christian monk, 
John Madabbar, priest of Nikios, who lived during the last quarter of 
the seventh century. The work was originally written in Greek, then 
in 1602 translated into Ethiopian, and recently into French. There 
are two copies of the Ethiopian text extant — one each in the Biblio- 
theque Nationale and the British Museum Library. The latter is in 
excellent condition, written on clear parchment, and bound in thick 
wooden boards covered with leather. The earlier portions of the work 
consist of Biblical repetition and Greek fable ; the Roman history, though 
greatly colored by sectarian hatred, is interesting; the contemporaneous, 
history, chiefly Egyptian and Arabian, is of historical value.] 

JOEDAN : The Standard of Value, by W. L. Jordan. London, 1889. 8vo. 
A tiresome wrangle about metallic " standards." Tlie autlior holds that 
the gold sovereign is the "standard unit or measure of value." If so, 
then what are two gold sovereigns ? Two units of value ? Two standards ? 

Justin (N. de) : De Moneta. Jena, 1757. For writing this treatise on 
money, De Justin was imprisoned by the king of Prussia. No copy 
of it in British Museum Library. 

Keaey (C. F.) : Catalogue of English coins. Loudon, 1887. 8vo. 

A Guide to the Study of English Coins, by the late William Henfrey. 

New and revised edition by C. F. Keary. London, 1885. 8vo. This 
patriotic work proves that the kings of England neither debased, de- 
graded, nor altered the value of their coins ! 

Kelly (P.) : The Universal Cambist and Commercial Instructor. London 
1821. 4to. 

Lavoix (Henri) : Catalogue des Monnais Musulmanes de la Bibliotheque 
Nationale. Paris, 1887. 3 vols., 8vo. 

Leake (Stephen Martin) : Historical Account of English Money. London 
1726. 8vo. 

Le Blanc (Francois) : Traite des Monnayes de France. Amsterdam, 1692. 4to. 

Le Cleec (Jean) : (For Union of Utrecht and its coinage regulations). 

Lenoemant (Fr.) : Monnaies et Medailks. Paris, 1879. Svo. 


Lbnobmant (Fr.) : La Monnaie daus I'Antiquite. Paris, 1879. 3 vols., 8vo. 

LONGPEEIER (Adrienne de) : ffiuvres, Paris. 7 vols., Svo. 

Lowndes (William) : A report containing an Essay for the Amendment of 

the Silver Coins. London, 1695. Svo. 
Magens : Essay on Insurances, by Nicholas Magens, merchant. London, 

1755. 2 vols., 4to. ^ 50, d, 14. 

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Chap. I. Ixdia . . . • 
II. AxciEXT Peesiax Moxeys 

III. Ancient Hebeew Moneys 

IV. Ancient Gbeek Moneys 
V. Rome . . . • 

VI. The Saceed Chaeactee of Gold 
VII. Pounds, Shillings, and Pence . 
VIII. Gothic Moneys .... 
IX. Moslem Moneys .... 
X. Eaely English Moneys 
XI. Moneys of the Heptaechy 
XII. Anglo-Xoeman Moneys 

XIII. Eaely Plantagenet Moneys 

XIV. Latee Plantagenet Moneys 
XV. EvoLrTioN of the Coinage Peeeogative 

XVI. Saxony and Scandinavia . 
-^ XVn. The Xetheelands 

XVIII. Geemany .... 
XIX. The Aegentine Confedeeation 
XX. Peitate Coinage 
App. a. Statistics of the Ratio 

B. Bank Suspensions since the eea of Pbivate 

C. The Gold Movement of 1865-73, and existin 

TABY Systems 

































"TXDIA. Antiquity of money in India — Moneys of the Yedas — 
-*- Braminical ramtenkis — Moneys in the Mahabarata — Money 
in Panini's sutras — Budhic coins — Moneys in the Code of Mann — 
The daries of Pei-sia coined from Indian spoil and tributes — Indian 
expeditions of Alexander and Seleucus — Great antiquity of Indian 
civilisation attested by Megasthenes — Bacchic or Budhic eras in 
Pliny and Arrian — Pre-Grecian moneys of India mentioned by the 
Greek writers — The monetary experience of ancient India lost 
through the perversion of its history — Scarcity of the precious 
metals after the Greek expeditions — Revival of gold and silver 
mining — Budhic interdict of mining — Shipments of silver from 
Rome mentioned by Pliny — Indian imitations of Roman gold 
coins — Coins of Julius Csesar, Marc Antony, Augustus, and 
Claudius found in the topes — Epoch of copper and other base 
moneys — Cowries — Mahometan raids in India — The Quinto and 
other spoils sent westward — Continuation of copper and base metal 
epoch — Private coinage — Forbidden by Akbar — His attempt to 
establish silver money superseded by the East India Company — 
Moneys and revenues of the Grand Moguls — The Company's 
monetary system of 1766 — System of 1769 — Drain of precious 
metals from Europe — Suspension of the Bank of England — 
Monetary system of 1793 — Sir James Steuart — System of ISO) — 
System of 1835 — Silver system of 1852 — Issue of paper money, 
1863 — Suspension of individual coinage, 1893 — The ratio between 
gold and silver — Volume of money in India .... 

Chapter II. 
Ancient Pehsian Moneys. The gold daric of Cyrus and 
Darius — Imitated in the Greek, Roman, and Sassanian coinages 
The £ s. d. system also originated in Persia, and was copied by 
Rome — Coinage in Persia a sacerdotal prerogative — Etymology of 
the daric probably astrological — The siccal, or shekel — The money 
talent — Allied to the tael and the silver thaler or dollar — Con- 




fusion of the money and weight talent by modern writers — 
Monetary systems of Cyrus and Darius — Gold coins only struck 
by independent princes — The Persian ratio of value between the 
precious metals .......... 23 

Chapter III. 
Ancient Hebrew Moneys. Bang moneys of the Gets — Casef 
used both for silver money and metal — Various kinds of shekels — 
Indian origin of the term — Dinara — Daric, or Darken — Gera — 
Hebrew monetary system in the time of Ezra — Iron coins — Coinages 
of the Asmoneans — Silver and copper shekels — Extant specimens 30 

Chapter IV. 

Ancient Greek Moneys. Earliest moneys of Greece — Gold 
and silver bangs — Leather moneys — Iron money of Lycurgus — 
Pheidon of Argos — Staters of Miletus — Examination of the 
passages in Herodotus and other writers concerning the antiquity 
of coinage in Greece — The Parian marbles — Knife-coins found by 
Schliemann at Troy — Coins of the Troezenii — The "bulls" of 
Theseus — Statement of Sophocles — Drachmas of Solon — Ratio of 
10 for 1 — Mines of Laurium — Staters of Cyzicus- -The first gold 
coins struck at Athens from the statue of Victory — Plato's mone- 
tary system — Pre-Solonic scale of equivalents — Solonic scale — 
Decadence system — Coins give rise to weights, and not weights to 
coins — Confusion of the money and the weight talent — The 
obelos, or handful, and the obolos weight 35 

Chapter V. 

RoiiE. Supposed silver coins of Servius Tullius — " Romano " 
coins — ^A.u. 369, the Nummulary system — A.r. 437, Scrupulum 
system of gold and silver " Roma " coins — a.u. 485, Centralisation 
of silver coinage and change of ratio — A.r. 537-47, System of the 
Lex Flaminia — a.xj. 663, The Social War; coins of the Italiotes; 
concession of citizenship ; centralisation of money at Rome — A.u. 
675, System of Sylla — Systems of Julius Caesar — Augustus — 
Caligula — Attempted revival of the Republic — Galba— Otho — 
Caracalla — Aurelian —Diocletian — Constantine — Arcadius and 
Honorius— The Byzantine systems down to the Fall of Con- 
stantinople in A.D, 1204 — The Westem system.s — Clovis — Pepin — 
Charlemagne . 60 


Chaptee VI. 


The Sacred Chaeactee of Gold. Coinacje the surest mark 
•of sovereignty — Abstention of the Christian princes from mining 
and coining gold, from Pepin to Frederick II. — Dates of the 
earliest Christian coinages of gold in the West — Inadequate reasons 
hitherto given to explain this singular circumstance — Opinions of 
•Camden — Ruding— Father Joubeii — The true reason given by 
Procopius — The coinage of gold was a Sacred Myth and a preroga- 
tive of the Roman emperor — Its origin and history — Braminical 
Code — The Myth during the Roman Republic — During the Civil 
Wars — Conquest of Egypt by Julius Csesar — Seizure of the 
Oriental trade — The Sacred Myth embodied in the Julian Con- 
stitution — Popularity and longevity of the Myth — It was trans- 
mitted by the pagan to the Christian Church of Rome, and adopted 
by the latter — Its importance in throwing light upon the relations 
of the Western kingdoms to the Roman Empire .... 107 

Chapter VII. 

PouxDS, Shillings, and Pence. This system appears in the 
Theodosian Code — Is probably older — Its essential characteristic 
is valuation by moneys of account — Advantages — Previous 
diversity of coins — Danger of the loss of numismatic monuments 
— Expoiiation of silver to India — Difficulty of enforcing contracts 
in coins of a given metal — £. s. d. as an instrument of taxation — 
As an historical clue — It always followed Christianity — Sidelights 
to history afforded by the three denominations — £. s. d. and the 
Feudal system — It saved the most precious monuments of antiquity 
from destruction — Artificial character of the system — Its earliest 
establishment in the provinces — In Britain — Interrupted in some 
provinces by barbarian systems — Its restoration proves the re- 
sumption of Roman government — This rule applied to Britain . 133 

Chapter VIII. 

Gothic Moneys. Proofs that the earliest sagas were altered 
in the mediaeval ages — Among these is their frequent mention of 
baug-money, an institution which did not survive the contact of 
^Norsemen and Romans — Progressive order of !Norse moneys — Fish, 
vadmal and bang moneys — The bang traced from Tartary to 
Gotland, Saxony, and Britain — Gold bangs acquired a sacerdotal 
character — This was probably immediately after Norse and Roman 
contact — Subsequent relinquishment of baug-money and the 


adoption of coins — Proof that Caesar encountered Xorse tribes in 
Britain, derived from his mention of bangs — This view corroborated 
by archseologv and philology — Subsequent Norse coinage system of 
stycas, scats, and oras — Importaut historical conclusions derived 
from its study .......... 151 

Chaptee IX. 

Moslem Moneys. The empire of Islam — Conquest of the 
Roman provinces in Asia, Africa, and Spain — Administrative 
policy of the moslem — Monetary regulations — Numismatic de- 
claration of Independence— Origin of the dinar and dirhem — 
Singular ratio of value between silver and gold — Probable reasons 
for its adoption — Its worth as an historical guide — As a monetary 
example — Permanence of the tale ratio between dinar and dirhem — 
^loslem remains in the Western and Xortheni States of Europe : 
Spain, France, Burgiindy, Flanders, Britain, and Scandinavia — 
Coinage system of Abd-el-Melik — Prerogative of coinage vested 
in the caliphate — Individual coinage unknown — Emir coinages — 
These substantially ceased with the reform of Abd-el-Melik — 
Legal tender in Egypt, Spain, and India — Weights and fineness 
of the dinar in various reigns — Same of the dirhem — Frontier 
ratios between gold and silver ....... 163 

Chapter X. 

Eably Exglish Moxets. Sterling standard — Type of the 
penny — Arabian coins in Gotland — Offa's dinar — The mark — The 
mancus — Arabian moneyers in England — Arabian ratio — Arabian 
metallurgists — The Gothic- Arabian monetary system . . . 185 

Chapter XI. 

Moneys of the Heptarchy. Summary of historical evidences 
furnished by the materials of this chapter — No coins of the Anglo- 
Saxons exist earlier than Ethelbert — Pagan gold coins — Gothic 
coins of Ethelred — Interpolations in ancient texts — Moslem coins 
of Offa the Goth — Eome-scat, or Peter's-pence — Egbert adopts 
the Roman system of £. s. d. — Danish invasions — Burgred is 
defeated and interned in a monastery — Guthrum is baptised and 
reigns as Athelstan II — Alfred of AVessex — Mingling of Gothic 
and Christian coins and denominations — Changes of ratio — Edward 
the Elder — Athelstan — Edmund I — Eadred — Leather moneys — 
Ethelred II — Danegeld — Canute the Dane — Harold the Dane — 
Edward Confessor — Harold II — Evidences derived from these 
researches .......... 200 

CONTENTS. xxvii 

Chapter XII. 


Systems of Axglo-Noksiax Moxeys. Xormau, Anglo-Saxon, 
early Gothic, Moslem, Byzantine, and other coins circulating in 
England — Difference in the silver value of heretical and orthodox 
gold coins — Scats, sterlings, and pennies — Efforts of the Norman 
princes to escape the monetary supervision of Eome — Receipts 
and payments made ia different moneys — Counterfeiting — Barter^ 
^Permutation— Faii-s — Taxes and rents in kind — Bills of Ex- 
change — The monetary systems of the Xorman princes exhibit a 
strange condition of political affairs 221 

Chaptee XIII. 

Eaelt Plaxtagenet Moneys. Purity of the coinage before 
the fall of Constantinople — Cornipt state afterwards — The change 
was due to the destruction of the sacerdotal authority, the dis- 
appearance of the sacred besant, and the assumption of certain 
regalian rights by the kings of England — Whilst contracts could 
be made in gold besants, there was no profit in tampering with 
the silver coinage — Afterwards it became one of the commonest 
resources of royal finance — Coinage systems of Henry II — 
Eichard I — John — Henry III — Edward I 232^ 

Chapter XIV. 

Later Plaxtagenet Moneys. Xo mint indentures prior to 
Edward I — No statutes of any kind previous to Magna Charta— 
Sudden beginning of frequent monetary changes in the reign of 
Edward II — Significance of this movement — Progressive assump- 
tion of regalian rights — Lowering of pollards and crockards — 
Interdiction of commerce in coins and bullion — Lowerings of 
sterlings — Establishment of a maximum — Coinage of base money 
by the king — His death — Accession of Edward III — New mone- 
tary ordinances — Black money — Mercantile system — Tin money — 
Review of the gold question — The maravedi of Henry III — Pre- 
paration of Edward III, to issue gold coins — Permission from the 
emperor — Convention with Flanders — Authority of parliament — ■ 
Issue of the double-florin — Its immediate retirement — Fresh 
preparations — Issue of the gold noble or half-mark — Its great 
significance 255- 





Chapter XV. 


Evolution of the Coinage Peerogative. Impetus afFovded 
to the development of British national independence — The Great 
Interregnum — Assertions of English sovereign authority — As- 
sumption of royal or national control over the precious metals and 
money — Assumption of Mines Royal — Assumption of treasure- 
trove — Royal coinage of gold — Interdict of the besant — Trial of 
the pix — Royal monetary commissions — Suppression of episcopal 
and baronial mints — Export of precious metals prohibited — First 
complete national sovereignty of money — Prohibition of tribute 
to Rome 275 

Chapter XVI. 

History of the Money in Saxony and Scandinavia. Pish, 
vadmal, bangs, and coins — Ratio — The mark — Imitations of 
Roman coins — The pagan Hansa — Charlemagne — The Christian 
Hansa — Great fair of Novgorod — Ruric — Harold Hardrade — 
Christian II — The tyrant's " klippings " — Massacre of Protestants 
— Mons — Gustavus Vasa — " Klippings " of freedom — Marks, 
talents, and dalers — Private coinage — Rundstyks — Copper plates 
— Assignats — Transport notes — Bank of Stockholm — Goertzdalers, 
or mynt-saicen — State notes — Banks of Copenhagen — Incon- 
vertible notes — Silver dalers — Demonetisation of silver — Gold 
" standard " of 1872 284 

Chapter XVII. 

The Netherlands. Ancient Saxony — Origin of the Dutch — 
Their maritime character — Early moneys — The pagan lesterling, 
Engel, and Guilder — Trade with Saracenic Spain — Moslem and 
Esterling ratios — Pepin, the Short — The Christian ratio — Com- 
promise ratio of the Baltic — The Saiga — Fall of the Eastern 
Empire — Coinages of the Renaissance — The Ducat, or Florin — 
Proposed Anglo-Flemish Convention — Florins and Nobles of 
Edward III — Disagreement respecting the ratio — Burgundian 
ratios — The Ducaton, or Thaler — the Stiver — Causes of the Dutch 
revolution — Religion and Money — The right of coinage — Cor- 
ruptions of money during the Renaissance — Sudden enhancement 
of gold by Charles V — Revolt of the Netherlands — Demonetisation 
of gold — Paper money of Leyden — the Wissel Bank — The Bank 
of Amsterdam — Sols banco — Burgher coinage — It destroys money 
and substitutes metal — Selfish policy of Spain — The Buccaneers — 
Plunder of the Spanish galleons — Opening of the sea route to the 


Orient — The Duteli colony of New Amsterdam (Xew York) — Tlie 
Encjlish follow the Dutch in all these measures — Sir Thomas 
Gresham — Dutch coinage ratios from the earliest times to the 
present — The Mark — Hanseatic money — Successive monetary 
systems of the Burghei-s from the sixteenth to the nineteenth 
century — Gold and silver alternately demonetised — Bank issues 
and insolvency — Recent demonetisation of silver — Present cur- 
rency of the Xetherlands — Importance of the ratio as a guide to 
history— Urgent necessity for reform of the Dutch monetary 
system — The Futare ......... 335 

Chaptee XVIII. 

Gebmaxt. Until a.d. 1204 the nght to coin gold in Germany 
was a pontifico-imperial prerogative — It then practically became 
a regalian right, which in great measure was absorbed by the two 
principal German states — Legalised as a regalian right by the 
Golden Bull — Exercised as such by numerous princes and by the 
burghei-s until 1871, when it was acquired for North Germany 
hy the New Empire — Thereupon it was almost immediately 
abandoned to the burghers — Monetary systems of Germany during 
the regal period — French forgers of the sixteenth century — Earliest 
monetary conventions — Sudden enhancement of gold by Charles 
V — The German states and burghers demonetise gold — Silver 
becomes the sole material of legal-tender money — Monetary 
systems of North Germany — Conventions of sixteenth, seventeenth, 
and eighteenth centuries — The ratio — The banks — Paper money — 
Plunder of Napoleon — His downfall — Confederation of the Ehine 
— New system — Weights — Origin of the ducat, skilling, and 
thaler— Constitution, convention, and currency thalers — Later 
monetaiy conventions — Quantity of money circulating in Ger- 
many — History of the ratio — Burgher or "free" coinage — The 
California scare — Treaty of 1857 tabooing gold coins — The Nevada 
scare — Legislation of 1871-3, demonetising silver coins — French 
War Indemnity — Great increase of paper money — Efflux of gold 
in 1873-4 — Operation of the new mint laws — Gold and silver 
production of Germany — Dr. Soetbeer, the evil genius of German 
monetary policy — The future B6T 

Chaptee XIX. 

The Abgextixe Coxfedeeatiox. The swash-bucklers or con- 
quistadores of La Plata — Plunder and oppression of the natives — 
Mining — Lethargic condition of La Plata as an appanage of Peru 


— The vicerojalty — Eneomienda and slave systems — Jesuit mis- 
sions — Opposition of the colonists to them — Exactions of the 
Crown of Spain — Scandalous sale of papal indulgences — Ruinous 
results — Revolutions and civil wars — Subversion of the monarchy 
— Retention of papal domination — Boom of 1825 — Relapse into 
anarchy — Further wars and revolutions — Paraguayan war — 
Dreadful cruelties — Feeble progress of the republic^Territory — • 
Population— Agriculture — Sheep-farming— Commerce — Dishonest 
representations — Gross exaggeration of national wealth and re- 
sources — Boom of 1874-5 — The revulsion — Its causes — Supersti- 
tion, poverty, and false pretences — Monetary systems — The Quinto 
—Seigniorage — Private coinage — Base coins — Mint law of 1772 — 
Good money lowers the value of bad, but is not driven out — 
Illimitable p^per issues — Their attempted retirement at 25 paper 
for 1 coin — Law demonetising silver and establishing gold money — ■ 
Its farcical character — The so-called " resumption " suspended — 
Further paper issues — Retirement of the old paper at 25 for 1 of 
new paper — The new paper falls to 40 per cent, of its face value in 
coins — Entire disappearance of gold and silver coins — Abject posi- 
tion of a great country brought about by bad administration . 408 

Chapter XX. 

Private Coinage. Five great eras in the history of money — 
Pontifico-royal period — Republican period — Pontifico-imperial 
period — Royal period — Private Coinage period — Moslem origin of 
private coinage — Omission of the coinage prerogative from the 
Koran — Its assumption by the Moslem conquerors of India — - 
Private coinage practised by their permission — Consequent degra- 
dation of the India monetary systems — Arrival of the Portuguese 
in India — Private coinages of Albuquerque at Goa — Private 
coinages of the Dutch in India — Private coinages of the British 
East India Company — Idolatrov;s effigies on their coins — Private 
coinage enunciated in the Star Chamber of England — Private 
coinage sanctioned by Charles II, who concedes or bargains away 
the royal prerogative — Disastrous consequences to the commercial 
world — Frequent failures of banks of issue — Incompetency of the 
banking class to regulate either national or international Measures 
of Value — Demand for the resumption of the State prerogative — 
Progress of this movement to the present time .... 463 

Appendices 471 

Corrigenda 495 

Index 497 


The genesis and evolution of money — Exchanges — Barter — Device of 
a valuing commodity — Its inconvenience — Bangs — Coins — Their defects 
— Xomisma — Its downfall — Coins subjected to further legal regulation — 
Money an institution of law — Its grammar — The use of this grammar as 
an historical guide. 

^ I "^HE custom of calling money ai-gentum and calling 
-*- argentum money (a custom still retained in France^ 
Spain^ Germany^ and otlier former provinces of the Roman 
empire) originated in Greece, and was fixed in the Roman 
language by a series of monetary laws ■which extended over 
some fifteen centuries of time. The numismatic proofs 
of these laws are still extant in the great cabinets of 
Europe. To appreciate their importance and value it is 
necessary at the outset to rapidly sketch the genesis and 
evolution of money. 

, The earliest form of exchange, that which is peculiar to 
rudimentary or savage communities, was barter. To remedy 
those inconveniences of barter which were disclosed by a 
progressive civilisation, some given commodity of common 
necessity and production was selected in each community 
as a rude measure of the value of other commodities. 
Such measure, whether it consisted of a number of beans, 
cloths, shells, or lumps of metal, enabled any given ex- 
change to be effected upon a more equitable basis than 
before, simply by its operation in holding a vast number 
of parities in view at once. With the growth of intelli- 
gence, this measure was also found to be defective ; it 
lacked precision. The beans, shells, gold, silver, etc., 


being useful for otlier purposes besides a measure of value, 
tlie slightest difference in the size or qualitj' of beans, etc., 
became matters of consideration during- the act of effect- 
ing exchanges ; and thus their effectiveness as such 
measure of value was impaired. A further improveujent 
was thereupon devised by reducing the fractions of the 
measure of value to like sizes and weights and to a like 
quality or fineness. This could best be done with the 
precious metals ; and thus a number of metallic pellets, 
sometimes rings (bangs), came to compose a measure of 

But man can make nothing perfect. Xo sooner does he 
find a remedy for one ill than the remedy itself breeds 
other ills, till then unknown. The use of pellets and bangs 
promoted commerce, whilst increased commerce exposed 
the defectiveness of bangs. It was discovered that no 
matter what amount of labour was involved in the pro- 
duction of the precious metals, or of bangs, and no matter 
how carefully the latter were weighed or refined, their 
value or power to purchase other commodities was liable 
to enormous variation. The arrival or departure ot a 
few loads of metal, the discovery or exhaustion of a mine, 
and many other circumstances, had the effect to rapidly 
alter the local value of bangs and upset all commercial 

The remedy adopted for this defect was to localise the 
emissions and currency, or legal course, of baugs. Each 
city, colony, and trading community made its own pellets 
or bangs, and stamped its seal or private symbol on the 
emissions. This last act converted the pellets, or baugs, 
into coins. To render this device of home-made coins 
effective, it was necessary to forbid the use of all other 
coins. Here is where the law first came to the rescue 
of the local measure of value ; and here is where nummu- 
lary history begins. 

The device of localised moneys exposed other ills and 
gave rise to other remedies, all tending toward the 


solution of what seemed to be merely a mechanical 
problem. The ill that next developed itself was that one 
mint melted down and re-coined the issues of another ; 
and thus resuscitated that defect of the measure of value 
which arose from suddenly increased or diminished 
supplies of the valuing commodity. To discourage such 
re-coinages, seigniorage was introduced ; and this gave 
rise to numerous other legal regulations, the character 
and intricacy of which can best be appreciated by attempt- 
ing to master any of the extant mint codes, ancient or 

After many experiments — we are now alluding to the 
era of Lycurgus — it began to be suspected that the mone- 
tary problem was not a mechanical one at all ; that, unlike 
length, weight, capacity, etc., value was not an intrinsic 
or inalienable attribute of matter, and therefore that it 
could not be equitably measured by means of any com- 
modity, as a commodity. What, then, was value ? From 
that time to the present — that is to say, for nearly thirty 
centuries — the vaults of the earth have echoed this question, 
but vouchsafed no reply. The priests of Egypt, if they 
knew the answer, preserved it among their numerous 
mysteries of statecraft, to be sold to tyrants, or employed 
in the service of the gods. The seers of Chaldea and 
Greece, who disclosed to the Western world the majestic 
movements of the heavenly bodies, failed to recognise the 
nature of value ; or else kept it an unwritten secret, that 
it might not be employed in the subversion of civil 
liberty.^ " The function of money is to measure value,^' 
declared the school of Lycurgus ; but neither the Spartan 
sages nor the great Stagyrite, who in a later age voiced 
their philosophical maxims, ever registered a definition of 

However, not to register a definition of value is not 
necessarily to be ignorant of its function. Though it has 

1 " Eveiy truth or error which the word value introduces into men's 
minds is a social one" (Bastiat, " Harmonies of Polit. Econ."). 



that of tlie commodities of which they were composed, and 
to a certain extent this effort succeeded. 

In spite of these and other improvements, the Measure 
of Value (when it came to consist of coins, whose total 
number was irregularly lessened by loss, wear and tear, 
or melting, or increased by secret issues, or counter- 
feiting) could not be definitively and permanently fixed ; 
hence it consisted essentially and teleologically of a 
commodity. From this fact arose the custom of calling 
money argentum. 

Again it went its round of experiment. Again was it 
noticed that, as a commodity, it was but ill-fitted to 
measure the intricate and involved series of exchanges 
which are implied in the financial relations, contracts, 
speculations, inheritances, and property arrangements of 
commercial communities. It was also observed that 
coins, though made of but a single metal, failed to 
retain a more permanent value than that of the metal of 
which they were composed ; and that this value rose 
and fell with every vicissitude of war, mining, mintage, 
commerce, and even fashion. Such a means of valuation 
might have answered well enough for simple and imme- 
diate exchanges^ but it was clearly unsuited for the 
determination of future and involved ones, as the sale of 
growing crops, the rental of houses or farms, the repay- 
ment of loans, or the disposal of incomes by grant or 
testament. Consequently it was deemed necessary to 
subject the valuing commodity to further restraints of 

The type, design, inscriptions, metal, alloy, weight, 
size, and tale-relations of coins, the charges for coinage, 
the tax of seigniorage, and the degree, kind, and territorial 
extent of the legal tender function of coins had all been 

1 The discerning reader will at once detect that this rapid sketch of 
the evolution of money is drawn from its history in the Western world. 
Nevertheless money is vei'y much moi'e ancient than the Greek writei"s 
pretended, or some modern ones suppose. 


regulated by law. Mining for the money raetals was 
now added to these regulations ; taxation, State monopoli- 
sation, etc., being the means employed. The number of 
slaves permitted to work the mines was regulated. The 
importation and exportation of the money metals was 
regulated. The right to strike coins was limited to sacer- 
dotal authority, and confined to the temples. The highest 
resources of art were bestowed upon the designs. Foreign 
coins were sometimes monetised, at others decried. The 
individual fabrication, counterfeiting, defacement, melting 
down, or hoarding of coins was prohibited. The use of 
the money metals in the arts was restricted or forbidden. 
Because gold and silver are twin metals, which in varying 
proportions are nearly always found together in the same 
matrix, and because their production cannot be regulated 
at man^s will, but is subject to great vicissitudes from 
chance discoveries, military conquest, and other causes, 
their relative value, or ratio, cannot be determined like 
that of other commodities, but must be regulated em- 
pirically. To secure permanency in this ratio it was 
subjected to sacerdotal authority ; and we shall find that, 
as the result of this regulation, it remained fixed for 
centuries ; so that among the numei'ous guides to his- 
torical research afforded by the attributes of money, this 
is one of the most conspicuous and reliable. 

Notwithstanding these various regulations, the stability 
of coins, as a measure of value, was still exposed to so 
much disturbance that further legal measures, of greater 
and greater complexity, were adopted to secure this 
important object. The principal disturbance was now 
created by the wear and tear and subterranean conceal- 
ment or burial of coins, and the failure of slave-mining or 
foreign conquest to make good the continued loss of gold 
and silver metal. New and higher denominations of value 
were given by law to the same coins, and frequent re- 
coinages had to be made, at great expense to the State 
and great risk of public disorder. The evil and expense 


o£ re-coinage was attempted to be avoided by still further 
legislation. The weight and standard of the new issues 
of coins were lowered, as the denarii of Livius Drusus. 
Emissions were made of still more highly overvalued 
coins, like the bronze " sesterces " of the Roman Com- 
monwealth and the plated coins of Claudius, Trajan, and 
Hadrian. Finally, as related elsewhere, moneys of ac- 
count were created by law, called libras, sicilici, and 
denarii (£. s. d.). This was essentially merely an arith- 
metical scale of proportions that could be applied, without 
the necessity of re-coinage, to the perplexing variety of 
existing coins which had now obtained currency ; and 
which, as a matter of fact, were applied not only to 
these, but also to measurements of land, of bread, and of 
other things. 

It will thus be seen that money, whatever it consisted 
of originally, grew in time to be a complex instrument of 
societary life, — in short, an Institution of Law, designed 
to measure and determine value ; and that its efl&ciency, 
precision, stability, and equitable operation depended 
largely, if not entirely, upon the strength, wisdom, and 
virtue of the government by whose laws it was created 
and regulated. Instead of the simple and easy subject 
which some modern economists have airily supposed it to 
be, its proper understanding involves, as has been shown 
elsewhere, the mastery of more than seventy separate 
legal institutes. These constitute what may be termed 
the grammar of money .^ 

For the purposes of the present work only a few of 
these institutes — those which are already most familiar to 
the reading public — have been employed. Chief among 
these are the names of moneys, the inscriptions upon 
them, their numismatic family-names, such as £. s. d., or 
ora, scat, styca, etc., the arithmetical relations of the 

' They are enumerated at leno;th in " Monej and Civilisation," 
pp. 413-17. 


family, whether binary, decimal, octonary, or duodecimal ; 
the law of legal-tender ; the authority to coin ; and the 
legal ratio of value between gold and silver. 

The reader need not therefore be deterred from follow- 
ing the text through any fear of being perplexed or 
fatigued by technical terms or references. The lights by 
which he is asked to steer are few and plainly displayed. 




Antiquity of money in India — Moneys of the Vedas — Braminical 
ramtenkis — Moneys in the Mahabarata — Money in Panini's sutras — 
Budhic coins — Moneys in the Code of Mann — The darics of Persia 
coined from Indian spoil and tributes — Indian expeditions of Alexander 
and Seleucus — Great antiquity of Indian civilization attested by Megas- 
thenes — Bacchic or Budhic eras in Pliny and Arrian — Pre-Grecian 
moneys of India mentioned by the Greek writers — The monetary expe- 
rience of ancient India lost through the perversion of its history — 
Scarcity of the precious metals after the Greek expeditions — Revival of 
gold and silver mining — Budhic interdict of mining — Shipments of 
silver from Eome mentioned by Pliny — Indian imitations of Eoman 
gold coins — Coins of Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, Augustus, and 
Claudius found in the topes — Epoch of copper and other base moneys — 
Cowries — Mahometan raids in India — The Quinto and other spoils sent 
westward — Continuation of copper and base metal epoch — Piivate coin- 
age — Forbidden by Akbar — His attempt to establish silver money super- 
ceded by the East India Company — Moneys and revenues of the Grand 
Moguls — The Company's monetaiy system of 1766 — System of 1769 — 
Drain of precious metals from Europe — Suspension of the Bank of Eng- 
land — Monetary system of 1793 — Sir James Steuart — System of 1800' — 
System of 1835 — Silver system of 1852 — Issue of paper money, 1868 — 
Suspension of Individual coinage, 1893 — The ratio between gold and 
silver — Volume of money in India. 

nPHE supei'ior antiquity of coined money in India is 
-*- established by its mention in the Vedas, the Maha- 
barata, and the sutras of Panini. The Rig Veda Sanhita 
alludes to ten purses (dusa kosaiyih) of gold^ ten pieces 
of gold, and the coins dinara and niska. The Mahabarata 



frequently alludes to moneys, including " a crore of gold 
coins/-" Panini, who wrote before the Persian invasion of 
India, defines several monetary terms, among them rupya, 
from rupu, to strike. All these terms are still in use. The 
Budhist scriptures contain numerous allusions to money ; 
and although many of these may be anachronical, they, 
nevertheless, support the main argument. The antiquity 
of money in India is confirmed by other ancient writings, 
by ancient epigraphic monuments, and by the existence 
of " punch-marked '' coins of a purely Indian type, which, 
though undated, are evidently older than the period of 
the Greek invasion, older than Budhism, and, according 
to Wilson, Marsden, and Thomas, older even than the 
Vedic writings. A later series of Indian coins, stamped 
with Budhic emblems, are probably those referred to in 
the accounts of Arrian and Quintus Curtius.^ Gold, silver 
and copper coins are frequently mentioned in the Hindu 
Code, or Institutes of Manu ; the ramtenkis, or rama- 
tankahs, probably belong to the Braminical epoch that 
preceded Budhism ; the archaic coins stamped with the 
figure of the Sun, countermarked by the Budhic emblems 
chaitya, svastica, cross, bodhi-tree, elephant, bull, etc., 
are certainly older than Budhism ; while those originally 
stamped with the chaitya, svastica, tau, cross, crook and 
lamb (or dog), and other Budhic emblems, are certainly of 
pre-Grecian date. These evidences will be found in the 
writings of Cunningham, Burnouf, and other English 
and Continental orientalists, many of whom are cited in 
my former work on this subject. Together they furnish 
ample basis for the conclusion that coins of the precious 
metals were used in India at epochs far more remote 
than can be attributed to any coins of the West. 

The earliest references to India in Western literature 
allude to the conquests of Darius Hystaspes, and appear 
in Herodotus. Some reference to this era also appears in 

' Sir A. Cunningham (" Coins of Ancient India," p. 49) regards the 
kaltis mentioned by Arrian as a gold coin of about 52 grains. 


the emasculated pages of Trogus Pompeius and in tlie 
Life of Apollonia Tyanensis by Pliilostratus. Tlie Indian 
karshapana (of silver) is mentioned by Hesychius.^ About 
the year b.c. 525 Darius appointed Scylax of Cary- 
andra to take command of a squadron of boats^ fitted 
out at Caspatyrus, in the country of Pactya (the modern 
Pehkely), toward the upper part of the navigable course of 
the River Indus, and to fall down its stream until he should 
reach the ocean. The account which Scylax gave of the 
populousness, fertility, and wealth of that part of India 
through which he passed resulted in its being invaded 
about the year 521 by Darius himself; and although his 
conquests do not appear to have extended beyond the dis- 
trict watered by the Indus, he returned to Persia laden 
with spoil, after having imposed tributes, which were equal 
in amount to nearly a third of the whole i*evenues of the 
Persian monarchy. It was probably out of the spoil ob- 
tained from this expedition that Darius struck those gold 
darics which are mentioned in the Old Testament as 
darkonim, and which Mionnet regarded as the earliest 
coins of the Western world. ^ 

The next earliest account of India which affords a 
groundwork for historical dates is derived from the meagre 
chronicles of its conquest by Alexander the Great and 
afterwards by Seleucus Nicanor, which appear in the 
pages of Strabo, Diodorus, Pliny, Ptolemy, Arrian, and 
other Western writers. Among the fragments which re- 
main to us is the Bacchic (Budhic) era in Pliny,^ which 
is confirmed by Megasthenes in Arrian's " India. '^ This 
era has no historical value beyond what it derives from 
the period and circumstances of its preservation. It can 
scarcely be supposed that Megasthenes, who lived in India 

^ Sir A. Cunningham, p. 2. 

^ Herod. Mel., 44; Justin, lib. ii ; Philostr. Vita Apoll.; lib. iii, 
c. 47; Oleurius Tzetzet, "Chiliad.," vii, v, 630; "Hist. Mon. Anc," 
p. 80 ; Cunningham, p. 21. 

' Pliny, "Nat. Hist.," vi, xxxi, 5. 


several years, pi'oserved this very ancient date without at 
least believing vaguely in the great antiquity of the civi- 
lization to which it belonged — an opinion that now derives 
corroboration from other sources, such as comparative 
philology, the advanced state of the mechanic arts in India 
at the remotest date known to the West,^ the antiquity of 
the Vedic scriptures, and the numismatic remains. 

The earliest Indian coins extant are neither of gold nor 
silver, but of a mixture of the two metals. This mixture, 
the appearance of which, probably marks an era when 
alluvial mines were succeeded by shallow quartz openings, 
carries us back to the ramtenkis of the Bramiuical epoch. 
The much later coins of Argos and Lydia are of the same 
material. This the Greeks called electrum — a name de- 
rived by them from its amber coloui', and this, again, 
from the amber procured from the Veneti of the Baltic. 
The Japanese used similar coins so late as 1866. In the 
Braminical monetary systems the arithmetical relations 
were evidently decimal. One thousand copper panas 
equalled in value 100 silver retti, or 10 silver siccals, or 1 
gold suvarna. The suvarna seems to have contained 
about 180 English grains fine gold, the siccal about 90 
grains fine silver. If these premises are correct, 5 silver = 1 

It is to the epoch following the Mahabarata wars 
(b.c. 1650, Pococke ; B.C. 1367, Prinsep) that must be 
ascribed that severe dearth of the precious metals in 
India, which is evinced by the use of cowries and other 
commodity-moneys of illimitable supply, and of the prac- 
tice of that strange abstention from the employment of 
the precious metals which is enjoined by the Budhic Ten 
Commandments of the Yinaya, and mentioned farther on. 
In the Brama-Budhic monetary systems of a period that 
comes within the scope of "Western literature, the precious 
metals again crept into use. The principal piece of this 

' For Indian articles in Egyptian tombs ascribed to fifteenth century 
S.C., consult Wilkinson. 

INDIA. 5' 

period was called tlie dhai-ana, and contained 140 grains 
fine gold ; the silver siccal about 84 grains. Ten of 
these equalled in value 1 dliarana, consequently the ratio 
was G silver = 1 gold. Siccals mean literally knife- 
money ; the same root giving us scythe, sickle, scissors, 
chisel, and other words for cutting-insti-uments. There 
is reason to believe that from the eighth to the fourth 
century befoi-e our era the Indian ratios varied from 6 to 
6^ silver = 1 gold in weight. As between Northern 
and Southern, or maritime India, the smaller ratio pre- 
vailed in the South, where it was pi-obably about 6|- 
for 1. The prevailing ratios deduced by Leon Faucher 
from the most ancient monetary equivalents in tlie Code 
of Manu varied from G to 8 for 1. 

In the time of Cyrus and Darius, of Persia, the mone- 
tary systems of India were probably based upon the gold 
dharana of about 130 grains fine, equal in value to 10 
silver siccals of about 84| grains fine each, a ratio of 
6| for 1. There were 5 silver masheh to the siccal. 

Whatever these conclusions may signify to us in the 
future, they possess but little worth at present. The 
history of antiquity is obscured by mythology, and until 
this cover is removed from the story of the ages, no 
valid chronology can be arranged and no practical lessons 
gleaned from the cold lips of the distant centuries. 
Could the monetary experiences of India be gathered for 
the modern world they would prove of priceless merit, 
for India has evidently essayed and suffered everything 
in the way of monetary experiment. Unfortunately, its 
experience is lost in clouds of fable and historical per- 
version. As a basis for legislation it is essentially worth- 
less, and the future of the East will have to be gathered 
from the experience of the West, for there the truth of 
history has been, at least, far less grossly violated. 

The marauding expeditions of Darius, Alexander, and 
Seleucus again divested India of her hoards of the precious 
metals, this time to so great an extent as to lead, during 


succeeding ages, to tlie almost exclusive use of copper for 
coins. Marsden (p. 53) finds numei'ous evidences of this 
in tlie altered Code of Manu ; Thomas deduces the same 
conclusion from a study of the extant coins ; -svhile 
Pausanias went so far as to suppose (probably because 
the Indians of his day possessed but a scanty stock of 
the precious metals) that they were entirely unacquainted 
with money. In my former work on this subject, from 
which many of these circumstances and considerations 
are repeated, I followed Marsden and Thomas, and ven- 
tured to believe that such few coins as existed of the 
precious metals were valued in the baser coins, and used, 
as multipliers for large sums of them, the groundwork of 
the system being copper coins. In spite of the Budhic 
interdiction of gold, this scarcity must have led to a 
revival of mining, as it certainly did to the establishment 
of a vast commerce with the West, both overland and by 
sea (chiefly through Egypt), the primary object of which, 
to India, was the recovery of the precious metals which 
she had. lost through tlie inferiority of her arms. 

In the time of Pliny the Indians took as much as fifty 
to a hundred million sesterces per annum in silver from 
Rome, and although this was largely paid for with mer- 
chandise, some of it was paid for with gold at a rate for 
silver that yielded the Romans nearly cent, per cent, 

Of the gold thus sent to Rome a portion was coined in 
India, in imitation of the Roman aureus, and specimens 
of this singular coinage are still extant. The writer has 
examined several of them, and fouqd them to be rather 
paler in colour than the Roman gold coins, probably 
owing to the presence of a small proportion of silver in 
the native metal, which the Indians were unable to extract. 
Cowries were used for small change in India at this 
period. Some were found in the Manikyala tope, in the 
Punjaub, mingled with Sassanian and Roman moneys. 
Among the latter were coins of Julius Caesar, with the 


Stat*, alluding to liis apotheosis ; of Marc Antony as Osiris, 
with the radiated head of the Sun, and of Augustus 
Filius Dei. The Arabian superscriptions on the Sassa- 
uian coins prove that the tope was erected in the eighth 
century of our era, so that these coins must have been 
preserved for three-fourths of a millenium, to be buried 
here for another millenium. Among the treasures of the 
Madras Museum is a gold coin of Claudius, struck to 
commemorate his conquest of distant Britain, which 
now — such have been the mutations of empire — is the 
suzerain of all India and its sovereign the Great 

Whatever relief India derived from mining and trading 
for the precious metals was lost again after the eighth 
century, when the Moslem raids into that country began, 
because these coveted metals formed an essential part of 
their spoil, one-fifth of which was religiously sent to the 
Arabian caliph, while the remainder went to enrich the 
homes of the spoilers in Merv, Bagdad, and Damascus. 

The Arabian merchant Suleiman, a.d. 851, said that 
in his time the principal money of Bengal consisted of 
billon dirhems, called tahiria or thaterya, which went for 
14 silver dirhems each. These, however, were of Arabian 
mintage, coined by the dynasty of Tahir, which began 
with Tahir-bin-al-Husain, a.d. 820. In the Tabakat-i- 
Nasiri, or diary of Minhaj-us-Siraj, a.d. 1242—4, it is 
stated that in Bengal cowries supplied the place of the 
chitals used in the north-west provinces.^ At Calicut, on 
the coast of Malabar, the current money used by merchants 
in the foreign trade consisted of Genoese coins, which 
reached India by way of the Euxine and Trebizond.- 
The polic}' of prohibiting the exportation of bullion^ also 
belongs to this interval, whose copper and other base 

^ Phavre's " Coins of Buvmah," in Num. Orient. 
- Anderson's "Hist. Com.," i, 224. 
3 Bell's " Geog.," iv, 476. 


metal systems sufficiently attest tlie scarcity of silver and 

More interesting to us than perhaps any other feature 
of India's dimly-outlined monetary shifts is the private 
coinage of the precious metals^ which appears to have 
grown up at this period. 

Thomas^ states that during the Mahometan era the 
sovereigns of the Deccan accorded to goldsmiths and 
other private individuals the right to coin gold and silver, 
provided, adds Sir .J. Malcolm, that the pieces bore the 
royal devices. Marsden (p. 57) regarded this custom as 
of still more ancient date. Ferishtah" and Sir J. Malcolm^ 
both describe the same custom. The latter adds that 
there were no limits to the privilege, the government 
merely exacting a seigniorage of about 2^ per cent. 
Such a privilege now goes by the name of Private or Free 
Coinage. Its origin, history, and consequences are of 
great interest to the Western world, which has permitted 
free coinage now for nearly three centuries, not without 
grave suspicions of its wisdom and equity. In one respect 
the free coinage of gold and silver in India at this period 
possesses no more significance to the sovereigns who per- 
mitted it than the free coinage of copper into tradesmen's 
tokens had in the Western world, in some states within 
the writer's memory. The metallic basis of the Indian 
monetary systems of this epoch was neither gold nor 
silver, but base metals. India had been so often plun- 
dered by foreign conquerors that it was not until after 
shipments .of silver bullion commenced from America, 
about 1540, that she acquired enough of the precious 
metals to warrant her Moslem potentates in endeavouring 
to bring their monetary systems into correspondence with 
the Moslem systems of the West. This they did by coin- 
ing gold and silver. It was Sher Shah who, in 1542^ 

' " Pathan Kings of Delhi," p. 344. 

2 u Bombay Text," i, 537. 

^ " Central India," 1832, ii, 80. 

INDIA. 9- 

first struck the four-dirliem pieces, formerly called tankalis,. 
aud now first called rupees, and it was Akbar tlie Great, 
1555—1604, who interdicted private coinage of the precious 
metals, and by whom a notable but abortive attempt Avas 
made to establish payments on the basis of silver coins 
struck by the government. However, it was not until a 
similar policy (of changing from copper to silver money) 
was pursued by the East India Company, in 1766, that it 
succeeded. Its accomplishment, as we shall presently 
see, was not only a severe check to the prosperity 
of India, it plunged the entire Western world into- 

The Mahometan rulers of India would at any time 
have preferred to change the monetary basis from copper 
to silver had not the scarcity of this metal rendered the 
policy hazardous. A half measure — which, like most half 
measures in monetary systems, only engendered doubt 
and hastened the failure of the attempt — was substituted 
instead. This was the introduction of billon jitals of a 
value between the largest copper coin and the smallest 
silver multiple, and the use of these pieces as a common 
denominator of value. However, the legal ordinances or 
customs, which valued all gold aud silver coins in copper 
ones, and thus based the monetary measure upon copper 
coins, were not abrogated ; so that the requirement or 
custom of using the new billon pieces as a denominator, 
whilst it seemingly changed the pre-existing system, did 
not do so in reality.^ 

The new coin was known in the Punjaub as the 
delhiwalla, after the name of the place where it was 
fabricated. Elsewhere it was called the jital or chital. 
In the reign of Firoz Shah it was composed of about 
forty-two grains of copper, and from twelve to fourteen 
gi'ains of silver, and derived its value from the legal 
regulation, which made it equal to a given number of 

' The jital or chital is the common money of Hindostan, says the 
" Tabakat-i-Nasiri," " Pathan Kings of Delhi,'"' 111. 


•copper coins. It was in these billon coins that all sums 
of money were expressed. For example, " a lak " 
(100,000) meant in Northern India 100,000 delhiwallas, 
or cliitals ; just as " a million " now means in France a 
million francs, in America a million dollars, and in 
England a million pounds sterling. The auriferous con- 
tents of the chital would require 10 to 12 of them 
to equal the adali, and 12 to 14 to the full weighted 
silver tankah. However, the actual value of the chital 
in silver coins can neither be determined a j>riori 
from the quantity of silver, nor its value in copper coins 
from the quantity of copper, it contained. Its value in 
both of these classes of coins was fixed by law, whilst its 
value in commodities depended on the whole number of 
chitals, indeed, the whole sum of money of which it formed 
a part, and by many other circumstances both in law and 
in fact. 

In Bengal the system of copper money, with cowrie 
dividers and gold and silver multipliers, remained un- 
changed for a long period. It unfortunately happens 
that those who have communicated to us any knowledge 
■of this system have valued the cowries, not in copper coins, 
to which they were nearest related by law, but either in 
the silver or gold ones, from which they were the farthest 
removed by law, but which were more familiar to our 

The common money of Bengal, says Ibn Batuta, an 
Arabian traveller of the fourteenth century, is composed 
of cowries. A bustus is a lak of cowries, and four laks 
go to a gold dinar. On other occasions he states the 
equivalent at twelve laks of cowries to the gold dinar. 

In Orissa, which is the next kingdom south of Bengal, 
the following equivalents prevailed : — 1 four-dirhem piece, 
or kahawan = 10 silver masheh = 20 puns = 80 boories = 400 
gundas = 1,600 cowries.^ Skipping, in this place, over 

^ The kalmwan varied from 16 to 20 puns. The ettmologj of the pun 
has been traced to the pani, or handful, but this may be a mere verbal 

INDIA. 11 

four centuries of time, and coming to the end of Moslem 
rule in India, to wit, the year 1740, a rupee, or four- 
dirhem piece, fetched 2,400 cowries ; 1756, 2,560 cowries ; 
1814, 2,560 cowries'; 1833, 6,400 cowries; 1845, 6,500 
cowries. Some of these figures are derived from acci- 
dental allusions in books of travel, and not from any 
systematic averages of the value of cowries during the 
years mentioned. Until the entire monetary systems of 
which these cowries formed a part are rescued from 
oblivion, particularly their relation to the copper coins, 
and the relation of the latter to commodities, their value 
in the silver and gold multipliers of the periods named 
can serve no practical use. 

The system of Mahomet-bin-Tuglak embraced the 
following features : — 1st, to alter the basic material of 
moneys from copper to silver ; 2nd, to render money 
more abundant ; 3rd, to levy the tributes in money 
instead of produce. Shaikh Mubai-ak, an Egyptian 
traveller of the fourteenth century, has left us a complete 
scale of the equivalents employed in this system, as 
follows : 

Monetary system of Mahomet-bin-Tiiglal-, a.d. 1324-51. 

4 copper fals = 1 chital, or delhiwalla (or ani). 

2 chitals = 1 dokani, or sultaui. 

6 „ =; 1 shah-ani. 

8 ,, =1 hasht-ani. 

12 „ =1 dui-wazdah-aiii. 

16 ,, ^1 shanzdah-ani. 

64 „ =1 silver tankah. 

It is very evident that in this scale the chital or ani 
is the principal coin, and it must have been composed of 
■copper plated with silver; for at 160 to 166 grains of 
silver to the tankah of this period" there could have 

■coincidence. The pun is still employed in Bengal as the equivalent of 
•80 cowries. 

* Bell's " Geog.," iv, 520. 

2 Mai-sden, 36, and Thomas, P. K. D., 114. 


been but 2^ g'rains of silver to the cliital. The system 
of Mahomet-bin-Tuglak was, therefore, a copper one ;. 
and bej^ond the fact that this kind of money became 
more pleutlful and available for the payment of taxes, it 
does not appear to have essentlall}^ differed from its pre- 
decessors, all of which were systems of copper coins, 
with a few gold and silver multipliers, the latter strnck 
more for proclamatory purposes and show than for com- 
mon use as money. Says Thomas : " The standard, if 
any distinct conception of its meaning as we understand 
it existed at all, seems to have been based upon the 
primitive copper currency, which was of such universal 
distribution as to be confessedly less liable to fluctuation 
than gold or silver.'^ In another place he says : " The 
real prevailing currency of the realm consisted of billon 
money and copper pieces." In the reign of Tuglak's 
successor, Firoz Shah, the chital was raised, as before 
stated, to 12 to 14 grains of silver, combined with 38 
to 41 grains of copper ; ^ whilst in the reign of Bahlol 
Lodi, 1450-88, the tankah was debased until it con- 
tained but 56 grains of silver. A century later Sher 
Shah I'aised it to 175 grains, and called it the rupee. 
When Akbar, the sixth in descent from Timur, recovered 
Delhi from the Pathans, conquered the whole of north- 
west India to Kabul and Kandahar, and merged all these 
kingdoms, together with several provinces of the Deccan, 
into one great empire, he coined a rupee of 170^ grains 
fine, and established its value at 40 copper or billon 
dams, each weighing 5 tanks (not tankahs) ; the seig- 
niorage on the rupee being 5 4 per cent, ad valorem. 
These last he made some efforts to force into the circula- 
tion, and endeavoured to retire the copper coins ; but 
the attempt was a distinct failure, not so much from a 

> H. M. A., 104. 

2 In his earlier writintjfs, Mr. Tliomas reckoned 20 dams to the rupee; 
afterwards lie was positive that there were 40 dams to the rupee. The- 
last is right (Cunningliam, p. 25). 

INDIA. 13 

scarcity of silver metal, which now came in more plenti- 
fully from America and Europe, as from the difficulty of 
changing the habits of the country. " Certainly in 
Akbar's time, when theory was more distinctly applied 
to the subject (of money), copper was established as the 
authoritative basis of all money computations." ^ 

In Gibbon^s account of Indian moneys, which formed 
a study for use in his great work on " The Decline and 
Fall of the Roman Empire," he says that the rupee, a 
silver coin of the Grand Mogul, is common throughout 
India. Its weight varies from 178^ to 179 grains ; its 
fineness 98 to 99 in the 100 ; its value in Eugland about 
2s. 6d. sterling ; the gold rupee (mohur) is worth 30s. 
sterling. The ratio of silver to gold is 12^ for 1. 

A lak (ten thousand) of rupees .... £12,500. 

A crore (one hundred laks) of dams . . . 31,250. 

A crore (one hundred laks) o£ rupees . . . 1,250,000. 
An arrib (one hundred crores) of rupees . . 125,000,000. 
The dam is an ideal coin, valued at the fortieth of a rupee. 

In the above account Gibbon made several blunders. 
The ratio of silver to gold was 10, not 12^, to 1 ; because 
in the dominions of the Grand Mogul 10 silver rupees 
went to the gold rupee, or mohur, of precisely the same 
weight. The 12| ratio was the result of a conflict, or 
average, between the gold and silver valuations (ratio) 
made by the East India Company and by the European 
States, but this had nothing to do with the system of the 
Grand Mogul. The lak was not 10,000, but 100,000. 
The dam was not an ideal, but an actual coin. When 
corrected. Gibbon's table would stand as follows : 

System of the Grand Mogul previous to 1766. 

5 tanks = 1 billon dam. 
40 dams := 1 silver rupee of 175 grains fine. 
10 rupees = 1 gold rupee, or mohur, of 175 grains fine. 
Hence, ratio 10 for 1. 

> Thomas, P. K. D., 231. 


Converted into English equivalents at the (English) 
ratio, which at that time was 15 for 1, a lak of rupees was 
worth about £10,000 ; a crore of dams £25,000 ; a crore of 
rupees £1,000,000; and an arrib of rupees £100,000,000.^ 

The history of the coinage in India, as in other 
countries, is inseparably connected with its political 
affairs. It was the spoils of Europe, gathered by 
Napoleon, that threw into the French mints the immense 
treasures which enabled their coinage to control the ratio 
of the commercial world for three-fourths of a century. It 
was the spoils of India, gathered by Clive, and coined for 
the benefit of his army, that (aided by other circumstances) 
led to the suspension of the Bank of England in 1797. 

The spoliation of India began with the operations of 
1749, and reached what might be termed its systematic 
phase after the battle of Plassy in 1757. Down to 
this time the legal-tender money of India consisted 
essentially of copper and billon coins. The demands of 
the victorious forces, now laden with the plunder of 
palaces, temples, and other receptacles, very naturally 
led to a large coinage of gold and silver. This began, 
according to Mr. William Winfred "Webb " in 1759 ; it was 
rendered effective by the coinage provisions of 1766, 
Avhich not only legalised the new issues but imposed no limit 
upon them ; in other words, they established the private 
coinage of gold and silver in the Company's mints, and 
practically demonetised copper and billon. 

This system included a gold mohur of 179*66 grains, or 
149*72 grains fine, valued at 14 sicca rupees. Both of 
these coins were made full legal tenders. The sicca rupees 
of Allum Ghir (1759) contained 175" 8 grains fine silver. 
This was also the contents of the sicca rupee struck by 
the East India Company at Calcutta.^ At 14 rupees to the 
mohur this made a ratio of 16'438 for 1. The rupees of 

1 Gibbon's Misc. Works, 4to ed., 1815, iii, 472. 
- " Currencies of Eajputana," 1893. 
5 Kellv. 

INDIA. 15 

Shah Allum (1772) contained 175 grains fine silver.^ At 
14 rupees to the mohur this made a ratio of 16'36-4 for 1. 
Both of these ratios were too high; not only for India 
but also for England, indeed, for any country at that time. 
The consequence was that the sicca rupees were hoarded. 

In 1769 the East India Company issued a new mohur of 
190' 773 grains, or 190"086 grains fine, to go for 16 sicca 
rupees. Compared with the rupees of 175*8 grains fine, 
this was a ratio of 14"81 for 1. According to Dow's 
'^ Ferishtah " (i, 37), the so-called bazaar value of silver, or 
rather the conflict ratio — between India and Europe — at 
this period, was 14 silver for 1 gold, so that even at 
14"81 the mohur was rated too high. However, na 
practical difiiculty resulted from this lack of precision, 
and the two coins circulated side by side until 1793. 

In this year (1793) the East India Company issued a new 
mohur of 190*895 grains, or 189"4037 fine, and a new" 
sicca rupee of 1 75*923 grains fine, valuing the mohur at 
16 rupees. This was a ratio of 14*86 for 1. The weight 
of this mohur is given by Harrison from the records of 
the Mint, and it agrees with that of the " Nineteenth Sun '* 
mohur published by Kelly. In this system, however,, 
the silver rupees were the only full legal tenders, so that 
the ratio of silver to gold was of no practical importance. 

The mistakes committed by the East India Company in 
endeavouring to unify the coinages of a multitude of 
native states were, perhaps, unavoidable ; but they were 
unnecessarily aggravated by the unwisdom of the Com- 
pany in soliciting the advice of Sir James Steuart,^ 
who, in his work on this subject, not only evinced entire 
unfitness to expound or apply the principles of money, but 
offered them the observations of a pedant, when they 
needed those of a statesman. It cannot be too often 
repeated that before the British conquest of India the 

1 Kelly. 

^ " The Principles of Money applied to the present state of the Coin, 
of Bengal," 1772. 


money of tliat country consisted essentially of copper and 
billon coins^ with a comparatively few multipliers of gold 
and silver. The blunder of 1766 was not so much in 
valuing gold too high^ nor in making both gold and silver 
coins sole legal tenders, as it was in making coins of either of 
these metals sole legal tenders. The practical result of this 
enactment was to demonetise the bulk of the current money 
of India, and to cause a fall of prices in that country, which 
manifested itself in a desire to obtain possession of the 
precious metals at any sacrifice and in increased exports 
of merchandise to Europe. 

The consequence was a large and steady drain of gold 
and silver from the West to pay for these exports. The 
mohurs and rupees coined at the mints of Calcutta and 
Bombay did not go to the people of India, but to the 
conquerors of that country ; and the people were left 
without the means of discharging their mutual obligations 
or of prosecuting trade, unless they procured such means 
from Europe. The British commercial statistics do not 
show the vast movement of the precious metals to India at 
this period because England was at war with France, and 
much of her trade fell into the hands of the Americans. 
Bai'on von Humboldt estimated the export to Asia toward 
the end of the last century as equal to more than £5,300,000 
per annum, and of this amount the bulk went to India. It 
will hardly be denied that such a drain as this, aggravated 
as it was by the plunder of the French armies in Europe, 
had much to do with that scarcity of the precious metals 
at commercial centres, which culminated in the suspension 
of the Bank of England ; and it cannot be gainsaid that 
if a similar blunder is committed at the present time by 
demonetising silver and attempting to inti'oduce a gold 
currency into India, it will be followed by somewhat 
similar consequences. 

In 1800 the East India Company issued a new Bombay 
mohur of 179 grains, or 164*68 grains fine.^ This coin is pub- 

^ Harrison. 

INDIA. 17 

lished by Kelly as the Bombay gold rupee of 1818. It Avas 
ordered to pass current for 15 rupees of the same con- 
tents, that is to say, current rupees of the Lucknow 
weight and standard, which Harrison gives at 165*2 grains 
fine and Kelly at 166"5 grains fine. Both the mohurs and 
rupees were made full legal tenders.^ Henceforth the 
coinages of the East India Company were all directed toward 
a unification of East India gold and silver moneys on the 
basis of a mohur of 165 grains fine, to pass for 15 rupees 
of the same weight and fineness. It would detain the 
reader too long to describe the various changes that took 
place. Suffice it to say that in 1838 this unification was 
substantially completed, and that in September, 1835, the 
mohurs were demonetised, and the Company rupee of 
180 grains, 0*91 6|- standard, or 165 grains fine, were 
declared sole legal tenders throughout all British India. 
Mohurs continued to be coined of the same weight and 
fineness as the rupees, their nominal value being 15 
rupees, while their actual value fluctuated with the price 
of gold metal. With slight interruption this system con- 
tinued until the Company's authority in India was super- 
seded by that of the British Government (in 1858), when 
the same system was adopted by the Crowu, and con- 
tinued without change until the suspension of free coinage 
for silver, 23rd June, 1893. The mohur and rupee, now 
called the Government rupee, are still struck at the same 
weight, namely, 165 grains fine. There were formerly 
many lighter rupees struck by native or Moslem I'ulers in. 
circulation, varying from 147 to 164 grains, known as 
" current rupees," which were for the most part valued 
at 0*9195 Government rupees each, but have since been 
called in and melted down. A very full and precise 
account of them is published by Kelly. 

Influenced by the native custom of private coinage 
mentioned above, perhaps also unconsciously by the 
operation of the British Mint Act of 1666, the East India 

» Kelly, 94. 



Company entertained and acted upon the delusive theory 
that money, whose volume may be limited, and metal, 
whose volume is practically illimitable, were one and the 
same thing — a delusion which is almost as rife now as it 
was then. Hence, following- the legislation of Charles 
II., it threw open its mints to unlimited private coinage^ 
levying upon such coinage only the slight seigniorage 
shown in the table below. After a series of experiments, 
commencing with the Company in 1766 and ending with 
the Crown in 1893, the government of India finally came 
to the conclusion that, in spite of the Act of 1666, there 
was a difference between money and metal, and it now 
seems determined to mark this difference by keeping the 
prerogative of coinage in its own hands and for the 
benefit of the empire at large. 

Seigniorage charged by the Mints of British India. 










Kelly's " Cambist," i, 91. 










and refining charge. 






























ss. 19 to 26 Act of 1870 repealed. 

Besides the British mints of India, there still exist 
many native ones, whose issues have not yet been sub- 
jected to British administration. These issues will be 
alluded to farther on. The currency of Barroda, 
Rajputana, Central India, and Hyderabad remains native 
to the present day, while Spanish dollars and other foreign 
silver coins still circulate in Upper Scinde^. It need 
hardly be stated that none of these native or foreign 
coins are legal tenders within the British possessions. 

It was not until after the Crown assumed the Govern- 
ment of India that any systematic issues of paper money 

' garrison. 

INDIA. 19 

took place. These began with the organisatioa of the 
Paper Currency Department, March 1st, 1862. The 
following table shows the issues each year to the present 
time in crores of rupees.^ 

Year. Issues. Year. Issues. Year. Issues. Year. Issues. 

1863 . 4-52 1871 . lOSo 1879 . 1269 1887 . 1420 

1864 . 


1872 . 

, 10-87 

1880 . 

, 13-80 

1888 . 

, 16-16 

1865 . 


1873 . 

, 12-88 

1881 . 

, 14-33 

1889 . 

, 16-43 

1866 . 


1874 , 

, 10 91 

1882 . 

, 13-90 


. 16-15 

1867 . 

, 9-96 

1875 , 

. 11-08 


. 14-50 


. 22-89 

1868 . 


1876 , 

. 11-22 

1884 . 

, 13-39 

1892 , 

. 25-44 

1869 . 10-30 1877 . 11-97 1885 . 14-54 1893 . 27-10 

1870 . 11.31 1878 . 15-05 1886 . 14-71 1894 . — 

In a former work, after noticing the extravagant 
estimates that had been made by recent writers concern- 
ing the volume of metallic money circulating in India, I 
reached the conclusion that it was very much smaller 
than is commonly supposed. Mr. James Prinsep esti- 
mated the Indian coinages from the beginning of British 
rule down to 1835 at 77 crores British and 33 crores 
native currency. Writing in 1892, Mr. Harrison regarded 
this estimate as excessive, believing that the net coinages 
could hardly have exceeded the sum attributed by Prinsep 
to British money alone. Mr. Harrison's estimate down 
to 1835 is 75 crores, of which about one-half was either 
melted down in the arts, hoarded, or exported, leaving 
38 crores in circulation as follows : — Lower Bengal, 7 ; 
Upper Bengal, 6h ; Madras, 5 ; Hyderabad, 2^ ; Punjaub, 
2 ; elsewhere, 15 — total 38 crores. He goes on to show 
that from 1835 to 1891 the net coinages were over 300 
crores, of which 77 were retained in the circulation and 
over 223 crores lost in the arts, hoarded, or exported. If 
to Mr. Harrison's 38, plus 77, crores of metallic money 
be added 30 crores for the paper circulation of 1895, Ms 
estimate will amount to 145 crores for the total money of 
all India. As to the circulation of native coins and bills 

^ Conf. 3Ion. Internationale, 1881, p. 205, and English bhie-book§. 


of exchange (liundees), this would be to a great extent 
counterbalanced by the coin and bullion " reserve " 
■withheld from circulation by the Currency Department. 

The large proportion of the Indian coinage which is be- 
lieved to have been melted down and absorbed in the arts, 
hoarded, or exported merits profound attention. From 
1766 to 1835, a period of sixty-nine years, this is estimated 
at an average of one-half of all the metal (except re- 
coinages) received at the mints. From 1835 to 1891, a 
period of fifty-seven years, it is estimated at three-fourths 
of all, or 223 out of 300 crores. The systematic. destruc- 
tion of from one-half to three-fourths of the Indian 
Measure of Value is a circumstance that, absorbed in the 
petty conceit of " unifying " moneys and measures, 
appears to have Avholly escaped the observation of Indian 
statesmen ; yet it is of far greater importance than any 
other circumstance connected with money. The follow- 
ing table shows the total supplies of the precious metals 
in the AVestern world, and the portions respectively re- 
tained for money and consumed in the arts, hoarded, 
lost, or exported to Asia since the discovery of America. 
(Continued from the author's " History of the Precious 
Metals," p. 185) : 

Total product of gold and silver in the Western world (including 
£103,000,000 obtained from Japan in the seventeenth century by 
the Portuguese and Dutch) ; the total stock of gold and silver coins 
in the Western world ; the total consumption in the arts, etc., and 
the proportion per cent, of the consumption to the product. 

Sums ix Millions of Pounds Steeling. 

Per cent, of con- 
D^jg Cumulative supplies Gold and silver Cumulative cou- sumption to sup- 
to date. stock at date. sumption to date, plies since last 


1675 509 250 259 50 

1700 592 297 295 50 

1776 1054 275 779 74 

1808 1314 380 935 71 

1828 1441 313 1128 78 

1838 1510 270 1240 82 

INDIA. 21 


Cumulative supplies 
to date. 

Gold and silver 
stock at date. 

Cumulative con- 
sumption to date. 

Per cent, of con- 
sumption to sup- 
plies since last 




































From this table it will be seen that about three- 
fourths of the total supplies have gone into the arts, or 
have been hoarded or lost, or exported to Asia. As to 
the latter we have already seen that three-fourths of 
these have also been absorbed by the arts, hoarded, or 
exported. It may be added that such exportation was for 
the most part to China, Japan, and other Asiatic States. 

As to the supplies which are likely to be derived from 
Indian hoards, upon which so much reliance is placed by 
some writers on money, the evidence submitted on this 
subject to the Indian Currency Commission of 1892 
settles the matter beyond further dispute. This evidence 
was derived from thirt}^ years^ records of the Bombay 
and Madras Mints, which show the native coins and 
ornaments, separated from other bullion, deposited at 
the mints for coinage. The average annual deposits of 
ornaments in the Bombay Mint were valued at about 27 
laks of rupees. During the famine years, 1877 — 80,. 
they rose to 148 laks a year; in good years they sink 
to almost nothing. The statistics of the Madras Mint 
are to the same effect ; the recovery of the precious 
metals from hoards in India does not exceed the pro- 
portion that it assumes in other and far richer States ; 
and this proportion is too small to be relied upon as a 
source of replenishment for the currency.^ 

' In the House of Lords, August 7th, 1893, the Lord Chancellor said 
that the evidence which was given before the Committee on the cur. 
rency question conclusively proved that there were no such hoards of 


Witli regai'd to the ratio of value between silver and 
gold in India, it appears likely, from passages in Aga- 
tharchides, Strabo, and other authors, that in very remote 
times these metals bore the same value, and were 
mingled in the coins of India, as they were down to a 
comparatively recent period in Japan ; that during the 
Vedic epoch gold was valued at four times that of the 
same weight of silver ; that during the Braminical epoch 
the ratio was 5 silver for 1 gold ; and during the Budhic 
epoch 6 for 1. But these are inferences Avhich as yet rest 
upon slight foundations, and, therefore, which must only be 
held tentatively until more certain light can be thrown 
on the subject. With more assurance it may be believed 
that from the time of Darius Hystaspes to the twelfth 
century of our era, the Eastern ratio centi-ed at about 
6| for 1. From this period to the discovery of America 
there appears to have been effected a slight but unsteady 
rise in the relative value of gold. At the period of the 
discovery the ratio in India was about 7 for 1. In the 
course of two centuT-ies it was raised to about 10 for 1, 
and so remained until the East India Company began to 
coin, when it was suddenly enhanced to about 16^ for 1, 
lowered to 14 (in 1821), and fixed at 15 for 1 in 1835, 
where it remained until the Western silver demonetisation 
of 1871-73. The details may be consulted in chapter xx. 
Since the beginning of the present century the Indian 
ratio has been made little more than a reflex of the 
European ratio. The ancient oriental value of silver is 
gone, and whatever it may be in future will depend, not 
at all upon its superior value as compared with Western 
ratios in the past, but upon what the Western nations 
may determine. The Empire of the East is ended. 

silver in India, as the Earl of Northbrook and others seemed to imagine. 
In times of emergency, no doubt, a large quantity of silver ornaments 
were pledged ; but it was equally certain that trade in silver ornaments 
had greatly depreciated of late years. 



The gold daric of Cvrus and Darius — Imitated in the Greek, Roman, 
and Sassanian coinages — The £ s. d. system also originated in Pei-sia, 
and was copied bj Eome — Coinage in Persia a sacerdotal prerogative — 
Etymology of the daric probably astrological- — The siccal, or shekel — 
The money talent — Allied to the tael and the silver thaler or dollar^ 
Confusion of the money and weight talent by modern writers — Mone- 
tary systems of Cyrus and Darius — Gold coins only struck by independent 
princes — The Pereian ratio of value between the precious metals. 

Ij^EOM the period of its foundatiou under Cyrus, 
-*- B.C. 533, to its destruction under Darius III., 
B.C. 331, the Persian (and Median) empire was almost 
cuntinuouslv at war with the Greeks. That this was not 
a mere empty contest for supremacy is evident from the 
events that marked its close. These prove that the 
struggle, though it was greatly stimulated by religious 
hatred, had for its object the possession of the land-route 
to the Orient, for it ended when that route was secured 
by Alexander. This ujonarch not only placed it under 
Greek control, but also added to it the sea-route, with its 
great emporium at Alexandria. 

The empire of Alexander and his successors of the 
Seleucidan line, in Persia, lasted until B.C. 250, when 
that country was wrested from the Seleucidge by the 
Parthian Arsacida?, whom Strabo and Justin regard as a 
Scythian dynasty, but who Arrian and the archajological 
remains indicate came of a mongrel race partly of Greek 
descent. By these kings was Persia governed until 
A.D. 226, when the successful revolt ot Ardeshir, or 


Artasliatr Babekan (Artaxerxes) grandson of Sassan,- 
terminated the Parthian dominion, and restored the 
Persian government and the Magio-Zoroastrian religion 
of Cj'rus and Darius. It is true that the Parthians were 
also Zoroastrians, but their religion, originally little more 
than piu'e deism, had become so greatly corrupted by 
Greek polytheism that it resembled its prototype even 
less than the Magian corruption of the Sassanians. 

As shown in the story of Zoroaster^, Ardeshir^s assump- 
tion of the sacred title Malkan-Malka, or Shah-in-Shah 
(king of kings), was in ill-keeping with his pretence 
of desiring to restore and purify Zoroastrism, because 
the lattei", in its purity, acknowledged no king of kings 
other than the Creator of the Universe. Beginning with 
such lofty pretences and backed by an army whose cavalry 
alone numbered 170,000, it occasions no surprise that 
Ardeshir should nest have had the temerity to make war 
upon all-powerful Eome. However, the contest (reign of 
Alexander Severus) ended without decisive results on 
either side. 

In relation to the coins of the Sassanian dynasty Noel 
Humphreys, the numismatist, and George Rawlinson, the 
historian, both commit the mistake of supposing that the 
weight of the gold coins followed that of the Roman 
aureus, whereas, in fact, both of them followed the daric 
of Cyrus. This coin contained 136 English grains stan- 
dard or 129"275 grains fine, which is also the weight of 
the Sassanian coins. The Roman aureus of Julius 
Caesar contained 131;!^ grains. The obverse of the coins 
of Ardeshir bears his portrait and the legend " By the 
Grace of God (Mazdiesn), Ardeshir, King of the Kings 
(Malkan Malka) of Persia (Airan)." The reverse has the 
flaming altar of the fire worshippers and the legend 
" Artashatr, les-dai,'' or the Incarnation of God. Some 
have " Divine (Bagi) Artashatr, King of Kings, or God- 
descended (les-dan)." His successor, Sapor I., a.i>. 
* " Storj of the Gods," chapter on Zoroaster. 


240-73 (in the early part of whose reign Armenia was 
lost to the Roman Empire), styled himself " Celestial 
germ of the gods.'^ It was this heavenly germ who 
playfully caused Manes, the apostle of Manichaeism, to 
be flayed alive and his skin stuffed with straw and 
exposed at the gate of the capital, Avhere Epiphanius 
says he saw it himself. It is very likely that the 
Eoman emperor Valerianus, who fell into his hands, 
shared a like fate. 

Down to the reign of Hormisdas II., a.d. 302—9, the 
emblems and legends of the Sassauian coins showed 
little variation ; after that they assumed an Indian 
type, with emblems of Siva and his Bull, etc. Sapor II., 
A.D. 309-79, added to his impious titles that of Almighty 
(Toham), which is the same as Nissus, one of the names 
of Budha, The line of Sassanian incarnations ended 
with les-digerd III., a youth whose celestial extraction 
failed to protect him from the sharp edge of a Moslem 
sword, beneath which he ingloriously expired, a.d. 651. 
/ Briefly speaking, the monetary system of Persia under 
its native rulers was almost identical with that of England 
at the present day. Twelve copper coins went to the 
silver shekel of about 84 grains fine, and 20 shekels 
to the gold dai'ic, making a ratio between the metals of 
13 for 1. The gold coinage was monopolised by the 
Shah-in-Shah, or sovereign-pontiff, and the tributes 
were payable in silver at the weight-ratio of 13 ; the 
Tatio in India at the same time being 6^ for 1. Rawlin- 
son's views on this subject, and those of the authors from 
whom he quotes at tedious length, are entirely at variance 
with the facts. Queipo, Mommsen and the numismatists 
generally are much more reliable authorities. 

The average contents of the 33 gold darics of early 
Pei'sia in the cabinets of Europe, Aveighed by Queipo, was 
8*342 metrical grammes, and, as corrected for loss of weight 
by attrition, 8'376 grammes, or 129-275 English grains. 
This is somewhat heavier than a raodei!U English guinea 


or American half-eagle. The average weight of 142 
Persian silver siccals, shekels, or darics was 5*444 grammes, 
or 83"96 grains. The name daric, as applied to the prin- 
cipal gold and silver coins of this period is probably due 
to the effigy of a kneeling archer, which is stamped upon, 
them, Danaus being the Indian name for that Sign of the 
Zodiac. Madden, however, thinks it comes from dari, or 
daru, the king. The name siccal, or shekel, is men-' 
tioned by Xenophon and Hesychius, the former of whom 
said the Persian shekel weighed 7|, and the latter 8 Euboie 
or Attic oboles. This obole weighed 0*71 grammes, or- 
10958 grains. Hence, the Persian shekel should weigh 
fi'om 74 to 8 times as much, or 82"185 to 87*664 grains — 
a literary conclusion perfectly sustained by the weight of 
the extant coins. As, according to Herodotus, the Persian 
ratio of value between silver and gold was as 13 is to 1, it 
follows that in the Persian system 20 silver shekels or 
darics went to one gold daric, the weights of the two- 
being dissimilar.^ 

— 5 
■' That the early Persians also used bronze coins is 

implied from their specific mention in 1 Chronicles xxix, 7,. 
their common use in the Orient and the States contiguous 
to Persia, and the facts brought together by Queipo- 
(i, 100). What relation of value such bronze coins bore- 
to the silver ones has not been determined positively," but. 
should it turn out (from the analogy of this Persian 
ecclesiastical to the other ecclesiastical systems of money 
which followed it in Egypt, Greece, and Rome) that such 

' Queipo, ii, 304. 

^ A celebrated German anViquarian (" Fortnightly Review," March,. 
1889) declares that the Babylonians used copper coins, of -which 60 went, 
to what he confusedly terms the " drachma or half-shekel." The drachma, 
contained about 85 grains of fine silver, the shekel (of Babylon) about 
83 grains, the half-shekel about 40 grains, and the five-shekel piece^^^ 
tliat which the writer probably alludes to as the drachma, or half-shekel 
— about 415 grains fine. If his surmise be well foundefl. then there were- 
12 copper coins to the shekel-, and 20shekels to the gold daric — very much 
the :5ame system as at present, ,; iMid] -yji rvid ]■ ■'<■'<■' 


relation was duodecimal, we shall be able to trace the 
well-known arithmetical proportions of £ s. d. to at least 
the sixth century before our era. 

As with many other metrological denominations, the 
talent w^as a coin or sum of money, as well as a weight. 
In the former sense it has been employed continuously 
from the most ancient historical pei'iod to the present 
time. Both Gronovius^ and Boeckh have shown, from 
ancient Greek texts, that " a weight of six drachmas 
(400 grains) of gold was called talent. ^^ " To illustrate this 
statement Boeckh goes on to show that (at one period) thi'ee 
Attic gold staters made a talent. As a general thing, 
however, the gold talent consisted of a sum of five gold 
coins of the denomination and weight of those most 
commonly used, and a silver talent of a sum of silver 
coins equal in legal value to five such gold coins. When 
the ratio was changed, the number of such gold coins as 
equalled the silver talent in legal value was changed with 
it, and this may account for Boeckh's valuation of three 

The Greeks, Sicilians, and Romans all used a gold 
talent.^ In the Roman Civil Code of the fifth century a 
certain sum of money is called a libra, and defined as 
consisting of five solidi. This was possibly also a talent. 
In the thirteenth century the talent was one of the names 
given to the golden denarius, or maravedi, of 40 to 4S^ 
grains fine, which was struck by Henry III. in 1257, and 
valued at 5 gi-oats or 20 sterlings. Dui'ing the last 
century talleros, tallaros, or talleries was a name given to. 
the 5-livre pieces, or silver dollars.* This tallero was 
used both in Egypt and Florence, for the oriental trade, 
so late as the early part of the present century, and had 
approximately the same weight and valuation as in France.^' 

1 De Pec. Vet., iii, 7. ' [ 

2 Polit. Eco^. Athen., 40. 
^ Appleton, Cyc, xv, 275. 

* Neckar's "Finances of France," London ed., 1785, iii, 74. 

* Kelly's " Cambist," i, 57, 130. 


The tael is still used in China and Japan, and it may be 
the origin of talent, thaler, and dollar. From these and 
other analogues and other circumstances, it appears that 
the Persian talent of money consisted of five darics, 
together containing, at the period of Cyrus or Darius, 
646| grains, or about 1^ troy ounces of gold. The 
Chinese tael of the present day weighs about 1^ ounces 

The weight talent greatly varied. Originating in the 
Orient, and weighing in remote times as much or more 
that the Chinese picul (133^ lbs. avoirdupois), it after- 
wards fell to a hundredweight (the kikkah of the Bible 
and quintal of modern times). The talent of Cj'rus 
probably weighed something less than the picul 
and more than the kikkah. Queipo (i, 106), following 
English metrologists, gives the Hebrew kikkah the weight 
of 93| lbs., avoirdupois. The Continental metrologists 
give lower equivalents. As to later ancient talents, for 
example the Euboic and Attic, they were lighter. The 
mean of various equivalents of the Attic talent is only 
about half an hundredweight. 

Through the blunder of mistaking the sum talent for 
the weight talent, some Biblical commentators have 
greatly exaggerated the sums mentioned in the Scriptures. 
Similar blunders have been committed by the classical 
commentators. The inhabitants of Chersonesus honoured 
the Athenian council and people with a golden garland 
"worth sixty talents, which the metrologists have decided 
to mean 1| tons ! Whereas, according to an authentic 
inscription of the period, a gold garland presented to 
the Delian Apollo at the great quadrennial festival cost 
only 1,500 silver drachmas, or about 1,000 sterling shil- 
lings, say £50 ; and must therefore have been quite 

' Boeclch, 42. 


Ancient Persian monetary system, assiimed to have been established by 
Cyrus, B.C. 533, and which, except jperhai^s as to the conjectural 
bronze coins, was certainly in use under Darius Hystaspes. Ratio 
of silver to gold 13 to 1. 

Eng. grains. 
1 silver gera of account, equal to . . . . 4"190 

12 {?) bronze coins, or 20 geras of account ^ 1 silver 

shekel, containing ...... 83'960 

20 shekels = 1 gold daric, containing . . . 129'275 
5 darics = 1 talent of money ..... 646375 

When the talent of money was of silver, it contained thirteen times as 
much, or about I5 pounds Troy weight. 

As with the Indians and other nations of an earlier, 
and the Romans of a later, date, the Princes of Persia 
only struck gold coins when they were independent. 
Thus, there are gold coins of Artaxerxes I., a.d. 226—40, 
Sapor I., 240—71, Hormisdas I., 271—3, Vararenes I., 
273-6, Hormisdas II. and Sapor II., 309-79 ; ^ but 
after the reign of Sapor III. (383-88) the kings of Persia 
ceased to strike gold — an infallible sign that they had 
become vassals of some other power.^ This power was 
indicated, at the time, by Procopius, the secretary to 
Justinian I., 527—65. '' The king of Persia is free to 
coin silver as much as he likes, but neither he, nor any 
other barbarian king, has the right (6£/^<c = Themis) to 
place his stamp or effigy on a piece of gold, no matter 
how much gold metal he may possess ; nor would such 
coins circulate among traders, nor even among the 
barbarians themselves.'^ ^ However, this position of affairs 
remained unchanged only a few years longer, until in the 
reign of Chosros I. (531—79) , it was ended by the famous 
treaty betvs^een Justinian and Chosros, a.d. 533, called 
the " Perpetual Peace," which recognised the indepen- 
dence of Persia. This event was marked by the issuance 
of gold coins stamped with the long-forbidden effigy of 
the Persian King.* 

1 Mordtmann, " Zeitschrift d. deutsch. Morgenl. Gesellschaft," viii, 146. 

3 Lenormant, ii, 426. 3 Bell. Goth., iii, 33. 

* Longperier, " Medailles des rois parses de la Dynastie Sassauide," 
pi. X, No. 4 ; Mordtmann, viii, 92, No. 288. 



Baug moneys of the Getse — CaseE used both for silver money and 
metal — Vai'ious kinds of shekels — Indian origin of the term — Dinara — 
Daric, or Darkon — Gera — Hebrew monetary system in the time of Ezra 
— Iron coins — Coinages of the Asmoneans — Silver and copper shekels — 
Extant specimens. 

"]\ /TADDENj in liis excellent work on Hebrew moneys, 
-^-^ is of the opinion that in many instances the 
references to money in the Hebrew Bible are to annular, 
or ring money, or bangs. These forms of money were 
used by all the Getse or Goths, and may have been in- 
troduced by them into Asia Minor during their invasion 
of the seventh century B.C. The svastica, a Getic symbol 
of Budhic origin, has been found in the archaeological 
remains of the Troad, and is mentioned in various works 
and essays on the subject.-* 

In accounts of the Hebrew monetary systems, not only 
have moneys been mistaken for weights, but casef, mean- 
ing generally cash, or money, has been translated literally 
as silver metal. In the Roman and Romance dialects 
the same word that means silver means also money in 
a general sense, as argentum, argento, argent, plata, 
plato, piatta, etc. When the Gotlis accepted Roman rule 
they substituted their sil, or sild, for argentum, whence 
we now have silfer, silber, siller, silver, etc. So in the 
ancient Tamil, Todu, Sanscrit, Cingalese, Persian, As- 
syrian, and Hebrew languages the same word stood for 
both silver and money : as casu, cas, karsha, cashaba or 
cashbekes, casba, and casef. The custom arose, no doubt, 
from the fact that at certain epochs silver coins were the 
principal money of the states mentioned. It is quite 

> Count D'Alviella, on " Symbols ; " London " Times," Oct. 30th, 1894. 


evident that where Abraham paid " four hundred shekels 
of silver (casef) current money with the merchant/' he 
paid coins and not bullion. " Shekels " were coins, 
*' casef " was money ; the italicised word moneij of the 
English version does not occur in the original, because 
it is not necessary, casef being sufficient ; " current with 
the merchant " is conclusive, for bullion cannot be cur- 
rent (Gen. xxiii). As to weighing the coins, all coins 
wei'e weighed before the mechanism of coinage became 
sufficiently pei'fect to detect wear, and to (practically) 
discourage clipping. That diverse coins circulated in 
Judea at this period is evident from the distinction 
made in the Levitical law between '^shekels of the sanc- 
tuary,'' "shekels of the king's weight," and others. The 
former must either have been gold shekels, or silver ones 
heavier than ordinary. The ingenious but unsound ex- 
planation that such shekels meant standard weights, and 
that shekel is derived from kesitah, the Hebrew word 
for a lamb, is met by the fact of its previous use for 
money in the Orient. Sicca is the Hindu word for 
knife, and by metonym, a mint where knife-coins were 
struck, or where coins were cut or finished with a shears, 
also coins or struck money. Hence the various deriva- 
tives, siccal, sycee, shekel, saiga, zikkah, sequin, etc., which 
flowed to Persia, China, Judea, Arabia, Gotland, Venice, etc., 
when commercial intercourse placed those countries in 
communication with India. In a similar way the word 
dinara, a sum of money mentioned in the Rig- Veda, 
which Prof. Miiller declares to be the oldest scripture 
extant, has come through Rome and Arabia to find a 
permanent resting-place in the third term of the modern 
English & s. d. 

Not only in the passage quoted, but also in Lev. 
xxvii, 25 ; 2 Sam. xiv, 26 ; ^ Ezek. xlv, 12, and other 

' In 2 Sam. xiv, '26, the weight of Absalom's hair is given at "200 
shekels after the king's weight." If, with the biblical commentators, we 
reckon the shekel as a weight of about half an ounce Troy, then Absa- 
lom's hair weighed over eight pounds, which is incredible ; the usual 


places, the wori shekel is quite plainly used for money ^ 
generally ; whilst in Gen. xxiv, 22 ; Numbers vii, 13, 
and other places it may mean a weight. In 2 Kings 
xii, 9, money is explicitly mentioned. The darics men- 
tioned in 1 Chron. xxix, 7 ; Ezra ii, 69 ; viii, 27, and 
Neh. viij 70 to 72, as " adarkonim " stand in the Englisli 
version as " drams " — a palpable corruption. These coins 
are mentioned by Heiodotus (Mel. 166) in relation to 
Aryandes, who was Prefect of Egypt under both Camb- 
ysses and Darius. The origin of the term has been 
already alluded to. As previous to the Persian epoch, 
there was a dharana gold weight, and probably also a 
dharana gold coin in India, it may have come, as most 
other monetary terms came, from India. An analogue 
is offered in the name of the month Adar. 

The Hebrew Bible mentions various moneys, as the 
gera (of which, as in Persia, 20 went to the shekel), the 
silver shekel, the gold shekel, the gold daric, and the 
talent. From these materials, aided by the weights 
of the extant darics, the denominational ratios of the 
Persian system, and the metallic ratio mentioned by 
Herodotus and corroborated by the Khorsabad Mint 
standards weighed by Oppert, we are enabled to con- 
struct the following table of Hebrew money at the time 
of Ezra, which was the middle of the fifth century B.C. 

Eng. grains. 
12 (?) bronze or iron coins (1 Chron. xxix), 7=1 silver gera 4*190 
10 geras = 1 bekah (Exod. xxxviii, 26), containing . . 41'980 
20 geras = 1 shekel (Exod. xxx, 13, 15 ; Lev. xxvii, 3, 25 ; 
Ezek. xlv, 12 ; Isaiah vii, 23, translated " silverings") 

containing 83"960 

20 shekels = 1 gold daric, or gold shekel, containing . 129*275 

5 darics = 1 talent, containing 646*375 

A talent of silver money contained thirteen times as much in weight 
as a gold talent. 

weight of a man's hair not exceeding a few ounces, and of a woman's 
rarely amounting to a pound. If, with the present text, we reckon the 
skekel as a coin, weighing about one-sixth of an ounce, then Absalom's 
liair weighed nearly three pounds— of itself sufficiently marvellous. 


These various moneys, except perhaps the bronze and 
iron coins, -were of the mintage, not of the kings of Judea, 
but of their suzerains, the sovereign-pontiffs of Persia. 
Indeed, the Jews struck no silver or gold coins, and per- 
haps no coins at all until the period of the Asmoneans, 
who struck silver coins under the authority of their suze- 
rain, Antiocbus IV, B.C. 176-64. About a quarter of a 
century later, when the Hebrews broke into revolt (years 
173 to 170 of the Seleucidan era), Simon Maccabee struck 
various silver coins (1 Mace, xvi, 6 ; and xlv, 32). Many 
of these, together with some later ones (sixty in all) were 
weighed or cited by Queipo, who believed that they were 
issued under five different systems of weights, to wit, the 
Greco-Asiatic, Ptolemaic, Olympic, Bosporic, and Attic. 
In this respect, however, he may have been mistaken. 
Their weights he arranged under eight classes, as follows : 


Eng. grains. 


Eng. grains, 

















These coins are not stamped with their denominations 
or value ; and although Queipo remarked the absence of 
any homology between their weights and that of the 
weight shekel, yet he followed the older metrologists by 
assuming that the coin shekel must weigh a weight 
shekel, and by selecting for shekels from the coins before 
him those which approached nearest to the shekel in 
weight, and regarding the others as fractions or multiples 
thereof. Hence he selected Class IV, which weigh nearly 
half an ounce troy each. As well regard the English 
sovereign as only the fiftieth of a pound of money because 
it takes fifty of them to equal a troy pound weight ! The 
selection of the half-ounce silver coin of the Maccabees 
for a shekel is objectionable, first, because the Hebrew 
shekel evidently originated in the Persian shekel, which, 
in the time of Ezra, contained but 84 grains, and in that 



of Xenophon very mucli less ; and, second, in the well- 
known tendency of coins to diminish rather than increase 
in weight. Four centuries had elapsed between Ezra 
and the Asmoneans, and the circumstances of the latter 
were not such as to render them affluent in silver ; in- 
deed, they soon after struck copper shekels. We must, 
therefore, look for the silver shekel of the Maccabees 
amongst coins of a lower weight than the shekels of Cyrus 
or Darius ; and as there is only one series of this charac- 
ter, it follows that the silver shekel of the Jewish revolt 
is indicated in the above table as Class I, and contained 
about 50 grains, or about 7| to the modern silver dollar. 
Of this class of shekels there are some half-a-dozen spe- 
cimens extant, in a good state of preservation, and un- 
questionably genuine, the heaviest of them, containing 
50^ grains, being in the cabinet of Madrid. 



Earliest moneys of Greece — Gold and silver bangs — Leather moneys- — 
Iron money of Lycurgns — Pheidon of Argos — Staters of ^liletus — Exa- 
mination of the passages in Herodotus and other writers concerning the 
antiquity of coinage in Greece — The Parian marbles — Knife-coins found 
by Schliemann at Troy— Coins of the Troezenii— The " bulls" of Theseus 
— Statement of Sophocles — Drachmas of Solon — Eatio of 10 for 1 — 
Mines of Laurium — Staters of Cyzicus — The first gold coins struck at 
Athens from the statue of Victory — Plato's monetary system — Pre- 
Solonic scale of equivalents — Solonic scale — Decadence system — Coins 
give rise to weights, and not weights to coins — Confusion of the money 
and the weight talent — The obelos, or handful, and the obolos weight. 

IT is quite possible that the earliest moneys used in 
Grreece were those bangs or rings which the Scythians 
carried alike into Egypt and Britain^ where, as to one 
country, they are sculptured on the temple of Thebes, and 
as to the other they appear in Caesar's narrative ; but there 
are no remains to support this conjecture as to Greece. 
So, too, of leather money. The Scythians who invaded 
Greece^ were freemen, who in later times were fond of 
using leather money — -a money which disdained both the 

^ As -we ascend beyond the sixth century B.C. we are obliged to confess 
that Greek history is largely fabulous. Pinkerton, Jamieson, Pococke, 
and other authors have pointed out the reason of this ; it is that Hellas 
was conquered and colonised by the Scythians, whose paternity, when 
their power was overthrown, the colonists did not care to acknowledge, 
and instead created a fictitious paternity of their own. Hence all the 
heroes of Greece were gods or god-descended ; and until the period above 
indicated we can be certain of no name. For example, Eckhel, in his 
"Prolegomena," quotes Julius Pollux to the effect that the earliest 
money of Hellas was issued by Ericthonius, king of Athens, during the 
sixteenth century B.C. Eric is a Scythian name ; Ericthonius is a myth. 


stamp of sacerdotal authority to give it currency and the 
aid of capital to supply its material.^ There is a sug- 
gestion that such money was used in very ancient times 
in Sparta." 

We shall presently adduce evidences from Homer, 
Plutarch, and Sophocles which point to the use of coins 
in the Greek states and colonies both before and shortly 
after the period ascribed to the Trojan war. Neverthe- 
less, according to the numismatists, the earliest Greek- 
made moneys of which we have any literary evidences 
are those attributed to Miletus, Argos, Sparta, and. Lydia. 
It will be convenient, before discussing these moneys, to 
allude to the ratio of value between gold and silver wbicli 
prevailed in the Orient. As shown in another chapter 
the most ancient Braminical ratio of value between gold 
and silver in India was 1 to 5 ; during the Budhic period 
it was probably 1 to 6 ; and in the sixth century B.C. it 
seems to have been 1 to 6^. Judging from the Egyptian 
ratio shown in the inscriptions of Tutmosis at Karnak^ and 
the Persian and Greek ratios of a later period, the ratio 
in the punched moneys of Argos and Miletus was 13. 
The inscribed plates of gold and silver found under the 
palace of Khorsabad — which Sargon, king of Assyria, is 
believed to have erected, B.C. 706, i.e., the plates weighed 
by Oppert, give tbe ratio in Assyria at 13, as follows : — 
The gold plate weighed 2577i English grains, equal to the 
contents of 20 gold darics (properly dharanas) of 129 
grains each ; the silver plate weighed 6769|- grains, equal 
to the contents of 80 silver shekels of 84J grains each. 
This silver plate evidently represented the Assyrian 
money-talent. As we know (from several equivalents 
mentioned in the oldest Hebrew scriptures) that there 
were 20 shekels to the daric, it follows that the gold plate 

' The Scythians used leather moneys in Novgorod, Iceland, and China. 
^ Jevons, " !lIonej and Mechanism of Exchange." 
' Brandis gives the Egvjitian ratio at 13^, and assigns it to the six- 
teenth centurv B.C. 


was of 5 talents and that the ratio was 13, or exactly 
double the Indian ratio. 

This Assyrian mint-valuation between gold and silver 
possibly dated back to the period when the Phoenician 
traders commanded the product of the Iberian silver 
mines. It bears the marks of a deliberate and permanent 
policy, which was to buy silver, or, what is the same thing, 
levy it in tributes, at the ratio of 13, and transport it for 
sale to India, where it was coined and exchanged for gold 
at double this price. The silver knife-money found by 
Schliemann at Ilium was probably made in the West, 
possibly in Greece, for the Indian trade. When, at a 
later epoch, the Greeks of Asia freed themselves from 
Assyrian control or influences, which was probably during 
the eighth century, they fixed their ratio at 10, and made 
efforts to open commercial intercourse with India by 
establishing factories, as the Veneti had done before 
them, in the Crimea and other parts of the Euxine, with 
the view of trading through Scythia and Persia. But 
they were not successful. They had trouble with the 
Scythians in the seventh, and with the Persians in the 
sixth, century, when their attempts at overland com- 
merce were definitely blocked by the conquests of Cyrus 
and the Persian adoption of the old Assyrian mint ratio 
of 13 to 1. 

The ninth century B.C. is regarded by numismatists 
as the probable era of the punched stater of Miletus, 
now in the British Museum, on which is stamped the lion 
head, sacred to Cybele. On account of its primitive ap- 
pearance, and also because of a loose construction placed 
upon certain allusions to coins in Herodotus and the 
Parian marbles, this " coin " has been regarded by some 
numismatists as the earliest '* money '^ extant. This is so 
far from being true that, as shown in my histories of money 
in China, India, Assyria, and Egypt, cast bronze money 
and coined or punched money, both gold and silver, were 
•employed in other states ages before the ninth century B.C. 


Even in Miletus metallic money — whether cast or clipped 
with a pair of shears or coined, that is to say, struck with 
a cuneus or puuch, is immaterial — metallic money, I say, 
must have been in use before the ninth century B.C. ; not 
only because Miletus was a commercial city, and could 
hardly have refrained, either from fabricating her own 
money, or else from employing the moneys of Assyria, 
Egypt, or the Orient, but also because Miletus was settled 
by Greeks, and it is all but certain that the European 
Grreeks used money before the ninth century B.C. For 
this century was the era of Lycurgus (b.c. 881), who not 
only established a numerical system of money in Sparta — 
and it must be borne in mind that a numerical system is 
a refinement of money which bespeaks a previous expe- 
rience in other moneys — he interdicted the production and 
importation of gold and silver and their use as money. ^ 
It is not contended that punched money, or the bevelled 
discs so familiar to us as " coins " were in use ; on the 
contrary, I am inclined to the belief that the archaic 
money of Greece, like that of Britain, consisted of gold 
and silver bangs, which were either hammered on the 
anvil, or cast and then stamped with that mark of 
authority which made them payable and receivable for 
debts and tributes — in a word, money similar to that of 
Kuen-Aten, the Hucsos king of Egypt, specimens of 
which have been found in recent years at Tel-el-Amarna. 
Following this were possibly globular coins like the staters 
of Miletus. That money of some sort was used in Greece 
before the ninth century B.C. is no less certain than that 
the Greeks wore shoes before that period. The stater of 
Miletus may therefore be either older or more recent 
than has hitherto been supposed. 

Now, let us briefly examine the evidences upon which 

the numismatists have relied for support of the current 

theory concerning the antiquity of certain archaic and 

undated Greek coins. The subject has much more than 

' "Hist. Monev, Ancient," p. 163; Athenaeus, vi, 23, 24. 


a technical interest ; it is related to chronology, to reli- 
gion, and to general history. 

Herodotus (Erato, 127) says that Pheidou, tyrant of 
Argos, '' introduced measures among the Peloponnesians/' 
As, according to Aristotle, who wrote about a century 
later than Herodotus, " the function of money is to 
measui'e value," and as the Greek word for measure and 
for money is from the same root {nomos), it may be held 
that this passage concerning Pheidon includes or means 
money. Even though this be admitted, the passage 
does not necessarily relate to the antiquity of money, but 
only to the period when money was introduced among 
the Pelopounesians, and this may have been some new 
kind of money and not money generally nor originally. 

A series of ancient chronological tables were discovered 
in the early part of the seventeenth century in the island 
of Paros. These were brought to England by the Earl 
of Arundel, and pi'esented to the University of Oxford, 
where they still remain. They are variously referred to 
as the Arnndelian Marbles, the Parian Chronicles, or the 
Oxford Tables. Though it is by no means certain, they 
are believed to have been engraved during the second 
centui'y B.C., and are dated backward from the year 
when Diognetus was Archon of Athens, which the 
chronologists determine to have been in B.C. 264 ; though 
on this point they differ (and consequently so do all the 
dates on the marbles) to the extent of fourteen or fifteen 
years. ^ The Arundel marbles relate that " Pheidon of 
Argos, the eleventh after Hercules, invented weights and 
measures, and struck silver money in the Isle of ^gina,'* 
631 years before the Archonate of Diognetus. This 
places the action of Pheidon in the year B.C. 895. 

It is to be observed that these accounts do not agree ; 
that Herodotus accords much less credit to Pheidon than 
the mai'bles claim, the former stating that Pheidon " in- 

' Acad. Belles Letties, xxiii, 53 ; Freret, ibid., xxvi ; Selden, Disserta- 
■iion, 1628; Prideaux, Dissertation, 1676. 


troduced " lueasures to the Peloponnesians, the latter 
averring that be " invented " both weights and measures 
and sti-uck silver money in ^gina. This island is 
within sight of Athens, whilst it is distant from Argos, 
whence it can only be reached by weathering the dan- 
gerous pi'omontory of Scyllaeum. Neither does it appear 
that ^gma was subject to Argos ; on the contrary, it 
seems at this period to have been independent. Under 
these circumstances, if Pheidon struck silver money in 
the Isle of ^gina, it was struck for him by a foreign 
state and by people who, it must be presumed, had pre- 
viously struck similar money for themselves. This car- 
ries the fabrication of -^ginetan silver money backward 
as far, at least, as the tenth century B.C. 

Elsewhere (Clio, 94) Herodotus says : " The Lydians 
were the first people on record who coined gold and silver 
into money and traded at retail." This statement — the 
first part of which is ambiguous and the last part 
erroneous — is the main reliance of the numismatists. All 
archaic coins are dated by them from Gyges, king of 
Lydia, the first of the Mermnadse, B.C. 713. It is as- 
sumed that this is the earliest money of the world. The 
fact that we possess Chinese bell-shaped and knife-shaped 
coins professing to be twenty centuries older ; that a 
bell-shaped coin of the Chinese type has been found in 
the Swiss Lake-dwellings ; that Schliemann found what 
seemed to be knife-shaped silver moneys on or near the 
bed-rock beneath Hissarlik ; that money is mentioned in 
the earliest* writings and inscriptions extant, both 
Chinese, Indian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Hebrew, and 
Egyptian ; that inscribed baug-money of Kuen Aten has 
been found at Tel-el-Amarna, and that Pollux mentions 
even Greek money of the fifteenth century B.C. — all this 
is set aside. The theorists will not have it. Herodotus 
in Clio had attributed the invention of coins to the Lydians, 
and there was an end of the matter. All coins must be 
of this or a subsequent era. Herodotus in Clio was final. 


Well, let us see about this. I have great respect for 
authority, but very little for pedantry, and none for per- 
versity. The same paragraph of Herodotus which says 
that " the Lydians were the first people on record who 
coined gold and silver/' also says, immediately after- 
wards, that during the reign of " Atys, son of Manes, 
king of Lydia," a famine occurred, to alleviate which, 
the people fasted and played games of dice, knucklebones, 
ball, and draughts every other day for eighteen years ! 
It must be evident, except to the dullest understandings, 
that this is mere fable. Atys and Manes are sacred 
names brought from India at a very remote era, and are 
about as nearly related to a distinctive or specific date 
•as is '' the eleventh after Hercules " of the Arundel 
marbles. If the Lydians coined gold and silver before 
they fasted eighteen years on dice and knucklebones, 
during the reign of "Atys, son of Manes," then they 
■coined much earlier than Gyges, for Manu, or " Manes,'' 
wrote, or was quoted, both in India and Egypt some eight 
•or ten centuries earlier. However, there is somethingr 
more to be said on this subject, and as it bears upon the 
whole system of fabulous chronology it may as well be 
said now. 

The passage in Clio is assumed to relate to the eighth 
century B.C., because it is soon afterwards followed bytlie 
narrative of the Scythic invasion of Asia Minoi', which 
occurred in the following century — an inference that would 
connect it with the Lydia of the Greeks, which commenced 
with Gyges, who reigned from 713 to 678. It is also 
assumed to relate to any and all money. But these 
assumptions and inferences are quite unwarranted. Be- 
fore it w^as colonised by Greeks, Lydia, according to 
Herodotus himself, was inhabited by Etruscans, or, at all 
•events, the race which in Ital}* was afterwards known by 
"that name. The chronicles of Lydia previous to the 
Mermnadfe extend backward to the thirteenth century B.C., 
and, therefore, so may the date of the coinages alluded to 


by Herodotus. The persistence of those commentators 
and metrologists, who rely upon this passage to establish 
the invention of money hy Gyges^ is inexplicable. Such 
a conclusion is not only unwarranted by the text, it is 
exploded by archaeological research. The passage con- 
tains no date and is very guarded. It relates only to 
states or peoples who fabricated money of gold and silver, 
to those who fabricated it by " coining " or punching 
(not cutting nor casting)^ and to those whose coinages, 
were, to the knowledge of Herodotus, of record — limitations 
which deprive this statement of all practical worth. 

Modern writers too often fail to grasp the circum- 
stances of the ancient Greek authors and the restrictions 
under which they wrote. The Athenians were inculcated 
by their priests into the old Braminical doctrine of their 
heavenly descent. They were taught that every free- 
born Atheniaii was descended from Jupiter and Apollo. 
One of the questions put to the archons upon their being 
invested with office was, " Are you a descendant of the 
gods ? "^ Although intelligent persons knew very well 
that they were not so descended, and therefore that the 
question was pi-actically " Are you a free-born citizen of 
Athens?'^ there was a very numerous class of "sojourners'^ 
and helots, who were, or were intended to be, imposed upon 
by this impious fiction, and to whom it was believed it would 
have been an unfortunate or dangerous disclosure to admit 
that anybody or anything existed before the Greeks and 
their works. Consequently Greek authors were obliged 
to claim for their countrymen, not only aboriginality, but 
the invention of every art or device known to man — of 
ploughing, of iron, of ships, of numbers, of letters, of 
money, of music, etc. Hence, although Herodotus in 
one place asserts that Egyptian priests traced their own 
chronology back 17,000 years, in another he is careful to 
assure us that the Phrygians, who were Greeks, were- 
more ancient than the Egyptians, and hence, without 
' Potter, Ant., ch. xii. 


venturing to say it explicitly — for Herodotus was a pious 
and prudent man — he permits us to draw the conclusion, 
if we are simple enough to do so, that the Greek Lydians 
were the inventors of money. The passage is not only 
defective in the respects mentioned, it is defective in other 
respects (for example, in reference to retail trade) which 
hardly demand comment ; it is contradicted by the in- 
scriptions of Tutmosis at Karnak, which relate not to 
bullion but to coins, and which, whatever their date, are 
much more ancient than the IMermuadte ; it is contradicted 
by Pollux, who mentions both Greek and Etruscan coins 
of an earlier period than that which the metrologists have 
assigned to this passage, namely, the coins attributed to 
the mythical Ericthonius and those stamped with the 
two-faced Janus ; it is contradicted by the Parian 
chronicles relating to Pheidon of Argos, who was older 
than Gyges ; it is contradicted by the opinion of orien- 
talists, who carry the invention, both of coined and cast 
money in India, to a far more remote era than either of 
these kings ; it is contradicted by Josephus {" Wars," i, 2) , 
"who says that Herod got " three thousand talents in 
money ^' from the sepulchre of king David. Finally — and 
these evidences are most conclusive — the date and con- 
struction assigned to this passage of Herodotus is quite 
I demolished by the more ancient inscribed moneys of 
I China, of which numerous specimens are extant ; by the 
' fragments of bell-shaped money found in the Swiss Lake- 
, dwellings ; by the bangs of Kuen Aten ; and by the six 
I specimens of knife-money (Indian siccals, or Levantine 
' double-shekels of due weight and fineness) found by Schlie- 
; mann under the ruins of the third or burnt city of Ilium. ^ 
But in the areopagus of the Western world it has been 
a rule of law for more than two thousand years to admit 

^ "Sica, a knife of iron," appears in .Josephus' " Antiq.," xx, viii, 10, 
and is defined in the " Institutes of Justinian," iv, 18, p. 451. It sur- 
vives alike in the sycee of China, the sicca of India, and the assegais of 
South Africa. 


110 other than Greek and Roman evidences. Although it 
has been shown over and over again that the Greek works 
which have been spared are filled with fabulous materials, 
the courts of literary appeal have invariably ruled that 
their evidence, and theirs onlv, was valid. Verv o^ood. 
We bow to the ruling of the courts, and shall proceed to 
adduce some more Greek testimony, to wit, that of Homer, 
Plutarch and Pausanias, all Greeks, all pious men, and all 
good witnesses. 

Says Pausanias (" Boeotics," 38) : " Even in the Trojan 
times they were in no want of money. This is evident from 
what Homer represents Achilles saying, in answer to the 
ambassadors of Agamemnon : 

' Xot all the wealth Orchomenus receives I' 

It is clear from hence that the Orchomenians were supplied 
with great riches at that time.-" From this passage it 
appears, not merely that Homer referred to the wealth of 
Orchomenus at the period ascinbed to the Trojan war, but 
that Pausanius, his commentator — himself a learned Greek 
antiquarian — was of the opinion that wealth here meant 
money. Elsewhere the same author [" Argolics,^^ 30) 
mentions the " ancient coins of the Troezenii, which bear 
the figure of a trident and the head of Minerva," and 
which he evidently alludes to (though not explicitly) in 
connection with the remote and mythical period when the 
Egyptian god Horus and the Greek god Xeptune divided 
the dominion of Argos between them. It is true that in 
''Laconics," 12, Pausanias savs that in the time of kingr 
Polydorus (eighth century b.c.) there were not (in Laconia) 
"any coins of silver or gold,'^ and that, forgetting that 
this was the period of Lycurgus' iron numeraries, he goes 
on to explain that trade was conducted by barter ; but 
this, and the belief that the East Indians in his own day 
were reduced to the same shift, because, as he was 
informed, they were " unacquainted with money," must 
be regarded as slips of an otherwise most exemplary 


Greek witness. The correctuess of this view is evident 
from " Messeuics/' 4, where he informs us that Polychares. 
of Laconia, who was the victor of the stadium in the 4th 
Olympiad (b.c. 760), was the creditor of Eu^phnus for " a 
sum of money," which the latter promised to " refund'^ ;, 
and lastl}', from "Boeotics," 37, where he alludes to ''an an- 
nual sum of money '^ as of a time more ancient than Hercules. 

Turning now from Pausanias to Plutarch, it must be 
premised that although his history of Theseus, the subject 
of his leading biography, is filled with many fabulous 
materials, this is no reason for doubting the reality of 
Theseus or the period of his reign, which is explicitly 
attributed in the Parian marbles to a year answering to 
B.C. 1259. Plutarch says of this Theseus : " To his 
money he gave the impression of an ox, either on account 
of the Marathonian bull, or because of Tauros, the general 
of Minos, or else because he would encourage the citizens 
(of Athens) in agriculture. Hence came the expression 
of a thing being worth ten or an hundred oxen.^^ 

Now, I contend that this testimony is quite as valid 
as that of Herodotus, and, corroborated as it is (with 
reference to the antiquity of money) by so many other 
evidences, that it is a great deal better. But this is 
not all. The Greeks were subject to the deified kings 
of Assyria and Persia more generally and for a longer 
period than their historians cared to admit. It was not 
for nothing that they called the sovereign-pontiff of 
those states " the King " par excellence. He was so- 
styled, not because he had no distinctive name, nor 
because he was the king of a great or of a contiguous 
empire, but because, like " the Sultan " of to-day, he was^ 
their king, the suzerain of numerous Greek states. 
Evidence sustaining this opinion is found in the long 
abstention of the Greeks from the coinage of gold and 
in the common currency in the Greek states of the- 
Persian daric. Sparta, who first held the hegemony of 
Greece, issued no gold coins at all ; whilst Athens, who 


succeeded her iu the hegemony, only struck such coins^ 
in an hour of need and from Phidias' gold statue of 

Fortified by these evidences of the antiquity of money- 
in the Levant, it may now be permitted to cite the 
evidence afforded by Sophocles, the contemporary of 
Herodotus. This writer, in his " Antigone,"' makes 
Creon say : '' Go, and buy if you will, the electrum of 
Sardis (Lydia) and the Indian gold.'^^ As Thucydides 
places the era of Creon about sixty years after the Trojan 
war, the dramatist evidently alluded to the electrum coins 
of Sardis and the gold coins of India as of the eleventh cen- 
tury B.C. We say '^ coins " because we have both electrum 
coins of Sardis and gold coins of India older, at least, than 
the fifth century B.C., and the former are of such artistic 
merit that it is evident that they are not archaic coins, 
but must have been preceded by others, of ruder type 
and workmanship. If by his expression '' mouey of gold 
und silver " Herodotus meant these same electrum coins, 
then his statement regarding money is still more specious 
and misleading. The allusion of Sophocles by itself 
would be of little worth. The archgeological corrobo- 
rations and the ai-tistic perfection of his era, which, both 
in sculpture and literature, boldly reflected the truths of 
Nature, lend it great interest. It not only points to the 
antiquity of money, it is still better evidence in regard 
to the antiquity of Levantine commerce with India. 
This was certainly in the hands of the Yeneti during the 
twelfth century B.C. ; for they were driven out of Pontus, 
Cappadocia, and Paphlagonia before the peroid assigned 
to the Trojan war. Previous to that time they monopolised 
the entire commerce of the Euxine, the Marotis, Tanais, 
Caspian, and Azof — waterways that cai'ried their oriental 
traders within twelve or fifteen degrees of their destina- 
tion. After that time and until they were driven out 

' The Athenians struck no gold coins before this time. 
^ Humphreys, 186. 


of lUyria by the Romans, during the third century B.C., 
the commerce of the Veneti was confined to the coasts 
of Greece and the Adriatic and Baltic seas. 

According to Boeckh, p. 28, one hundred of the new 
•drachmas of Solon, who was archon of Athens B.C. 594, 
"were equivalent to 72 or 73 more ancient drachmas. If 
this were quite reliable, then to Solon belongs the merit 
or demerit of altering the ratio from 13 to 10 for 1 ; 
because as we have some of the drachmas of Solon and 
know their contents, the proportion given would make 
the more ancient drachmas contain about 85 grains fine 
silver, the weight of the shekel. As twenty of these 
were commonly exchanged for a gold coin, which, 
whether a dharana of India, a medimni of Media, a 
daric of Persia, or a stater of the Levant, contained 
a,bout 130 grains of fine metal, the Athenian ratio, pre- 
vious to the lowering of the drachma, must have obeyed 
the ratio of Assyria, Media, and Persia, which was 13 
for 1. But, according to Queipo, who is a more reliable 
authority on the weights of coins than Boeckh, although 
we have drachmas older than Solon, they do not contain 
more than 65 grains fine silver ; so that the change of 
ratio from 13 to 10 for 1, assuming it have occurred in 
•Athens, must have taken place before Solon was archon. 
However, it is certain from the coins that the ratio under 
the administration of Solon was 10 for 1, and that it 
continued at this figure for nearly three centuries ; for it 
is impliedly mentioned by Menander, about B.C. 322, as 
being still in vogue at a recent period. During this 
interval the ratio in the Orient was 6^ or 65, and in 
Persia 13 for 1, or double the Indian ratio. 

Queipo's evidence on this subject is based on the 
weight of what he considers one of the oldest Greek 
tetra-drachmas (four-drachma pieces) extant. This he 
assigns to the seventh century B.C. It only weighs 260f 
grains, and he adds that the heaviest one extant of any 
age only weighs 266 graiiis.. So that, as before stated. 


until these denominations and weighings are overthrown, '• 
we must regard the change of the Greek ratio from 13 to 
10 for 1 as having occurred before Solon. 

Boeckh^ p. 44, also cites the anonymous dialogue on. 
Covetousness, conjecturallj assigned to Plato, in favour of 
a Greek ratio of 12, which is based on the equivalent of 
one chrysos (or stater) equals 24 silver drachmas. But 
this is not deemed a safe deduction, both because the 24> 
drachmas to the chrysos may be based on the 12^ ratio 
of Syracuse, and because the dialogue may be a forgery 
of the Alexandrian school. Indeed, this very ratio 
rather indicates the forgery, for there is no Athenian 
ratio of 12 which can be proved from the coinages pre- 
vious to the Alexandrian era. All of Boeckh^s observa- 
tions on the ratio are weakened by his inability to dis- 
tinguish between the like names of coins and weights, 
and by his misconception of the hitherto purely legal or 
ecclesiastical and arbitrary nature of this relation, as 
fixed by the mint laws of the temples. 

Croesus, king of Lydia, B.C. 560-46, and a vassal of the 
king of Persia, is believed to hare struck those Lydian 
gold coins of which some specimens are extant. As 
gold coinage was a pontifical right which was guarded 
with great jealousy by the deified Cyrus, it is not hazard- 
ing too much to conjecture that its infraction by his 
vassal provoked that invasion of Asia Minor by the Persians 
which ended with the entire destruction of the Lydian 
power. It will be remembered that a similar act on the 
part of Abd-el-Melik was assigned by Procopius as the 
reason of the war which was declared against him by 
Justinian II. 

In B.C. 540, Polycrates, of Samos, an island off the coast 
of Lydia, is said to have deceived the Spartans with false 
gold coins. Herodotus/ who repeats the story, affects to 
discredit it ; but whether true or false, it goes to prove 
that the art of forging coins was not unfamiliar to the 
» Thalia, 56. 


Greeks of that period. Nor was the art of testing coins 
a novelty, for Theognis (b.c. 570-490) informs us that 
" alloyed gold or silver is easily detected by a shrewd 
man."^ Thucydides, describing the second year of the 
great war, says : '' The Peloponnesians, after they had 
ravaged the inland parts, extended their devastations 
to those which are called the coast, as far as Mount 
Laurium, where the Athenians had silver mines/' This 
place is about fifty miles from Athens. The works, re- 
opened in recent years, show that the ore was calamine, 
full of base metal, and rather difficult to reduce. Its 
transformation into the nearly pure Greek coins of this 
period proves that the Greeks were also proficient metal- 
lurgists. In a note to this passage (p. 136) the Rev. 
William Smith follows Moyle in the assertion that '^ the 
silver mines at Laurium originally belonged to private 
persons, but were united to the public domain by Themi- 
stocles,'' whose era was b.c. 514-465. This remark con- 
veys an erroneous impression. In the sense of control, 
the mines always formed a portion of the public domain, 
but they were worked by individuals, both citizens and 
foreigners, at their own risk and for their own account, 
upon paying one twenty-fourth of the produce to the 
State. Xenophon, writing in B.C. 353, explicitly says : 
" It is very sti-ange that after so many precedents of 
private citizens of Athens who have made their fortunes 
by the mines (of Laurium), the public should never think 
of following their example.''" From this passage it is 

1 Maxims, line 119. 

" Moyle's translation in D'Avenant's works, vol. i. Xenophon wrote 
about B.C. 353 as follows : — "It may be objected that gold is at least as 
useful as silver. I shall not deny this. I shall only remark that gold, 
if it become more common than silver, would fall, whilst silver would 
vise in value." This opinion could only have been sound at a time when 
there were no laws in existence determining or affecting the relative 
value of the precious metals ; in the face of such laws, especially when 
they were enforced or commended by sacerdotal authority, the relative 
quantity of these metals, whether the quantity produced or the quantity 



quite evident that down to the time of Xenophon the 
State never worked the mines of Laurium, and there is 
no evidence that it ever did so. 

According to Pollux, half-staters, or 50-litra pieces 
(" pentakonta-litra ") in gold, popularly known as 
" damaretions,'' were struck about B.C. 480, bj Gelon, 
tyrant of Syracuse, from the jewellery which the women 
had contributed to support the w-ar with Carthage. 
Diodorus, overlooking the discourtesy that would have 
been offered by such an act, says they were coined from 
the garland of 100 talents which the Carthaginians pre- 
sented to the queen consort Damaretta on the ratification 
of peace. In 444 the chalcus or '' copper " (coin) of 
Athens was in circulation. During the age of Pericles, 
who died in 429, the drachma still contained 65 grains 
fine, a ratio of 10 for 1, and this continued during the 
whole of the Peloponnesian w^ar, 431-04.^ In 428 (87th 
Olym.) Eupolis alludes to the circulation of gold staters 
in Athens. They are next mentioned by Lysias 458-378. 
These were stamped with the effigy of the Mother of the 
Gods, and w^ere variously called stater and chrysos, the 
last being the Greek w'ord for gold. They were probably 
struck in Cyzicus. The name of chrysos suggests the 
'' christnalas '' of the Indians. None of the pieces thus 
stamped are extant." 

In 407, during the war, the Athenians melted the 
gold-copper statue of Minerva Victorious and converted 

on hand, might have no effect at all upon the ratio. Such was the case 
after the opening of Spanish America, when the world was " flooded " 
with silver; such, again, was the case after the opening of California and 
Australia, when it was "flooded" with gold. Neither of these events 
made the slightest impression upon the ratio. Xor could similar events 
have affected it in the time of Xenophon, when the ratios, both of India 
and Egypt, were fixed by sacerdotal authority, and that of Greece, if not 
also an ecclesiastical adjustment, was a necessary and unavoidable com- 
promise between the ratios of those two great empires. 
1 Boeckh. - Boeckh, 37, 38, 43. 


it into debased gold coins. These are alluded to by 
Aristophanes in his vulgar comedy of '' The Frogs/* 
first represented in 406 as '^ the vile copper coins struck 
but yesterday,'* in contrast with " the old coins proved 
by their ring/' Colonel Jordan, commenting on this 
in the "New York Financial Record," justly regarded the 
'^ old coins " as silver ones. It is true that both gold, 
silver, and copper coins had been long in use, and that 
in this very year (406) there was a new issue of copper 
coins, but the old gold coins were not of Athenian 
mintage, and the "■ old money " evidently alluded to 
silver coins. We know of no lowering of the silver 
coins until about the year 360, when the drachma was 
diminished to about 63^ grains fine. Timotheus, who 
died in 354, issued highly over-valued copper coins in 
place of silver ones, but this was only a temporary 
resource, and these copper coins appear to have been 
afterwards redeemed and withdrawn.^ 

According to Boeckh (pp. 37, 38, 39), Demosthenes, in 
his speech against Phormion, said that the gold staters of 
Cyzicus were worth 28 silver drachmas '' at the Bos- 
phorus." If the full-weighted Attic drachma is meant, 
this would imply a ratio of 14j, as follows : — 28 x 63 = 
1778-1-125 (the weight of the Cyzicene stater) = 14|. 
But such a ratio is impossible, because the Cyzicene ratio, 
contemporary with the Athenian drachma of 63| grains, 
was 10 for 1, as follows : — 20 silver Cyzicene drachmas, 

• The statue of Minerva Victorious was executed by Phidias, and 
during the war, when the democracy of Athens vented its ill-humour in 
satirical literature, it was intimated not only that the artist had seques- 
tered some of the treasury gold provided to construct it, hut also that 
Pericles had shared in the embezzlement, and had urged on the war in 
order to avoid an investigation into the matter. This charge appears in 
Aristophanes' comedy of " The Peace." With a stain of such a character 
resting upon the statue, it is less difficult to understand why the Athenians 
made no opposition to its being melted down. Its weight (exclusive of 
the alloy) was forty talents, or somewhat over a ton (Thucydides> 
Book ii). 


each of 622 grains = 1 gold stater of 125 grains. 
Queipo reads " of the Bosphorns/' instead of " oi," but 
this does not meet the difficulty, for 28 x 62^ = 1750 -7- 
125 = 14, which, for a ratio between silver and gold at 
this period, is almost as bad as 14^. The true explana- 
tion lies in the fact that after the campaigns of Alexander 
and during the eras both of Demosthenes and Menander, 
the Cyzicene ratio was changed by decree to 12 for 1. 
Under this legislation the Cyzicene stater commanded 24 
of the old Cyzicene drachmas, or else 20 new ones of about 
75 grains, thus 125 x 12 = 1500-4-20 = 75. It also 
commanded 28 Athenian di'achmas of about 53| grains 
each. Although pieces so light as this were much more 
common at -^gina, there is not the slightest doubt that 
the}^ were also struck at Athens, for we have some of 
them yet, and a few, in an excellent state of preservation, 
as light as 50 grains.^ These were most likely the coins 
to which Demosthenes alludes. 

After descending to this point the Athenian drachma 
again I'ose to the old weight, not from any increase in 
the supplies of silver, or any improvement in the fortunes 
of the State, neither of which circumstances occurred, 
but simply from the fact that Alexander the Great had 
seen fit to change the ratio to 12, and that his power 
and authority, or the influence of his conquests, compelled 
all the Greek states to obey his command or follow his 
example. This ''deity" struck staters of 132-| down to 
131 A grains, and ordered the tributes to be collected in 
these coins, or else in silver weighing 12 times as 
much. After this, and under the circumstances, the 
Athenian drachma, at 20 to the stater, was no longer pos- 
sible without a new coinage, and this was impracticable. 
The onl}^ other alternative was to reckon the drachma at 
24 to the stater; and thus the score, the last fragment of 
the old Braminical decimals, was effaced from the Greek 

* Finlay, " Eom. and Byz. Money" ; Queipo, " Systeme Grec," sec. 280. 


coinage valuations, not to be restored until a mucli later 

The alteration of the ratio by Alexander can hardly be 
dated before the destruction of Thebes in 334, and was 
probably not promulgated before 332. It was possibly 
not adopted in Athens until shortly before the death of 
Demosthenes, Avhich occurred in 322, 

The "Laws" of Plato were composed in either 348 or 
849, but it is evident from the rudeness of the diction and 
the conrseuess of thought which pervades many passages^ 
as well as from other circumstances, that they were 
"amended" by some writer of the Alexandrian school. 
In thus corrupting it the whole text of the work was evi- 
dently rewritten, and although the passage we are about 
to quote was probably penned by Plato himself, the absence 
of technical knowledge on the part of the transcriber has 
cast it into a coarser mould than the original. It occurs 
in Book v.^ 

" Further, the Law (of the Ideal Republic) enjoins that 
no private individual shall possess or hoard gold or silver 
bullion, but have money only fit for domestic use, such as 
is necessary for dealing with artizans and servants, so- 
journers," and slaves. Wherefore our citizens should 
have a money current among themselves, but not accept- 
able to the rest of mankind. For foreign expeditions, 
journeys, embassies, the expenses of heralds (abroad), and 
such matters, the Government must also possess a fund of 
coins current in other States. When an individual needs 
to go abroad let him obtain consent of the archon and go; 
but on his return, if he has any such money remaining, 
let him deposit it in the treasury and receive an equiva- 
lent sum in local money. If he is discovered to have con- 
cealed it, let it be confiscated, and let him who knows and 

^ See vol. V, p. 313, of Jowett's translation for a more literal version. 

2 This term, which Dr. Jowett rather ambiguously translates "immi- 
grants," occurs as "sojourners" in the "Acharnians" of Aristophanes, 
and in several places in Thucydides. See Smith's ed. pp. 108, 117, 125. 


does not inform, be subject to anathema and dishonour 
equally with him who brought the mone}^, and also to a 
fine not less in amount than that of the universal money 
which has been brought back." 

It is fairly deducible from this passage that even before 
the change of ratio by Alexander, the disorders of mone- 
tary systems had made a deep impression upon the Greek 
philosophic mind. The Athenian money, barring a few- 
coppers, was composed of gold and silver coins. If we 
leave out the copper-gold staters of the year 407 and the 
copper drachmas of the year 354 (temporary expedients) 
the Athenian coins had always been noted for their purity 
and full weight ; and even when, after the era of 
Pericles, they began to be degraded or lessened in weight, 
they were not debased or lowered in fineness. The dis- 
orders which led to the suggestion of so radical a remedy 
as is contained in this passage from Plato were due 
chiefly to the ratio between gold and silver. From the 
moment of their liberation from Persian authority down 
to nearly the third century, the Hellenic States had main- 
tained a constant ratio of 10, and that, too, in the face of 
a powerful neighbour, who demanded his tributes in silver 
at the rate of 13, in order that he might sell this silver 
in India with cent, per cent, profit. This dissonance of 
ratio gave rise to much disorder and probably to numerous 
local losses in the buffer States which separated Persia 
from Greece, as they fell alternately beneath the sway of 
these belligerent rivals. Not only this, but it gave I'ise 
to hostile ratios in other directions, as in the coinages of 
Sicily. Plato's remedy was a noji-exportable currency ; 
the expedient resorted to at the present day for q, similar 
disorder has been to demonetise silver. This will cer- 
tainly remedy the disorder of the legal ratio, because it 
will destroy it altogether ; but will it not, at the 
same time, introduce a greater evil by reducing to a 
moiety the stock on hand of the material of wliich coins 
are made ? 


The scale of Greek monetary equivalents commonly 
adopted by numismatists and metrologists is 7 lepta = 1 
chalcus ; 8 clialclii = 1 obolus ; 6 oboli = 1 drachma; 
20 drachmas = 1 stater ; 5 staters = 1 mina ; 60 minas 
= 1 talent, and the talent from half a quintal to 72 
pounds weight of silver. This system Boeckh applies 
not only to Athens, but to " almost all the Hellenic 
States, even those which were not in Greece but were 
of Hellenic origin." It is strangely defective. It em- 
braces in one system the coins of different ages ; it fails to 
distinguish coins that were issued at the ratio of 10 from 
those which were issued at the ratio of 12 ; it mistakes 
weights for coins, and the talent, which here was a 
sum of silver coins, for a weight or a sum of gold ones. 
Following the metrologists the biblical critics have valued 
the mone}^ talent at £187 10s. to £342. Its true value 
was about £5. 

Leaving out of view for the present the copper coins 
lepton and chalcus, the most ancient equivalents of money 
iu the Greek States were 5 silver oboli = 1 silver drachma 
of about 85 grains fine ; 20 drachmas = 1 gold daric, or 
chrysos, of 130 grains fine ; 3 chrysi = 1 talent of 60 
drachmas containing 5,280 grains of coined silver. (Pol- 
lux distinctly, and in two places, says 3 chrysi to the 
talent.) The ratio in this system was 13 for 1. 

In the Solonic system the equivalents were 5 silver 
oboli = 1 silver drachma of about 65 grains fine ; 20 
drachmas = 1 chrysos, or gold stater, of 130 grains fine; 
5 staters = 1 talent of 100 drachmas containing 6,500 
grains of coined silver. Ratio 10 for 1. 

In the decadence system of the fourth century B.C., 
the equivalents were 6 silver oboli = 1 silver drachma 
■of 63^ grains fine ; 24 drachmas = 1 gold stater of 
127 grains fine; 5 staters = 1 talent of 120 drachmas 
containing 7,620 grains of coined silver. Ratio 12 
for 1. 

Boeckh says, "I agree with Gronovius that a weight 


of 6 gold drachmas was called talent." ^ This is a 
double error. First, altbougli it is quite possible that 
Gronovius is riglit in supposing that, at some time or 
other, the talent was worth 6 staters, this valuation does 
not appear to belong to the periods under review. Origin- 
all}' the talent was worth 3 ehrysi, afterwards 5 chrysi. 
Second, it was not the weight but the value of the gold 
pieces that w-as " called talent." The Greeks were among 
the largest producers of silver ; they gave its name ta 
money generally ; they always counted in silver money ; 
and when the denomination was omitted silver drachmas 
were meant. The talent was originally a sum of 60, 
then 100, nnd then 120 silver drachmas, and its weight, 
derived from these numbers and weights and not from 
those of the foreigfn g-old coins in which its value was 
sometimes expressed, was successively 5,280, 6,500 and 
7,620 grains. Like the penny-weight and shilling-weight 
of the Tudor pieriod in England, the money talent was 
(if regarded as a weight) derived from coins, and although 
not itself a weight, in time it became a progenitor of 
weights — for example, of the Roman libra and the avoir- 
dupois pound. In short, these last-named weights, whose 
origin the metrologists have long sought in vain, arose 
teleologically from the Indian siccal, multiplied by some 
function of the ratio of value fixed from time to time 
between gold and silver in Assyria, Persia, and 

* The "golden drachma" was a name sometimes given to the chrysos 
or stater. I fancy that " medimni," used by Plutarch in reference to the 
institutes of Solon, was another, perhaps the original, name for these- 
coins (Potter's " Ant. Gr.," i, 14). 

^ Observe the confidence of a borrowed theory. Says Mr. Charles 
Rann Kennedy, "Orations of Demosthenes," Appendix ii : "Money (as 
is well known) has always been founded on a system of weight." I 
should put it quite the other way, and say that : From a study of the- 
monetary laws and numismatic remains of ancient states, precise weights 
appear to have originated from coins. Stater, talent, pound, penny- 
weight, etc., are terms which point to such an origin. 


Elsewliere I have pointed out some of tlie blunders 
into wbicli metrologists and writers on money have been led 
by confusing the sum talent with the weight talent, but I 
cannot resist adding one more to the number. The garland 
presented by the Carthaginians to Queen Damaretta of 
Syracuse was probably of thin beaten gold, fit for wearing 
on the head. It cost 100 talents.^ In Athens this sum 
was equivalent to 10,000 silver drachmas, or (in gold), 
500 staters, each stater being of about the weight of the 
modern English guinea or American half-eagle. But, 
according to the scale of the metrologists, 100 talents 
weighed 50 quintals, or between two and three tons 1 
The sword that was afterwards suspended from the same 
throne over Damocles was but slight torture compared with 
the head-dress in which the metrologists have arrnyed the 
good Queen Damaretta. It is true that one of them says, 
*' When golden garlands of many talents are mentioned, 
no other talent but such as these (each of three staters) 
are meant."" Yet elsewhere this same metrologist falls 
into the old blunder and treats the talent o£ money as 
a talent weight of silver. 

In A.u. 566 (b.c. 187) a treaty was concluded between 
Rome and Antiochus III., of Syria, by which that " deity '' 
stipulated, among other things, to pay " 1 2,000 talents of 
silver of the proper Attic standard, the talent to weigh 
not less than 80 Roman pounds. '^^ Here, evidently, the 
talent means the weight talent, but this was not always 
the case in ancient writings. It frequently meant the 
sum of money indicated in the foregoing scales of equi- 
valents, just as now a sum in " pounds " means so many 
gold coins ['' sovereigns '') and not so many pounds weight 
of gold. 

Gibbon, who alludes to the crowns presented to the 

Empi'ror Claudius by Tarragonese Spain and Gaul, one 

of si'ven hundred pounds, the other of nine hundred 

pounds, was obliged to invoke the learned Lipsius to 

* Diodorus, xi, 26. - Boeckh, 41. ^ Livj, xxxviii, 38. 


explain away what, if regarded as a weight, was evidently 
a blunder.^ 

We now come to the copper coins of Greece. Boeckh 
(p. 766) associates the chalcus and lepton with the name 
of Dionysius the Brazen, b.c. 444, but this appears to 
be a mistake. There was indeed a chalcus at that 
period, but the lepton seems to beloug to the Alexandrian 
era. The chalcus was probably most anciently 5 to the 
obolus, then 6, and finally 8. The lepton was 7 to the 
•chalcus. The original quinquennial relations of the 
chalcus, obolus, and drachma, which found their proto- 
types in those of the Indian retti and masha, were not, 
until a later period, disturbed with such inharmonious 
fractions as the one-seventh and one-eighth valuations of 
the Greek copper coins. 

Finally, it must be observed that all the Greek coins 
had significant names. The gold coin was called a stater, 
or standard, not because the Greeks regarded gold coins 
as better than silver ones — on the contrary, their prefer- 
ence was for silver coins, the product of their own mines — 
but because, owing to the sacerdotal character of gold in 
the Indian, Assyrian, and Persian religions, the weights 
of the gold coins used in the Greek States were kept 
constant, and the Greeks had to adjust their silver ones to 
those changes of the legal ratio which necessity or national 
polity enjoined. In other words, the daric was of a con- 
stant weight ; the drachma was not. The name of this 
silver coin means a handful. Aristotle (ap. Poll., 9, 77) 
says that this handful formerly consisted of six copper, or 
iron, obeloi. But this could not have beeii much before his 
own time, because anciently the obolos was made of silver. 
Obelos means a digit (and therefore a finger), a needle, a 
nail, or anything long and thin, as obelisk, which is from 
the same root. Some ancient authors reckon 10 grains 
to the obolos weight" — an equivalent evidently related to 
the ten fingers of the hands. It was also the name of 
' " Decline and Fall," ii, 72, note. " Webster. 


the smallest silver (afterwards a copper) coin, and is 
doubtless due to the fact that the " handful" of five 
fingers constituted the drachma. The translator of 
Aristotle makes him say that the Greeks formerh* used 
nails for money. Unless he alludes to the metonj-m for 
fiuger-nails, he might as well have said needles, or 
obelisks. The usual Greek word for finger was 
dactulos, from which are derived dactyle, digit, doight 
(Fr.), deut (D.), and doit (old Eng.), the last, like the 
primitive obolos, being the smallest coin of the time, and 
meaning, as the obolos did, a finger, or one-fifth of the 
handful. Chalcus Tiieans literally a copper. Lepton 
means small, and the lepton of a later period derived its 
"name from the fact that it had followed the obolos and 
■chalcus in constituting the small change of the Greek 
xnonetar}" system. 



Supposed silver coins of Servius TuUius — " Eoraano " coins — A.r. 369, 
the Xummulai-y system — A.r. 437, Scrupulum system of gold and silvei"- 
"Roma" coins — A.r. 485, Centralisation of silver coinage and change of" 
ratio — A.r. 537-47, System of the Lex Flaminia — A.r. 663, The Social 
War ; coins of the Italiotes ; concession of citizenship ; centralisation of 
money at Rome — A.r. 675, System of Sylla — Systems of Julius Caesar — 
Augustus — Caligula — Attempted revival of the Republic — Galba — Otho. 
— Caracalla — Aurelian — Diocletian — Constantine — Arcadius and Hono- 
rius — The Byzantine systems down to the Fall of Constantinople in a.d.. 
1204 — The "Western Systems — Clo-\-is — Pepin — Charlemagne. 

O IXCE the -writing of my " History of Money in 
*^ Ancient States " many hoards of Roman coins- 
have been discovered, and many important numismatic- 
works have been published and discussed. These throw^ 
so much new light on the Roman monetary systems that 
the subject needs revision. The present chapter is an 
essay in this direction. 

I must begin by assigning a lower value to the monetary 
evidences contained in Pliny's " Natural History " than was. 
done in my former work. Pliny was far from being well- 
informed on the subject of Roman money. He wrote- 
hundreds of years after the establishment of those- 
earlier monetary systems of Rome, whose metallic remains 
have been preserved by the earth to the modern world^ 
but of which no collections appear to have existed in his- 
time. His observations on the subject are gathered 
rather fi-om grammatical than historical works, of which, 
owing to the proscriptions of Augustus, but few were- 

ROME. 61 

extant in Pliny's time. When to these difficulties, which 

interposed themselves between the Roman encyclopedist 

i and the knowledge which he attempted to acquire and 

. preserve, are added the difficulties of an ecclesiastical 

[ and imperial censorship, deeply interested in conserving 

I the religion, history, and chronology invented and 

I bequeathed to it by Divus Augustus, the wonder is, not 

that Pliny missed, but that he secured so much on this 

' subject as is to be found in his work. Hence, I have 

treated his observations with almost reverential deference, 

and have only put them aside where they are contradicted 

by the numismatic remains or other archaeological testi- 

; monies. 

It has long since been demonstrated that the ecclesias- 
tical and political history of Archaic Rome is fabulous. 
To this must now be added its early monetary history. 
That, too, is fabulous. It is quite possible that the earliest 
money of Rome was the ace grave, or heavy copper 
brick, held as a " reserve," but " represented " in the 
circulation by leather notes. ^ It is also possible that this 
was followed by the ace signatum and afterwards by 
silver coins. According to Charisius, Varro wrote : 
" Nummum argenteum conflatum primum a Servio Tullio 
dicunt; is quatuor scrupulis major fuit quam nunc est."^ 

' Ace is thus spelled by the earlier numismatists, and is preferable to 
As. It comes from the Sanscrit ayas, meaning totality. The Romans 
used the word to designate any congeries (Gaston L. Feuardent, in 
"Am. Jour, of Numismatics," 1878). The Tarentines gave the same 
meaning to this word and employed it in similar ways, but spelled it 
i Eis. The same word, bearing the same meaning, found its way from 
i India across the steppes of Russia to the Baltic, where it is still found in 
the les or Jes of the Netherlands (see chajDter xvii). The leather notes 
of archaic Rome are mentioned by Seneca : " Corium forma publica per- 
cussum." Consult my " Hist. Money in Ancient States " for further 
information on this subject. Some authors trace the les to Janus, whose 
face was stamped on the coins. 

^ The grammarian Charisius, a.d. 400. Institutionum Grammaticse, 
: cited by Scaliger, " De Re Nummaria," ed. 1616, p. 42. Queipo, ii, 17. 


" It is said that silver money was first made (conflatum 
means, literally, melted or cast,) by Servius Tullius. It 
was more valuable (or heavier) by four scrupulums than 
it is now." Yarro wrote during the Augustan age, when 
the denarius contained about 60 English grains of silver; 
but as he was a bookworm, who gathered his knowledge 
chiefly from ancient authors, these circumstances go for 
nothing. The silver coins, alluded to by his authorities 
as of the present time, " now," were probably the 
denarii of a.u. 437, mentioned by Pliny (xxxiii, 13), 
which weighed 78| grains, or five grains more than 
Pliny's inexact " six to the ounce " weight. At that 
period a scrupulum (as we shall presently see) meant a 
tenth of anything ; so that Varro's statement merely 
amonnts to this, that the most ancient silver coins of 
Rome were worth four-teuths more than the new ones, 
namely, those issued after the decline of the nummulary 
system.^ The Due de Luyues had a number of very 
ancient Roman silver coins in his cabinet, which, relying 
upon this text, he attributed to the reign of Servius 
Tullius ; but numismatists, while admitting their genuine- 
ness, are not disposed to credit them with such great 
antiquity. Xay, even the existence of Servius Tullius 
has been disputed. Upon a review of all the evidences 
connected with this difiicult matter, it seems that the 
Romans struck silver coins at a much earlier date than is 
commonly believed, that is to say, befoi-e a.u. 437, indeed, 
before the nummulary system, which preceded that of 
A.u. 437. The order of systems was, therefore, as follows : — 
1. Ace grave, with leather notes; 2. Ace signatum ; 
3. Silver (and copper) system mentioned by Varro, the 
silver coins (denarii) weighing each about 118 grains, 
many specimens of these coins being still extant ; 4. 
A.u. 369, nummulary system ; 5. a.u. 437, gold, silver, 
and copper system, the silver denarius weighing 78| 

' Queipo, table lix, gives the weights of some of these heavy denarii. 

ROME. 63 

When these last-named coins became the principal 
circulating medium of the Roman State^ some of the 
more ancient denarii mentioned by Var^o^s authorities, 
and rescued from subterranean hoards, may have again 
crept into circulation, when they were valued at 1-j^ 
denarii each ; because, although they contained 50 per 
cent, more silver than the current denarii, they were 
antiquated, and fit only for recoinage, which involved the 
loss of a tenth or twelfth for seigniorage. This hypo- 
thesis disposes of the passage preserved by Varro and 
Charisius. It was probably taken from Timteus, and 
simply meant that ten of the ancient silver coins passed 
current for fourteen new denarii.^ Similar valuations are 
to be found in all ages and countries, many of them in 
the coinages of the present day. 

With regard to the Janus-faced circular copper coins, 
which Lenormaut ascribes to the period of the Gaulish 
invasion, A.u. 369, or B.C. 384, it is to be observed that 
although these pieces are now regarded as aces, they may 
have been nummi, afterwards called sesterces, or pieces 
of 2| aces, the figure ''I" upon them signifying one 
nummus instead of one ace, as has been commonly sup- 
posed. That these coins were connected with the num- 
mulary system of the Republic there can hardly be a doubt. 

Both the examples of the Greek Republics and the 
writings of Plato and other philosophers had taught the 
Romans the advantages of a limited and exclusive system 
of money issued by the State, and having little or no 
worth other than what it derived from its usefulness and 
efficiency in measuring the value of commodities and 
services. The proof that the Romans were familiar with 
such a system of money appears in the writings of Paulus, 
the jurisconsult, who enunciated its principles long after 

' With regard to the practise of seigniorage on Roman coins, Neibuhr 
denies, while Boeckh affirms it. The coins prove that the hxtter is right ; 
but neither of these eminent savants seemed anxious to discuss the 


the system had ceased to exist. Had no such system 
ever existed in Rome, Paulus would have had no warrant 
in the Roman law for the monetary principles he laid 
down. As felted paper was unknown, the symbols of 
this system could most conveniently be made of copper. 
Therefore, the means necessary to secure and maintain 
such a money were for the State to monopolise the copper 
mines, restrict the commerce in copper, strike copper 
pieces of high artistic merit, in order to defeat coun- 
terfeiting, stamp them with the mark of the State, render 
them the sole legal tenders for the payment of domestic 
contracts, taxes, fines, and debts, limit their emission 
until their value (from universal demand for them and 
their comparative scarcity) rose to more than that of the 
metal of which they were composed, and maintain such 
restriction and over-valuation as the permanent policy of 
the State. For foreign trade or diplomacy a supply of 
gold and silver, coined and uncoined, could be kept in the 

There are ample evidences that means of this character 
were, in fact, employed by the Roman Republic ; and, 
thei-efore, that such was the system of money it adopted. 
The copper mines were monopolised by the Roman 
State, the commerce in copper was regulated, the bronze 
nummi were issued by the State, which strictly monopo- 
lised their fabrication, the designs were of great beauty, 
the pieces were stamped " S. C.,^^ or ex senatus consulto ; 
they were for many years the sole legal tenders for pay- 
ment of contracts, taxes, fines, and debts ; their emission 
was limited, until the value of the pieces rose to about 
five times that of the metal they contained,^ and they 
steadily and for a lengthy period retained this high over- 
valuation. The equivalent of four aces signata to the 
nummus probably mai'ks the period when the nummus 
was worth four times its weight of copper, for the ace 
signatum was merely so much metal to the Romans of 
' " History of Money in Ancient States," 257. 

EOiVlE, 65 

this period, thougli it may have had a superior value to 
the Etruscan and other surrounding nations. The equiva- 
lent of two and a half aces sig-nata to the uummus pro- 
bably marks a further decline in the value of the latter. 
When the nummulaiy system broke down entirely, the 
nummi, which had successively been worth 5, 4, and 2^ 
aces each, fell to the value of 1 ace, and were thence- 
forth themselves known as aces. The decadence of this 
system, that is to say, the precise period when the 
nummus fell to the value of an ace, is uncertain. If we 
permit ourselves to be guided by Livy, it was when, the 
soldiers^ stipend {" there being no silver coined at that 
time ") being paid in bronze coins, the immense quantity 
required for the army was conveyed to it in waggons ; 
in other words, in the year a.u. 402. The introduction, 
or rather the re-introduction, of silver coins into the 
monetary system of Rome must, therefore, with the 
greatest probability, be dated between a.u. 402 and 
A.u. 437.^ 

Livy (vii, 16 ; xxvii, 10) mentions a tax called aurum 
vicesimarium enacted a.u. 397 — an expression which 
implies the use of gold money in Rome at that early date, 
or, what is more likely, at a still earlier one. This implica- 
tion dei'ives corroboration from what we shall presently 
have to say concerning the " Romano " coins. 

Lenormant (i, 316) holds that " it has been established 
by Mommsen beyond all question that, with perhaps one 
exception, there exist no gold coins of the Republic but 
such as were struck by its military generals in the field, 
or at least elsewhere than in Rome." The exception 
relates to the aureus of Cn. Lentulus, and even this, it 
is claimed, was not struck under his civil authority as 
monetary triumvir, but as urban quaestor, specially com- 

' Livy, iv, 60. A similar coinage of silver took place in China in 
1845, where a somewhat similar system of bronze numeraries had existed, 
and where," by the way, it still exists (H. M. A., 43). At the present 
time (1895) silver is being again coined in China for soldiers' pay. 



missioned to provide for tlie expenses of a war. This 
opinion is based ratlier upon a theory tlian a fact. The 
theory is that the Roman coins of the Republic were 
struck by virtue of the imperiutn, that is to say, a military 
rather than a State prerogative. The answer to this 
theory is that there was and could have been no pre- 
rogative of the imperium other than that derived from 
the State. 

What was the irapeinum ? Supreme military com- 
mand : the right to do whatever was deemed essential to 
achieve military success. This right sprang from the 
people. In the most ancient times it was conferred by 
the Comitia upon the king after they had elected him, 
and by virtue of his office.^ When the monarchy was 
overthrown the people annually elected two supreme co- 
ordinate magistrates, into whose hands were committed 
all the powers of the State, including the imperium. 
These were acquired and exercised by virtue of their 
office. For this reason the consuls were sometimes called 
imperatores.^ When a general in the field had obtained 
a notable victory, it was customary for the troops to hail 
him by this proud title ; but it could not be retained after 
the ti'iumph or the return of the victorious commander to 
the city. There it fell, of course, to the consuls by 
virtue of their office.^ It follows that after the Comitia, 
the powers of the imperium were derived from the 
consuls, and were subject to modification or revocation by 
them. No doubt many of the Roman commanders, during 
the period of the Republic, struck coins in the field in 
order to melt down and divide the spoils or pay the 
troops, but such coinages were, legally, as completely under 
control of the State as though they had been made in 
Rome. Indeed, without such legal control and supervision 
it would have been impossible for generals in the field to 

1 Niebuhr, i, 288 ; Carr, " Roman Ant.," 108. 

^ Adams, " Roman Ant.," 91, and authorities cited. 

3 Adams, 322. 

EOME. 67 

adjust their gold coinages with such nicety to the weights 
of the silver coins and the ratios of value established by 
the State from time to time between the precious metals, 
as appear from a due consideration of the coinage systems 
of this era. Moreover, at the period alluded to by 
Mommsen, the State had but recently emerged from the 
use of a bronze currency system, whose efficiency and 
value had depended largely upon the limitation of its 
issues by the State, which was, therefore, not likely to 
have parted with this supernal prerogative. This system 
had broken down, not from any inherent defect or im- 
practicability, but owing to the circumstances of a war 
which took place upon Roman soil and threatened the very 
existence of the Republic. Finally, if there was a de- 
partment of the government which, more than any other, 
enjoyed the prerogative of coining gold, it was the pon- 
tificate rather than the imperium, for in the ancient times 
gold was always held to be a sacred metal, and upon it 
was stamped, not so much the emblems of war as of religion. 
But that; the Roman coins were struck by pontifical au- 
thority does not appear to have been suspected by the 
learned Prussian. 

When Mommsen's imperium argument is applied to the 
affairs of the Empire, it flies in the face of the most illus- 
trious witness whose testimony has been preserved to us 
from antiquity. Says Tacitus : *' Besides the honours 
already granted to Bleesus, Tiberius ordered that the 
legions should salute him by the title of imperator, ac- 
cording to the ancient custom of the Roman armies in 
the pride of victory, flushed with the generous ardour of 
warlike spirits. In the time of the Republic this was a 
frequent custom, insomuch that several at the same time, 
without pre-eminence or distinction, enjoyed that military 
honour. It was often allowed by Augustus, and now by 
Tiberius for the last time. With him the practice ceased 
altogether." ^ From this passage we learn that during 
1 Tacitus, " Annals," iv, 74. 


the Empire the title of imperator, and with it necessarily 
such prerogatives as belonged to the imperium, were 
granted Idv the order, permission, or clemency of the 
sovereign-pontiffsj and that Tiberius granted it for the 
last time. These replies to the argument of the Prussian 
savant are strengthened bythe legendsuponthe'''Romano^^ 
coins presently to be mentioned. 

The earliest Roman silver coins which are still extant 
in any number belong to two series, stamped respectively 
" Romano " and " Roma." Numismatists generally attri- 
bute both of these series to the mints of Capua and other 
cities of Campania, which were then included in Magna 
Graecia. They date the ''Romano" coins from a.u. 412 
to 543, and the " Roma " coins from a.u 437 to 543. 
Before givinof their reasons for these attributions and 
dates, I must be permitted to say that several circum- 
stances induce me to regard the " Romano " coins as of an 
era previous to the Roman nummulary system ; in other 
words, that the silver coins of the "Romano" series are 
embraced in the heavier and earlier denarii alluded to by 
Varro. (1.) Many of them weigh half as much again as the 
•' Roma " coins_, and, for this and other similar reasons, 
could hardly have belonged to the same system. Babelon 
saw this objection, and attempted to avoid its force by sup- 
posing the ''Romano" denarii to be Greek di-di-achmas,but 
our chapter on Greek moneys proves that the explanation 
is defective. The " Romano " coins are not heavy enough 
for di-drachmas of that period, even when of the lightest 
weight yet found. (2.) Although the internal dissensions 
of the Samnites led to the interference of the Romans so 
early as a.u. 412, then under the consuls M. Valerius 
Corvus and A. Cornelius Cossus, yet this interference did 
not for many years result in any such conquests, on the 
part of the latter, as would have warranted them in 
stamping money in the field, or anywhere else, for circu- 
lation in Campania ; whilst the legend " Romano " forbids. 
the hypothesis that they were stamped for circulation else- 

ROME. 69 


where than in Eome. Their Grecian type may be simply 
due to the employment of Greek die-sinkers in Rome. 

For these reasons the " Romano '' silver coins are 
regarded as older than the '' Roma " series ; this view 
iacluding all the " Romano " coins, whether of gold, elec- 
trum, silver, or bronze. 

The reasons advanced by numismatists for calling both 

of these series Capuan or Campanian coins are briefly as 

follows : — (1.) The types of the coins are Greek, not 

Roman. They follow the coins of Macedon ; some of 

them follow the types of previous Capuan coinages ; some 

are stamped '' Capua '^ in the Oscan letter. (2.) The 

' word " Romano, '^ as employed on the coins, is a Greek 

rather than a Roman form. (3.) The type of some of the 

Capuan coins (for example, the casqued Minerva) is 

1 apparently copied from the coins of Andoleon, king of 

I Pseonia (in Macedon), about a.u. 470, However, these 

i last are rather late " Roma " coins, about which there is 

no dispute. 

It is quite possible that during the wars of the Romans 
with the Samnites and other nations in Italy, their 
generals struck some "Roma" coins in the field; but 
unless we are prepared to throw both Livy and Pliny 
overboard, it must be admitted that such coins were also 
.•-truck in Rome, and that all of them, whether in Rome 
or elsewhere, were struck under the coinage prerogative 
of the Roman State — a prerogative which, from the birth 
to the downfall of their government, the Romans never 
willingly let slip from their hands. 

In A.u. 437 a notable addition was made to the monetary 
system of Rome by the issuance of a " Roma " gold 
coin, called the " scrupulum," which was valued at 
twenty aces, and others of forty and sixty aces — not 
sesterces, as has been hitherto supposed.^ Assuming 
that the denarius of this period contained 78f grains fine 
silver and the relation of silver to gold was 9 for l,then 
1 Mommsen, M. R., i, 266, cited by Lenovmant, i, 162. 


the scrupulum coins sliould contain about 17^ grains of 
gold, whiclij as is shown in the table below, was the fact. 

It should, however, first be explained that in Greece 
and Eome the scrupulum (not the scripulum, for which 
it has often been mistaken) was the name of a pawn or 
draughtsman, and that the game of draughts was ancientlv 
played with nine and afterwards with ten men. Hence 
the scrupulum at first meant the ninth, and afterwards 
the tenth part, or multiple, of anything*. So also an 
insect with ten feet was called scrupipid^, and a measure 
of land ten feet long and ten feet wide, containing a 
hundred square feet^ was called a scrupulum. At a still 
later date the game of draughts was played, as it is still 
played, Avith twelve men, but these numbers were unknown 
to tlie game at the period under review. Hence, in 
Rome, during the fifth century of the city, a scrupulum 
meant, not a weight, but the ninth of anything ; and in 
the case of money it meant the ninth of the gold aureus. 
This is shown in the following table : 

Roman coinage system about x.r. 437 or B.C. 316. Ratio of silver 
to gold, 9 for 1. 

2^ bronze aces = 1 bronze sesterce. 

4 sesterces ^ 1 silver denarius, 78f Eng. grains. 

2 denarii = 1 gold scrupulum, 17'5 grains, stamped " XX.'* 

18 denarii = 1 gold aureus, loT'o grams. 

5 aurei = 1 libra of account, containing 787'o grains fine gold. 

Hence 900 aces = 1 libra. 

The gold and silver coins were of substantially fine 
metal. Type of gold coin : obverse, the head of Romulus 
or Mars, accompanied by numerals, denoting the tale value; 
reverse, an eagle, with the legend " Eoma.^^ Type of 
silver coins : obverse, female head with winged helmet ; 
reverse, a biga and the legend " Roma.^^ 

Pliny (xxxiii, 13) says that the libra was equal to 
" DCCCC,'^ or 900 sesterces, meaning aces, to the value 
of which the bronze sesterces meanwhile fell. 

From this table of equivalents it will be observed that 

ROME. 71 

the scrupulum -was not a scripulum weight, uor the libra 
a pound weight ; but that the former was simply one- 
ninth of the aureus coin, and the latter five aurei. 

The scrupulum coins in the British Museum marked 
'•' LX/' meaning 60 aces, contain from 52 to 52"7 grains 
of gold, the theoretical weight being 52§ grains. Those 
marked '' XL " contain o4'4 to 34' 5 grains, the theore- 
tical weight being 35*106 grains; those marked "XX" 
contain 17"2 to 17'4 grains, the theoretical weight being 17'5 
grains. The denarii contain from 66*5 to 79"9 grains. The 
lightest of these denarii evidently belong to later systems. 

With regard to the 'Mibra " of account. Gibbon says 
that, besides the libra weight, the Romans used a libra of 
account, which they called pondo : " Outre la livre pon- 
derale des Romains, ils avoient une livre de comte, qu'ils 
appelloient pondo. ^^ ^ An example in point is shown 
below. The pound of account was also called the " libra 
sestercia," or the '' sestercium ; ^' that is to say, a 
thousand bronze sesterces, whether composed of gold, 
silver, or copper coins, Pliny, Ammianus Marcellinus, 
and the Theodosian Code all assure us that there were 
5 aurei to the " pound '' of account during the Empire, 

Gibbon supposed that the Romans commenced coining 
gold at 40 aurei to the libra weight, afterwards (citing 
Snellius and Agricola) at 42, and gradually more, until, in 
the time of Caracalla, the number reached 48 (109"38 
grains each) ; "the drachma or denier^' always weighing 
half as much, and valued at ^V o^ ^^^ aureus, a ratio 
of 12i, But the "numismatic discoveries of the present 
century prove this to be all wrong. The aureus of a,u, 437 
was struck 33^ to the pound weight ; the denier was 
not always lialf the weight of the aureus; the ratio 
was never 12|; there were not always 25 deniers to the 
aureus. As these errors are only a few, amongst a vast 
number on the same subject, that appear in the usual 
works of reference, they are only noticed here on account 

^ Misc, works, ed, ISlo, iii, 437. 


of the eminence of the author, and the almost universal 
acceptance of the great literary masterpiece to which his 
essay on '' Roman Money ^' formed a preliminary study. 

In A.u. 485 a small silver coin was struck in Rome, the 
fourth of a denarius, called a sesterce. At the same time 
there appeared a new coinage of aces, of which 10 went 
to a denarius, of about 73 grains. These coins are shown 
in the following table of equivalents •} 

Roman coinage system under the consuls Ogulnius and Fabius, A.r. 
485 or B.C. 268.^ Ratio of silver to gold 10 for 1. 

24 bronze aces =: 1 silver sesterce, 18"229 grains. 

4 sesterces = 1 silver denarius, 72'9167 grains. 
20 denarii ^ 1 gold aureus, 14o'833 grains. 

5 aurei = 1 libra of account, containing 729i- grains fine gold. 

Hence 1000 aces = 1 libra. 

The gold and silver coins were of substantially pure 
metal. Coins struck in Rome. 

It is in reference to this period that Budteus (lib. 4) 
says that the pondo of account consisted of 100 denarii, or 
400 sesterces (or 1000 aces). The system was purely 
decimal : for example, ]Oaces=l denarius; 20denarii = 
1 aureus ; 5 aurei, or 1000 aces = 1 libra. This circum- 
stance has a significance which does not belong to the 
present subject, but which the curious reader may pursue 
in my ''Middle Ages Revisited," index word "Ten.'' 
Mommsen holds that in a.u. 485 Rome limited the Latin 
colonies to the coinage of bronze, and thenceforth mono- 
polised for herself the coinage of silver. 

Between the era of this system and the year a.u. 535, 
■when a treaty relative to the exchange of prisoners made 
during the first was renewed during the second Punic 
war, the libra of account appears to have been raised 

' Ernest Babelon ("Monnais de la Republique," i, xxiii) dates the 
earliest silver sesterce in A.tT. 485 (486). It disappeared in 537, reap- 
peared in 665, and finally disappeared in 711. 

' Pliny, xxxiii, 13 ; Livy, Ep. xv. 

EOME. 73 

"from 5 to 10 aurei. There are several testimonies 
which support this opinion. Plutarch, who alludes to 
this treaty in his life of Fabius Maximus, fixes the 
ransom of the prisoners at 250 drachmas or denarii. 
Livy (xxii, 23), in alluding to the same ti-ansaction, com- 
putes it at two and a half pounds of money — " argenti 
pondo bina et selibras." This allows 250 denarii to the. 
libra of account. As the denarius of that period weighed 
about 70 English grains and the aureus about 160 grains, 
and the ratio was 10 for 1, it follows that there were 10 
aurei to the libra, as appears in the next table. Ocher tes- 
timonies arise from the use of the phrases '' libra ses- 
itercia" and " sestertium,^' meaning a thousand sesterces 
or 2500 aces to the libra, which could only be the case if 
the libra was raised to 10 aurei. 

Roman coinage system during the second Punic ivar, a.v. 535, or B.C. 
218. Ratio of silver to gold 10/or 1. 

10 bronze aces = 1 silver denarius, 70 grains. 
25 denarii =^ 1 gold aureus, 160 grains. 

10 aurei ^ 1 libra of account. 

Hence 2500 aces = 1 libra. 

The gold and silver were of substantially pure metal. 
'These coins were struck in Home. 

However, this valuation of the libra did not stand long. 
Before the conclusion of the war the libra appears to have 
'been again valued at 5 aurei, as shown in the following 
table of equivalents : 

Roman coinage system under the consuls Claudius and Livius, 
A.u. 547, B.C. 206.^ Ratio of silver to gold 10 for 1. 

16 bronze aces = 1 silver denarius, 63 grains. 

Qi denarii = 1 quarter-aureus, 39'375 grains. 
25 denarii = 1 gold aureus, 157'5 grains. 

5 aurei := 1 libra, 787'5 grains. 

Hence 2000 aces = 1 libra. 

' Pliny, xxxiii, 13. Babelon, p. xv, dates this coinage from the Lex 
IFlaminius or Lex Fabius, a.u. 537, the year of the battle of Trasimenus, 


The gold and silver coins were substantially of fine 
metal. These coins were struck in Rome. About a.u. 
525 tbe Roman authorities bad esta^blished branch mints, 
and authorised the striking of coins for the Republic in 
the provincial cities of Italy, Cis-Alpine Gaul, and 
Illyria ; but this did not include the right to strike the- 
■denarius.^ In paying the troops a denarius was always 
reckoned at 10 aces. 

One result of the Social war (a.u. 664^6), which was 
caused by the demand of the rural Italians to share the 
privileges of citizenship with the Romans, was that the 
Roman provincial mints in Italy, with the exception of 
those in Sicily, were all closed, and the work of coinage- 
was removed to Rome. Before this, however, the in- 
surgents issued coins stamped Italia, but as the coins 
were suppressed with the insurrection, they hardly claim 
a place in the present brief review. Among the Italiote 
coins were the aurei of Minius leus, weighing lol^- 

The period of the Lex Papiria, cited by Pliny, which 
the older commentators assigned to a.u. 587, has been 
gradually lowered, until, in the most recent numismatic 
works, it has been assigned to a.u. 663, when, by the Lex 
Julia, the rights of Roman citizenship were at length con- 
ceded to all freeborn Italians. It is now called the laws 
of Julia and Plautia-Papiria. The original authority for 
this lowered date is Niebuhr, who has been followed by 
Mommsen, Lenormant, and Babelon. The principal 
changes which took place in the Roman monetaty^ law at 

when Q. Fabins Masimiis was dictator and C. Servilius and C. Flaminius- 
were consuls. A discrepancy like this one, of ten years, and a further 
discrepancy of five years, appears in many instances between the Augustan 
and Christian chronology. See " Middle Ages Eevisited,'* Appendix, on 
" Ludi Saeculares." 

' Mommsen, " Eechtsfrage," 18 ; Lenormant, ii, 234. 

' Friedlander and Burgon give the weight of the aureus of Minius. 
leus at 131+ English grains. 

ROME. 75 

tliis period will be found embodied in the system of 

Roman coinage system under Sylla, a.u. 675, or B.C. 78. Ratio of 
silver to gold 9 for 1. 

4 bronze aces = 1 silver sesterce, 15 grains. 

4 sesterces = 1 silver denarius, of about 606 grains. 
12| denarii ^ 1 gold half-aureus.^ 

25 denarii := 1 gold ai^reus, of about 168'3 grains. 

5 aurei = 1 libra of account. 

Hence 2000 aces = 1 libra. 

The gold and silver pieces were of substantially fine 
metal. Type of gold coins : MANLIA with biga, or L. 
SYLLA ; on reverse, figure on horseback. Type of 
silver coins : obverse, head of Ceres, with small head of 
Taurus ; reverse, altar and sacrifice — apparently a con- 
cession to the Bacchic cult of Italy. 

The gold coins of this series, which are very rare, are 
believed to have been struck in Asia. The weights of 
four examples in the British Museum are 169'3, 167' 7, 
167'3, and 167'2 grains, the theoretical weight being' 
168'3 grains. The silver coins of the same series are 
serrated on their edges, and weigh from 55 to 61^ grains 
each, the theoretical weight being 60'6 grains. Sylla 
sti'uck no bronze or copper coins, nor were any struck 
between his time and the xeav when Augustus celebrated 
the Ludi Steculares, and when M. Sanguinius and P. 
Licinius Stoto filled the position of monetary triumvirs. 

In his earlier coinages Julius Cfesar struck aui-ei of 
142 and afterwards (in a.u. 694)" of 131 j grains, specimens 
of which are still extant. The ratio of silver to gold in 
these coinages was probably 10 for 1. In the coinages 
of A.u. 708 this ratio was definitively — and, as it turned 
out, permanently — fixed at 12 for 1. 

' "No smaller gold pieces in use at tbis period" (Humpbrey.s, 303). 
- Letronne, p. 75. 


Roman coinage system under Julius Csesar, 708, or B.C. 45. 
Ratio of silver to gold 12 for 1. 

4 bronze aces ^ 1 silver sesterce, 15 grains. 

4 sesterces' = 1 silver denarius, about 60 grains. 
25 denarii = I gold aureus, 125 grains. 

5 aurei = 1 libra of account. 

Hence 2000 aces = 1 libra. 

The gold and silver pieces were of substantially fine 
metal. Letronue (p. 84) says that down to Vespasian the 
aurei were 0"99l to 0"998 fine. Csesar was the first to 
stamp the image of a living person (his own) on a Roman 
coin (Lenormant, ii, 332). 

No language is more positive than that of Mommsen 
and Lenormant in laying down the following institute : 
that Rome never permitted her vassals to strike gold. 
" La Republique se reservait exclusivement la fabrication 
de la monnaie de ce metal, sans la permettre a ses vassaux.^^ 
When gold was struck in the provinces — for example, the 
staters struck by Titus Quinctius Flamininus in Greece and 
afterwards the aurei of Sylla in Asia, or the aurei of 
Ponipey in Cilicia, a.u. 693 — it was always done in the 
name of Rome and under the prerogative of the State. ^ 
This practice was continued to the end of the Empire. 
Lenormant regards it as the jealous prerogative of the 
imperium.^ We have discussed this theory already, and 
shown it to be untenable. But even admitting, for the 
sake of limiting its place in time, that such was the case 
during the Republic, it certainly ceased to be so when the 
Empire was consolidated by Augustus, and all the powers 

' " These were the so-called ' First Brass,' or, more properly, * First 
Bronze,' which took the place of the silver sesterce, the latter thenceforth 
disappearing from circulation. The half-sesterce, or dupondius, was the 
"* Second Brass,' and the reduced ace was the ' Third Brass ' of the 
•earlier numismatists" (HumiDhreys, 302, 312). 

2 Lenormant, "Mon. Ant," ii, 120; Mommsen, M. R., iii, 344. 

^ Weight of an aureus of Pompej, 146 grains. Lenormant, ii, 303. 

* Patin, 35 ; Lavoix ; Procopius ; Zonaras. 

* Pp. 121, 248, 304, 363, etc. 

ROME. 77 

and prerogatives of the State, whether religious, civil, or 
military, were merged in tlie sovereign-pontiif. The 
latest of such alleged military coins were the silver 
denarii and bronze aces struck by T. Carisius, who was 
Legatus Augusti in Gallia and Lusitania, a.u. 731—2.^ 
Augustus united the imperium to the pontificate in a.u, 
740, and from this time forward the right to strike gold 
became the exclusive prerogative of the sovereign-pontiff. 
That it was regarded a sacerdotal prerogative is proved 
by the continual repetition of religious emblems on the 
coins. Lenormant himself noticed this : " Pendant long- 
temps, elles ne portant que des types religieux assez 
uniformes, arretes par les autorites publiques et puises 
dans la religion de I'etat.''^" 

In this year the Roman coinage system was permanently 
organised.^ The coinage prerog-ative was divided be- 
tween the sovereign-pontiff and the Senate, the former 
retaining that of gold and resigning to the latter that 
of silver and copper. In a short time, through the 
virtual subjection of the Senate, the silver coinage also 
fell to the sovereign-pontiff. In accordance with the 
ordinance of a.u. 740, the coinage of silver was permitted 
to the proconsuls, and the pieces stamped PERMissu DIVI 
AVGusti, that is, " by permission of the divine Augus- 
tus.^^ The coinage of bronze always remained with the 
Senate.^ However, this prerogative, like that of silver, 
was virtually in the hands of Augustus ; yet it suited 

' Lenormant, i, 362. - Lenormant, ii, 232. 

^ " The school of.Mommsen hold that a reorganization of the monetary 
system took place in a.u. 727, when Octavius received the title of 
Augustus, or in A.u. 738, the date of the Ludi Sseculares and of his 
(second) attempted apotheosis " (Lenormant, ii, 214, 399). But they fail 
to offer any proofs *^ which connect the reorganization with these dates. 
Moreover, their conclusions are vitiated by the unwarranted assumption 
that the coinage was a prerogative of the imperium — an assumption 
which is negatived by their own admissions concerning the coinages of 
Otho mentioned further on. 

* Lenormant, ii, 195, 216, 218. 


his interest not to meddle with, it as he did with the 
coinage of silver. 

Roman coinage system of Augustus, a.u. 740, or B.C. 13. Ratio of 
silver to gold 12 for 1. 

4 bronze sesterces = 1 silver denarius, 58'4 grains. 
25 denarii = 1 gold aureus, 121"6 grains. 

5 aurei = I libi'a, 608 grains. 

Hence 500 sesterces = 1 libra. 

The gold and silver pieces were of substantially fine 

In this system the silver sesterce gives way to a bronze 

The defects of Pliny^s history of the Eoman money 
arise chiefly upon his too confident reliance upon verbal- 
isms ; yet the school of Mommsen follow him without 
the least misgiving. They gravely inform us that pecunia 
is derived from pecus ; that the value of coins is dedu- 
cible from the names of weights ; that the modern pound 
sterling is from the pound weight of silver, and the 
marc of money from a mark weight of silver ; they talk 
familiarly of the single and double " standard '^ under 
Julius Caesar and Augustus ; and draw conclusions from 
ancient history, the premisses of which cannot possibly 
be traced in Europe farther back than the coinage legisla- 
tion of the sixteenth century. Such a school exhibits no 
claims to be regarded as authorities on either the prin- 
ciples or the history of money. They have been taught 
to look upon money as so much metal, Avhereas it is 
plainly an institution of law. It is as though measures 
of length and volume were regarded as so much wood, 
because it has been found most convenient to make yard- 

^ Patin (" Hist. Coins," p. 71) says tbat the Eoman gold coins were of 
fine metal down to the reign o£ Alexander Severus, when they were 
alloyed with one-fifth of silver. This alliage, however, was not common, 
but exceptional. He goes on to say that the purity of the coins was re- 
stored by Aurelian. On this subject, consult Lenormant, i, 200, 203. 

ROME. 79 

sticks, pecks, and busliels of that matei'ial. Moinmsen's 
conception of the monetary system of Aug-ustus is that 
it began Avith an attempt to establish the " double 
» standard^' at a ratio of 15*75, then at 14'29, etc., but that 
. after several trials this system was abandoned as im- 
practicable, and the " single gold standard " was definitely 
adopted in place of it ! The facts are that no such idea as 
is involved in the phrase of single or doable " standard " 
was dreamed of at that period ; that no such attempts 
were made ; that no such ratios are deducible from the 
Roman coinage systems ; that the ratio of the Empire 
was always 12 for 1 ; that no change occurred in its 
monetary system until the reign of Caracalla, and then 
ouly a slight one ; and that no change at all was made in 
the ratio for nearly thirteen hundred years. 

Gold standard, silver standard, double standard, halting 
standard, etc., these are terms derived from the legislation 
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when, for the 
tirst time in the history of the European world, private 
individuals were permitted to coin money, or, what is 
the same thing, they were accorded the right to require 
the government to turn their bullion into money, free of 
taxation, loss, or expense. This idiotic legislation, 
euphemistically called " free coinage,'^ deprived govern- 
ment of that control over money which had ever been 
regarded as an essential attribute of sovereignty and 
as necessary for the maintenance of opportunities to 
facilitate a just distribution of wealth. In effect it 
destroyed money, or nomisma, which is an institution 
or a measure of value prescribed and regulated by law, 
and it substituted for money an unknown and illimitable 
quantity of metal — a substance that, as such, is not amen- 
able to legal control. Hence arose the modern jargon of gold 
standard, silver standard, etc. So long as money was 
governed by law, it was the whole number of coins, reduced 
to one denomination, that determined prices. When money 
ceased to be governed by law, as was the case after the 


legislation procured by the Dutch and English East 
India Companies^ it was the Avhole quantity o£ metal 
that determined prices. Before the seventeenth century 
the " standard," or measure of prices, was the whole 
number of coins, at the valuation affixed to them by law ; 
after that period the legal valuation (except as to the 
ratio) formed no part of the measure ; and within the 
last quarter of a century, even the ratio has been swept 
away. The measure of prices in the Western world at 
the present time consists chiefly of metal, as such. 
When that metal is gold, the measure is called the " gold 
standard '' ; when it is silver, the " silver standard," 
etc. But in the days of Augustus this was wholly un- 
know^n. There was no individual coinage. The 
measure of prices was the whole number of coins 
which were legal tenders, and which circulated, not 
merely in Eome, but throughout the Empire, after they 
were reduced to one of the various denominations which 
were affixed to them by law. Within prudent limits, it 
made no difference whether the coins were pure or impure, 
light or heavy, yellow, white, or brown. iSTo one could 
lawfully stamp them except the State. The value they 
bore was (within such prudent limits) whatever the State 
choosed to stamp upon them j' and this principle was 
so deeply planted in the Eoman law and constitution, that 
it became the groundwork of judicial decisions as to 
Avhat constituted a good and lawful tender of money, 
down to and including the period of Sir Matthew Hale. 

With regard to the ratios which have been calculated 
by Mommsen and Lenormant between gold and silver, I 
have only room to say briefly that they are founded 
chiefly on two errors. The first one is that of mistaking 
the ''libra" of money, or argenti, which was simply 
a sum of current aurei, no matter of what weight or 
alloy, for a pound weight of silver metal ; the second 
one is that of calculating the ratio from anachronical 
' Digest, xviii, i, 1. 

EOME. 81 

coins, from exceptional coins, or from those of only local 
cm-rency or limited legal tender. The ratios calculated 
by Hoffman^ are of the same defective character. When 
the ratio is calculated, as it should be, from the full legal 
tender coins, issued under a given system by the 
sovereign-pontiff, it will be found to have always been 
12 for 1, Although many of the Roman emperors 
issued debased silver coins, these Avere never full legal 
tenders ; for example, they were not receivable for 
tributes or taxes, which were payable either in aurei 
or in silver coins, or bullion, at the weight ratio of 12 
for 1. Lenormant's statement (i, 185) that ''Alexander 
Severus, in order to steady the revenues, decided that 
all payments into the treasury should be exclusively in 
gold,^' is unwarranted by the text to which he refers, 
which merely says that the emperor " frequently caused 
his gold and silver to be weighed." This is precisely 
what is done periodically in all great treasuines." Upon 
this text Lenormant also builds the unwarranted con- 
clusion that the " standard," or measure of prices, was 
gold metal. His master, the illustrious Mommsen, also 
sees in the gradually lessened weight of the aureus, " a 
virtual demonetisation of gold."^ Whereas, in fact, 
nothing of the sort is to be seen. The lowering of the 
aureus (a slight one) was merely an economy of gold 
metal in the fabrication of Eoman money — a measure 
probably dictated by the necessities of the times, and 
of no necessary beax'ing on the position of money in the 
law, or even upon its power to correctly measure the 
value of commodities, services, or debts.* 

Mommsen and Lenormant conclude their remarks on 
this subject with the statement that the aureus was 

^ " Lehre von Gelde," pp. 103, et seq. 

2 " Omne aurum, omne argentuni, idque frequenter appendit " (Lam- 
pridius, in "Alex. Severus," xxxix). 

3 M. K., iii, 63. 

" Mill, " Polit. Econ." 



eventually so much degraded and debased that it ceased 
to be regarded as money — that it became merely ingots 
of bullion, and was weighed out with balance in hand. 
They refer for their warrant to Vopiscus, in Aurelian, 9 
and 12, Probus 4, and Bonosus 15. Upon turning to 
these texts we merely find that certain payments of gold 
"phillips/' or silver '' antonines,'^ or copper '' sesterces'^ 
are mentioned, just as we now say so many Louis d'or. 
Napoleons, Maria Theresa dollars, etc. Not a word 
appears in these texts about " ingot-money/' or bullion, 
or weighing in balances. These phrases and inferences 
are not only unwarranted by the texts, they entirely 
pervert and misrepresent the condition of money under 
the Roman law. 

From the second coinage of Constantine to the fall of 
the Empire, a period of nearly 900 years, the aureus was 
seldom degraded, and but once debased; it never ceased 
to be regarded as money. There was no ingot-money ; there 
was no weighing of gold coins, they passed then, as they 
do now, by tale, and, what is more, it was unlawful to 
refuse, criminal to alter, and death to deface them or to 
reduce them to bullion.^ Says Gibbon, of the Roman 
imperial revenues : "A large portion of the tribute was 
paid in money, and of the current coin of the Empire 
gold alone could be legally accepted."" Elsewhere he 
says : " Pendants que dans les tributs il exigeoit toujours 
I'aureus de Constantin;^' i. e. while as to tributes, they 
were always exacted in the aureus of Constantino.^ He 
should have added : " Or in twelve times their weight of 

Suetonius informs us that upon the death of Caligula 
an attempt was made to re-establish the Republic* 
Among the acts of the Senate on this occasion was a 
decree decrying the tyrant's money, and requiring it to 

' Arrian, Epictet, iii, 1 ; Paul. Sentent. recept. v, 25, 1 ; Lenormant, 
i, 237 ; Digest, xlviii, 13, 1; Suetonius in "Augustus." 

- "Decline and Fall," ii, 64, ^ Misc. works, iii, 460. ■* Claudius, 10. 

ROME. 83 

be brouglit into tlie treasury and melted down, *'' so that, 
were it possible, both his name and features might be 
forgotten by posterity.'" Nevertheless, there are nearly 
an hundred different types of his coins still extant. The 
Senate of this period was republican ; but the lower 
orders of the people, the soldiers, and the priests were 
in favour of the hierarchy, the former for the sake of the 
largesses bestowed by the emperors, the latter on account 
of their benefices, which, ever since the time of Augustus, 
had been rendered lucrative and permanent. Claudius, 
the uncle of Caligula, was either so rapid in his move- 
ments, or, as the story goes, was so quickly taken up by 
the prffitorian baud, that the design of the Senate proved 
abortive, and it did not have time to issue coins proclaim- 
ing the Eepublic before Claudius succeeded in securing 
the support of the guards, and was enabled to suppress the 
incipient rising. It does not appear that the Senate 
issued any republican coins on this occasion, but, as we 
shall presently see, coins of such a character were indeed 
issued some twenty-five years later, when Nero died and 
before Galba seized the imperial throne. 

There were circumstances connected with the reign of 
Nero which must have encouraged the growth of a revo- 
lutionary spirit, having for its object the overthrow of the 
; hierarchy and worship of Augustus, if not, indeed, the re- 
storation of the ancient Eepublic. 

Nero seems to have been rather sceptical about the 
divine origin which was claimed for Augustus, and but 
little disposed to offer adoration to him. When Kome 
was accidentally burnt, he did not hesitate to rebuild it 
.with funds plundered from the temples in which this 
profane worship was conducted. By way of retaliation, 
the enraged priests composed his biography, which they 
have filled with such horrid crimes that, were the least 
portion of them true, would render it difficult to under- 
stand why the memory of Nero was so dear — as many 
1 Laurence Echard, " Eom. Hist.," ii, 103. 


instances prove that it was — to his countrymen for many 
ages. If Nero was imbued Avith any religion at all, it 
was that of Liber Puter, for it is the effigy of this deity 
which appears most frequently on his coins. Suetonius 
also informs us that he sacrificed three times a day to 
another deity, whose worship was clearly allied to that 
of Bacchus.^ Otho, who was one of Nero's favourites, 
professed the religion of Isis, which was either the same 
or a similar cult." This was the popular religion of Italy, 
where some remains of it survive to the present day. It 
was the religion of the poor and down-trodden, for it 
inculcated peace and friendship, and promised liberty and 
immortality. Nero's dislike for the religion of the State 
and his partiality for the cult of Bacchus, coupled with 
his neglect of discipline, his condescension, familiarity, 
and joviality, could hardly have failed to warm those 
Iiopes of restoring the Republic, which the example and 
writings of Brutus and Cicero assure us were deeply im- 
planted in the minds of the Roman patricians. Be this as 
it may, it is certain that upon the news of Nero's death 
many people, adopting for the emblem of their hopes the 
Phrygian cap of Liber Pater, ran wildly through the 
streets, uttering revolutionary cries, and fomenting an 
excitement that ended by involving the Senate in their 
design, and the issuance of an Act proclaiming a Repub- 
lican Government. Among the first measures of the 
short-lived administration was the coinage of money, de- 
signed to announce the restoration. It was, perhaps, 
unfortunate for these patriots that they began by striking 
gold, this being essentially a prerogative belonging to the 
pontifical office, and one whose violation, apart from 
other circumstances, would be likely of itself to array 
against them, not only the ecclesiastical orders, but the 
prejudices of all persons of religious pretensions or of 
superstitious tendencies. 

Besides the gold coins, there were struck silver and 

1 Nero, 56. - Otho, 12. 

EOME. 85 

bronze ones, and so numerous were they that nearly an 
hundred different types (not merely coins, but tj-pes of 
coins) are still extant. All these must have been struck 
between June 9, a.d. 68, the date of Nero's death, and 
July 18, A.D. 69, that of the investiture of Vitellius as 
sovereign-pontiff. A common type of these coins was a 
citizen clad in a toga, with a cap of Liberty on his head 
and a wreath of laurel in his right hand, and the legend 
LIBERTATI. Reverse : Victory standing on a globe, with 
crown and palm, and the legend S, P. Q. R. Others have 
the legends Concordia provinciarum, Concordia pr^etoria- 
norum, Fides militum, Roma renascens, Libertas, Libertas 
populi romaui, Libertas restituta, Jupiter Capitoliuus, 
Mars ultor, Volcanus ultor, Vesta populi romani quiri 
tium, etc.^ 

The person destined to destroy the ephemeral Republic 
was Ser. Sulpicius Galba, a member of the Quindecem- 
viral Sacred College, a priest of the Augustals and of the 
Titii, a man of enormous wealth, who never travelled 
without a retinue of monks and soothsayers, and who, 
wherever he pitched his camp, erected an altar, swung a 
censor, and offered frankincense, sacrificial wine, and 
costly jewels to the gods." This pious Roman enjoyed a 
proconsulship under Xero in Hispania Tarraconensis, 
where he appears to have divided his leisure between the 
celebration of religious ceremonies and the organisation 
of a conspiracy against the throne of his benefactor. 
AVhen this conspiracy was ripe, he declared it to be a holy 
war, " sacred and acceptable to the gods." Upon hearing 
that Nero was dead, Galba proclaimed himself the Caesar, 
hung a dagger from his neck, as a token of his bloody 
intentions, and, attended by his legions and a formidable 
body of Spanish recruits, made his way to Rome, where 
an accession of forces had been organised for him by his 

1 " Revue Xumismatique," 1862 and 1865 ; Lenormant, ii, 375 ;. 
Cohen, " Mon. Eom." 

- Suet. "Galba," 4, 8, 9, 18. 


ecclesiastical friends. Then Gaiba's dagger came into 
play. In the course of a few days the Nymphidians, as 
the Republicans were called, were all put to death or 
driven into exile ; the statues of Bacchus were destroyed, 
the Phrygian caps were burnt, the power of the sovereign- 
pontiif was re-established, and the ill-starred Republic 
■came to an end. 

The coinage prerogative of the Pontifex Maximus is 
made the subject of a strange argument by the illustrious 
Mommsen. We must premise that after a short reign 
Galba was assassinated. He was succeeded by Otho, 
"who, because he declared it his intention to restore the 
Republic, was undoubtedly supported by the Nymphidians 
and opposed by the ecclesiastics. The latter now turned 
for aid to Aulus Vitellius. This person was the great- 
grandson of Q. Vitellius, " questor to Divus Augustus," 
the grandson of P. Vitellius, " a Roman knight and 
manager of Augustus^ affairs," and the son of Lucius 
Vitellius, who set the example of worshipping Caligula 
as the living God, and never approached him without 
covering his head with a veil, turning his body, as was 
customary in Roman worship, and falling prostrate upon 
the ground.^ The piety of his ancestors must have 
descended to Aulus, who was rewarded with numerous 
rich ecclesiastical benefices, the gift of three successive 
princes,^ besides the lucrative surveyorship of public 
buildings, a proconsulship in Africa, and another in 
Germany. This last office, the gift of Galba, was em- 
ployed by Vitellius as a means to secure his own eleva- 
tion to the throne. Indulgence, bribery, and promises 
were employed with success to win the legions under his 
command. The sword of Divus Julius was taken down 
out of the temple of Mars and placed in the hands of 
the ambitious proconsul ; the soldiers saluted him as 
Imperator and Augustus ; and a wreath of laurel '' most 
religiously begirt his brow." Sending a powerful army 

1 Vitellius, 5. ^ Ibid. 

EOME. 87 

ahead to overtlirow liis rival, he began his march to 
Rome. On the way he was informed of a decisive vic- 
tory at Bebriacum (now Caveto) and of the death of 
Otho. Arrived in Rome, Vitellius was soon surrounded 
, by "a numerous assembly of priests," who, together 
^ith the faction known as the Yeneti, appear to have 
formed the bulk of his party in the capital. He was 
invested as Pontifex Maximus on the ominous anniver- 
sary of the battle of Allia, and after a brief and troubled 
reign of eight months was assassinated. The previous 
reign of Otho extended from the death of Galba, Jan- 
uary 15th (a.d, 69), to his own death, April 20th, a period 
•of ninety-five days.^ 

We are now prepared to follow Mommsen's argument. 
The investiture of the high-priesthood of Rome, after 
•an ancient custom, could only be conferred during" the 
month of March, there being only two instances to the 
•contrary. The coinage of copper, says Mommsen, was 
the prerogative of the high-priesthood. Otho was invested 
with the pontificate on March 9th. Within five days of 
•this date he was on his way to meet the troops of Vitel- 
lius in Lombardy. Therefore, he had not sufficient time 
to confer upon the Senate the necessary authority to 
strike bronze coins. This, in Mommsen's opinion, ex- 
plains why, although there are gold and silver coins of 
•Otho, there are no bronze ones, except such as were struck 
in Antioch, and these he accounts for on the supposition 
that the Antiochians, when they heard of Galba's death 
and Others elevation, presumed that of course Otho would 
be invested as Pontifex Maximus in March, and, there- 
fore, proceeded at once to strike those bronze coins with 
his image, which stand in the way of the extraordinary 
iiheory propounded by the Prussian savant. 

To this theory it would be sufiicient to reply that if Otho 
had time to authorise the issue of gold and silver coins, he 
'Certainly had time to authorise the issue of bronze ones, and 
^ Lenoi-mant (ii, 416) says Apiil l-5th. 


that if the vassal Senate of Antioch could venture to strike 
bronze coins without Otho's written authority, so could the 
paramount Senate of Rome. But there is a still further and 
more cogent reply to make. Mommsen' is mistaken in 
regard to the coinage prerogatives of Rome. His theoiy 
is that the prerogative of the gold and silver coinage 
belonged to the imperium and the bronze coinage to the 
pontificate. The fact was that the jjrerogative of gold 
coinage (certainly from the reign of Julius Csesar) be- 
longed to the pontificate. This is so overwhelmingly 
proved by the evidence adduced in chapter YI of the 
present work that nothing further need be said on the sub- 
ject in this place. In the sweeping interdiction of gold 
coinage to vassal and subject kings which the Romans 
maintained for upwards of thirteen centuries, a single 
exception was made. This related to the kings of Pontus- 
and the Cimmerian Bosporus. The reason of the excep- 
tion was purely sacerdotal. The kings of Pontus were 
the guardians of the temples, the oracle, and the mysteries, 
of that venerated Mother of God, one of whose eflSgies, 
piously conveyed to Rome when Hannibal was at its gates,, 
had saved it from impending ruin. Many of the emblems 
connectedwith this worship appeared upoii thePontic coins, 
and this is what saved them from the melting-pot. Augustus 
merely provided that these coins should bear on the reverse 
the image of himself as a mark of the suzerainty of Rome. 
The last coins that were issued by the Ponto-Bosporiau 
kings previous to this regulation are those of Asander, who 
reigned as governor from a.u. 704 and as king from a.u. 737. 
These are aurei of 125 grains each. The earliest under the 
Augustan regulations are those of Polemon I, stamped 
with his own head on one side and that of Augustus on 
the other. From this time onward to the reign of Galiien,. 
when the Temple of Ephesus was destroyed by the Goths, 
the kings of Pontus and Bosporus were permitted to strike 
a few gold coins, upon one side of which appeared their own- 
images and on the other that of the sovereign-pontiff of 

KOMB. 89 

Rome, accompanied by the emblems of the Syrian goddess. 
With Rhescuporis VIII, of the Aspurgian dynasty, a.d. 
312—18, this Pontic kingdom, already ruined, came to an 
end, and with it the feeble series of gold coins struck under 
these exceptional circumstances. Under Cotys III, a 
contemporary of Alexander Severus, tho Ponto-Bosporian 
aurei were made of electrum, and from this time onward 
they became paler and paler, until at last they were made 
altogether of silver, and, like the Dutch gulden of tho 
present day, were gold coins only in name. 

The prerogative of the bronze coinage belonged to the 
Senate, which, therefore, in the case of Otho, needed no 
express authority from the pontificate. Whether the silver 
coinage belonged to the pontificate or to the imperium at 
this period, is a matter of no consequence in the present 
connection. Of the gold and silver coins, the former were 
certainly struck in virtue of Otho's pontifical authority. 
The bronze coins of Antioch were undoubtedly struck by 
the Senate of that city in virtue of the authority which 
had long previously been conferred upon it by the Senate 
of Rome — an authority which remained in full force so 
long as it was not abrogated. That no Roman urban 
bronze coins of Otho are extant may be accounted for 
either by supposing that such coins were indeed struck 
but that none have been found, or else by supposing that 
the Roman Senate had good reason for not striking them. 
In the latter case the reason is matter of conjecture. 
The Senate was republican ; it was disgusted with 
emperor-worship ; it had but recently engaged in an 
attempt to restore the Republic ; its surviving members, 
who had returned to Rome, encouraged by the declaration 
of Otho that his object was to restore the Republic, may 
have naturally viewed with suspicion his subsequent 
a.-<sumption of the pontifical office and his eagerness to 
proclaim a continuance of the Empire upon his gold and 
silver coins, and they may have refrained from lending 
that sanction to these ambitious proceedings which would 


have been implied had they stamped bronze coins with 
his image. 

The following tables show the scale of equivalents under 
"Caracalla : — 

First coinage system of Caracalla, a.d. 211-15. Ratio of silver 
to gold 12 for 1. 

4 sesterces = 1 silver denarius, of 54 grains. 
12^ denarii = 1 half-aureus. 

25 denarii = 1 aureus of 112'5 grains. 

5 aurei = 1 libra. 

Hence 500 sesterces = 1 libra. 

So far as it goes, this agrees with Mr. Finlay's scheme.^ 
In addition to these equivalents he introduces a silver 
ai"geuteus of GO to the libi'a weight, valued at 1^ denarii. 
Between this system and the one next to be mentioned 
the change in the contents of the pieces was gradual. 

Second coinage sijstem of Caracalla, a.d. 215-17. Ratio of silver 
to gold 12 for 1. 

4 sesterces = 1 denarius, of 45"83 grains. 
6 denarii ■=■ 1 gold sicilicus, or shilling. 

12 denarii = 1 half-aureus. 

24 denarii = 1 aureus, of 100 grains, \\ fine = 91"67 grains fine. 

5 aurei := 1 libra. 

Hence 480 sesterces = 1 libra. 

This system of Caracalla contains all the elements of 
the decimo-duodecimal, or £. s. d. system, which after- 
wards became established in the Roman provinces, and 
still lingers in England and Turkey. The libra, which 
here contains 458'35 grains fine gold, has since been 
gradually reduced, until, at the present time, it contains 
in England but 113'16 grains fine,j while the denarius, or 
penny, which here contains nearly 46 grains, has fallen 
in England to 7j grains, such being the weight of the 
Maundy money still issued. The relation of copper to 
silver and of silver to gold varied from decimal (during 

1 Geo. Finlay, " Hist. Greece," ed. 1877, i, 453. 

ROME. 91 

the Republic) to duodecimal (duriug the Empire), but from 
first to last, with two exceptions noticed herein, the 
relation between aureus and libra was quinquennial. 

We have seen that the extension of Eoman citizenship 
to the free-born inhabitants of Italy Avas marked by an 
important change in the monetary system. So was the 
extension of the same right to the free-born inhabitants 
■of the provinces, which bears even date with the second 
■coinage system of Caracalla. The tyrant^s motive for 
making^ this concession was an increase of revenues. 
One of its fruits was to plant the £ 6\ d. system wherever 
the Roman eagles flew. 

The argenteus, or, as it was sometimes called, the 
argenteus antonianus, of Caracalla was a silver coin 
stamped with the rayed eflBgy of the sovereign-pontiff, 
that is to say, he was represented surrounded with a halo 
of light. In the second coinage system of Caracalla this 
coin appears to have been substituted for two denarii. 
Thus, the equivalents appear to be 12 argentei, contain- 
ing 1,020 grains of silver = 1 aureus, containing 91*67 
grains of gold, a ratio of about ll'l for 1. But, in fact, 
the argenteus antonianus does not appear to have been 
•a full legal tender coin, and when paid for taxes (due in 
gold aurei) it was only receivable by weight. The ratio 
of J 2 for 1, therefore, remained unimpaired. 

The monetary measures of Aurelian are remarkable 
for the revolt which they occasioned among the guild of 
moneyers, who, for this reason, must be supposed to have 
•derived considerable profits from the previous system. 
Aurelian " took away the privilege of coining (silver) 
money from almost all the local mints of the empire," 
and only succeeded in crushing the revolt of the moneyers 
with a loss of 7,000 troops — a striking proof of the 
number and organisation of the former. ^Ir. Finlay 
regards the Roman libra weight, at the time of Con- 
stantino, as having fallen to 5,040 English grains, and 
•says that Aurelian struck aurei of 50 to the libra. This 


•would make them contain 100" 8 grains each ; but, in 
fact, there are none which contain so much gold. 
Throughout the present work the libra weight of Roma 
has been uniformly reckoned at 5,250 grains ; but as "we 
have always been guided by the weights of the extant 
coins, the difference between this assumption and Mr. 
Finlay's does not affect the -weights herein mentioned. 
The extant aurei of Aurelian weigh from 80'85 to 97"52 
grains. Supposing them to be -f4- fine, they contain 
about 74 to 90 grains fine gold. The equivalents are 
shown in the following tables : 

First coinage system of Aurelian, a.d. 270. Eatio of silver 
to gold 12 for I. 

5 uummi, or minuta = 1 copper assarion. 

4 assarions := 1 copper denarius, stamped "XX." 

20 denarii = 1 silver argenteiis, 35| gi-ains fine. 
25 argentei = 1 gold aureus, 74 grains fine. 

5 aurei := 1 libra of account. 

Hence bOO copper denarii ^ 1 gold aureus. 

Second coinage systevi of Aurelian, a.b. 274. Ratio of silver 
to gold 12 for 1. 

5 J copper nummi := 1 copper assarion. 

4 assarions = 1 copper denarius, stamped " XXI." 

21 denarii ^ 1 silver argenteus (new), 45 grains fine. 
24 argentei = 1 gold aureus, 90 grains fine. 

5 aurei =■ 1 libra of account. 

Hence 504 copper denarii = 1 gold aureus. 

Mr. Fiulay introduces into this system a " denarius of 
account " equal to 1 argenteus. This was probably a purse 
of 20 to 21 copper denarii, used as a means of recon- 
ciling the two coinages of Aurelian. This would enable all 
sums couched in denarii to be reckoned at the rate of 
either 20 to the old argenteus, or 21 to the new. Mr. 
Finlay's conjecture with regard to the number of 
English grains in the libra weight appears to have been 
derived from the number of copper deiuirii to the aureus,, 

HOMR. 93 

First coinage system of Diocletian, a.d. 28i. Ratio of silver 

to gold 12 for l{F'm\&v). 
5 copper nummi = 1 copper assarion. 
2i double nummi = 1 copper assarion. 

4 assarions = 1 copper denarius, 
2 copper denarii := 1 copper follis. 

12 foUes = 1 silver denarius, 45'17 grains standard. 

24 silver denarii = 1 aureus, 90"34 grains standard. 

5 aurei = 1 libra of account. 

Hence 576 copper denarii = 1 gold aureus. 

The silver denarius of this system -was afterwards 
called the '' centenionalis," because, instead of 120 to the 
libra, as in this system, they. became worth 100 to the 
libra. See below. 

Second coinage system of Diocletian, a.d. 290 (?). Eatio of silver 
to gold 12 for 1. 

4 copper assarions ^ 1 tetrassarion, or copper denarius. 
2 copper denarii := 1 copper follis. 

12 folles = 1 silver denarius, 40 grains, '•XCVI." 

"24 silver denarii := 1 aureus, 80 grains standard. 

5 aurei = 1 libra of account. 

Hence 576 copper denarii = 1 gold aureus. 

Third coinage system of Diocletian, a.d. 302. Eatio of silver 
to gold 12 for 1. 

4 copper assarions = 1 tetrassarion, or copper denarius. 
2 copper denarii = 1 copper follis. 

8 copper assarions = 1 copper follis. 
12 copper folles = 1 silver denarius, 36 grains, " XCVI." 
24 silver denarii = 1 aureus 72 grains. 

5 aurei = 1 libra of account. 

Hence 576 copper denarii = 1 gold aureus. 

Count Borghesi considers the denarius of Diocletian's 
Edictum pretmm to be the copper tetrassarion or four- 
assarion piece, of which 24 went to the silver denarius, 
stamped "XCVI," meaning 96 assarions. 

If we compare this system with the assumptions of 
Jacob,^ it will be found that, erroneously assuming 

1 " Hist. Prec. Met.," ed. Phil. 1832, p. 126. 


the denarius to weigh 65 grains fine, and that, still 
further, assuming a wrong equivalent in the money of 
his own time, he deduced unwarrantably high prices for 
the whole of Diocletian's schedule. | 

First coinage system of Constantine, not later than a.d. 310. 
Ratio of silver to gold 12 for 1. 
20 copper nummi = 1 copper foUis. I 

12 copper folles = 1 silver denarius, 36 grains fine. I 

24 silver denarii = 1 gold aureus, 82'7 grs. standard, say 72 gi-s. fine. 1 
5 aiirei = 1 libra of account. 

Hence 5760 copper nummi = 1 gold aureus. 

Nine well-preserved specimens of the earlier aurei of 
Constantine, now in the British Museum, weigh on the 
average 82 7 grains. 

Second coinage system under Constantine, July, a.d. 325. 
Ratio of silver to gold 12 for 1} 
20 copper nummi = 1 copper follis. 

12 folles = 1 silver siliqua, keration, or denarius, 35 grains. 

2 siliquas = 1 silver miliaresion, 70 grains. 

12 miliaresia := 1 gold solidus, or uumisma, stamped "LXXII," 

70 grains. 
5 solidi ^ 1 libra of account, 350 grains of standard gold. 

Hence 5760 copper nummi = 1 gold aureus. 

Type of the aureus : a winged figure with P ; reverse, 
the head of Constantine. 

These solidi are stamped " LXXII," and, according to 
Gribbon, Queipo, Finlay, and other writers, were struck 
72 to the Eoman pound weight. The extant coins, in the 
best state of preservation, only weigh QQ^ grains, and 
I have allowed 1^ grains more to bring them to a round 
figure of 70 grains. They could hardly have weighed 
more at any time. The extant miliaresia are of the same 
weight as the solidi. The copper follis, or purse, con- 
sisted of 20 nummi ; the silver follis of 2| argyres, or 

^ Gibbon (Misc. Essays, iii, 459, ed. 1815) says 14"4, but is mistaken. 
Consult Queipo, " Sys. Met. et Mou.," ii, 465 ; Finlay, " Hist Greece," 
vol. i, App. ii. 

ROME. 95. 

2oO siliquas, keratious, or denarii, or 125 miliaresia. This 
was the ordinary donative to the soldiers ; it was equal 
to (about) two libras of account. By a law of a.d. 356,^ 
a merchant is forbidden to travel with more than one 
thousand folles. This means silver folles, one thousand 
of which were roughly equal to two thousand libras ot 
account. The gleba senatoria, a sum of gold coins, was 
the annual capitation-tax of that order. 

Coinage system under Arcadhis and Honorius, a.d. 408 (?). Ratio 
of silver to gold 12 for 1. 

20 copper nummi = 1 copper follis. 

12 copper folles = 1 silver siliqua, 35 grains standard. 

2 siliquas = 1 silver miliaresion de sportula, 70 grs. standards 

12 miliar, de sport. = 1 gold solidus, 70 grains standard. 

4 solidi = 1 libra of account. 

Hence 5760 nummi =: 1 gold solidus. 

So far as the copper coins are concerned, this system 
is constructed by assuming that there were 20 nummi to 
the follis and 12 folles to the silver siliqua, as in the 
second system of Constantine. A law of Arcadius and 
Honorius (a.d. SO?)"^ values the gold solidus at 12 
miliaresia de sportula, w^hilst a law of Theodosius II, 
(a.d. 428)^ values the solidus at 24 siliquas. Another 
law of Theodosius II (a.d. 422) values the libra at 4 
solidi, instead of 5, as before.^ An edict of Hono- 
rious and Theodosius II, dated a.d. 418, imposes a mulct 
of 5 libras of gold upon the members of the provincial 
council of Gaul for non-attendance at meetings.^ 
This evidently means 20 solidi. To regai'd these libras, 
as some writers have done, as so many pounds' weight of 
gold would not only be contrary to usage, but prepos- 

1 Cod. Theod. is, 23, 1. 

- Cod. Theod., xiii, ii, 1. 

^ Cod. Theod., xii, iv, 1 ; Nov. Majoriani, vii, 16 (a.d. 458). 

■» Cod. Theod. viii, iv, 27. 

* " Middle Ages Eevisited," chap, xvi, p. 2. 


terously excessive. The weight of the solidus in the 
above table was obtained by weighing a number of the 
best specimens of the extant coins. Those of Arcadius 
average 68*51 grains ; of Honorius, 68*05 grains. A 
slight allowance for wear brings them up to 70 grains. 
Fineness not known, but apparently -^ to -^. 

By a law of Yalentinian III (a.d. 4-45)/ there were 
7200 nummi to the solidus, consequently there must have 
been issued a smaller nummus than that of Arcadius and 
Honorius. Of these smaller nummi there should be 25 to 
the follis ; thus 25x12x2x12 = 7200 nummi to the 
solidus." Cassiordorus says there were 6000 to the 
soliduSj but I cannot make this out, unless Valentiniau 
changed the tale relations of the copper to the silver coins, 
or the silver to the gold coins, of which no explicit account 
appears in the texts. As at this period copper coins lai'gelv 
superseded silver ones in the imperial circulation, such 
-changes are by no means incredible.^ 

Coinage system under Anastasuis, a.d. 491-518. Batio 
of silver to gold 12 for 1. 

5 noumia " A " = 1 pentanoumion, " C." 
2 pentaiioumia = 1 dekanoumion, "I." 

2 dekanoumia = 1 eikosarion or obolus, " K." 

2 eikosaria = 1 follis, either copper " 31 " or silver (.5'83 grs.). 

6 folles = 1 silver keration, or siliqua, 35 gi-ains.'* 
2 keratia = 1 silver miliai-esion, 70 grains. 

12 miliaresia = 1 gold solidus, or nummus, 70 grains. 
5 (?) solidi = 1 libra of account. 

Hence 5760 noumia := 1 gold solidus. 

^ Xov. Val., iii, de pretio solidus, xiv, 1. 

" Finlav, i, 444. 

3 Ibid.' 

•* In this coinage system o£ Anastasius, I have followed Mr. Finlay. 
Sabatier (i, 149) savs that in 498 Anastasius made 12 phollerates, or 
teruntiani, to the siliqua, of which last there were 24 to the solidus. If 
by phollerates he means eikosaria, or copper oboli, then the system re- 
mained the same as shown in the present test. 

ROME. 97 

The letters A, C, I, K, M are stamped on the copper 
coins, and denote 1, 5, 10, 20, 40 noumia respectively.^ 
These marks continued until the time of Phocas, when 
the Greek M was replaced (on the 40-noumia piece) by 
the Latin XXXX." 

Coinage systevi under Heraclius I, a.d. 610-41. Ratio of silver 
to gold 12 for 1. 

4(3 copper noumia = 1 copper follis. 
6 folles = 1 silver siliqua, 34"17 grains standard. 

12 folles = 1 silver drachma, 68"34 grains standard. 

12 drachmas = 1 gold solidus, 69'90 grains standard. 

5 (.'') solidi := 1 libra of account. 

Hence 5760 noumia = 1 gold solidus. 

The weight of the solidus in this system is that of the 
extant coins in the best state of preservation. The legal 
weight may have been a grain more. The contents of 
fine gold in the solidus was 65 grains, and the fine silver 
contents of the siliqua 32 1 grains. It was upon the solidus 
of this system that the Arabians built their gold dinar. They 
evidently weighed and assayed a number of the solidi in 
actual circulation, and finding them to contain exactly 65 
grains of fine gold, determined this for the contents of the 
dinar. In their earlier coinages they also adopted the silver 

i drachma of 65 grains fine and the Roman ratio of 12 for 1 ; 

' but this was swept away by Abd-el-Melik, and from his 
time forward nothing except the dinar remained to con- 
nect the Moslem coinages with the Empire of Augustus. 

Coinage system tinder Justinian II (Bhinotmetus), a.d. 685-95, 

and again 705-11. Ratio of silver to gold 12 for 1. 
4.0 copper noumia =: 1 copper follis. 

6 folles =: 1 silver siliqua, 34"17 grains standard. 
24 siliquas = 1 gold solidus, 68'35 grains standard. 

5 (?) solidi = 1 libra of account. 

Hence 5760 noumia = 1 gold solidus. 

On this coinage appears the earliest unquestionable 

^ Finlay, i, 445. - Humphreys, 371. 



Christian legend and the earliest effigy of Christ. These 
sacred emblems appear on the gold solidus, described by 
Sabatier : dN. IVSTINIANYS. SERY. ChPSTI. Full- 
faced bust of Justinian, diademed, with cross on top, the 
emperor clothed in a tight-fitting robe, ornamented with 
strings of pearls arranged in squares. In his right 
hand a " potency '' cross on three steps ; in his left 
hand a globe, on which appears the word '' PAX," the same 
surmounted by a Greek cross. Reverse : dX. Ihs. ChS. 
EEX REGNANTIVM. Full-faced bust of Christ. The ex- 
tremities of the arms of a small cross appear behind 
the ears and above the head. Under the left arm a book. 
There are so few coins extant of this period that, between 
the reigns of Leo Isaurusand Michael I, or from a.d. 718 
to 811, Sabatier, whose woi'k is believed to contain a 
complete list of all the Byzantine types, only furnishes 
seventy-three types during the entire interval. As this is 
an interval of the greatest interest to the Western world, 
because it embraces the coinage system of Charlemagne, 
we have endeavoured to fill the blank thus left with the 
system of Xicephorus I. In the table of equivalents we 
have been guided by Sabatier and the mediaeval texts cited 
in Guerard's '' Polyptique d'Irminon " and De Vienne's 
*' Livre d' Argent." Queipo has noticed that the silver 
coins of Basileus II (a.d. 962), Romanus I (a.d. 918), 
Nicephorus II (a.d. 963-9), and the emperors of Tre- 
bizond are assimilated in weight to the Arabian dirhem 
or its subdivisions.^ In like manner, it is to be remai'ked 
that the gold coins of all the Byzantine emperors, from 
Heraclius onward, are closely allied to the Ai-abian dinar 
of 65 grains fine. This remark includes the coins of Nice- 
phorus I. 

1 Table Ixi, vol. ii, p. 464, 


Coinage system of Nicejyhorus I [Logothetes), son of Irene, 

A.D. 8(»2-ll. Bntio of silver to gold 12 for 1. 
3 copper folles = 1 silver half-siliqua, 15-| grains fine. 
2 half-siliquas = 1 silver siliqua, 31-| grains fine. 
1^ siliquas = 1 Arabian dirhem, 46|- grains fine. 

2 siliquas = 1 miliaresion, 63i grains fine. 

3 miliaresia = 1 gold tetarteron, or sicilicus, lo|- grains fine. 

4 miliaresia = 1 gold triens, 21^ grains fine. 
12 miliaresia := 1 gold solidiis, 63i grains fine. 

solidi = 1 libra of account, 317i grains fine. 

Hence 12 half-siliquas, or denarii = 1 sicilicus, or tetarteron. 
20 sicilici, or sbillings = 1 libra. 
24(!) denarii, or pennies = 1 libra. 

The tetarteron, or gold slnlliug, appears in both 

■ earlier and latter coinage systems, for example, in the 
[monetary denominations of Nicephorus II and Phocas. 

Tetarteron means the fourth part, and is the Greek 
equivalent of the Latin qiiartarius, as quartarius vini, 
Avlience our quart of wine, meaning the quarter of a 
gallon. Tetarteron is also the equivalent of the Latin 
sicilicus, or fourth part, whence came our shilling, which 
was the fourth of the solidus and twentieth of the libra, as 
it is still. Gold shillings or quarter-solidi were struck by 
many of the Eoman sovereigns, and are not uncommon 
in the great numismatic collections. In the same sense 
that sicilicus was issued for the fourth of the aureus, 
scrupulum was anciently used for the ninth and after- 
wards the tenth of the aureus. 

The solidus of the above system is taken from the 

unique specimens extant attributed to Irene and Nice- 

.: phorus, both of which are described and portrayed by 

Sabatier. The former has simply " Irene, Basileus,^^ 

■ with her bust and a cross on both sides ; the latter 
has " Nicephorus Basileus," with his bust on one side, 

[ and " IhSuS. XRISTVS. uICA," with a potency cross on 
the other. Nike, Nika, Nica, etc., means the Victor or Yic- 

■ torious, and it appears in the name of Nicephorus himself. 

1 Livy, V, 47. 


Coinage system under Basil I, a.d. 867-86. Ratio of silver 
to gold 12 for 1. 

20 noumia ^ 1 eikosavion. 

2 eikosaria, or oboli = 1 copper folHs. 

6 foUes = 1 silver keration, or siliqua, gross weight 41'46 

= 34 grains standard.^ 

2 siliquas = 1 miliaresion, 68 grains standard. 

12 miliaresia = 1 gold solidus, 68 grains standard. 

5 solidi = 1 libra of account. 

Hence 5760 noumia = 1 gold solidus. 

Coinage system under Basil II and Constantine VIII, 
A.D, 976-1025. Ratio of silver to gold 12 for 1. 

20 noumia = 1 obolus. 

2 oboli =: 1 copper foUis, 

6 folles = 1 silver siliqua, 41'5 grains gross, or 34 grains standard. 
2 siliquas = 1 miliaresion, 68 grains standard. 

12 miliaresia = 1 gold solidus, 68 grains standard. 
5 solidi = 1 libra of account. 

Hence 5760 noumia = 1 gold solidus. 

It will scarcely fail to be remarked that the number 
of noumia to the solidus exactly corresponds to the 
number of grains in the troy pound of the Western 
world — a circumstance that, remembering- the common 
practice of the Eomans to apply their subdivisions of 
money to measures of various kinds, suggests the origin 
of the troy pound weight. It has been the common 
method of metrologists to seek for the origin of moneys 
in weights. The present example, and many others men- 
tioned in my " Middle Ages Revisited/^ leads to the 
belief that the converse is the fact, and that the origin 
of weights is to be found in mone3^s. In other words, 
that the first weights were coins, and that weights de- 
scended from coins, rather than coins from weights. This 
consideration, should it hold good, would vitiate a large 
portion of the laborious metrological work of Boeckh, 
Mommsen, Queipo, and others. 

With the system of Basil II ends our review of the 

1 This means when reduced to the same standard as the gold coins. 

ROME. 101 

coinages of tlie Eoinan Empire, because, from his reign 
to the fall of Constantinople, they underwent no im- 
portant changes ; indeed, according to Finlay, none at 
all. The aureus of the succeeding Basilei varied from 
68 grains, in the reign of Constantine Porphyi'ogenitus, 
to 65 grains in that of John Comnenus, and rose again 
in that of Eudoxiato 68 grains, where it remained to the 
I end ; while the denarius, siliqua, or ai'genteus, of which 
i 24 went to the aureus, was coined at just half these 
!' weights, thus always maintaining the sacerdotal ratio 
of 12 silver to 1 gold. Even after the Empire fell and 
the Western States, as Venice, Florence, Amalfi, Aragon, 
i etc., began to coin gold, they maintained the same ratio 
i of 12 to 1 in their coinages, until this ratio came into 
■ conflict with the Moorish ratios in Andalusia and the 
I Oothic ratios of the Baltic and Low Countries. 

This review would be incomplete witliout some refer- 
I -ence to the Western coinage systems that grew out of 
; those of the Byzantine Empire, and especially the systems 
of the Meringovinian and Carlovingian dynasties. As a 
rule, political, ecouomists of the present day do not take 
; the trouble to study the history of money ; it is much 
easier to imagine it and to deduce the principles of this 
imao'inarv knowledge. Therefore but little information 
of a reliable character relating to this subject appears in 
their works. One of the most experienced, and yet the 
most recent writers of this class, repeats the idle tale to 
be found in many economical works, that Charlemagne 
invented the £ s. d. system still used in England.-^ 
In fact, Chai'lemagne neither invented the system nor 
struck the coins requisite to complete it. The libra was 
a money of account, the solidus he never struck ; his 
coinage began and ended with the denai-ius, which formed 
merely the tail end of a system whose beginning belonged 
to a remote antiquity, and whose principal elements were 
still firmly held in the grasp of the Basileus. 

^ Mr. Henry Dunning MacLeod's " Bi-Metallism," London, 1894. 


Tlie prei'ogative and monopoly of the gold coinage, 
except as to the Ponto-Bosporian guardians of the Asian 
temples and mysteries of Greek and Roman veneration, 
was never parted with, to subject-kings and vassal states, 
by the sovereign-pontiff of Eome. Even the Eoman 
proconsuls, illustrious and powerful as were many of these 
officers, were not permitted to exercise this right until it 
was reluctantly conceded by Anastasius I to Clovis, the 
Merovingian king of the Franks, and Amalric, king of the 
Visigoths of Spain, both of whom were procousuls of Rome. 

In his earlier coinages, Clovis (a.d. 481—512) appears 
to have adopted a ratio of 8 silver for 1 gold — a con- 
venient mean between the Roman ratio of 12 and the 
Indian ratios of 6^ to 6^, which, even at that early period, 
must have exercised an influence upon the trade of the 
Baltic.^ In his later coinages the ratio was 10 for 1. 

The principal coins of Clovis were the solidus and 
triente, both of excellent gold, and both stamped with 
the effigy of Anastasius. Clovis also coined silver denarii, 
but at what tale relation to the gold coins is uncertain. 
The marks of Roman suzerainty which he placed upon 
his coins Avere repeated on those of his successors, Clo- 
domir, Childebert I, and Clothaire I. At a later period 
the coinage of copper was added to that of gold and 
silver, and the marks of suzerainty were sometimes limited 
to the gold coins, until in the middle coinages of Theode- 
bert, king of Austrasia (a.d. 534—47), they disappeared 
altogether, and in their place stood the effigy of the- 
barbarian king and the legend D. N. THEODEBERTYS. 
This, of course, was a proclamation of defiance to the 
Basileus, and as such it was resented by Justinian and 
recorded bv Procopius.^ NotAvitbstanding the decrepitude- 
of the Empire, its prestige was still so great, and venera- 
tion for its sacerdotal claims so widespread, that the- 

' " Ancient Bntain," index word, '" Pagan Hansa." 
"^ Lenormant, ii, 449. ' Procop. "Bell. Goth.," iii, 33. 

EOME. 103 

example of Theodebert was avoided by his coutemporaries, 
wlio refrained, with superstitious horror, from the impiety 
of striking gold without the authority of the Basileus. 
Yet Theodebert's revolt was not altogether without its 
influence. Little by little the marks of Byzantine 
suzerainty upon their rude coinages became fainter, and 
by the seventh century the Merovingian coins and 
monetary regulations gave evidence of little more than a 
trace of Roman suzerainty. The following table of 
weights and valuations is derived from the coins and texts 
cited by Guerard, Leuormant, De Vienn^;, and others : 

Typical coinage system of the Merovingian kings during the 
seventh century. Ratio of silver to gold 10 /or 1. 

12 (.^) copper oboli =: 1 silver denarius, ITs grains. 
10 denarii = 1 gold sicilicns, 17i grains. 

13-| denarii =: 1 gold triente, 23^ grains. 

40 denarii = 1 gold solidus, or coronatus, 7Q\ grains. 

5 solidi = 1 libra of account. 

It was to these coronati that Pope Gregory referred 
when he said that they Avould not pass in Italy. ^ 

The Empire of Gaul lost by Byzantium was soon 
recovered by Eome. An alliance with Pepin the Short 
ended the Merovingian dynasty, established the temporal 
power of the Roman bishops, and erected the dynasty of 
the Carlovingians. The coinage regulations, however, 
still continued subject to the Basileus, and doubtless 
formed part of that definitive ti-eaty of partition which 
was made between Xicephorus I and Charlemagne at 
Seltz in 802 or 803."' Under this treaty it would seem 
that the coinage of gold was expressly reserved to the 
Basileus and of copper to the Byzantine Senate ; for as 
a matter of fact from the accession of Charlemagne to the 
downfall of the Byzantine Empire in 1204, neither gold 
nor copper coins, but only silver ones, were struck by any 

1 Freheri, 39. 

* Authorities differ as to this date. Consult "Middle Ages Revisited." 


Christian prince except the Basileus. The ratio of silver 
to gold, which the Merovingiaos had fixed at 10 for 1, was 
gradually changed by Charlemagne to the sacerdotal ratio 
of 12. It is this change of ratio which explains the 
frequently-altered weights of Charlemagne's denarii, and 
his tale relations of the Byzantine sou d'or, or gold 
sicilicus (shilling) to the libra of account. 

Carlovingian coinage system tinder Pepin, a.d. 754. Ratio of 
silver to gold 10 for 1. 

10 silver denarii, 17i grains (?) = 1 petite sou cl'or, 17§ grains (?) 
22 sous d'or = 1 livre de compte. 

These sous d^or were coined by the Basileus. Some- 
times the worn triente took the place of the sicilicus. 
The copper coins which circulated in Western Europe 
were also of Byzantine mintage. The silver coins alone 
were struck in the West. Pepin not only refrained from 
the coinage of gold, he forbade it to the princes subject 
to his authority. In both these respects he was followed 
by Charlemagne and all the Western emperors until the 
reign of Frederick II. 

Carlovingian coinage system under Charlemagne, a.u. 803. 
Ratio of silver to gold 12 for 1. 

12 Byzantine coppers = 1 Carlovingian silver denier/ 17^ grains. 
12 deniers = 1 Byzantine sou d'or, 17i grains. 

20 sous d'or = 1 livre de compte. 

Hence 240 deniers = 1 libra. 

With regard to the value of gold and silver one to the 
other, it is to be observed that there are four distinct 
periods in the history of this relation. These are : 

First, the period from the accession of Julius Caesar to 
the fall of the Roman or Greek Empire in 1204, during which 
time the Roman government, by monopolising the coinage 
of gold, and fixing the ratio between gold coins and silver, 

ROME. 105 

whether coined or otherwise, at 12 for 1, kept it constant 
and unaltered at that figure. As, during the same interval, 
the ratio in the Orient and the Arabian States was about 6| 
for 1, and in the Gothic States 8 for 1, some variation from 
the Roman ratio is to be observed near the frontiers of the 
Empire, but not elsewhere. 

Second, the period from the fall of Constantinople to 
the enactment of Individual, Private, or Free coinage in 
Holland, England, and other States in the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries. During this interval the various 
princes of the Occident began to coin gold, each for him- 
self, and they fixed the ratio to suit their own interests or 
necessities. This period is characterised by the wildest 
dissonance of the ratio. It was a contest, on the one hand, 
between monarchs, who alternately raised their gold coins 
to the value of nearly tAventy times their weight in silver 
(France in 1813), and raised their silver coins to the value 
of an equal weight in gold (France in 1359); and, on the 
•other hand, their subjects and foreigners, who, until they 
adopted measures of avoidance or reprisal, were made the 
victims of these frequent and ruinous changes of value. 

Third, the period from the adoption of individual or free 
coinage to the years 1871-5. The principal States of the 
Occident ceased to coin silver for individual account at 
the dates last mentioned. During this interval the ratio 
■of value between gold and silver was the mint price, or 
the result of a competition between the mints of the prin- 
cipal States. For example, the value of gold in silver, 
i -during this interval, never rose above the highest price paid 
: for it at any important mint, and never fell below the price 
i paid for it at any other important mint. In other words, 
nobody gave more nor less in one metal for the other than 
the mints gave, and the mints gave whatever the law 
directed. The so-called " market value " of this period 
I was simply the average mint price, and was, therefore, 
rather what may be termed an international mint ratio. 
Fourth, the period since 1871—5, when silver, being 


coined by tlie pi'incipal States on their own account alone, 
there arose in the West, for the first time since the establish- 
ment of free coinage, a general market value between gold 
and silver, entirely distinct from, and having only a remote 
relation to, their mint value. 



Coinage the surest mark of sovereignty — Abstention of the Christian 
princes from mining and coining gold, from Pepin to Frederick II — Dates 
of the earliest Christian coinages of gold in the "West — Inadequate reasons 
hitherto given to explain this singular circumstance — Opinions of Camden 
• — Ruding — Father Joubert — The true reason given by Procopius — The 
coinage of gold was a Sacred Myth and a prerogative of the Roman em- 
peror — Its origin and history — Braminical Code — The Myth during the 
Roman Republic — During the Civil Wars — Conquest of Egypt by Julius 
Caesar — Seizure of the Oriental trade — The Sacred Myth embodied in the 
Julian Constitution — Popularity and longevity of the Myth — It was 
transmitted by the pagan to the Christian Church of Rome, and adopted 
by the latter — Its importance in throwing light upon the relations of the 
Western kingdoms to the Roman Empire. 

rr^HE right to coin money has always been and still 
-*~ remains the surest mark and announcement of 
sovereignty. A curious proof of this is afforded by the 
story told by Edward Thomas^ in his " Pathan Kings of 
Delhi," of that Persian commander who, being suspected 
of a treasonable design towards his sovereign, diverted 
suspicion from himself to the king's son by coining and 
circulating pieces of money with the latter's super- 
scription.^ Says Mr. Thomas : " Some, perhaps many, 
of the Mahometan coinages of India constituted merely 
a sort of numismatic proclamation or assertion and 
declaration of conquest and supremacy," In ancient 
times such conquest and supremacy often embraced the 
triumph of an alien religion. Where printing- was un- 
common and the newspaper unknown, a new gold or silver 
coinage was the most effective means of proclaiming the 

^ " History Money," p. 89. 


accession of a new ruler or the era of a new religion.^ 
At the period of the earliest voj^ages of the Portuguese to 
India, the same significance was attached to the prero- 
gative of coinage. Says Duarbe Barbosa : " There are 
many other lords in Malabar who wish to call themselves 
kings, but they are not so, because they are not able to 
coin money. . . . The king of Cochin could not coin 
money, nor roof his house with tiles, under pain of losing 
his fief (to the king of Calicut, his suzerain) ; but since 
the Portuguese went there, he has been released from 
this, so that now he lords it absolutely and coins money. ^^ 
Father Du Halde, in his "History of China," makes a 
similar statement in reference to that country. Says he : 
" There were formei'ly twenty-two several places where 
money was fabricated, at which time there were princes 
so powerful that they were not contented with the rank 
of duke, but assumed the dignity of sovereigns ; yet 
they never durst attempt to fabricate money, for, how- 
ever weak the emperor's authority Avas, the coins have 
always had the stamp that he commanded.^ 

The custom of employing coins as a means of promul- 
gating religious doctrine and official information was 
adopted by the Romans during the Commonwealth. It 
may be traced, at a later period, in the otherwise super- 
fluous coinages of the Empire. Julius, Hadrian, and 
Theodoric depicted the principal events of their reigns 
upon their coins. In the absence of felted paper and 
printing ink, it was the only means the ancients had of 
printing and disseminating the most important intelligence 
and opinions. Addison correctly regarded the Roman 
coinage as a sort of '' State Gazette," in which all the 
great events of the Empire were periodically published. 

^ Gibbon declared that were all other records destroyed, the travels o£ 
the Emperor Hadrian could be shown from his coins alone. The Em- 
peror Theodoric the Goth stamped his coins with the view to instruct 
posterity ("History Money," p. 89, n.). 

- Duarte Barbosa, pp. 103 and 157 ; Du Halde, ii, 293. 


It had this advantage over any other kind of monument : 
it could not be successfully mutilated, forged, or sup- 
pressed. Especially is the fabrication and issuance of 
full legal-tender coins the mark of sovereignty. Towards 
the end of the Republic and during the Empire this 
attribute belonged alone to gold coins ; therefore, to 
speak of these is to speak of full legal-tender money. 
Vassal princes, nobles, and prelates, under the warrant 
of their suzerains, everywhere struck coins of silver, 
which, although legal tender in their OAvn dominions, were 
not so elsewhere, unless by special wari'ant from the 
Basileus ; but no Christian vassal ever struck gold without 
intending to proclaim his own independent sovei-eignty 
and without being prepared to defy the suzerainty of the 

Lenormant, in his great work on the " Moneys of 
Antiquity,'^ holds similar language. '^ With the excep- 
tion of the Sassanian coinages down to the reign of 
Sapor III, it is certain that the coinage of gold, no 
matter where, was alwaj^s intended as a marked defiance to 
the pretensions of sovereignty by the Roman Empire ; for 
example, during the period of the Republic, about B.C. 86, 
the gold coinages of Mithridates, in various places over 
which he had extended his conquests. The supremacy 
of Rome was so widely accepted both East and West, that 
for many centuries neither the provinces subject directly 
or indirectly to the Basileus, nor even the more or less 
independent States adjacent to the Empire, ever attempted 
to coin gold money. When gold was struck by such 
States it was as a local money of the Roman sovereign." ^ 
As such it yielded him seigniorage ; it bore his stamp ; 
its use implied and acknowledged his suzerainty, both 
spiritual and temporal ; while its issuance was subject to 
such regulations as he choosed to impose. 

Commodus refused to believe that his favourite Peren- 
nius aspired to the Empire until he was shown some pieces 
1 Lenormant, ii, 427. 


of provincial mouey, upon wliich appeai'ed the effigy of 
bis faithless minister.^ Elagabalus condemned Valerius 
Peetus to death for striking some bijoux pieces of gold 
for his mistress, upon which he liad imprudently caused 
his own image to be stamped."^ The very first act of a 
Roman sovereign after his accession, election, or pi-o- 
clamation by the legions, was to strike coins, that act 
being deemed the surest mark of sovereignty. Vespasian, 
when proclaimed by the legions in Asia, hurried to strike 
gold and silver coins at Antioch.^ Antoninus Diadu- 
menus, the son of Macrinus, was no sooner nominated 
by the legions as the associate of his father in the Empire, 
than the latter hastened to strike money at Antioch in 
his son's name, in order to definitively proclaim his acces- 
sion to the purple.* When Septimius Severus accepted 
his rival, Albinus, as his associate on the imperial throne, 
he coined money at Rome in the name of Albinus as 
evidence to the latter of his agreement and good faith. ^ 
Vopiscus, in his life of Firmus, asserts that the latter 
was no brigand, but a lawful sovereign, in whose name 
money had been coined. Pollion says that when Trebel- 
lius was elected emperor by the inhabitants of Isaurus, 
he immediately hastened to strike money as the sign of 
his accession to power.^ When the partisans of Pro- 
copius, the rival of Valens, sought to win Illyria to their 
master^s cause, they exhibited the gold aurei which bore 
his name and effigy, as evidence that he was the rightful 
head of the Roman Empire.^ Moses of Khorene informs 
us that " when a new king of Persia ascended the throne, 
all the money in the royal treasury was recoined with 
his effigy." ^ Even when countermarks were stamped 
upon the Roman coins, care was taken never to deface 

1 Herodian, i, 9. * Herodian, ii, 15. 

2 " Dion. Cass.," Ixxix, 4. ^ " Thirty Tyrants," xxv. 

3 " Tact. Hist.," ii, 82. ' "Ammianus Marcellinus," xxvi, 7. 
* Lapridinus, in " Diadumenus," 2. ^ Lavoix, MS., p. 12. 


tlie effigy of the sacred emperor.^ The iuterchauge of 
religious antipathy and defiance, which Abd-el-Melik 
and Justinian stamped upon their coins, is I'elated else- 
where. Indeed, history is full of such instances. The 
coinage of money, and especially of gold, was always the 
prerogative of supreme authority." The jealous monopoly 
of gold coinage by the sovereign-pontitf ascends to the 
Achimenides of Persia, that is to say, to Cyrus and 
Darius ; ^ in fact, it ascends to the Brarains of India. 
The Greek and Roman Republics broke it down ; Ceesar 
set it up again. 

Assuming the common belief that the Christian princes 
of mediaeval Europe were in all respects independent 
sovereigns before the destruction of the Roman Empire 
by the fall of Constantinople, in 1204, it is difficult to 
explain the circumstancj that none of them ever struck a 
gold coin before that event, and that all of them struck gold 
coins immediately afterwards. There was no abstention 
from gold coinage by either the Goths, the Celts, the Greeks, 
or the Romans-of-the-Commonwealth ; there was no ab- 
stention from gold coinage by the Merovingian Franks or 
the Arabians of later ages ; there was no lack of gold mines 
or of gold river- washings in any of thepi'ovinces or countries 
of the West ; there was no want of knowledge concerning 
the manner of raising, smelting, or stamping gold ; yet we 
find the strange fact that wherever the authority of the 
Roman sovereign-pontiff was established, there and then the 
coinage, nay, sometimes even the production, of gold at once 
stopped. It must be borne in mind that it is not the use 
of gold coins to which reference is made, but the coinage — 
the minting and stamping, of gold. In England gold 
coins, except during the early days of the Heptarchy, have 
been in use from the remotest era to the present time. 
Such coins were either Gothic (including Saxon), Celtic, 

^ Lenovmant, ii, 389 ; iii, 389. - Lavoix, MS., p. 10. 

' Lenorinant, ii, 195, 196. 


Frankish or Moslem, but never Eomau, unless struck 
by or under the sovereign-pontiff. In a word, for more: 
than thirteen centuries — that is, from Augustus to Alexis 
IV — the gold coins of the Empire, East and "West, were 
struck exclusively by the Basileus. Again, from the 
eighth to the thirteenth century, a period of five hundred 
years, we have no evidence of any native Christian gold 
coinage under any of the kings of Britain. AVith the 
exception of a unique and dubious coin, now in the Paris 
collection, which bears the effigy of Louis le Debonnaire, 
the same is true of France, Germany, Italy ; indeed, of all 
the provinces of the Empire whose princes were Christians. 

Before pointing out the significance of these circum- 
stances, it will be useful to clear the ground by examining 
the explanations of others. Caiudeu conjectures that 
" ignorance " w^as the cause ; but Dr. Ending very justly 
remarks that it could not have been ig-noi^ance of refiuingr 
or coining gold, because silver, a much more difficult 
metal to treat, aud one that in its natural state is nearly 
always combined with gold, had been refined and coined 
in Britain for many ages.^ Dr. Ending and Lord Liver- 
pool both have supposed that coins of gold were not 
wanted during the middle ages ; but this is worse than 
Camden's conjecture, for it flies in the face of a palpable 
fact. That gold coins were indeed wanted is proved by 
the very common use of gold aurei, solidi, folles, or 
besants throughout all this period. Xot only this, but the 
Arabian gold dinar, or mancus, was current in all the 
countries of the Xorth ; and either this coin or the gold 
maravedi was the principal medium of exchange in the 
trade of the Baltic. 

Another explanation which has been advanced is, that 
the confusion caused by the conquests or revolts of the 
barbarians resulted in the closure of the gold mines, and 
rendered gold metal too scarce for coinage into money. 
Explanations which take no heed of the truth, made 
^ Camden's " Eemains," art. " Money," p. 241. 


' eitlier iu ignorance or desperation, may be multiplied 

indefinitely "without serving any useful end. The facts 

were precisely the reverse of what is here assumed. It 

I was the barbarians who opened the gold mines and the 

I Christians who closed them. The heretical Moslem, 

; Franks, Avars, Saxons, Noi'semen, and English all opened 

I gold mines during the mediasval ages. The moment 

I these people became Christians, or were conquered or 

brought under the control of the Roman hierarchy, their 

gold mines began to be abandoned and closed.^ 

All such futile explanations are effectually answered 
by the common use of Byzantine gold coins throughout 
■ Christendom. In England, for example, the exchequer 
rolls relating to the mediaeval ages, collated by Madox, 
prove that payments in gold besants were made every 
day, and that gold coins, as compared with silver ones, 
were as common then as now.^ If metal had been wanted 
for making English gold coins, it was to be had in suffi- 
ciency and at once. All that was necessary was to throw 
the besants into the English melting-pot. As for the 
feeble suggestion that for five hundred years no Chris- 
tian princes wished to coin gold so long as the Basileus 
was willing to coin for them, when the coinage of gold 
Avas the universally recognised mark of sovereignty, and 
when, also, the profit, as we shall presently see, was one 
hundred per cent., it is scarcely worth answering. The 
greatest historians of the mediasval ages — Montesquieu, 
Gibbon, Robertson, Hallam, Guizot, etc. — have neither 
remarked these facts nor sought for any explanation 
concerning the gold coinage. In their days the science 
of numismatics had not yet freed itself from the toils of 
the sophist and forger, and it offered but little aid to 
historical investigations. It has since become their chief 

^ "History Precious Metals" ; " History Money." 
^ Lord Liverpool does not appear to have perused this valuable and in- 
stnictive work. 



The true reason why gold money was always used but 
never coined by the princes of the mediasval empire, 
relates not to any circumstances connected with the pro- 
duction, plentifulness, scarcity, or metallurgical treat- 
ment of gold, but to that hierarchical constitution of 
pagan Rome, which afterwards with modifications became 
the constitution of Christian Rome. Under this con- 
stitution, and from the epoch of Julius to that of Alexis, 
the mining and coinage of gold was a prerogative attached 
to the office of the sovereign-pontiff, and was, there- 
fore, an article of the Roman constitution and of the 
Roman religion. Although it is probable that during 
the dark and middle ages the prerogative of mining 
was violated by many who would never have dai-ed to 
commit the more easily-detected sacrilege of coinage, 
there ai-e no evidences of such violation by Christians. 

The mines of Kremnitz, which contained both silver 
and gold, and which Agricola says were opened in a.d. 
550, were in the territory of the pagan Avars ; the gold 
washings of the Elbe, re-opened in 719, were in the 
hands of the pagan Saxons and Merovingian Franks ; so 
were the gold washings of the Rhine, Rhone, and Garonne ; 
the gold mines of Africa and Spain, re-opened in the 
eighth century, were worked by the heretical Moslem ; 
the gold mines of Kaurzim, in Bohemia, opened in 998, 
were managed by pagan Czechs. Whenever and wherever 
Christianity was established, gold mining appears to 
have been relinquished to the Basileus or abandoned 
altogether. So long as the Byzantine empire lasted, 
neither the emperor of the West, nor any of the other 
princes of Christendom, except the Basileus himself, 
seem to have conducted or permitted gold mining. 

With regard to gold coinage the facts are simple and 
indisputable. Julius Caesar erected the coinage of gold 
into a sacerdotal prerogative; this prerogative was attached 
to the sovereign and his successors, not as the emperors, 
but as the high priests of Rome ; it was enjoyed by every 


Basileus, whether pagan or Christian, of the joint and 
Eastern empires from the Julian conquest of Alexandria 
to the papal destruction of Constantinople ; the pieces 
bore the rayed effigies of the deified Caesars, and some of 
them the legend '^ Theos Sebastos." When emperor- 
worship was succeeded by Christianity they bore the effigy 
of Jesus Christ.^ It would have been sacrilege, punishable 
by torture, death, and anathema for any other prince than 
the sovereign-pontiff to strike coins of gold ; it would have 
been sacrilege to give currency to any others ; hence no 
other Christian prince, not even the pope of Rome, nor the 
sovereign of the Western or Mediseval empire, attempted to 
coin gold while the ancient Empire survived. 

Says Procopius : " Every liberty was given by the 
Basileus Justinian I to subordinate princes to coin silver 
as much as they choosed, but they must not strike gold 
coins, no matter how much gold they possessed ; ^' and he 
intimates that the distinction was neither new nor its sig- 
nificance doubtful. Theophanus (eighth century), Cedrenus 
(eleventh century), and Zonaras (twelfth century) state 
that Justinian II broke the peace of 68Q with Abd-el-Melik 
because the latter paid his tribute in pieces of gold which 
bore not the effigy of the Roman emperor. In vain the 
Arabian caliph pleaded that the coins were of full weight 
and fineness, and that the Arabian merchants would nou 
accept coins of the Roman type. Here are the exact 
Avords of Zonaras : " Justinian broke the treaty with the 
Arabs because the annual tribute was paid, not in pieces 

1 William Till (p. 39) says that Justin II (a.d. 565-78) first struck the 
aureus (solidus, or besant) with the efSgy of Christ and the legend 
" Dominus Xoster, Jesus Christus, rex regnantium," and that this prac- 
tice was observed down to the fall of the Byzantine empire. This state- 
ment is erroneous in several respects. The first name of Christ on the 
Eoman coins was never spelled " Jesus," but, successively, " Ihs," 
■" Issus," and " lesus." The efiigy of Christ did not appear on the coins 
of Justin II. It first appeared on a gold solidus of Justinian II (Klii- 
notmetus) who reigned 685-95, and again 705-11 (Sabatier, " Monnaies 
Byzantines," ii, 22). 


with tlie imperial effigy, but after a new type ; and it is not 
permitted to stamp gold coins with any other efG^gy but that 
of the emperor of Rome/' ^ The "new type " complained of 
probably had as much to do with the matter as the absence 
of Justinian's effigy. That new type was the effigy of 
Abd-el-Melik with a drawn sword in his hand, and the 
Mahometan religious formula : a triple offence — an insult, 
a defiance, and a sacrilege. 

The privilege accorded to subject-kings with regard to 
silver was extended to both mining and coinage. Silver 
mining and coinage was conducted by all the Western 
princes, the Western emperor included. The pope dis- 
posed of a few coining privileges to new or weak States, 
or dependent bishoprics, the Western emperors disposed 
of others to the commercial cities ; but for the most part 
silver was coined b}^ the feudal princes, each for himself, 
and not under any continuing prerogative of the empire, 
whether ancient or mediasval. 

The following table shows some of the earliest gold 
coinages of Christian Europe : — 

1225. Naples (Aiualfi). — Aurei, or augustals, of Frederick II; 81 to 82 
English grains fine. 

1225. Leo>". — Gold ducats o£ Alfonso, gross weight 541 English grains, 
with the following inscription in Arabic : " In the 
name of the Father, Son, and Holv Ghost, God is 
One. He who believes and is baptised will be 

1 From the period a.d. 645, when their conquests deprived the Eoman 
empire of the bulk of its Asiatic and African possessions, to about the 
beginning of the eighth century, the Arabians struck coins with the 
effigy of the Eoman emperor and the emblems ^ and the cross. At tliat 
period they struck coins still with these emblems, but in place of the 
emperor's effigy, that of Abd-el-Melik with a drawn sword in hand. 
Like the maravedis of Henry III (1257) and the nobles of Edward III 
(1344), the issue of these coins amounted to an assertion of independent 
sovereignty, and as such was resented by Justinian. To the nummu- 
lary proclamation of the Arabian : " The servant of God, Abd-el-Melik, 
Emir-el-Moumenim," the Eoman replied : " Our Lord Justinian, servant 
of Christ." 


saved. This dinar was struck in Medina Tolei- 
tola, in the year 1225, month of Saphar."' Here 
is a curious mixture of doctrines and dates. 

1225. PoETCGAL. — Gold ducats of Sancho I, weighing oik grains gross. 

1250. France. — Gold agnels, or dinars, struck for Louis IX by Blanche, 
his mother. Weight 63^ grains gross.- 

1252. Floeexce. — Republican zecchins or florins, 56 grains fine. 

1257. ExGLAXD. — Pennies, or maravedis, of Henry III, 43 grains line. 

1276. Venice. — Zecchins or sequins, 55^^ grains fine. 

loiX). Boh. and Pol. — Ducats of Veneslas, 54J grains gross. 

1316. Avignon. — Sequins of Pope John XXII, SIA grains fine.' 

1496. Den. and Xoe. — Eight-mark piece of John, 240 grains gross.^ 

' Although this can hardly be deemed a Christian coin, I have in- 
cluded it in the table. Heiss publishes a gold coin with "Ferdinand" 
on one side, and " In nomine Patris et Filii Spiritus Sanctus " on the 
other, which he ascribes to Ferdinand I (II), 1157-88 ; but Saez is posi- 
tive that they are sueldos of Ferdinand II (III), 1230-52. There is 
about the same difference of time between the Julian and Christian eras. 
The next gold coins, after those of Alfonso, were either the sueldos of 
Barba Robea, in the thirteenth century, or the Alfonsines struck by 
Alfonso XI, of Castile, 1312-50. The latter had a castle of three 
turrets on one side, and a rampant lion on the other. Gross weight 67'89 
English grains (Heiss, i, 51 ; iii, 218). 

^ Baron Malestroict (" Inst.," p. 4) ascribes the first gold agnel to 
Blanche of Castile, as regent of France during the minority of Louis 
IX. Patin (" History of Coins," p. 38) repeats that they were struck by 
Blanche as regent, but says nothing more. As Blanche was regent a 
second time (during the sixth crusade, 1248-52), these coins were 
probably struck in 1250 to defray the expenses of that war. Louis' 
Hansom of 100,000 marks was probably paid in silver. " There were 
sent to Louis in talents, in sterlings, and in approved money of Cologne 
(not the base coins of Paris or Tours), eleven waggons of money, each 
loaded with two iron-hooped barrels " (M. Paris, sub anno 1250, vol. ii, 
pp. 342, 378, 380). Humphreys (p. 532) ascribes these agnels to Philip 
le Hardi, 1270-85 ; but there is no reason to doiibt the earlier and moi'e 
explicit authority of Malestroict, Le Blanc, and Patin, nor the more recent 
judgment of Lenorraant (" Monnaies et Medailles," p. 228) and Hoff- 
man (" Monnaies Royale"). 

* This pope wrote a treatise on the transmutation of metals, the pro- 
lific examplar of many similar works. 

■* The eight-mark piece and its fractions, of King Hans fJohn), a.d. 
1481-1512, are in the Christiania Collection. The type of these coins is 


Tliat Christian Europe abstained from coining gold for 
five centuries because such coinage was a prerogative of 
the Basileus^ is an explanation that may not be acceptable 
to the old school of historians ; but this is not a sufficient 
reason for its rejection. The old school would have been 
very greedy of knowledge if they had not left something 
for the new school to discover. 

In his "Science des Medailles '' (i, 208-11), Father 
Joubert, and after him other numismatists, observing the 
strange abstention of the Christian princes from coining 
gold, and perhaps anxious to supply a reason for it 
which Avould have the effect to discourage any further 
examination of so suggestive a topic, invented or promul- 
gated the ingenious doctrine that the Roman emperors 
from the time of Augustus were invested, in like manner,. 
with the power to coin both gold and silver. If this 
doctrine enjoyed the advantage of being sound, it would 
deprive the long abstention from gold coinage by the 
Western princes of much of its significance ; because, 
assuming that the coinage of gold and silver stood upon 
the same footing, and remembering that all the Christian 
princes coined silver, their omission to coin gold might,, 
with some reason, be attributed to indifference. But 
that Father Joubert's doctrine is not sound is easily 

I. With the accession of Julius Ctesar was enacted 
a neAV and memorable change in the monetary system 
of Eome. The gold aureus was made the sole unlimited 
universal legal-tender coin of the empire ; the silver and 
copper coins were limited and localised in legal tender f 
the ratio of gold to silver in the coinage was sud- 
denly — and in the face of greatly increased supplies 
of gold bullion — raised from 9 silver to 12 silver for 1 
gold ; and the mining and commerce of gold were seized, 
controlled, and strictly monopolised by the sovereign- 

evidently copied from the nobles of Edward III, minted from 1351 tO' 


pontiff ; whereas the mining- of silver was thrown open to 
subsidiary princes and certain privileged individuals.^ 
With the production of gold thus limited to pontifical 
control, and that of silver thrown open to numerous per- 
sons, the coinage of the two metals in like manner, or 
under like conditions, was totally impracticable and his- 
torically untrue.' 

II. As will presently be shown more at length, the 
imperial treasury — which was kept distinct from the public 
treasury, and known by another name — was organised as 
a sacred institution ; its chief officer, then or later on, was 
invested with a sacred title ; the coinage of gold, which 
was placed under its management, was exercised as a 
sacred prerogative ; and the coins themselves were 
stamped with sacred emblems and legends.^ On the 
contrar}^, the coinage of silver was a secular prerogative ; 
it belong-ed to the emperor as a secular monarch, and as 
such it was thrown open to the subsidiaiy princes, nobles, 
and cities of the empire, while that of copper-bronze was 
resigned to the Senate. These are not like conditions of 
coinage, but, on the contrary, very unlike ones. 

III. From the accession of Julius to the fall of Con- 
stantinople, the ratio of value between gold and silver 
within the Roman empire, whether pagan or Christian, 
was always 1 to 12 ; whereas, during the same interval, 
it was 1 to 6^ in India, as well as in the Arabian empire, 
in Asia. Africa, and Spain ; and it was 1 to 8 in Freisland, 
Scandinavia, and the Baltic provinces. It is inconceivable 
that one single unvarying ratio of 1 to 12 should have 
been maintained for centuries by the innumerable and 
irreconcilable feudal provinces of the Roman empire, if 

^ The exportation of gold had been previously conti'olled by the Senate. 
Csesar made it a prerogative of the .sovereign-pontiff. 

- See " History Money," chapter xxv, for further consideration of this 

•'' The officers of the sacred fisc, who were stationed in tlie provinces to 
superintend the collection of gold for the sacred mint at Constantinople, 
are mentioned in the Notitia Imperii. 


tlie freedom to coin silver, exercised by the feudal princes, 
was in like manner extended to gold. 

IV. The authority of ancient "writers is conclusive on 
this subject. Cicero, Pliny, Procopius, and Zonaras, 
though they lived in distant ages, all concur in repre- 
senting that the coinage of the two precious metals was 
not conducted in like manner nor under like conditions. 

V. The authority of modern writers, for example, 
Letronne, Momrasen, and Lenormant, is to the same 
effect. This absolutely closes the subject, and completely 
disposes of Father Joubert. 

The sacerdotal character conferred upon gold, or the 
coinage of gold, was not a novelty of the Julian consti- 
tution ; rather was it an ancient myth put to new political 
use. Concerning the testimony of witnesses, the very 
ancient Hindu Code says : " By speaking falsely in a 
cause concerning gold, he kills the born and the un- 
born ^^ — an extreme anathema. Stealing sacred gold is 
classed with the highest of crimes.^ A similar soli- 
citude and veneration for gold occurs elsewhere through- 
out these laws. The Budhists made it unlawful to mine 
for, or even to handle gold, probably because the Bramins 
had used it as an engine of tyranny. According to Mr. 
Ball, this superstition is still observed in some remote parts 
of India. It is possible that, in some instances, the 
sacerdotal character attached to gold by the Bramins 
belonged only to such of it as had been paid to the priests, 
or consecrated to the temples, and that when the priests 
paid it away it was no longer saci-ed ; but the texts will 
not always bear this reading. For example : " He who 
steals a suvarna '^ (suvarna, a gold coin) ''dies on a dung- 
hill, is turned to a serpent, and rots in hell until the dis- 
solution of the universe " (vide Bramiuical inscription 
found on copperplate dug up at Eaiwan, in Delhi)." 
The same superstition occurs among the ancient Egyp- 

' Halhed's " Gentoo Code," viii, 99 ; ix, 237. 
- " Jour. Asiat. See. Bengal," Ivi, 118. 


tians, Persians, and Jews. There are frequent allusions 
to it in the pages of Herodotus. For example, Tai-gitaus, 
the first king of Scythia, a thousand years before Dai'ius, 
the sacred king of Persia (this would make it about B.C. 
1500), was the divine son of Jupiter and a daughter of 
the river Borysthenes, or Dneister. In the kingdom of 
Targitans gold was found in abundance, but being deemed 
sacred, it was reserved for the use of the sacred king. 
In another place Herodotus relates that in the reign of 
Darius, B.C. 521 (of whom Lenormant says, in his great 
work on the " Moneys of Antiquity," that he reserved 
the coinage of gold to himself absolutely), Aryandes, his 
viceroy in Egypt, struck a silver coin to resemble the 
gold darics of the king. Possibly, to make the resem- 
blance greater, it was also gilded. For this offence 
Aryandes was condemned as a traitor and executed. 
Josephus makes many allusions to the sacredness of gold. 
A similar belief is to be noticed among the ancient Greeks, 
whose coinages, except during the republican era, were 
conducted in the temples and under the supervision of 
priests. Upon these issues wei'e stamped the symbolism 
and religion of the State, and as only the priesthood 
could correctly illustrate these mysteries of their own 
creation, the coinage — at least that of the more precious 
pieces — naturally became a prerogative of their order. 
Rawlinson notices that the Parthian kings, even after 
they threw off the Syro-Macedonian yoke, never ventured 
to strike gold coins." The reason probably was that in 
place of the Syro-Macedonian yoke they had accepted 
ithe Eoman, and that the Roman (imperial) law forbade 
■the coinage of gold to subject-pi'inces. 

Whatever credit or significance be accorded or denied 
to these ancient glimpses of the myth, its significance 
becomes clearer when it is viewed through the accounts 
of the Roman historians. The Sacred Myth of Gold 

1 Mel., 7, 166 ; Lenormant, i, 173. 

2 Geo. Rawlinson, " Seventh Monarchy," p. 70. 


appears in Rome at the period when tlie history of tlie 
Gaulish invasion of a.u. 869 was written. The story runs 
that after the eternal city had been saved from the bar- 
barians, it was held by the Roman leaders that to the 
^old which had been taken from the mass belonging to 
the temples should be added the gold contributed by the 
women towards making up the rausom, or indemnity, of 
a thousand pounds weight, and that all of it should 
thenceforth be regarded as sacred. Says Livy : " The- 
gold which had been rescued from payment to the Gauls, 
as also what had been, during the hurry of the alarm, 
carried from the other temples into the recess of 
Jupiter's temple, was altogether judged to be sacred, and 
ordered to be deposited together under the throne of 
Jupiter.'' ^ 

At this period, according to Pliny, the Roman money 
was. entirely of bronze. If this is true, all offerings of 
money to the temples must have been in bronze coiiis. 
If the object of conferring a sacerdotal character upon 
gold was merely to preserve the ecclesiastical treasure 
from violation, it is inexplicable that the same sacred 
character was not also conferred upon the current bronze- 
money. It is far more consistent with the grossly super- 
stitious character of the age to believe that the Romans, 
(of the period when this legend was penned) were taught 
to regard all gold, except such as was worn upon the 
person, as sacred ; and that the object of prououncing- 
the gold in the jewels contributed by the Roman women 
to be sacred, was to prevent its ever being again worn, 
as jewellery. This gold had saved Rome, for although 
it is said it was not actually paid to the Gauls, the delajr 
attending the weighing of it had given time for Camillus 
to advance to the rescue of the beleaguered citadel and. 
drive the barbarians away. There was no less reason 
for rendering sacred the gold in the jewels, whose weigh- 
ing had saved the city, than the geese whose cackling- 

^ Livy, V. 50. 


had coutributed to the same happy event. Howevei-, it 
is possible that, as yet, a sacred character was only 
attached to such gold as had been consecrated to tlie 

The social, servile, and civil wars of Rome were cha- 
racterised by great disorders of the currency, and during 
, the latter, that is to say, in B.C. 91, Livius Drusus, a 
I tribune of the people, authorised the coinage of silver 
denarii, alloyed with " one-eighth part of copper," which 

was a lowering: of the long-established standard. As the 
i o o 

: civil wars continued, a portion of the silver coinage was. 

! still further debased, and the denarius, whose legal value 
had long been 16 aces, was lowered to 10 aces. Later 
on we hear of the issue of copper denarii plated to re- 
semble those of silver. It is possibly to these debased 
or plated coins that Sallust alludes when he says that by 
a law of A'alerius Flaccus, the Interrex, under Sylla 
(B.C. 86), '^ argentum fere solutum est," i. e. silver is now- 
paid with bronze. Valleius Paterculus explained the 
operation of this law differently, in saying that it obliged 
all creditors to accept in full payment only a fourth part 
of what was due them. These explanations afford a 
proof that at this period the gold coins were not sole 
leo-al tenders. The discontent produced among com- 
mercial classes by this law^ of Valerius Flaccus, induced 
the College of Praetors (b.c. 84) to restore the silver money 
to its ancient standard by instituting what we would now 
call a trial of the pix. Sylla, enraged at this interfer- 
ence with the coinage and the political designs connected 
■with it, annulled the decree of the prtetors, proscribed 
their leader, Marius Gratidianus, as a traitor, and handed 
him over to Catiline, by whom he was executed.^ 

Sylla's lex nummaria (b.c. 83), which prescribed the 
punishment of fire and water, or the mines, to the 

1 Modern writere on money have expended a good deal of false senti- 
ment on Gratidianus. Cicero, who was his relative and possibly knew 
'him better, proves him a liar, cheat, demagogue, and traitor [OS., iii, 20j. 


forgers of gold and silver coins, implies that at this period 
the immunity which perhaps previously, and certainly after- 
wards, attended gold coins, was not yet secured. About 
B.C. 82, Q. Antonius Balbus, an urban prtetor, was autho- 
rised by the Senate, then controlled b}' the partisans of 
Marius, to collect the sacred treasure from the temples 
and turn it into coins. This money was employed in the 
struggle with Sylla. It is to this period, doubtless, that 
Cicero afterwards referred when he said : " At that 
time the currency was in such a fluctuating state, that 
no man knew what he was worth." ^ After Sylla's 
triumph over Marius, and his resignation of the dictator- 
ship (B.C. 79), the ancient standard of the silver coinage 
was restored ; and the opulent citizens, in order to ex- 
press their approbation of this measure, erected full- 
length statues of the unfortunate Marius Gratidianus in 
various parts of Rome. About B.C. 69, Cicero alluded to 
the public treasury as the " sanctius asrarium.^' This ex- 
pression, in connection with the coins struck by Antonius 
Balbus, from consecrated treasure and the statues erected 
to Marius Gratidianus, all point to this period as that 
of the adoption of the sacredness of gold in the Roman 

About this time the Jews appear to have again acquired 
some share in that lucrative trade with India which they 
had formerly shared with the Greeks, and Avhich has ever 
been a source of contention and hatred among the states 
of the Levant. The principal channel of this trade was 
now by the Nile and the Red Sea, and was in the hands 
of the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt. A portion of it, how- 
ever, went overland by Palmyra ; and from this portion 
Jerusalem derived important commercial advantages. 
Such as they Avere, these advantages were lost to the 
Jews and acquired by Rome, when, in B.C. 6o, Pompey 
and Scaurus snatched Judea from the contentious 
Maccabees, and established over it a Roman govern- 
1 OfE., iii, 30. 


ment.^ In B.C. 59 Cicero said : '^ The Senate, on several 
different occasions, but more strictly during my consulship, 
prohibited the exportation of gold." Exportare aurum 
non oportere cum saspe antea Senatus turn me consule 
gravissime judicavit.^ Cicero was consul four years 
previously, that is to say, in B.C. 63. '' Exportation " here 
seems to mean transmission from one province of the 
Eoman empire to another, because elsewhere, in the 
same pleading, Cicero says : " Flaccus '' (a proconsul of 
Syria) "b}' a public edict, prohibited its exportation "(that 
of gold) " from Asia." The introduction of the word 
" Italy " in Cicero's plea for Flaccus, can only be regarded 
as a means of enlisting the prejudice of the judges. 
Here is the passage in full : " Since our gold has been 
annually carried out of Italy and all the Roman provinces 
by the Jews, to Jerusalem, Flaccus, by a public edict, 
prohibited its exportation from Asia." The Jews pro- 
bably bought gold (with silver) in the provinces between 
Judea and India, because it was cheaper in those places 
than in Europe. They may have bought silver in Greece 
or Italy, but unless their commercial pre-eminence is a 
trait of altogether modern growth, it is hard to believe 
that they bought gold in Italy, when it could have been 
obtained nearer by, at two-thirds the price. The penalty 
which this unlucky people have paid for their ill-starred 
attempts to share in the Greek and Roman profits of the 
oriental trade has been more than two thousand years of 
injustice, opprobrium, and ostracism. 

The conquest of Egypt by Julius Csesar (b.c. 48) threw 
the whole of the oriental trade into the hands of Rome. 
Canals connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas had 

^ The Maccabees struck the earliest Jewish coins. These were called 
sicals or shekels, the same name given to coins hj the ancient Hindus, 
■with whom sicca meant a mint, or " minted," or " cut." The Arabians. 
of a later period also borrowed the same term. 

- " Oi-at. pro L. Flacco," c. 28. 


been constructed successively by Necho/ Darius, and 
Ptolemy ; and sliortly after tlie Julian conquest, one of 
these canals was used for the voyages of the Indian fleet.^ 
A century or so later Pliny recorded the fact that a hun- 
di-ed million sesterces worth of silver (equal in value to 
one million gold aurei) was annually exported to India ■ 
and China.^ The numercial proportions of the gold and 
silver ratios in Europe and India indicate that this trade 
was not a new one, and that a similar trade had been 
conducted by the Ptolemies and by the Babylonians and 
Assyrians upward to a remote era of the commercial 
intercourse between the Eastern and Western Avorlds.* 
During the Ptolemaic period the ratio was 10 for 1 in 
Europe, and 12^ for 1 in Egypt, whilst it was 6 to 6;^ for 
1 iti the Orient. In other words, a ton weight of gold 
could be bought in India for about 6^ tons of silver, and 
coined, in Egypt, into gold pieces worth 12 i tons of 
silver.^ The profit was therefore cent, per cent., and 
even after the Romans conquered Egypt, the i-ate of 
profit on exchanges of Western silver for Eastern gold 

1 Herodotus, Clio, 202 ; Eut., 158 ; Mel., 39. 

- Strabo. At a later period the inter-oceanic canal became clogged 
with drifting sand, and was reopened by Trajan or Hadrian, probably the 
latter. It was kept open by the Byzantine emperors. See Marcianus in 
Morisotus, " Orbis Martimus," and Anderson's " History Commerce." It 
was again reopened by Amrou in a.d. 639, during the reign of the caliph 
Omar. The Ptolemaic (and Eoman) route was by Alexandria, the Nile, 
the Canal, Berenice, Sabia, and Muscat. It is fully described in the 
" Periplus maris erythrsei " of Arrian. 

•'' Minimaque computatione millies contena millia sestertium annis 
omnibus India et Seres peninsulaque ilia imperio nostro adimunt. Tanto 
nobis deliciiB et feminse constant (" Nat. History," xii, 18). In another 
place (vi, 23) he puts it at half this sum, " Quingenties H. S." for India 
alone. The " feminine luxuries " imported in exchange included gold, 
silk, and spices. Numbers of the silver coins exported to India at this 
period have been found during the present century buried in Budhist 

■* " Hist. Money, Ancient," p. 71. 

' Lenormant, i, 146-51. 


' was quite or nearly as great. This explains what seems 
I so abstruse a puzzle to the industrious but uncommercial 
; Pliny : he could not understand why his countrymen 
" always demanded silver and not gold from conquered 
' races. '^ ^ One reason was that the Roman government 
knew where to sell this silver at an usurer's profit. When 
j this profit ceased, as it did when the oriental trade was 
; abandoned, the Roman government entii-ely altered its 
• policy. During the middle ages it preferred to collect its 
I tributes in gold coins. 

When the enormous difference in the legal value of the 
precious metals in the Occident and Orient is considered, 
[and that, too, at a period when maritime trade between 
these regions was not uncommon, it is impossible to resist 
the conviction that the superior value of gold in the 
West was created by means of legal and, perhaps, also 
: sacerdotal ordinances. This method of fixing the ratio 
may even have originated in the Orient. 

Colebrook" states that the ancient Hindus struck gold 
coins, "svhich were multiples of the christnala, the latter 
containing about 2;^ English grains fine. According to 

^ Equidem miror P. R. victis gentibus argentuin semper imperitasse 
non aurum ("Nat. Hist." xxxiii, 15). 

- "Asiat. Eesearches," London, 1799, v, 91. Meniusky, in his "The- 
saurus Ling. Orient.," p. 1897, voc. "Chcesrewani," says that, in the time 
of Chosrces (a.d. 531-79), the Persians woi-shipped the dirhems of that 
monarch. If we read " venerated " for "worshipped," and " dinars " for 
'"dirhems," we shall probably get nearer to the truth. Chosrces the 
deified was so successful in his wars against Justinian, that the latter 
was obliged to pay him an annual tribute of forty thousand pieces of 
igold (sacred besants). These were most likely the pieces that, upon being 
recoined in Persia, were venerated by its subservient populace. Von 
iStrahlenberg (p. 330) says that, in the reign of Charlemagne, the lestiaks 
or Oes-tiaks, near Samarow, venerated a cufic coin of the Arabians, from 
whom they had captured it. In a tomb near the river Irtisch, between 
the salt lake lamischewa and the city Om-Iestroch, a flat oval gold coin 
that had evidently been used as an object of worship, was found and de- 
divered to Prince Gagarin, the governor of Siberia (about a.d. 1715). 


Queipo/ five christnalas equalled a maslia of Hi grains 
and 80 clirisnalas a tola, or suvarna,. of 180 grains. This 
system appears to have originated at two different periods, 
the octonai'j relations belonging to the remote period of 
the Solar worship, and the quinquennial to the Braminical 
period. Dished gold coins (scylates) of the type after- 
wards imitated in the besant, called " ramtenkis," and 
regarded as sacred money, were struck in India at a very 
remote period. The usual weights were about 180, 360, 
and 720 English grains (1, 2, and 4 tolas). One example 
weighed 1,485 grains, and was probably intended for 
8 tolas sicca. The gold being alloyed with silver gave a 
pale appearance to the pieces. The extant coins contain 
no legible dates or inscriptions, and are much worn by 
repeated kissing. The emblems upon them are the sacred 
ones of Kama, Sita, and Huuuman. They were evidently 
held in high veneration by the Bramins. Facsimiles of' 
these coins have been published in the ''Journal of the 
Asiatic Society of Bengal.'^ ^ In the Braminical coinages 
the value of silver seems to have been lowered from 
4 (to 5) for 1 gold ; and though in later coinages the value 
of silver was again lowered, as before stated, to about 01 
for 1 gold, the general tendency in the Orient was to 
maintain the value of silver, and in the Occident to raise 
that of gold. So that, although the system of deriving a 
profit from the device of altering the ratio was probably 
of oriental origin, the practical operation of this system — 
certainly at the periods embraced within the Greek and 
Roman histories — was precisely opposite in the "Western 
world to what it was in the Eastern. The governments 
of Persia, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome made a profit 
on the coinage by raising the value of gold, while those 
of India, China, and perhaps also Japan, made their profit 
by maintaining, or enhancing, the value of silver. In the 

1 Queipo, i, 449-52. 

2 " Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal," liii, 207-11. 


last-named State silver was valued at 8 (some say at 4) to 
1 of gold, at one of which ratios it stood so late as 

It is evident that, by continuing the use of this myth, 
or by attaching' a sacerdotal character to the coinage and 
coins of gold, which in Italy may hitherto have only been 
attached to consecrated deposits of gold — a character which 
the conqueror, who was also the pontifex maximus of Rome, 
was quite competent to confer upon it — he would not only 
acquire the means to republish upon its coins the mythology 
and religious symbols of the empire, altered to accord with 
his own impious pretensions of divine origin, but he would 
also be enabled to reap profits equal to those which the 
Ptolemies had derived from the oriental trade. Indeed, 
in this respect Caesar made another innovation : he in- 
creased the Roman ratio from 9 to 12 for 1, and there it 
remained fixed, in consequence of his ordinance, for 
thirteen centuries. 

That Caesar attached a sacerdotal character to the gold 
coins of Rome, and that Augustus and his successors, 
both the pagan and Christian sovereign-pontiffs of the 
empire, continued and maintained this sacred character 
is so abundantly evidenced that it has never been disputed. 
It is only in assigning reasons for the measure that numis- 
matists have differed. Evelyn believed that the gold coins 
were I'endered sacred to preserve them from profanation 
and secure them from abuse. ^ Others have found the 
origin of this regulation in the desire to preserve the most 
precious monuments of Roman antiquity from the melting- 
pot, and they point to the numerous coinage restorations of 
Trajan as a proof of the Roman anxiety on this subject. 
The reasons herein suggested as the true ones are, first, 
the usefulness of coins to proclaim monarchical and pon- 
tifical accessions, and to disseminate religious instruction ; 
and, second, the profits of the oriental trade, which could 
only be secured by means of an ordinance enjoying the 

1 Evelyn, " Medals," 224r-7. 



sanctity of religious authority. These reasons even receive 
confirmation from the contrai'y regulations adopted by the 
Arabians. Whether in scorn of the Roman mythology, or 
else to enhance the value of the immense silver spoil which 
they had derived from the conquest of the Roman pro- 
vinces in Asia, Africa, and Spain, or because they were 
unable or unwilling to continue that pretence of sacredness, 
partly by means of which so artificially high a valuation of 
gold had been created in Europe, it appears that when the 
Arabians came to permanently regulate the affairs of the 
conquered provinces (reform of Abd-el-Melik) they swept 
away the mythological emblems upon the coins for all 
time, and for several centuries they destroyed the sacred 
character of gold. They issued plain coins of constant 
weight and fineness, and reduced the ratio to the Indian 
level (then) of 6^ for 1. 

Whatever reasons induced Caesar to enhance the value 
of gold, there can be no doubt of the fact. In the scru- 
pulum coinages of a.u. 437 the ratio was 10 silver for 1 
gold I in the coinage system of Sylla (a.u. 675) the ratio 
was 9 for 1. Csesar raised the value of his gold coins by 
a single jump to 12 for 1 ; in other words, he gradually 
lowered the aureus from 168|- to 125 grains fine, and this 
alteration he sanctified and rendered permanent by stamp- 
ing upon the coins the most sacred devices and solemn 
legends. If this great politician of antiquity endeared 
himself to the masses by thus lowering the measure of 
indebtedness, he secured for his empire the approval of 
the patrician and commercial classes by securing its 
stability, for the ratio which he adopted and solemnized 
was never changed until Rome dissolved into a mere 
name — a name by which ambitious princes long continued 
to conjure, but which really belonged to a dead and power- 
less empire. 

In that admirable review of the Byzantine empire which 
forms the subject of Gibbon's seventeenth chapter, he de- 
clares that by law the imperial taxes during the dark ages 


were payable in gold coins alone. ^ We now know the 
reason of this ordinance — the oriental trade was gone. 
The custom of the period was that when gold coins were not 
paidj silver coins were accepted instead, at the sacred weight 
ratio of 12. In the reign of Theodosius the officer entrusted 
with the gold coinage was the Comes Sacrarum Largitionum, 
or Count of the Sacred Trust, one of the twenty-seven 
illustres, or greatest nobles, of the empire. His powers 
supplanted those of the former qusestori -prsefecti serarii 
and other high officers of the treasury. His jurisdic- 
tion extended over the mines whence gold was extracted, 
over the mints in which it was converted into coins, 
over the revenues which, being payable in gold coins, 
kept the latter in use and demand, and over the trea- 
suries, in which gold was deposited for the service of the 
Scicred emperor or in exchange for silver. Even the 
woollen and linen manufactures and the foreign trade 
of the empire were originally placed under the control 
of this minister, with the view, no doubt, to regulate 
that exchange of Western silver for oriental gold, of 
which some remains existed at the period of these elabo- 
rate and subtle arrangements. 

It is the peculiarity of sacerdotal ordinances that 
they long outlive the purpose intended to be subserved 
by their enactment. In the hot climates of India, Egypt, 
Palestine, and Arabia the interdiction of certain meats for 
food may possibly have been originally founded upon 
hygienic considerations — a fact that may have commended 
this ordinance to local acceptation, but certainly did not 
earn for it that general and continued observance which it 
owes to the Braminical, Jewish, and Mahomedan religions. 
It is not to be wondered that Justinian I rebuked Theodoret 
the Frank for striking heretical gold coins, nor that 
Justinian II proclaimed war against Abd-el-Melik for 
presuming to pay his tribute in other heretical gold ; 
but it certainly seems sti-ange to find this myth observed 
^ Same, in his Misc. works, iii, 460. 


in distant ages and among distant nations — for example, 
to witness the pagan Danes of the mediaeval ages solem- 
nizing their oaths upon baugs of sacred gold ; to find 
Henry III, of England, after plundering the Jews of 
London, receiving the gold into his own hands, but tlie 
silver by the hands of others ; and to discover that 
Philip II, of Spain, attempted to re-enact in America 
this played-out myth of idolatrous India, Egypt, and 

The importance of this myth, in throwing light upon 
the political relations of the Roman provinces toward the 
Byzantine and Western or mediasval empires, does not 
depend either upon its antiquity or the reasons of its 
adoption into the Roman constitution, nor upon its general 
acceptance or popularity. It is sufficient for the purpose 
if it can be shown that, as a matter of fact, the sovereign- 
pontiff alone enjoyed the prerogative of coining gold 
throughout the Empire, and that the princes of the Empire 
respected this prerogative. It is submitted that con- 
cerning this cardinal fact the evidences herein adduced 
are sufficient. 

1 Procop., "Bel. Got.," iii, 33; Lenormant ii, 453, ■154 ; Du Chaillu, 
" Yiking Age " ; Matthew Paris, i, 459; " Eecopilacion de Leyes de los 
Eejnos de las Indias," law of 1565. 



This system appears in the Theodosian Code — Is probably older — Its 
e^ssential characteristic is valuation by moneys of account— Advantages 
— Previous diversity of coins — Danger of the loss of numismatic monu- 
ments—Exportation of silver to India — Difficulty of enforcing contracts 
in coins of a given metal — £. s. d. as an instrument of taxation — As an 
historical clue— It always followed Christianity— Sidelights to history 
afEorded by the three denominations — £. s. d. and the Feudal system — 
It saved the most precious monuments of antiquity from destruction — 
Artificial character of the system — Its earliest establishment in the pro- 
yiii(.es — In Britain — Interrupted in some provinces by barbarian systems 
— Its restoration proves the resumption of Roman government — This rule 
applied to Britain. 

QEAECHIXG for the beginniug of a custom is like 
^ tracing a river back to its source : Ave soon discover 
that it has not oue source but many. "When brevity is 
preferable to precision, it is sufficient if we follow an 
institution to its principal or practical source. 

AVe have elsewhere shown the marks of chronological 
stratification in Roman history — originally decimal and 
afterwards duodecimal — which resulted from a change 
that, it is assumed, took place in the method of measuring 
the solar circle. This, we are persuaded, was originally 
divided into ten parts, each of 36 degrees; hence the 
archaic Roman or Etruscan year of ten months, each of 
36 days, and the week or nimdinum of nine days. At a 
later period the zodiac was divided into twelve parts, each 
of 30 degrees, whence the year of twelve months, each 
of 30 days.^ In these two systems we have the basis of 

1 By some writers the year of 360 days has been erroneously called a 
lunar year, but in fact a year contains nearly thirteen lunar months. The 


the decimal and duodecimal methods of notation, which 
are so strangely intermingled in all Eoman numbers and 
proportions, and which also appear in £. s. d. Thus, the 
number of solidi to the libra was five, and the number of 
sicilici to the libra twenty, both of which are decimal 
proportions.^ On the other hand, the number of denarii 
to the sicilicus was twelve, and the ratio between the 
metals was twelve, which is duodecimal." 

Those writers whose researches into monetary systems 
are bounded by the narrow conclusions of Adam Smith's 
" Wealth of Nations " or Tooke's " Histoi^ of Prices,'' 
usually attribute the origin of £. s. d. to William the 
Norman or to Charlemagne, and their explanation of the 
system is commonly confined to that of the £., which 
they regard as the symbol for a pound weight of silver, 

year of twelve months was originally solar, and was always astrological. 
Many of the early institutes mentioned by Livy, Pliny, and Censorinus 
were evidently taken from the laws of conqnered and obliterated Etriiria, 
and falsely attributed to Romulus, Numa, and other creations of Eoman 
fancy. Among these institutes was the change from ten months of 36 
days to twelve months of 30 days to the year (Livy, i, 19). 

' The " pound " of money is to be discerned diu'ing the decay of Attic 
liberty. The Eomans used the term " pondus" to mean 100 drachmas, and 
the Greeks iised the "talenton" of money before them. Twenty 
drachmas (silver) equalled in value one stater, and five staters were 
valued at a talenton, which the Eomans called a pondus. The Greek 
ratio was 10. Most of the confusion on this subject has resulted from 
the refusal of numismatic writers to recognise — what their own monetary 
.systems of to-day attest — that every name of a weight also meant at the 
same time a sum of money, which had no relation to such weight- 
Humphreys, Chambers, and Putnam all furnish confused references to 
the pondus of 100 drachmas. The Persians in the time of Cyrus appear 
to have had a system of £. s. d. very like what the Eomans afterwards 

- A remarkable custom, which, it may reasonably' be conjectured, ori- 
ginated in the changed subdivision of the zodiac, prevailed among the 
Goths. With them ten meant twelve, and an hundred was six score. 
The custom still prevails in Essex, Norfolk, and Scotland (Sir Francis 
Palgrave, i, 97). Some vestige of the score system still lingers in the 
French names for numbers. Curiously enough, too, the method of 
counting by scores was employed by the Aztecs (Prescott, p. 35). 


or else a pound weight of silver coins. The diilerent 
books in -which this delusion is repeated are probably 
sufficiently numerous to stock a good-sized library ; yet 
it can be demolished in a few words. Neither the con- 
tents of the Xorman or Carlovingian nor of any other 
coins sustain this theory, neither is it sustained by tlie 
texts of the Carlovingian or any other period. The libra 
of money (not the whole triad- of £. s. d.) is at least five 
hundred and may be fifteen hundred years older than 
Charlemagne, being clearly defined in the Theodosian Code 
(lib. xiii, tit. ii, 11), of which the following is the text and , 
literal translation : — " Ita nt pro singulis libris argenti 
quinos solidos inferat " — " So that for each libra of money 
five solidi are to be understood.'^ ^ This portion of the 
code is attributed by souae commentators to the constitu- 
tions of Constantine, by others to a law of Honorius and 
Arcadius (a.d, 397) ;~ but, as shown elsewhere, the libra of 
five gold pieces is older than either. It was used for five 
gold aurei by Caligula, Probus, and Diocletian, It fre- 
quently occurs in the texts of Valens,'^ Arcadius, and 

1 It is from this passage in the Theodosian Code that the learned 
Boeckh, Eome d'Lisle, and Bodin regarded the libra as a weight, and de- 
duced the supposed ratio between silver and gold of 14'4 to 1. It is 
needless to say that if the libra was a money of account and not a weight, 
the deduction is erroneous. There is no instance of such a ratio as 14'4, 
or thereabouts, in Roman or Greek history — a fact which by itself should 
have rendered these erudite persons more cautious. The Code of Jus- 
tinian (liber x, tit. Ixsvi, de argenti pretio) also gives the ratio, "pro. 
libra argenti, 5 solidi." 

^ Queipo, ii, 56. 

3 The cupidity of the Duke of Moesia induced him to withhold pro- 
visions from the Gothic refugees, whom Yalens, the sovereign-pontiff, had 
permitted to enter that province, so that a slave {mancipium) v!a.s given 
by the Goths for a loaf of bread {unum panem) and ten libras (of money) 
for a carcass of meat {aid decern libras in unum carnem onercarentur). 
It is evident that ten libras meant precisely what the law declared 
it should mean, namely, 50 solidi (equal to the contents of about 32 
English sovereigns '. for ten pounds weight of gold would contain as much 
as 464 English sovereigns. Gibbon avoids the difficulty by saying, "the 
word silver must be underetood ;" but such was not the custom of that 


other sovereign-pontiffs of the fourth to the eighth century, 
Avherej except in one instance, it always means five solidi. 
According to FatherMariana (^'De Ponderis et Mensures"), 
the siciHcus — known in a subsequent age as the gold 
shilling — was struck as early as the first century of our 
era, for he states that in his own collection were gold pieces 
of this weight, struck by Faustina, Augusta, Vespasian, 
and Nero. Others of Justinian, weighing 16 grains, are 
now in the Madrid collection. The denarius of the early 
empire, of which 25 in value went to the aureus, tallied in 
weight, though not in fineness, with the half -aureus. In 
the reign of Caracalla 24 denarii went to the aureus, the 
ratio of value between the metals remaininsr unchansred. 
Such is briefly the genesis of £. s. d. 

The translation of " argentum " into " money '^ needs 
no explanation to Continental readers, for in all the Conti- 
nental languages — French, Spanish, Italian, etc. — "silver'^ 
means '' money.^' This custom is dei'ived from the 
Eomans of the Empire, with whom " argentum '' meant 
money, as the following examples sufficiently prove : — 
Argentariae tabernte, bankers' shops (Livy) ; argentaria 
inopia, want of money (Plautus) ; argentarius, treasurer 
(Plautus) ; argentei sc. nummi, or money (Pliny, xvi, 
3) ; ubi argenti venas aurique sequuntur (Lucretius, 
vi, 808) ; cum argentum esset expositum in asdibus 
(Cicero) ; emunxi argento senes (Terrence) ; con- 
cisum argentum in titulos faciesque minutas (Juvenal, 
xiv, 291) ; tenue argentum venjeque secundas {ibid., ix, 
31). The Eomans in turn got this term from the 
ancient Greeks, whose literature they studied and whose 
customs they affected. One of the Greek names for 
money was " arg-yrion," from ar gyros, silver. The Hebrew 
word for money was caseph, literally silver, alluding to 

time, any luore that it is no^^. "When silver was undei-stood it meant 
money and not metal. Said the law : " So that for each libra (libris 
argenti) five solidi (of gold) are to be undei-stood " (Jornandes, '* De Geta- 
rum," c. XX vi; Gibbon, ii, 597, 4to ed.). 


the coined shekels of the Babylonians. The same 
custom, i. e., using the term " silver " for money, is to be 
found in the most ancient writings of Egypt and 

In a letter of Honorius and Theodosius II to the Pre- 
fect of Gaul, written in our year of 418, after suggesting 
the formation of a council to regulate the affairs of that 
province, the emperors proposed, in case its members failed 
to attend the meetings, to subject them to fines of three 
and five " libras of gold " each. It is evident that the 
^' libras ^' here mentioned are moneys and not weights ; 
for five Koman libras weight of gold are equal to the 
quantity contained in 232 English sovereigns of the 
present day, and this would have been a preposterously 
heavy mulct for mere non-attendance. On the other 
hand, a libra of account represented by five gold solidi, 
would not have contained more than one-fourteenth of 
this quantity of gold, and it is evident that this was 

These researches into the origin of £. s. d. were 
necessary in order to determine its essential chai'acteristics 
as a sj'stem of valuations and proportions. The names 
of the subdivisions of money have in all ages been used 
to denote the relative proportions or subdivisions of 
other measures, as of weight, area, capacity, etc., and it 
is this practice which is responsible for much of that 
confusion on the subject of money that distinguishes econo- 
mical literature. For example, £. s. d. were at one time 
used as proportions of the pound weight for weighing 
bread, at another time as proportions of the acre for 
■ measuring land. In the former case £. represented a 
pound weight of bread, s. an ounce, etc. ; in the latter £. 
^ meant one and a-half acres and d. a rod of land. Sir 
Francis Palgrave (i, 93) says that many instances of this 
practice are to be found in charters of the sixth century. 
,The mischief of it lies in the insinuation it conveys that 
^ Statute 51, Henry III (1267) ; Fleetwood's " Chvonicum Preciosum." 


because a " pound " weight can be the unit, integer, or 
standard of -weight, and a "pound^' measure (one and a-half 
acres) can be the unit of superficial area, so a "pound" sum 
of money can be the unit of money, which in the last case 
is physically impossible. The unit of money can never be 
one " pound, ^^ but must necessarily be all the "pounds," 
under the same leg-al jurisdiction, joined together. In 
other words, the unit of money is and must necessarily 
be all money. ■"■ 

Taking the essential character of £. s. d. to be a system 
of valuation by moneys of account, as distinguished from^ 
a system of valuation by coins, it must have possessed 
merits that rendered its adoption highly necessary and 
advantageous. We shall find that this was actually the 
case. Previous to the adoption of £. s. d. there was. 
commonly but one denomination of money and — except 
in the peculiar monetary system of the Roman Common- 
wealth — it usually related to an actual coin. With the 
Romans this coin was successively the ace, denarius,, 
sesterce, and aureus. Even when two of these kinds of 
coins circulated side by side — as the ace and the denai'ius, 
or the sesterce and aureus — sums of money were always 
couched in one denomination, never in both. We now 
say so many pounds and shillings and pence, perhaps com- 
bining some of each denomination in one sum ; or we may 
say so many dollars and cents, or so many francs and 
centimes. Down to the era of £. s. d. the Romans, in ex- 
pressing sums of money, only used one term. So long as 
only one or two or three kinds of coins were current at 
the same time, there was no inconvenience in this custom ; 
but when coins came to be made of different sizes and 
weights and of several different metals — bronze, silver,, 
and gold — some of them of limited tender and highly 
over-valued, like the bronze coins of to-day, one term 
for money became inexact and inconvenient. This is one 
of the reasons that led to the adoption of £. s. d. 

^ See chapter on this subject in the author's " Science of Money." 


In the last quartei' of the third century the Eoraau 
i empire was divided between four Cassars, to whom was 
' afterwards added he Avhom Sir Francis Palgrave has 
' rather effusively termed " our own Carausius/' Even 
before this division took place, the diversity of bronze 
and silver coins was so great as to produce confusion. 
With four emperors almost daily adopting new designs 
: for coins, and several thousand unauthorised moneyers 
expelled from Mount Caslius and other places to ply their 
trade in every province of the Roman empire, the con- 
fusion became intolei'able. Without some device by aid 
of which this maddening variety of types and weights 
could be readily harmonised and valued, it became im- 
possible to carry on the operations of trade. Such a 
device was £. s. d. 

The infinite diversity and number of local and 
I imperial silver coins had long since broken down that 

■ fragment of the fiduciary system of money which was. 
attempted to be revived by Augustus ; it had effaced all 
the influence of mine-royalties ; it had nullified all the 
effects of mint-cliarges and seigniorage. The relative^ 
value of coins, which Rome was formerly content to read 
in the edicts of her consuls or emperors, she was now 

! almost compelled to determine with a pair of scales. The 
\ imperial government could scarcely have observed this 
symptom of popular distrust without grave concern. In 
proportion as such coins lost fiduciary value, and rested 
upon that of their metallic contents, so did the empire 
lose importance to the provinces and the proconsuls to 

■ the local chieftains. Furthermore, when money ceased 
' to derive any portion of its value from limitation of 
I issue or from sacerdotal and imperial authority, why 

might not the proconsuls feel at liberty to issue circu- 
lating money as well as the sovereign-pontiff ? why not 
I the under-lords as well as the . proconsuls ? why not 
foreigners as well as citizens ? — why not anybody or 
everybody ? 


Besides this, it is to be remembered that the coins 
of Rome were designed to illustrate its mythology and! 
history, and that they constituted its most precious and 
•enduring monuments. Upon them were stamped the! 
story of its miraculous origin, the images of its gods, 
demi-gods and heroes, the symbols of its religion, thei 
spirit of its laws, and the dates of its most glorious 
achievements. All these now threatened to disappear in: 
the melting-pot. The monuments had come to be re- 
garded only as so much bullion, and every provincial 
governor or barbai'ian king would be tempted to reduce i 
them to metal, in order that, upon recoining them, his own \ 
upstart image might shine in the glass that had once 
reflected a Romulus, a Ctesar, or an Augustus. There 
was but one way to stop such a calamity, and that way 
was monopoly of the coinage and arbitrary valuation ; 
but this had to be done through some new device, for the 
old ones were worn out, and would be seen through and 
rejected at once.^ The efforts to save the old monuments 
would justify a slight discrimination of value at the onset 
in favour of certain precious issues, and this discrimination 
might be extended and enlarged as time went on, Rome 
had hitherto kept its most sacred numismatic monu- 
ments from the furnace by means of a golden myth, a 
fixed ratio, and the restriction of exports. Without dis- 
turbing either of these arrangements, it was now pro- 
posed to supplement them with the device of £. s. d. 

The diversity of coins, and the hope of restoring some 
of their lost fiduciary value, furnished reasons for the 
adoption of a triad of monetary terms, in the place of 
that single term in which the Romans had hitherto 
couched their valuations and contracts ; but tlie same 

^ In a less superstitious age perhaps not even the device of £. s. d. 
would have allayed the fear that the valuations would be changed, or 
have kept the coins from the melting-pot. But to the Romans that law 
was a sacred one, which forbade the melting down of old coins (Digest i, 
•c. de Auri pub. prosecut. ; lib. xii, 13 ; Camden, " Brit.," p. 105). 


considerations do not explain why these denominations 
were essentially ideal ones, nor why they remain so 
still. The explanation is simple enough. It will be- 
found in the physical impossibility of adding together 
quantities of various materials and producing a quotient 
of one material. If £. means a piece of gold, s. a piece 
of silver, and d. a piece of bronze, then as a matter of 
fact it is impossible to add them together and produce a 
sum which shall represent a quantity of any one of these 
metals. Hence these denominations are essentially ideal. 
HoAvever, as logic seldom stands in the way of practical 
legislation, we may be sure that it was not this difficulty 
which compelled the Eomans, when they adopted £. s. d., 
to make them ideal moneys, or moneys of account, that 
would logically add together ; it was the practical diffi- 
culty of enforcing contracts payable in coins of a particular 
metal. Numbers of the mine-slaves had revolted, or- 
escaped, to swell the armies of the Goths and other mal- 
contents ; the produce of the Eoman mines had become 
irregtilar ; the oriental trade had absorbed vast quantities- 
of silver.^ A contract to pay sesterces meant so many 
silver coins, and the name sesterce had been so long- 
wedded to a silver coin that it was found easier to establish 
a new denomination than divorce sesterce from silver. 
The same may be said of the gold aureus. £. s. d. being 
imaginary moneys, might be represented by either gold,, 
silver, or bronze coins at pleasure of the government, and 
as best suited the convenience of the times or the equity 
of payments." 

1 Pliny, " Natural History," vi, 23, and xii, 18. 

" In 1604 the Chief Justices of England decided that £. s. d. were 
imaginary moneys, and meant concretely whatever coins the sovereign 
from time to time might decree they should mean. They deduced this 
conclusion, not only from the spirit of the common, but also from the 
principles of the civil law ; and there can be no doubt that such was its 
legal significance at the period of its original adoption in Eome (State- 
Trials, ii, 114; Digest, xviii, 11). 


It is scarcel}'- necessary to turn from tlie public to the 
private influences wliicli urged the adoption of £. s. d. 
upon the imperial and pontifical mind, A monetary system 
which by insensible degrees might be made to slip away 
from all metallic anchorage or limitation, needed no 
further recommendation to a needy treasury. Yet it still 
had another one. The diversity of races that constituted 
the population of the Empire and a nascent feudal 
system both stood in the way of any uniform system of 
taxation, while the distance between Rome and the capital 
of each province greatly multiplied frauds upon the 
treasury, and threw too much power and profit in the 
hands of the provincial vicars or proconsuls and the 
greedy farmers of the revenues. The facility to regulate 
the value of various coins which the adoption of £. s. d. 
promised to afford, placed in the hands of the sovereign- 
pontiff the means of levying* a tax that could neither be 
evaded nor intercepted. 

Thus many reasons and interests combined to recommend 

■the system of £. s. d. It brought into harmony the diversity 
of coins and coinages ; it promised to restore some of the 
lost value of bronze and silver coins, and to conserve or 

■obliterate (at pleasure) the ancient and sacred types ; it 
offered to remedy the difficulties produced by the irregular 
supplies of the mines, and by the heavy exports of silver to 
India ; it placed a future choice of other remedies in the 
hands of the emperor ; and, finally, it was competent, at a 
pinch, to solve the problem of suddenly recouping an empty 
treasury. Under the system of £. s. d. any coin or piece 
of money could be legalised or decried at pleasure of 
the government, and any value could be put upon it that 
seemed expedient or desirable. All that was needed was 
a brief edict of the supreme sovereign, and at once, with 
military precision, this or that piece of money took its 
allotted station among the £. 6\ d., and there it served in 
the capacity and with the rank assigned to it by its 

■imperial master.^ 

' On different occasions the same coin has ranked as a penny three- 


' In the fourth century the d. was represeuCed by a 
silver coin, and the s. by a gold coin containing about 18 
' (afterwards 16) grains of fine gold, and the £ by five 
' large solidi (afterwards called besants), each containing 72 
'(afterwards 64) grains of fine gold. 

! If we follow the adoption of £. s. d. in the various 
■provinces of Europe — for example, Gaul, Britain, Spain, 
or Germany — it will be found that it never preceded, whilst 
it invariably followed, the establishment of Roman 
Christianity. It therefore furnishes a valuable guide to 
the date of such establishment, and to the restoration of 
Roman government. £. s. d. was adopted in Gaul by 
Clovis, in a part of England it was established by Ethel- 
bert, -whilst in other parts it was rejected by the uncon- 
verted Gothic kings, his contemporaries.^ So the Arian 
Goths of Spain, down to the close of Roderic's reign, 

half-pence, two-pence, and even three-pence. A shilling was at one time 
tepresented by a gold coin, at another by a silver coin. Examples of this 
character often occur in the ordinances of the mediaeval kings of France; 
and there is reason to believe that the sovereign-pontifEs of Eome more 
than once altered the legal value of their silver and bronze issues. 

^ The name of the sicilicus, which is evidently derived either from the 
fourth of the aureus or else from the fifteen-grain gold pieces of Sicily, 
was applied to the Xorse aurar in the laws of Ethelbert (Sections 33-35). 
From the context it is evident that fifty scats are less in value than three 

■ shillings, hence that the purely silver scat of five to the gold shilling 
was not yet in use, and that the scats alluded to were the old rude ones 
of composite metal, weighing 7i grains and upwards, and of varying and 
uncertain metallic contents. 

The shilling of Ethelbert's laws is the earliest mention of that coin in 
England. There was as yet noXorse analogue, either for the libra or the 
penny ; in other words, there was no twelfth of the aurar nor any twenty- 
aurar piece, hence there was no further application of £. s. d, at that 

■ time to Gothic coins. The Roman " pounds, shillings, and pence " had 
yet to be fully established in England. Some of the gold siciliei of the 
heretical Roger II, of Sicily, bear the legend in Arabic : " One God ; 
Mahomet is His prophet." On the other is the phallic sign. A specimen, 
somewhat worn, weighed by the writer, contained 15 grains gross. 
These shillings were evidently copied from older Sicilian coins of the 
same weight and type. 


refused both, tlie Rornau religion and the Roman sjsteir 
of money, and the Saxons would have none of either until 
Charlemagne bent tbeir stubborn necks to the yoke of the 
Roman gospel. 

Another valuable historical sidelight is derived from 
£. s. d. The arithmetical relations of these moneys of 
account were originally, but have not been always, 
12x20 = 240. Sometimes they were 5x48 = 240, or. 

4 X 60 = 240, or even (exceptionally) 5 x 60 = 300. When- 
ever this is observed it affords a sure indication of grafting.! 
The Gothic ratio between the precious metals was 8, the 
Arabian ratio 6^, and the Roman ratio 12. Consequently,! 
when the Roman arithmetical relations of £. s. d. werei 
grafted on Gothic or Arabian, or Gothic- Arabian, monetary 
systems they had to be modified to suit the local valuation 
of gold and silver.^ For example, in the eighth century 
in Roman Christian Gaul (ratio of 12) it took 12 silver 
pence, eacb of 16 grains, to equal in legal value 1 gold 
sicilicus of similar weight, whilst in the Gothic parts of 
Britain, where the Arabian ratio prevailed (ratio of 6^), 

5 silver pence, each of 20 grains, sufficed ; so that if, as 
convenience dictated, the newly-introduced £. was still to 
consist of 240 pence, it would have to be valued at 48 
shillings of account, and this was accordingly done." 
Modifications in the weights of the silver penny, and 
efforts to harmonise the two principal conflicting ratios — 
the Roman and Arabian — will explain, not only tbe re- 
maining variations of £. s. d. above alluded to, but also 
many other obscure problems connected with the early | 
monetary systems of England. ! 

We have seen how £. s. d. arose out of the circum- 
stances of a decaying empire ; we shall now see how it 
accommodated itself to those circumstances, so as to 

^ The system of Offa, king of Mercia, was J Gothic-Arabian, and, as is 
elsewhere shown, some of his coins had Arabian inscriptions upon 

3 System of Ethelbert, king of Kent, 725-60. 


promote the very disease it was in part designed to 
remedy. The empire was falling to pieces^ splitting into 
many parts. First, it had one Csesar, then two, three, 
four, or more. Even when it got rid of its Thirty Tyrants, 
and reduced the number to six, the diversity of coins and 
coinages was too bewildering for practical purposes. To 
harmonise and regulate these coinSj as well for other 
reasons, £. s. d. was adopted. Yet by accommodating 
itself to a diversity of moneys, this system prevented the 
evil from righting itself through the simple and efficacious 
means of re-coinage. Dispensing with the necessity of 
uniformity, it encouraged heterogeneity by rendering it 
less intolerable, and thus facilitated that splitting up and 
subdivision of the coining authority which characterised 
the matured feudal system, and lent it strength and 
support. Devised in part to unify moneys and centralise 
authority, it became no insignificant aid to decentralisa- 
tion and feudalism. On the other hand, but for its 
influence the Roman coins, and with them the memories 
which they invoked and the sacred myths they per- 
petuated, would have been destroyed, and the modern 
world would have had to read the history of the past in 
the unmeaning baugs of Scandinavia, the saigas of Frakk- 
land, or the composite scats of the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy. 
Returning to the historical clue afforded by the adop- 
tion of £. s. d., the reader will scarcely fail to have been 
impressed with the extreme artificiality of this system. 
Hundreds of books have already been written upon it, 
and hundreds more will probably yet be written upon it 
before its true character, mischievous bearing, and incon- 
gruity with the modern age of progress will be recognised 
and acted upon. Allusion is here made, not merely to a 
system of three denominations, as £. s. d., nor to a mingled 
Tai-decimal and duodecimal notation, nor to its character 
as money of account, but to the mingling in this system 
of imperial with provincial and municipal or other 
coins ; of seignioried with non-seignioried coins ; of coins 



witli various degrees of legal tender ; of coins of local 
with others of extensive legal tender ; of native witli 
foreign coins made legal tender ; of redeemable with non- 
redeemable coins; of governmental with private (bank) 
issues of various degrees of legal tender ; and of non-j 
interest-bearing with interest-bearing legal-tender issues. 
In these respects and others the principles of all the 
monetary systems of the present day originated in the 
Roman imperial system of £. s. d., and so far as they 
follow it they interpose important obstacles to the prac- 
tice of equity, the just diffusion of wealth, and the progress 
of civilisation.^ 

The £, c<?. d. system was as much unfitted for the Gothic 
kingdoms or fiefs of the dark ages as it was suitable for 
the Empire. In a former work it was shown that there 
existed a natural harmony, or tendency toward harmonj'^, 
between systems of government and systems of money> j 
just as there is between social phases and language. For 
example, if one of the sentences of Cicero or Tacitus 
were imputed to a savage orator, no matter how eloquent 
or renowned, the unfitness of the phraseology, and its lack 
of harmony with the social phase of the speaker, would at 
once expose the blunder or imposture. Similarly, if an 
£. s. d. system of money were attributed to a tribe of 
Zulus, the incongruity of the collocation would imme- 
diately stamp it as untrue. For not only are three 
denominations of money too artificial a means of valuation 
to fall within the mental compass of a barbarian tribe, one 
of them (the £.) was always an ideal money, and all of them 
were maintained, and could only be maintained, by a mint 
code of extreme complexity, and covering mining, minting, 
seigniorage, artificial ratio between the precious metals, 
and an hundi*ed other subjects, concerning which neither 
Zulu nor Goth ever had a clear conception. For these 
various reasons the artificial system of £. s. d. furnishes an 
unerring clue to historical researches during the dark 
^ " Science of Money," chapter vi. 


ages. In a previous chapter similar clues were found in 
the golden myth and the sacred ratio of twelve ; in the 
present one we shall follow the clue of the three 

The text of the Theodosian Code implies the use of 
£, s. d. at Eome and in all the Christian provinces of the 
Empire. The non- Christian provinces wei-e those parts 
of Gaul and Britain which, at the time of the promulga- 
i tion of this code, were temporarily under the control of 
'Anglo-Saxon, Frankish, and other barbarian chieftains. 
: The letter of Honorius and Theodosius II (a.d. 418) 
I implies the use of £. s. d. at that date in southern and 
■' perhaps central Gaul. From 496 to 561, during the govern- 
ments of the Koman patricians Clovis and Clothaire I, the 
I £. s. d. system was probably established throughout the 
! whole of Gaul, except Brittany, Burgundy, and Provence. 
The Roman coins found buried with the body of Childeric,^ 
and more especially the Roman offices and titles accepted 
by the Merovingian Frankish princes down to the sixth 
century, when image-worship was insisted upon, or, still 
worse, when the assassin Phocas was worshipped at Rome, 
imply the continuance of Roman government in Gaul until 
■ that period. After this time, and until the reign of Pepin, 
many of the provinces forgot their allegiance.^ Over and 
over again the Franks had professed and evinced their will- 
ingness to live under Roman law and Roman government, 
and they proved their sincerity and good faith in these pro- 
fessions by accepting Roman ecclesiastics as the adminis- 
trators of that law and the representatives of that govern- 
1 ment. So long as Rome inculcated the worship of a 
heavenly deity the Franks continued loyal to the empire, 
but when the Roman pontiff fell at the feet of Phocas, and 

. 1 His tomb was opened in the seventeenth century (Morell, 67). 

2 The Merovingians struck gold under authority of the Basileus until 
the reign of Theodebert, who struck gold for himself. Yet even after 
this period many of the Merovingians coined under authority o£ the 


the detested religion of emperor- worship seemed about 
to be revived in the very fane of religion, they turned 
upon the Empire.-^ From Theodebert to Pepin the Short 
the Eoman monetary system was interrupted in Gaul. 
Its place was partly filled with a Frankish system, in which 
the relative value of gold and silver, no longer kept in place 
hy the sacred myth of Eome, fell back to the old Druidical 
(and Etruscan) ratio, or else obeyed, to a certain extent, 
the influence of the Moslem mint-laws of Spain and Southern 
■Gaul, for it became 1 to 10 instead of 1 to 8. The gold sou, 
or solidus, was valued in Merovingian laws at 40 silver 
deniers, or denarii ; the little sou, or sicilicus, was valued 
in the same laws at 10 silver deniers, the sicilicus and denier 
containing the same weight of metal. The first fact is from 
the texts of the period, the last from the coins themselves. 
The establishment of this system was the mark of Frankish 
independence from the empire. It lasted about a century 
and a half ; after that Gaul again became a Eoman 

In short, the monetary system of £. s, d. was established 
wherever Eoman government prevailed — in Italy, Greece, 
Asia Minor, Armenia, Egypt, Carthage, Spain, Gaul, 
Eritain, and Germany. It was not established by any 
state or people not subject to Eome, never by the pagan 
Angles, Jutes, Saxons, Franks, Sclavs, or Huns, and never 
hy the Moslem, whether in Arabia, Egypt, Africa, Spain, 
France, or Persia. After the dry bones of the sacred 
Empire fell into the hands of the Turks, in the fifteenth 
century, the latter, in order to accommodate their num- 
mulary language, so far as pi'acticable, to the customs of 
the conquered Greek provinces, employed the £. and the 
d. to mean — not indeed what they formerly meant — but 

^ Charlemagne, at the Council of Frankfort (794), denounced the wor- 
ship of the imperial images. 

- The earliest rehabilitation of the Roman system appeal's in the capi- 
"tulary of Pepin and Carloman, a.d. 743, wherein the sol is valued at 12 
ideniei-s (Guizot, iii, 27). 


something that suggested it, and this practice afterwards 
found its way into other provinces of Turkey ; but it had 
no essential connection with the £. s. d. system, and 
employed only two denominations instead of the charac- 
teristic three. 

Although it is probable that the libra of money (not 
the £. s. d. system) continued to be used in the Roman 
cities of Britain from the Roman period down to the 
time when these cities fell into the hands of the Anglo- 
Saxons, we have no certain evidence of the fact. The 
earliest implication of the £. s. d. system in any docu- 
ment now extant occurs in the barbarian laws of Ethel- 
bert, A.D, 561—616 (ss. 33—5), where certain fines are 
levied in shillings. No " libras ^' are mentioned ; nor no 
denarii for twelfths of the Norse aurar -^ hence no 
entire adoption of the system can be positively inferred. 
The shilling of Ethelbert was probably either a Latin 
name for a coin identical in weight with the Norse aurar, 
or an anachronism, inserted by copyists at a later date." 
In neither case would this text afford any certain indi- 
cation when the £. i<?. d. system was re-introduced 
into Britain ; and there is no other evidence that 
can be relied upon of an earlier date than the reign 
of Ina, which was toward the end of the seventh 

Measured by the clue of £. s. d., the Anglo-Saxon 
chieftainships interrupted the continuity of Roman 
government in some parts of Britain during an interval of 
more than two centuries, that is to say, from a date some- 

1 See Roman gold coin of Canterbury mentioned in my " Ancient 
Britain," eh. xix. 

- Bishop Fleetwood (" Chronicum Preciosum," pp. 52-4) gives ex- 
amples from Brompton's translations of the laws of Ethelstan and Ina, 
in which the terminology and valuations of money were changed to suit 
the circumstances of the translator's times. Guerard and De Yieniie 
give examples of similar alterations in the ancient texts of the FrankLsh, 
Lombardian, Frisian, and Burgundian codes of law. 


what later than the edict of Arcadius and Honorius to 
the reign of Ina. In other parts there was scarcely any 
interval at all, for many of the Koman cities of Britain 
held out long after the legions departed, and even then, 
they capitulated on terms which involved, if they 
did not expressly admit, the imperial supremacy of 

So far as it goes, the clue of £. s. d. harmonises with 
the myth of gold and the sacred ratio, and they all 
corroborate those other evidences which proclaim that 
except during a comparatively brief interval, which was 
probably no greater in Britain than in Gaul, the former 
remained a province of the empire from the reign of 
Claudius down to a much later period than is commonly 

^ Mr. Freeman deems it probable that at the end of the sixth century- 
there were still Roman towns in Britain tributary to the English chief- 
tains, rather than occupied by them. Sir Francis Palgrave (i, vi) extends 
the Roman occupation of some British cities down to the seventh cen- 
tury. Du Bos, Savigny, and Gibbon concur in a similar belief with 
regard to some of the cities of Gaul. 



Proofs that the earlier sagas were altered in the medii'eyal ages — 
Among these is their frequent mention of baug-money : an institution 
which did not survive the contact of Norsemen and Romans — Progressive 
order of Xoi-se moneys — Fish, vadmal and baug moneys — The baug 
traced from Tartary to Gotland, Saxony and Britain — Gold baugs acquired 
a sacerdotal character — This was probably immediately after Xorse 
and Eoman contact — Subsequent relinquishment of baug-money and 
the adoption of coins — Proof that Csesar encountered Xorse tribes in 
Britain, derived from his mention of baugs — This view corroborated by 
archaeology and philology — Subsequent Xorse coinage system of stycas, 
scats, and oras — Important historical conclusions derived from its study. 

TT needs but a cursory examination of tlie earlier 
-*- sagas to be satisfied that they have been grossly 
mutilated. They jumble together events hundreds of 
years apart ; they mingle details which belong to com- 
munities as yet ignorant of Eoman customs with the 
affairs of communities well acquainted with them ; they 
resurrect the Turkish or Scythian forefathers of the 
Norsemen, and set them down in the midst of mediaeval 
Christian saints ; they omit all mention of Eome or 
Eoman affairs, or the Eoman religion, or the causes of 
difference between the Norsemen and the Empire ; they 
eschew dates, ignore the calendar, and commit the pagan 
festivals to oblivion. The silly explanation which has 
been offered to us of this disorder is that the sagas were 
popular songs,^ which were repeated by word of mouth for 
centuries before they were committed to writing, and that 
this custom produced the confusion, omissions, anach- 

1 Tacitus (" Germania," iii) mentions the folk-songs of the Xorthern 


ronisms, and otlier defects wliicli now characterise tliem. 
There might have been a time when such an explanation 
was sufficient, but the class of people who offer them 
forget that the world grows and that knowledge is cumu- 
lative. We now know that language without a written 
literature to fix its terms and meanings is too ephemeral 
to last for centuries, indeed, that a few generations mark 
the utmost time during which it will remain unaltered. 
It was reliance upon this principle that led to the dis- 
trust of Macpherson's forged " Ossian,^' and that compels 
us to regard as mutilations the Eddas as produced by 
Saemund Sigfusson and Snorri Sturlason.^ 

In the present connection the liability of unwritten 
language to rapid mutation proves one of two things — 
either that the earlier sagas are mediae val fabrications in 
Latin, translated into the mediaeval Norse and re-translated 
into the vernacular, which is precisely the case with Mac- 
pherson^s spurious " Ossian '^ ; or else they are mutilations 
of early Gothic or runic originals. Their repleteness of 
historical materials and local colouring belonging to the 
earlier centuries of our era, leads at once to the conclusion 
last-named." It is this local colouring which marks the 
distinction between a mutilation and a forgery out of 
the whole cloth. Macpherson had no historical dates 
before him, therefore he was forced to forge his entire 
work ; Sigfusson found plenty of history in the old 
written sagas, so he merely mutilated them, and, with 
the sobriquet of ''The Learned,'^ achieved that immoi- 
tality which is ever the reward of virtue and fidelity. If 
any further proof than that afforded by the nature of 
language itself were needed to corroborate these views, it 
will be found in the frequent mention of anachronical 
moneys in the sagas. An example of this sort will be 

^ The historian of Iceland [A..D. 1056-1133) and his foster-grandson 
(A.D. 1178-1241). 

2 Charlemagne made a collection of these sagas, hut these are now 
"lost " (Note to Murphj's Tac. " Germ.," iii, probably from Eginhard). 


quoted in the present chapter from the Egil Saga ; others, 
will appear as the aro-ument develops. 

The evolution of Norse monetary systems, whether in 
lestia, Saxony, Scandinavia, Frakkland, Britain, Russia, 
or Iceland, usually proceeded in the following manner: — 
First, fish and vadmal (cloth) money ; second, baug, or 
ring-money; third, imitations of pagan Roman coined 
money ; fourth, Norse pagan coinage system (partly de- 
rived from the Roman system) of stycas, scats, and oras ; 
fifth, intrusion of Moslem coinage system of dinars, mara- 
vedis, and dirhems ; sixth, replacement of the last by 
Christian Roman coinage system of £. 5. d. This pro- 
gression did not occur simultaneously in the various coun- 
tries named, because the Goths used coined money in 
Britain before they employed fish-money in Iceland ; it 
Avas the usual order of progression in each country or 
petty kingdom by itself. From the period of their ori- 
ginal settlement in Britain down to that of their contact 
with the Brigantes, the Norsemen used no coined money ; 
indeed, they had little or no commerce, and lived chiefly 
by hunting, fishing, and plundering. After each raid 
upon the enemy the plunder was "carried to the pole^'^ 
and there divided. It is evident, from numerous analo- 
gous examples in the sagas, that in case of dispute th& 
rival claimants fought it out at once, and the survivor 
took the lot. This is a custom, not of trading communi- 
ties, but of predatory bands. 

The first money of the Norsemen in Britain was 
probably fish, as was the case in Norway^ and in Iceland 
down to the close of the last century. Sild, bring, or 
herring, is still used to mean money," and the scad or scat 
(corrupted to scot), a fish of the same genus, has the 
same meaning in North Britain.'^ There are suggestions 

' Frostathing Laws, svi, 2. 

-Poole, " Anglo-Saxon Coins," i, 7. 

^According to Mr. T. Baron Eussell's " Current Americanisms " (London^ 
1893) " scads " is still used for " current coin " in some parts of the- 
United States. 


of fish-money in tlie expressions " Rome-scat," " scot- 
free," " scot-and-lot," etc. Following fish, the money of 
the Norsemen in Britain was vadmal, a homespun cloth, 
measured by the arm's length; still later they used 
bangs, or ring-money. It was not until after all this that 
they began to strike coins. 

Bangs were anciently that money of Scythia, northern 
China, and northern India of which a reminiscence still 
survives in the baugle or bangle.^ At a remote period 
baug-money was introduced from Scythia into Egypt. 
Representations of it appear upon the stone monuments of 
Thebes. As for dates, Egyptian chronology has been so 
ruined in the various attempts made to fit it successively 
into the mythologies of Assyria, Greece, and Rome, that 
no reliance can be placed upon it. The bangs engraved 
at Thebes are round rings, which are represented as 
being placed in the scales to be weighed. No peculiarity 
of form and no stamp-marks distinguish them in the 
sculptures — facts that, coupled with the weighing, led the 
author in a previous work to doubt that they were money. 
Since that time " dozens of rings (stamped), with the 
names of Khuen-Aten and his family, and moulds for 
casting rings" have been found in the ruins of Tel-el- 
Amarna.' It cannot now be doubted that such rings 
were money, and we may also feel tolerably confident 
that they formed the principal circulating medium of 
Egypt during the time of the Hucsos or Scythian kings. 
From Egypt baug-money made its way down the eastern 
coast of Africa, where the early Portuguese and Spanish 
navigators found it, the latter giving to the rings the 
name of manillas, or manacles. They were used in Dar- 
foor (latitude 12° north, longitude 26° east) so late as 1850, 
for Mr. Curzon saw several chests full of gold baugs from 

^ The pinched bullet-money of Cochin China also appears to be a modi- 
fication of the bang. 

- Address of Dr. Flinders Petrie, before the Oriental Congress, London, 
September 6th, 1892. Khuen is evidently the Tartar " kung," or king. 


that country at Assouan in 1854. They are still used on 
the AVest coast, from whence the present author had one 
of copper, shaped like the letter C, that is to say, with 
the two ends of the ring left apart. ^ Another line of 
bangs is traceable from Scythia to Gotland, where they 
ai'e mentioned in sagas, which, although in their present 
form belonging to an era subsequent to the employment 
of baugs for money, are evidently mutilated versions of 
more ancient texts." Egil having" been paid two chests 
of silver as indemnity for his brother, " recites a song of 
praise," in which he alludes to the indemnity as " gul- 
baug," or gold rings, meaning money." 

The suspected mutilations of the sagas are corroborated 
by the known mutilations of the laws : " If a hauld 
•wounds a man, he is liable to pay 6 baugar to the king, 
€ach worth 12 oras ; if an arboriu-madr wounds a man, he 
has to pay 3 baugar, and a leysingi (freedmau) 2, a 
leudrman 12, a jarl 24, a kning 48, 12 oras being in each 
baug, and the fine shall be paid to those to whom it is due 
by law. All this is valued in silver."'* The text of this 
law proves that it assumed its present form at three 
different dates. The first belongs to the barbarous period, 
when the indemnity was fixed in Gothic baugs ; the second 
to the Roman period, when the baugs were valued in 
j heretical oras, or Roman sicilici ; and the third to the 
■ pei'iod when the oras vrere valued in Christian silver 
pennies. The original baug appears to have weighed 
■about as much as three sovereigns of the present day. 
A C-shaped figure, like that of the African baug above 

^ " Histoiy of Money," 133. Baugs, or ring-money, are mentioned by 
Pliny ("Xat. History," xxiii, 1). 

^ Bangs appear to have been also used by the tribes of the Baltic coasts 
after the Goths conquered or assimilated with them, for the term was 
•employed by the Salic Franks, and is still employed in French to mean 

^ Egil Saga. The Dutch still give the name of •"gulden" to certain 
silver coins. 

* Frostathing Laws, iv, 53 ; Du Chaillu, i, 549. 


mentioned, is twice repeated on a stone slab from the 
Kivikgrave, near Cimbrisham, a monument assigned by 
archaeologists to a very remote period. Whether it re- 
presents the bang or not cannot at present be determined,^ 
but there is some reason to think it does, from the fact 
that gold baugs seem to have been clothed with a sacer- 
dotal character. For example, Egil fastened a gold baug 
on each arm of the dead Thoroff before he buried him/ 
and a gold baug was paid for his bride. '^ Bagi was also 
the Parthian name for divine or sacred ; it appears on 
all the coins of the Arsacidse.* The originals of the- 
Frostathing laws may have descended from the period 
before the Goths revolted from Roman control. 

Specimens of Gothic baug-money are still extant. 
Gold, silver, and iron baugs will be found in the collec- 
tions of Bergen, Christiania, Newcastle, York, and other 
centres of Norse antiqviities. There are Gothic gold bangs- 
(about one inch in diameter) and copper and iron bangs- 
in the London and Paris collections. During the last 
century " a vast quantity of small iron ring-money was 
exhumed in the west of Cornwall, and one of these was 
deposited by Mr. Moyle in the Pembroke collection.'^ ^ 
After the era of baugs the Goths used coins. Says Du 
Chaillu : " A barbaric imitation in gold of a Roman 
imperial coin was found with a skeleton at Aarlesden in 
Odense, amt Fyen,^^ a district and island about 86 miles 
from Copenhagen.^ A barbaric imitation of a Byzantine 
coin of tbe fifth century was found in Mallgard, Gotland.^ 
A barbaric gold coin, falsely stamped with the image of 
Louis le Debonnaire, was found in Domberg, Zealand, and 
is now in the Paris collection. 

iFig. 28, in Du Chailk, 88. 

- Du Chaillu, ii, 476. 

^ Frostathing Laws, vi, 4 ; Du Chaillu, ii, 16. 

* Geo. Eawlinson, " Seventh Monarchy," p. QQ. 

^ Walter Moyle's works, i, 259. 

« Du Chaillu, i, 262. ' Du Chaillu, i, 275. 


When, sevei'al centuries before our era, the Celts came 
into contact with the Greeks, whether in Spain, Gaul, or 
Britain, they began to strike Celtish coins in imitation of 
Greek originals. In like manner, after the Goths came 
into contact with the Romans, or rather after they had 
learnt to abhor the religion of the Romans and despise 
their arms, whether in Moesia, Saxony, Zealand, or 
Britain, they began to strike Gothic coins in imitation of 
Roman originals. Such imitations are found in the unin- 
scribed stycas, scats, and oras of early Britain — a fact 
which is deduced as well from the Latin name of the 
ora as the general type and composition of all the pieces. 
AVhen Goth and Roman first met in Britain M'as when 
i ,the ring-money was still used by the former — a period 
clearly established by the following passage from the 
principal work ascribed to Julius Cassar. Speaking 
generally of the tribes whom he encountered in Britain 
(B.C. 55), Cffisar says : " Utuntur aut tere, aut uummo 
aureo, aut annulis ferreis, ad certum pondus examinatis 
pro nummo " — " They used either bronze (money) or gold 
money, or iron rings of a certain (determined) weight for 
money. ^^ The bronze metal, Caesar adds, was imported.^ 
It is evident that this ring-money was not used at the 
time by the Celtic or Gaelic tribes of Britain, because 
these tribes used coined monej", which, as a measure of 
value, is more precise and convenient than baugs. The 
Celts also came from Gaul and Belgium, where coined 
money was already in use. Their productions and com- 
merce were too varied for the employment of so rude a 
measure of value as baugs. Ctesar says their numbers 
were countless, their buildings exceedingly numerous, 

^ De Bell, " Gall.," v, 12. Several readings of this important passage 
are given in Henry's " Hist. Brit.," ii, 238. The reading in the text is from 
a MS. of the tenth century. Mr. Hawkins discovered that this passage 
had been materially corrupted in later copies (Hawkins, " Silver Coins," 
p. 8, and Ch. Knight, "Hist. England," i, 15, citing remarks on ancient 
coins in " Moneta Historica Brit.," p. 102). 


their wealth great in cattle and cultivated lands^ and their 
industry diversified^ including not only pasturage and 
agriculture, but also mining for tin and iron.^ Baugs 
had not been used by the Celtic tribes for nearly three 
centuries, that is to say, not since they had learnt the 
superiority of coins from the Greeks. On the other hand, 
their use among the Norsemen at this or, perhaps, even 
a later period is proved by the sagas,' and the conclusion 
that the ring-money found in Britain by Cfesar belonged 
to the Norse tribes in the remoter parts of the island, 
and indicated their presence there, seems to be well 
sustained.'^ ^Vhen added to the evidences of archaeology; 
customs, and language, adduced by "Wright, Stillingfleet, 
Pinkerton, Du Cbaillu, Dawkins, Evans, and other writers 
on the subject,* the body of proof that the Norse settle- 
ment of Britain antedates its Roman settlement becomes 
difficult to overthrow. 

The Norse-British coinage system consisted of stycas, 
scats, and oras. The styca was a small bronze coin, struck 
from the composition derived probably from the melting 
down of bronzes, and containing about 70 per cent, of 
copper and 20 of zinc, the remainder consisting of tin, 
silver, lead, and a minute proportion of gold. The 
extant stycas are confined by numismatists to Northumber- 
land, but a coin of similar description, and used as a 
divider for the scat, must have been employed in Kent and 

' Even after Caesar had ravaged their lands, the Belgians were able to 
send him supplies of com to Gaul (" De Bell. Gall.," v, 19, 20). 

- The pagan Xorse kings who ruled in Ireland used haug-money until 
they were driven out of that country in the twelfth century. This is 
what Sir John Lubbock, in his article on Money in the " Nineteenth 
Century," loosely called the " ring-money of the ancient Celts." 

^ Ctesar (v, 9 and 11) alludes to the civil wars which preceded his 
arrival in Britain, and which, since the Celts were all of one religion (the 
Druidical), we may reasonably surmise were occasionedby the encroach, 
ments of the heretical Norsemen. 

* Doom-rings and numerous other Norse antiquities have been found in 


elsewhere. The scat was an electrum coin^ struck from 

the composition resulting from the melting down of gold 

,and silver jewellery. The ora was a coin of pure or 

, nearly pure gold. Originally containing about 30 grains 

I of gold, it fell successively to 22i, 20, 16, and even 13 

grains. The electrum scats weighed about the same as 

the oras. The early oras are known among modern 

numismatists as gold scats. Sometimes the scats were 

■ stamped with the svastica, or with runes — a peculiarity 

' that does not appear upon any coins issued by the 

southern kings of the heptarchical period. Eight stycas 

went to the scat, and eight scats to the ora. Owing to 

the composite nature of the scats, the ratio between gold 

and silver is indeterminable. Judging from the numeri- 

cal relations between scats and oras, the ratio was intended 

to be 8 for 1. The coin ora must not be confused with 

the weight ora, which was afterwards the eighth of the 

mark weight ; nor must the money of account, called the 

mark (of which more anon), be confused with the weight 


There is a remarkable similarity between the Gothic 
coinage system and that of ancient Japan. There, too, 
coins were made respectively of gold, electrum, and 
bronze ; the gold and the electrum coins were of the 
same weight, and the relative value of these even-. 
weighted coins indicated that of the metals which com- 
posed them.^ On the other hand, the Norse-Bi'itish 
systems were distincth' non-German. Styca and scat 
are Norse terms, and were not used in Germany; mark is 
also a Norse term, and, according to Agricola, it was 
employed by the Goths many centuries before it was known 

' The Japanese system is fully described in " Money and Civilisation,'* 
chap. sx. The reader must, however, not argue too much fi'om this, 
resemblance. In the ruder societary life of the Anglo-Saxons exchanges 
were comparatively few and simple, and the monetary system was of 
jninor importance ; in the refinement of modern Japanese life, it affected 
the foundations of equity and civil order. 


in Germany. The runic letters and svastica are both 
'Gothic and pagan. The Germans did not strike gold coins. 
The ratio of 8 for 1 is Gothic ; that of Germany followed 
the Eoman law, and down to the thirteenth century was 
•either 12 for 1 or some mean between this and the Gothic 
ratio. Finally, the independent issues of gold and elec- 
trum coins were essentially Gothic, because the Goths, 
down to the eighth, ninth, or tenth centuries, were pagans, 
and refused to acknowledge the pope ; whilst the Germans, 
from the date when their country was made a province 
•of the Empire, had invariably bowed to its ecclesiastical 

The Anglo-Saxon coins were not issued by any central 
authority, but by each local chieftain independently of 
the others. For this reason the valuation of the coins, 
and of the metals of which they were made, probably greatly 
varied. More important than all, the whole number of 
coins was uncertain and subject to the vicissitudes of war. 
A successful attack upon the Romans, who, down to the 
sixth or seventh century still held many of the walled 
towns of Britain, might in a single day have doubled the 
entire circulation of a given kingdom ; whilst a 
repulse, followed by Roman pursuit and reprisals, 
might as suddenly have reduced the circulation to a 

The reader will bear in mind that the ora described 
above was the original Gothic ora, afterwards called the 
gold shilling (gull skilling), not what the ora became 
in later ages. As time went on it continually fell in 
weight ; the ratio of silver to gold changed from 8 for 
1, to 64 and 7^ for 1, then to 10 for 1, then to 12 for 1 ; 
the number of scats — or, as they were afterwards called, 
pennies — to the ora, changed from 8 to 5, then to 4, then 
to 20, 12, 20, and 16.^ In one instance there were 15 

1 Domecday Book; Ruding, i, 315. The relation of four scats to the 
•ora ■was enacted prior to the middle of the tenth century ('' Judicia Civi- 
2tatis," Londonise ; Ruding, i, 309). 


miuutffi to the ora. '^ Ora, vernacula aura, Dauis ore, 
f uit olim geuus mouetas, valens, 15 minuta.'^^ These may 
have been, not copper coins, but silver half-pence." It 
would be tedious to explain the endless combinations to 
which the changes in the three terms — viz., weight, ratio, 
and value — gave rise. Eventually the ora became a 
money of account, and as the ora weight was one-eighth 
of the mark weight, so the ora of account was valued at 
one-eighth of the mark of account, which, during the 
Norman and Plantagenet eras, consisted of five gold 
mai'avedis, each weishing- two-thirds of the Roman 
solidus. This mode of fixing the value of the ora 
gave rise to new and still more perplexing numismatic 
problems, all of which, however, are readily solved by 
the guides herein offered. For example, in the time 
of William I, there were still some actual gold oras 
extant, or mentioned in unexpired leases. These Avere 
valued in Domesday Book at 20 pennies, because their 
namesake, the ora of account, was in England one-eighth 
of the mark of account, and the mark of account was 
two-thirds of the libra of account. As the latter then 
consisted (in England) of 240 actual silver pennies, so 
the mark was valued at 160 pence, and the gold ora was 
valued at 20 pence. 

If this mode of calculation, which was emploj'ed in 
England after the Xorman conquest, be applied to the 
ancient Gothic system, in which the gold ora was of the 
same weight and value as one-fourth of the gold solidus 
or mancus, it would follow that the mark of account con- 
sisted of two mancusses instead of five maravedis. Thus, 
if an ora is 20 pence and a mai-k is 160 pence, then there 
are eight oras to the mark. If there were four oras to 
the mancus, there were consequently two mancusses to the 
mark. The fallacy of this mode of calculation, which 

' Dulinerus, in Du Fiesne, in Fleetwood, p. 27. 
- The minuta of the Netherlands was the les, or Es (Budelius). 



some numismatists have used, arises from the employment 
of the ora in two senses — firstly, as a money of account, 
which it was in the eleventh century ; and, secondly, as 
an actual gold coin, which it was probably from the 
second to the seventh or eighth century. 



The empire of Islam — Conquest of the Roman provinces in Asia, 
Africa, and Spain — Administrative policy of the moslem — Monetary 
regulations — Numismatic declaration of independence — Origin of the 
dinar and dirhem — Singular ratio of value between silver and gold — 
Probable reasons for its adoption — Its worth as an historical guide — As 
a monetary example — Permanence of the tale ratio between dinar and 
dirhem — Moslem remains in the Western and Northern States of Europe : 
Spain, France, Burgundy, Flanders, Britain, and Scandinavia — Coinage 
system of Abd-el-Melik — Prerogative of coinage vested in the caliphate 
— Individual coinage unknown — Emir coinages — These substantially 
ceased with the reform of Abd-el-Melik — Legal tender in Egypt, Spain, 
and India — ^ Weights and fineness of the dinar in various reigns — Same 
of the dirhem — Frontier ratios between gold and silvei-. 

ISLAM, like Rome, was a sacred empire ; the sovereign 
was both emperor and high-priest, but with this 
remarkable difference, that whilst the Roman emperor 
demanded to be worshipped as a god, the Commander of 
the Faithful unswervingly directed all worship to be 
made to an incorporeal deity. Mr. Freeman perceives 
another difference. The Roman emperor, he says, was 
pontiff because he was emperor, whilst " the Prophet, from 
a spiritual teacher, gradually became a temporal lord, con- 
sequently his successor is only emperor because he is 
pontiff."^ I confess myself unable to follow this author, 
either as to the fact or its significance. The first Augustus 
was emperor for several years before the death of Lepidus 
enabled him to reunite the two offices in one person. 
After that time the Augustus or Basileus was the 

' Freeman's " History of the Saracens," p. 62. 


emperor, and the emperor was tlie Augustus. Those who 
were proclaimed by the army were necessarily emperors 
before they could be invested as chief-pontiff. On the 
other hand, those who became sovereign-pontiffs by adop- 
tion or descent were both emperors and chief-pontiffs at i 
the same time. With respect to the moslem, Mr. Free- 
man's inaccuracy is still more glaring. Mahomet was never 
a temporal lord ; whilst several temporal lords, or emirs, 
ruled the empire which he did so much to erect, before 
Abd-el-Melik proclaimed himself an independent sove- 
reign, and, uniting the pontificate to the throne, took the 
title of caliph and Emir-el- Moumenin, or Commander of the 
Faithful. Spain emancipated herself from the temporal 
but not from the spiritual control of the Arabian caliphs so 
early as a.d. 756 ; Egypt followed suit in a.d. 868. Abd- 
el-Raman I, was therefore an independent sovereign before 
he became a pontiff ; indeed, he never became one. Says 
Lavoix : " The Ommiades of Spain always respected the 
supremacy of the caliph. '^ This was true down to the 
reign of Abd-el-Raman III, but not afterwards. The 
previous caliphs of Spain never styled themselves Emir- 
el-Moumenin, but he did. He was not only Commander 
of the Faithful , he was also En-Nasr-li-din- Allah, or 
" Servant of the Religion of God.'' 

As usual, the coinage decides the point. The Arabian 
emirs or caliphs, call them what you will, struck no inde- 
pendent coins before Abd-el-Melik. Their coins bear the 
stamp of Roman suzerainty ; the emblems of the Roman 
religion ; the legends of Roman superstition. These are 
proofs that until Abd-el-Melik the Arabian caliphs were 
not independent sovereigns. But the coinage proves 
.more than this : it proves that the temporal sovereignty 
of the caliphs did not arise from their spiritual authority. 
This existed from the time of Mahomet, while the 
temporal sovereignty only began with Abd-el-Melik. 
Another proof of the correctness of this view is derived 
from the coinage of gold, which, with the Arabs as with 


the Persians and Romans, was a sacerdotal preroga- 
tive. This prerogative belonged to the caliph as the 
sovereign-pontiff of Islam. The early emirs struck no 
gold, not even with Roman devices, and when Abd-el- 
Melik struck gold, the sovereign-pontiff of Rome, who was 
'aware of its significance, immediately declared war upon 
him. It was the same in Spain. The Spanish caliphs 
struck no gold before Abd-el-Raman III. Until then the 
gold coins used in Spain were struck by the Arabian 
caliphs as Commanders of the Faithful. In Egypt it was 
'the same. When the first Fatimite King struck gold in 
'that province he meant it to be understood, and the caliphs 
so construed it, that he regarded himself as independent of 
the caliphate, and was prepared to take the consequences 
of that declaration. 

The spiritual and temporal attributes of the caliph, and 
the important bearing which this dual character had upon 
the development of the moslem empire, is best shown 
by the historian Dozy. The empire rose by the strength 
which it derived from this union of the spiritual and tem- 
poral powers j it fell by the weakness which invariably 
follows such an union. The strength was born of reli- 
gious enthusiasm ; the weakness resulted from the im- 
practical features of hierarchical government. 

The demands of space forbid us to follow this subject 
any further. Our object is not to trace the history of 
Islam, but of its monetary systems in Europe. We can, 
therefore, only glance at the events connected with the 
establishment of moslem government. 

It is a common mistake to confound the rise of Sara- 
cenic power with the advent of Mahomet. Three centuries 
before his time the frontier tribes of Arabia had ventured 
to resist the authority of Rome, and under their goddess 
or queen Mania^ their strength had been sufficient to defy 
and overthrow an imperial army. Their religion had 

* Eufinus calls the Arabian queen Mania ; Socrates and Sozomen call 
her Mavia. The name is probably the same as Maia, Maria, etc. 


also taken form. Sozomen, describing the Arabs of • 
the fourth centuiy, says : " They practice circumcision, ' 
refrain from the use of pork^ and observe many other 
Jewish rites and customs.'^ It may be added that they 
observed many religious rites and customs which were 
afterwards adopted by the Eoman church.^ 

However, the establishment of Islam is cei'tainly due 
to Mahomet and his successors^ and to their conquests 
of Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain. It is through 
this last-named country that France, England, Germany, 
and America are interested in the progress of the 
Arabian monetary systems. 

At the time of Mahomet and the emirs the Arabs 
numbered about 120,000 fighting men. These consti- 
tuted that army of invasion which accomplished its work 
with so much courage and energy. After repelling the 
forces which had confined them to the desert, they burst 
out upon Rome and Persia, at that time the two most 
powerful States of the Western world. In less than ten 
years they subdued Irak, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt, 
and turned these countries into " the dwelling of the Arab 
race, the kernel of the empire, the garden where Religion 
and Victory were born together.'" ^ The attack was so 
rapid that the conquest proceeded almost without adminis- 
trative organisation. Locally this was left entirely in 
the hands of the conquered races. In Persia the con- 
querors, who were rough soldiers and awkward in clerkly 
duties, employed Jewish or Persian writers and account- 
ants. The native language was retained. In Syria the 
pi'incipal servants of the Arabian government down to 
the reign of Abd-el-Melik were "Arian^' Greeks. For 
example, one Sergius, a Greek, was superintendent of 
finances, or collector of taxes. But in the reign of Abd- 
el-Melik all was changed. The civil government of Irak 
was taken from the Persian writers and given to Arabians. 

1 Stanley's " Sabean Philosophy," p. 800. 
- Ibn Kaldoun. 


The Domesday Book of Syria was ti'auslated into Ai'abic ; 
the registry of the treasury, the tax lists, and the text 
of the laws all became Arabic. 

It was the same with the coinage. During nearly 
sixty years following the conquest, this privilege and func- 
tion was exercised by local emirs, who employed Persian, 
Greek, or Hebrew moneyers. The sizes, types, and in- 
scriptions of the coins, their weight, fineness, value, legal 
function, and other characteristics were copied with pre- 
cision from the current coins and monetary systems of the 
subdued nations.'' Under Abd-el-Melik this was all re- 
formed. The coins became wholly Arabian, and among 
the characteristics which they acquired was one which 
was carried westward, and continued to influence the 
coinages of Europe until after the discovery of America. 
This was the peculiarly Arabian valuation of silver to gold 
of 6^ for 1. But before explaining this subject, let us 
first briefly follow the Arabian conquests through Africa 
to Spain. 

An interesting relic of antiquity, communicated to the 
world iu recent years, assures us that the Arabian policy 
in Egypt was the same as in Persia and Syria — the local 
administration was at first left entirely in the hands of 
the conquered nation." 

John of Xikios, after describing the anarchical con- 
dition of the religious community in Egypt, the dissen- 
sions which distracted it, the persecutions instituted by 

^ From Abd-el-Melik the Arabs seldom omitted an opportunity to pro- 
claim iipon the coins the unity of God. The ordinary motto was, " There 
is no God but the one God." Upon the bilingual coins it varied ; for 
example : " In Xomine Domini Misericordis. Unus Deus." ..." Non 
est Deus nisi Solus Deus cui non socius Alius." . . . '" Xon est Deus nisi, 
Unus cui non Deus alius similis." The coinages of the emirs began as 
early as a.d. 638 ; of Ali, 660; Abd-el-Melik, 685. 

- " Chronique de Jean, eveque de Nikiou " (Xikos), texte Ethiopien, 
public et traduit par H. Zoteuberg, Paris, 1883. This bishop lived in 
Egypt during the latter half of the seventh century, that is to say, at 
the time of the Arabian invasion. 


the sacred emperor Heraclius, and the joy with which the 
inhabitants forsook the Roman for the moslem yoke, 
notices the wisdom of the Arabian policy in retaining 
native administrative ofl&cers. Says John : " After the 
moslem conquest a man named Menas, whom the Em- 
peror (of Byzantium) made pr^efect of Lower Egypt, and 
who despised the Egyptians, was, nevertheless, i-etained at 
his post. The moslem also chose another Greek, named 
Sinoda, as praefect of the province of Eif, and another, 
named Philoxenos, as praefect of Arcadia or Fayoum.'^ 
Even when Menas was removed from the government of 
Alexandria, the moslem replaced him by John of Damietta, 
a Greek, who had also been a prefect under the Emperor, 
and who, moreover, had successfully exei'ted himself to save 
the city from injury by its Arabian conquerors. This was 
his recommendation to them. 

The conquest of Africa was very different from that of 
Persia, Syria, and Egypt. In these countries the worship 
of Ceesar had deeply disgusted the inhabitants with 
Eoman rule, and even where " Christianity '^^ had sup- 
planted emperor-worship, the people never became wholly 
reconciled to the religion of their conquerors. The Ber- 
bers of Africa, being more remote from Byzantium, were 
less troubled by religious disputes. Neither the worship 
of Augustus, nor Bacchus, nor of the reigning emperor, 
gave them much concern. They were strangers to both the 
Latin and Greek tongues, and came but little into contact 
with the officials, either secular or sacred, who had been 
appointed over them. Hence they were not divided by 
schism, and were far from being disposed to welcome the 
new race of religious enthusiasts and conquerors. The 
conquest of the other provinces of Rome had been effected 
by the moslem in campaigns, which, ending w^ith the battle 
of Nevahend (a.d. 641), had lasted less than ten years. The 

' It is hardly necessary to remind the intelligent reader that the so- 
called " Christianity " of the seventh century hore but slight resemblance 
to the Christianity of the present day. 


conquest of tlie African provinces of that empire cost tliem 
half a century of fighting. The country which lay before 
them comprised Tripoli to the Tingitane, Central Maghred^ 
and Western Maghred. Two races occupied it ; the sea- 
ports were in the hands of the By7iantines, who also 
possessed, in the interior, military posts defended by 
strong garrisons. The Byzantine legate reigned at Car- 
thage ; Gregory, the patrician, governed at Sufetula ; 
the rest of the country was filled by the warlike Berbers, 
chiefly in Auras, Zab, and Hodna, where they had esta- 
blished themselves during the contests between the Romans 
and Vandals. 

After a series of preliminary raids and skirmishes, 
during which the moslem established bases of supplies at 
Zaoueilah and Barkah, they prepared for a more extended 
campaign in a.h. 49. This was under the chief com- 
mand of Akbar-ben-Nafi, who, in a.h. 50, founded the city 
of Kairoun. At the end of twelve years' hard fighting 
Akbar had penetrated westward so far as Ceuta, then 
commanded by Count Julian. From the flanks of this 
fortress Akbar first beheld the limitless ocean of the 
West and the towering Rock of Hercules, Calpe (or 
Gibraltar), beyond which hiy the famed land of gold and 
silver. Leaving Ceuta on his right, Akbar marched 
straight on to Tangier. Here, while separated from his 
army, and defended by only 300 cavaliers, he was am- 
bushed and massacred by the enemy. 

Zohair-ben-Kais, and after him Hasan, having suc- 
ceeded to the command of the moslem forces, other 
campaigns followed, in which Carthage was won, then 
lost, and then won again. With its second winning the 
Roman garrisons in Africa were virtually subdued. The 
natives, however, were far from being conquered. Under 
their queen, Kahinah, they held the Arabians in check, 
and eventually defeated them. Africa seemed uncon- 
querable. After this defeat — the most terrible that the 
moslem had ever sustained — Hasan received orders from 


the indomitable caliph to renew the war. This time 
Kahinah was defeated, and Kairoun retaken. The moslem 
armies again took up the march for Ceuta. Hasan was 
now replaced by Mousa-beu-Nosier, under whose vigorous 
command Ceuta was secured, and (a.d. 704) the arms of 
Arabia were carried to the Western Ocean. 

Five years later Abou-Zoriah-Tharik-ben-Zaid (better 
known to us as Tarik), under the orders of Mousa, passed 
the Straits of Hercules with one hundred horse and four 
hundred foot soldiers, debarked at the Rock, captured 
and sacked the town, as well as the neighbouring cities 
of Carteia and Algeciras, and then returned to Africa rich 
with spoils. Next year Tarik landed with a larger force, 
better equipped, and boldly advanced to meet the Gothic 
army of King Roderic. Except when the Saracenic 
vassals of the empire, whom Valens in 378 had called to 
the defence of Constantinople, and whose savage valor 
had avenged his death by bloodily repulsing the Goths 
from the suburbs of the capital, this was the first occasion 
when the moslem and the Gothic arms came into conflict, 
and here, again, victory was with the Arabs. The im- 
mediate consequence of the action was to open the road 
to Toledo, and in an incredibly short space of time nearly 
the whole of Spain fell into the hands of the invaders. 
The fame of this extraordinary exploit aroused the jealousy 
of Mousa, who, crossing from Africa, hastened to com- 
plete the conquest of Spain, and share the vast spoils of 
Tarik. By a.h. 94 (a.d. 712) the conquest was com- 
pleted, and Mousa, like Cortes at a later period, found 
himself master of an empire greater and richer than that 
of the caliph his master. 

In every country that fell beneath their sway the policy 
of the moslem was the same : they imposed a tribute 
(usually of about one dinar per capita per annum) upon 
the inhabitants, but only so long as they remained kafirs 
or infidels. The moment they accepted the moslem 
formula — " There is but one God " — the tribute was taken 


off, and they became Mahometans and freemen. The 
civil administration, of Spain was entrusted to native 
(Gothic) clerks and leaders. The coinage, which began 
in each couuti*y from the moment that victory was assured, 
were always an exact imitation of the previous local 
coinage. No change at all is perceptible at first. For 
example, Mousa commenced to strike coins from the 
moment that the conquest of Spain was effected, and one 
of these pieces is still extant. 

In A.H. 37 (a.d. 658), during the civil contest between 
Ali and Moawiyah, the latter " bought peace of the 
Emperor Constans by a round sum of ready money and 
the payment of a daily tribute.'^ In a.h. 59 (a.d. 679), 
after his repulse from the walls of Constantinople, 
Moawiyah was fain to purchase peace from Constantine 
Pogonatus by an annual tribute of 3,000 libras of gold, 
fifty slaves, and fifty Arab horses.^ In a.h. 67 (a.d. 686) 
Abd-el-Melik, being at that period involved in civil war 
with the Mardaites, bought peace of Justinian II, (after- 
wards called Rhiuotmetus) by the payment of a tribute of 
1,000 gold solidi or dinars per annum for ten years. 
Down to this time these coins were struck by Abd-el 
Melik, with Eoman emblems and legends upon them. 
Six years later the Arabian caliph, having disposed of 
the Mardaite trouble, determined to assert his inde- 
pendence of Rome, and by a token understood of all the 
"World. He struck gold coins with his own effigy, holding 
a drawn sword, as afterwards did Edward III, when la.3 
renounced the same dread authority. Abd-el-^Ielik's 
dinars bore this challenging legend : " The Servant of 
'God, Abd-el-Melik, Emir-el-Moumenin." These coins 
-Justinian refused to receive, because, says Zonaras, " It is 
not permitted to stamp gold coins with any other e&.gy 
but that of the emperor of Rome.''"' Whereupon a war 

^ Freeman (pp. 90, 91) says •' pieces " of gold, or dinars. 
- Consult Theophanus (pp. 751-818) ; Cedrenus (eleventh century) 
and Zonaras (t^velfth century) on this subject. 


was declared br Justinian, Tvliicli lasted until the latter 
was driven from liis throne by a civil revolt, which 
occurred in a.d, 695. Justinian was banished by his 
successor to the Crimea, where he married the daughter 
of a Mongol chieftain. He afterwards escaped to Bulgaria, 
where he married the daughter of a Gothic chieftain. 
Then, in a.d. 705^ he appeared before Constantinople with 
an army of barbarians, and re-entered it in triumph. 
Among his first acts was the striking of a gold solidus, 
with which he hurled back the religious challenge of the 
Arab. Upon this solidus appears the legend : " Our 
Lord Justinian, the Servant of Christ." 

The monetary system of Abd-el-Melik consisted of 
coins of purely Arabian type and legend. The ratio 
between silver and gold was that oriental valuation of 
6^ for 1, which marked for several centuries the line of 
separation between the moslem and Christian States of 
Europe. The Arabian ratio was fixed by striking dinai-s, 
each of approximately 65 grains, and silver dirhems of 
approximately 43 grains, and valuing ten of the latter, in 
the law, at one of the former. Unless the purely econo- 
mical considerations, which will presently be adduced, are 
deemed sufficient, it is difficult to discern the reasons for 
establishing this peculiar ratio ; yet practical politicians 
will assure us that economical considerations have never 
been the principal influence which determined the policy 
of nations."^ 

The ratio of 6| may have been a reaction from the 
coinages effected under the ratio of 13, mentioned by 
Herodotus concerning the ancient Persian tributes ; ' or it 

1 "The events of the last few years on both sides of the Atlantic have 
proved that men are not now, any more than they ever were, chiefly 
governed by calculations of material profit and loss " (Bryce, " Holy 
Roman Empire," p. 301). 

- Thalia, p. 95. Some warrant for this hypothesis is afforded by the 
Brazilian milreis, which, though derived from that of Portugal, contains- 
only half the same quantity of fine metal (" Hist. Money and Civiliza-- 
tion," chap. xii). 

( V, 

MOSLEM MONEYS.X?^, ,f°^.^^,i ^>'17o 

may have been due to the fact that iu all the western 
countries conquered by the moslem, silver was chiefly in 
the hands of the people, whilst gold was in those of their 
rulers ; and the great alteration which was made in their 
relative value was a covert bribe to gain the suffrages of 
the former and reconcile them to moslem government and 
religion. But it is far more likely to have originated in a 
simpler and sti'aightforward manner. The Athenian, 
Persian, Egyptian, and Roman governments had succes- 
sively absorbed a lai-ge portion of the profits derived from 
the Indian trade, by lowering the value of silver (in which 
their tributes were chiefly received) in the Occident to 
lialf its value in the Orient. By making the bullion trade 
a strictly governmental monopoly, as Cicero informs us was 
the case with Rome, that hierarchy obtained twice as much 
gold for silver in India as it paid for it iu Europe. This 
policy, except where it was swept away by the influence of 
Islam, Avas pursued until the Roman empire expired. The 
Arabian government was more considerate of its merchants: 
it threw open the oriental trade to all true believers ; it 
imposed no restrictions ; it was averse, at least at that 
period, to the imposition of covert exactions. During the 
seventh century of our era the ratio in India was about 
6^ for 1, and this high valuation of silver in India con- 
tinued substantially unchanged until the fifteenth century. 
It was at the Indian ratio that the moslem struck their 
coins of gold and silver. 

Whatever the true reason of this policy, it was certainly 
more profitable for the moslem conquerors than had they 
adopted the contemporaneous Roman ratio of 12 for 1. A 
brief computation will serve to measure this profit. After 
consulting those Arabian authors who have treated the 
subject, and making allowances for instances where 
exaggeration seems to have been employed, we have 
ventured to roughly estimate the moslem spoil of the 
precious metals, including the tributes exacted fi'om the 
conquered nations during the first eighty years of the 


conquestj at about five miilion marks' weiglit of gold and 
about one hundred million marks' weight of silver. 

In determining at what i elation of value of one to the 
other metal this mass of gold and silver should be coined, 
Abd-el-Melik may be reasonably supposed to have indulo-ed 
in some such considerations as the following ; 

" We have a vast treasure before us to coin. At what 
ratio of value between silver and gold shall we coin it ? 
Our armies are invincible: the populations are tired of 
Eoman rule ; our conquests will extend. Arabia is a com- 
mercial country, watered by three oceans — the Mediter- 
ranean connects it with the "West, the Euxine with the 
North, and the Eed Sea with India and China, The 
influx of the precious metals, due at first to our arms, will 
be continued by means of trade. In the Roman empire 
and its feudatories the coinages have hitherto been con- 
ducted on the basis of 12 weights of silver for 1 of gold ; 
in the Orient the ratio is 6 or 7 for 1. It is evident that 
the most profitable, perhaps also the most important, part 
of our commerce will be with what we soon hope to call 
our Indian empire; and it is more desirable that our 
moneys ehould harmonise with the Indian than with the 
Roman coinages. It must also not be forgotten that to 
conform with the Roman coinages would involve us in 
pecuniary loss, whereas to follow the oriental ratio would 
afford us a profit. Judging from the proportions of the 
metallic spoil thus far captured, we shall secure about 
twenty times as much (in weight of) silver as gold, 
and assuming that we eventually secure 100,000,000 
marks of silver, and coin it at the Indian ratio, our 
fund will amount to 1,120,000,000 dinars; whereas if we 
coin at the Roman ratio, it will only come to 746f millions. 
Let those who are learned in the art of arithmetic make 
the calculation for themselves. The only questions left 
to consider are these : Can we permanently maintain 
this ratio of value — so different from that established by 
the coinages of the Roman empire, a large portion 


of which, however, is already' subject to our arms ? 
'\^'ill not our gold dinars flow out and silver metal come 
into Arabia to take its place ? and, if so, will not this 
prove injurious to our affairs ? These questions can be 
answered very readily. As we have already gained con- 
ti'ol of the Egyptian, and, please Allah, will soon have 
control of the Spanish mines, from what other country 
is the silver metal to come which is to bu}' our gold 
dinars ? Answer — No country. As we have driven the 
Eomans from the Mediterranean, and will soon control 
the commerce of maritime Europe, whither could our 
gold dinars go outside of the influence of our own 
ti'ade ? Answer — Nowhere. If, nevertheless, such an 
unlikely thing should come to pass, how much should 
we lose were our 280,000,000 of gold dinars to flow out 
and we received for them 280,000,000 dinars^ worth of 
silver at our own ratio of valuation ? Answer — Nothing. 
Then what is the objection to the adoption of such a ratio 
of value between silver and gold as best suits our present 
interests and our probable future trade with India ? 
Answer — None whatever.'^^ 

Encouraged more than likely by reflections of this 
character, the Arabians commenced, under Abd-el-Melik, 
that system of purely Arabian coinages which continued 
until the centre of their empire was virtually removed to 
India, and they had lost control of both the mines and 
the commerce of Europe. 

These coinages were for several centuries conducted ou 
the basis of 6h weights of coined silver as the equivalent 
in value of 1 weight of coined gold. This was not only 
a peculiar ratio ; it differed so greatly from the Roman 
one of 12 for 1 that it can never fail to be recognised 
wherever and whenever it existed — whether in the couu- 

^ At the ratio of 65 there would be 56 dinars and 84 dirhems struok 
from the mark weight ; at the ratio of 12 there would be 56 of each coin 
struck from the mark weight. The difference in the total sum would 
amount to 373^ millions of dinars. 


tries of Islam or elsewhere. Moreover, when found else- ' 
"where, it is an infallible sign of moslem connection or 
influence. As in the remains of antiquity the presence ' 
of silk and porcelain denotes commerce with China ; of 
spices, with India ; of tin, with Britain ; of amber, with 
lestia ; and of papyrus, with Egypt, so, in the monuments 
of the medieval ages, does the establishment of this pecu- 
liar ratio of value between silver and gold in coins denote 
intercourse with the Arabians. Wherever this ratio was 
adopted merely by giving currency to Arabian coins at 
Arabian values, the intercourse with Arabians xuay have 
been limited to commerce. Where the ratio was esta- 
blished by means of local coinages, based on the moslera 
valuation and supplemented by the use of moslem types, 
the former implies resistance to Roman government, and 
the latter implies the presence of moslem artificers. 
Where to the moslem ratio and types was added the 
moslem religious formula, " There is but one God,'' this 
definitively bespeaks the presence of moslem influence, 
and a formal protest against polytheism. All these will 
be found in some mediasval States — the moslem ratio, 
type, and religious formula ; hence their historical 

When it is borne in mind that the moslem empire was 
a sacred one, that the moslem coinages, like the Roman or 
Byzantine, were employed as a means of disseminating 
religious doctrine, and that, also like the Roman, the 
legal ratio of value between coins of the precious metals, 
once fixed, remained unchanged for centuries, the import- 
ance of the moslem ratio for solving other historical 
problems will be better understood. For example, how 
far did the moslem conquest and occupation of France 
extend ? and how long did it last ? are questions to which 
a far more reliable answer will be found in the Merovin- 
gian coinages than in the popular stoiy of Martel's 
victory.^ To what extent, at a given era, was Christianity 
^ One of the earliest Arabian dinars, now in the Paris collection, was 


establislied in Gothic countries, is a problem to be solved 
' mucli more satisfactorily by means of the coinages and 
valuations which prevailed in those countries than by 
listening to the airy fictions of the Quindecemviral 

We find moslem remains or else marks of moslem 
influence in tlie antiquities of England, Scandinavia, the 
Netherlands, Frakkland (Burgundy), Spain, and other 
Gothic or semi-Gothic States of the seventh and eighth 
centuries. In Sicily moslem marks continue to the 
twelfth century, and in Spain to the fifteenth. When- 
ever we find them we have not far to look for the frontier - 
Hue of Christianity. Since the Julian era, in whatever 
country the ratio of 12 prevailed, that country may be 
safeh' regarded as having been first under Roman-pagan, 
and afterwards under Roman-Christian domination ; in 
whatever country west of India the ratio of 7 or 6^ pre- 
vailed, it may be regarded as having been under moslem in- 
fluence. But for the influence of the archaic Gothic 
ratio of 8, explained elsewhere, it might also be concluded 
that wherever any intermediate ratio between 6^ and 12 
prevailed, that place was at or near the frontier-line 
between the spheres of Roman and moslem influence. 

To those to whom the ratio of value between the pre- 
cious metals appears due to any other circumstance than 
the arbitrary laws of national mints, or to those whose 
attention to the history of this recondite subject has now 
been drawn for the first time, the ratio may seem a 
strange or inadequate criterion of political or religious 
domination ; but it is precisely in such obscure relations 
between great and little things that an all-wise Creator 
has sheltered the truth of history from man^s destructive 
powers. The forgeiy of books, the defacement of monu- 
ments, the perversion of evidences, the extermination 
of nonconformists, the invention of fabulous cosmogonies 

found at Autun, with two Merovingian coins (Lavoix's Catalogue, 
No. 26). 



and superstitious fictions — all are made in vain to conceal 
or crush the truth so long as a blade of grass or a breath 
of air remains on earth to reveal it ; for all Nature is 
united in a mysterious harmony, and to even approxi- 
mately master one branch of science is to gain a key 
which, with patience and industry, may eventually unlock 
for us all the others. 

The moslem systems of money were based on the dinar 
coin, whose weight was called a mithcal, this word mean- 
ing literally " any weight with which one weighs ; " in 
other words, the mithcal of money was the weight of the 
dinar, which was theoretically a symbol, a money of 
account, forming part of a monetary system, but palpably 
a single coin, containing 65 grains fine gold, this 
having been the average contents of the Homan solidus at 
the period of the first Arabian coinage.^ In the earliest 
moslem system (period of Mahomet) the mithcal was 
divided into 96 parts, as follows : 96 barleycorns = 48 
habbeh = 24 tussuj=6 danik = l mithcal. The ratio of 
silver to gold in this system was 12 for 1. Hence the 
silver drachma, of which 12 went to the gold dinar, con- 
tained 65 grains fine silver.' In the system established 
by Abd-el-Melik, about three-fourths of a century after 
the Hegira, the mithcal was divided into 100 parts, as 
follows: 100 barleycorns = 20 karats = 1 mithcal. Hence 
a barleycorn of this system weighed 0*65, or about two- 
thirds of a grain, and a karat S^ grains. Both the Roman 
binary weights and the Eoman ratio of silver to gold 
were now dropped. The weights became decimal. The 
gold dinar remained unchanged, but the principal silver 
coin was modelled upon the average Sassanian dii-hem of 
14 karats, or seven-tenths (in weight) of the dinar, and 
it took the name of its Sassanian prototype. Hence the 

^ The extant solidus of Heraclius I, weighs 69'9 grains, about 65 grains 

2 Esh Shaf J and Ibn Hanbal both affirm that the ratio was 12 in the 
time of the Prophet. 


dirliem theoretically contained seven- tenths of 65 grains = 
45^ gi-ains. The dinar was valued at 10 dirhems — a valua- 
tion derived from the ordinances of the Prophet, and one 
which it would have been sacrilegious to alter. The law 
of the Prophet levies a tithe on all possessions of the pre- 
cious metals, amounting to 5 oukias, or 200 silver dirhems, 
or 20 gold dinars. 1 Here the dinar is valued at 10 
silver dirhems, and it I'emained so until the tenth century. 
This ratio had nothing to do with the value of billon, 
potin, copper, or glass dirhems, of which we have had to 
speak elsewhere ; it related only to gold and silver coins 
of fine, or substantially fine, metal. 

Had both the gold and silver coins of the Mahometan 
mints contained the full theoretical weight of metal, 
and had they been of like standard, alloy, or fineness, the 
weights given above would have made a ratio of 7 silver = 
1 gold ; but the actual circumstances were different. 
The dinars weighed 65 grains (0*979) fine; the dirhems 
weighed 43 grains (0*960 to 0*970) fine. Hence the ratio of 
value between silver and gold in the coins was 6*52 for 1. 

There has been a good deal of confusion and mis- 
understanding on this subject, and it is essential to clear 
it up in this place. El-Hassan, an Arabian writer 
(a.h. 22-110), calculated the theoretical ratio of value 
between the precious metals in the coinage at 3^ for 1, 
which is just half of the true theoretical ratio. Bergmann, 
a recent winter, doubled the theoretical ratio, and made it 
14 for 1. Queipo doubled the actual ratio, and made it 
13 for 1. These errors probably arose from mistaking 
■ the number of dirhems to the dinar. El-Hassan may 
: have assumed 5 to be the correct number ; Queipo and 
Bergmann certainly assumed the number to be 20. The 
correct legal number was 10.^ M. Sylvestre de Sacy 
supposed that, because there were 10 dirhems to the 
dinar, the ratio was 10 for 1.^ This would be true if 

^ The Koran, as revised by Othman or Ali. ' Sauvaire, pp. 49 — 55. 

^ " Money and Civilization," p. 22. * Sauvaire, p. 55. 


the weights and fineness of the two coins were alike, but 
not true as the case stood. 

The average gross weight of 2,222 whole dinars now 
extant, and dating from a.h. 76 to 132, is 65'3 grains ; 
that of 6,982 whole dirhems of the same period is 43"36 
grains, all of them being coins in the best state of con- 
servation.^ The legal valuation of 10 dirhems to the 
dinar will be found repeatedly confirmed in the works of 
Makrisi, de Sacy, Queipo, Lavoix, Sauvaire, and Poole. The 
standard, or fineness, of the coins is given by Sauvaire. 
The conclusion that the ratio was (approximately) 6^ for 1 
therefore stands upon very solid grounds. 

Coinage system of Abd-el-Melih, a.h. 73 (a.d. 692). Batio of silver to 
gold 6-52 for 1. 

6 copper fels = 1 silver dirhem, 41'495 grains fine. 
10 dirhems = 1 gold dinar, 63'63o grains fine. 

4 dinars = 1 oukia. 

5 oukias = 1 nisab. 

Hence 240 fels = 1 oukia. 

Ed. Bernard (" Mens, et Pond.," p. 188) gives also the 
■equivalent of 700 mithcals, or dinars, equal 1 talent ; but 
whether this applies to Abd-el-Melik^s time or not is 
oincertain. The talent appears to have had only a local 
meaning, which varied from five dinars to almost any 
number. The original word for it in the Koran is 
■^^ quintar." " There are some who if thou entrust them 
with a talent (quintar) give it back to you ; and some if 
thou entrust them with a dinar will not return it " 
(Imran's Family, iii ; Medina, v. 60) . 

Eeverting to the subject of the ratio, because of its 
great importance, both from the numismatic, the monetary, 
and the historical point of view, Sauvaire, in his " Mate- 
riaux,'' gives 57 eccentric valuations of the dirhem to the 
dinar, Avhich are repeated by Poole in the " London 
Numismatic Chronicle '^ for the year 1884. Of this 
number thirty-one (or more) belong to Egypt, and only 

1 Sauvaire. 


one to Spain. These commence in a.h. 363-5, and vary 
I from 50 in the fourth centui-y of the Hegira to 13^ in the 
sixth century. They relate not to silver, but to billon 
dirhems, some of which — for example, the nukrah — con- 
tained but 10 per cent, of silver, the rest being copper. 
In another instance (a.h. 815) the relation is between the 
dinar and the so-called " pure dirhem, each weighing a 
half-dirhem." It is evident that no correct ratio of 
weight and value between the dinar and dirhem can be 
deduced from coins of this character. The other exam- 
ples are equally useless. From the era of Mahomet to 
the fourth century of the Hegira there are no examples at 
all except one for a.h. 225, which is probably a corrupted 
Fatimite date. In this example there are 15 dirhems to 
the dinar. Some examples relate to copper coins, as the 
Delhi tanhah dirhems of a.h. 823 (800 dirhems to the 
dinar) ; nearly all of them bear the impress of miscalcula- 
tion, and none of them state the fineness of the coins. 
With the exception of the 12 for 1 in the time of the 
Prophet and the 10 for 1 in Bagdad (a.h. 632), I regai'd 
them as entirely worthless for the purpose of deducing the 
ratio of value between silver and gold. 

The moslem always respected the 10 dirhems for 1 
dinar, just as the Romans respected the 12 silver for 1 gold, 
and from similar motives. The relation of the dirhem to 
the dinar was ascribed to the law of the Prophet ; the 
relation of 12 silver for 1 gold was fixed by Julius Ceesar. 
The former was not altered while the empire of Islam 
lasted; the latter remained unchanged until the throne 
of the Cffisars was overturned. 

The prototype of the dinar has been mentioned ; it 
was the Roman solidus. The dirhem, according to Sau- 
vaire's translation of El Damiry, was based upon an 
average of the three sorts of silver coins then circulating 
in the Persian dominions. Those Avith the efiigy of the 
iing and the legend NOUCH KHOR,or ''Feast in Health," 
■weighed one mithcal. Of the Samarys dirhems there 


■were two sorts, one weighing six-tenths of a mitlical, the 
other half a mithcal. The inscriptions on these coins were 
in Pehlvic. An average of the three sorts made seven- 
tenths of a mithcal, and accordingly^ this was the weight 
o£ the Arabian dirhem adopted by Abd-el-Melik. In 
A.H. 1276 (a.d. 1859) a Persian, named Djevad, paid into i 
the post-office at Constantinople a dirhem struck at 
Eassora in a.h. 40. This dirhem is now in the Paris 
collection. Its weight is 36"13 English grains, but it is 
somewhat worn, and it may have originally weighed 
seven-tenths of a mithcal. It has been submitted to 
Mordtmann, Rogers, Longperier, Sauvaire, Waddington, 
and other competent judges, all of whom pronounced it 
genuine, the only dissentient voice being that of Mr. J. 
Stickel.^ If genuine it rather discredits the Arabian 
account of the manner in w^hich Abd-el-Melik got the 
weight of his dirhem, for it belongs to the reign of Ali, 
and the averaging of the three sorts of dirhems, if it was 
done at all, must have been done by him. This view is 
sustained by the tale equivalents cited from the Koran, a 
work revised in the reign of Othman or Ali. However, 
the Bassora coin may have followed the Samarys dirhem 
of six-tenths of a mithcal, in which case its original weight 
was 39 grains. 

The prerogative of coining became vested in the 
•caliphate from the moment of its inception. '' I have 
left to Irak its dinar and to Syria its dirhem ■" is a boast 
ascribed to Mahomet, and which, whether true or false, 
and whether uttered by Mahomet or somebody else of the 
same era, implies control of the coinage from some centre 
of administration, either religious or civil. This is a 
point which will be discussed farther on. During the 
conquest, before the central administration was organised, 
the emirs or commanders in the field struck coins. Tbis 
was merely to facilitate the distribution of the spoil, for 
these coins were exact fac-similes of those already in cir- 
^ J. Stickel, in '' Handbuch zur Morgenlandischer Munzkunde," p. 51. 


culation, including their religious emblems and legends. 
The division of the spoil was regulated by the Koran ; 
in all cases one-fifth of it went to the hierarchy. "When- 
ever ye seize anything as a spoil, to God belongs a fifth 
thereof.^' (Spoils, viii ; Medina, v. 40). This is the origin 
of the Royal Quinto, which the Spanish monarchs after- 
wards exacted fi'om the conquerors of America.^ The 
coins of the emirs extend from about a.h. 5 to a.h. 60. 
In a few instances such coinages continued after the 
administration was centralised by Abd-el-Melik, but they 
were gradually suppressed until the entire system was 
brought under the control of the caliph. We have the 
assurances of the Arabian numismatists and the cor- 
roboration of Lavoix that such control was rigidly exer- 
cised and jealously guarded.^ No private individual 
dared strike a coin ; no individual had the right to 
require the government to strike a coin for him ; it was 
a felony for any person or corporation other than the 
State either to fabricate or destroy a coin. 

In respect to the emir coinages the policy of the 
Arabians was similar to that of the Romans during the 
Punic Avars, when the State, for reasons of convenience, 
permitted its commanders in the field to strike coins. 
Such was the whole foundation of that imaginary " pre- 
rogative of the imperium," with which Mommsen and 
Lenormant have enlivened the pages of their works on 
the Roman monetary system. In the Roman empire all 
suggestions of such a prerogative must certainly cease 
from the tiiiie when Augustus organised the administra- 
tion ; in Islam they disappear with the coinage reforms 
of Abd-el-Melik. In both cases the coinage was really 
the prerogative of the State, and was only exei'cised by 
the imperatores, emirs, or commanders in the field, under 
the actual or anticipated authority of the State. In both 
cases the coinage became the prerogative of that hierarchy 

' See my previous works for full discussions on this subject. 
-Henri Lavoix, "Catalogue des Monnais Musulmanes," 1891, 4to. 


into which the State developed. In both cases the coins 
were employed, not merely for money, but also as means 
to proclaim accessions and to promulgate and disseminate 
religious doctrine. 

But here the analogy ends. The Roman hierarchy 
continued down to the time when Constantinople was 
overthrown by the troops and allies of the Latin pope ; 
until that event the coinage of gold was exercised solely 
by the Basileus. 

Says Freeman : " That the caliph of the Prophet was 
the lawful lord of the world no true believer thought of 
doubting ; but who really was the caliph of the Prophet 
was a question on which opinions might widely differ.^' 

It was the same with the Roman government. That 
the Augustus was the lawful lord of the world no one 
presumed to question ; but who was the lawful Augustus 
was often a matter of vital dispute. The difference 
between the Roman and Arabian hierarchies — at least so 
far as such difference affected the monetary system — was 
of another character. In the Roman empire the right to 
coin gold always remained with the sovereign-pontiff, and 
was never exercised by any other authority ; in the 
Arabian empire, after the revolt of Spain and Egypt 
from the authority of the caliph, it was lost by the latter, 
and became vested in the independent sovereigns of those 
States, and was exercised by them and by other moslem 
sovereigns who had thrown off the same authority. A 
belief in the unity of God is not favourable to the 
maintenance of an hierarchy. 

According to Lavoix, the gold dinar was the only full 
legal-tender coin of the moslem in Egypt. This may 
have been the case elsewhere in the Arabian empire, but 
so far as we can determine, not in Spain nor in India. In 
those States both gold and silver coins seem to have been 
clothed Avith the full legal-tender function. This only 
ceased to be true when the latter were adulterated. 



Sterling standard — Type of the penny — Arabian coins in Gotland — 
Offa's dinar — The mark — The mancns — Arabian moneyers in England 
— Arabian ratio — Arabian metallurgists — The Gothic-Arabian monetary 

/~\UR account of English moneys begins with the 
^-^ moslem remains which have been found in England. 
This does not allude either to the Moorish troops whom 
the Romans stationed at Watchtowers nor to the reputed 
Arabian remains in the Yorkshire Tyke (Tyrkr) dialect, 
but to the numismatic monuments of the medieeval age.^ 
For reasons which will pi^esently be adduced, we venture 
to regard the sterling standard of England as practically 
of moslem origin. By sterling standard we mean, not 
the nummulary terms £. s. d., but the metallic com- 
position of the silver sterlings — the alliage of all the best 
silver coins now extant of mediasval England. The 
mancus and carat are certainly moslem. The peculiar 
ratio of value between the precious metals in medieval 
England was either wholly moslem or largely due to 
moslem influence. There is reason to believe that the 
sterling- alliao-e was also moslem. 

Although we have no Gothic-Arabian coin with an 
Arabian inscription earlier than Offa, and only one of that 

' Muratori III (Dissert, si, pp. 686-708) prints some rhymes embodying 
the medical precepts of the Arabians, which were addressed by a student 
at Bagdad, to Edward Confessor, Eex Anglorum. The English words 
admiral, algebra, alkali, almanac, cotton, cypher, damask, damson, sheriff, 
and many others are well known to be Arabian. What is alluded to in 
the text is an obscure dialect only spoken in Northumberland. 


prince, it is probable that otber Arabian types of coins 
were introduced into England during the seventh century; 
for that period coincides alike with the earliest mention 
of the Arabian mancus in England and with the appearance 
of flat thin coins of nearly pure silver (and Arabian type), 
in place of the lumpish ones of composite metal which 
preceded them. 

The moslem monuments of England may be con- 
veniently described under the several heads of : Type of 
the so-called penny ; Arabian coins found in Scandinavia ; 
Offals dinar ; Arabian moneyers in England ; Arabian 
ratio in England ; Arabian pre-eminence in the metal- 
lurgical arts ; and the practically Arabian origin of 

Type of the so-called Penny. — This piece is a flat thin 
round silver coin, about three-quarters to seven-eighths of 
an inch in diameter ; in weight, from 17 in the earlier, to 
21i grains in the later, ages. It roughly coincided with 
both the Byzantine half-siliqua, or quarter-miliaresion, and 
the Norse scat, but it differs from them in size, com- 
position, and design. These last-named pieces, especially 
the scats, are thicker and smaller, the diameter of the 
latter being usually about half-an-inch. The standard 
of the so-called penny is 0*925 to 0'960 fine, that of the 
quarter-miliaresion is about 0*900, and of the scats of this 
period indeterminable, because they were not made of 
refined silver, but of old jewellery. Pieces of the type 
of the so-called penny, and known at the time as half- 
dirhems, were coined by the Arabians in the seventh 
century, and carried by their armies to the coasts of the 
Caspian and, during the eighth century, into northern 
Africa, Spain, and France. Whilst the moslem were in 
possession of a large portion of France, Charles Martel 
, struck coins of the same si.^e, weight, and composition as 
their dirhems, while Pepin the Short imitated their half- 
dirhems. Modern numismatists call these last-named 
pieces deniers, or pennies. The design of the half-dirhem 


'was simply a few lines of writing with arabesque work. 
[Sucli, alsOj was tlie design upon tlie so-called pennies of 
the Norse or Anglo-Saxon kings of England. Afterwards 
.they stamped their own effigies on one side; but this was 
Inot a moslem pi'actice, for with them it was strictly 
[forbidden both by law and custom. 

! Although the use of the Arabian gold mancus in 

[England during the seventh century, and the hoards of 

Arabian silver coins — some of them bearing an equally 

early date — which have been found in Gotland and in 

[many other places in Scandinavia, afford reason for 

believing that the silver dirhem and half-dirhem were 

; employed in England at the same period, yet the first 

j certain appearance of what we have ventured to regard 

as the half-dirhem type in England was during the reign 

of Ethelbert II, king of Kent, who struck a silver coin 

!of that description. It circulated side by side with the 

gold mancus of unquestionably Arabian origin,^ thus 

; leaving but little room to doubt the Arabian parentage 

I of the former. Locally, however, the coin was nob known 

■ as the half-dirhem, but variously as the scat and the 

[penny, according to the local prevalence of Gothic or 

; Eoman nomenclature. At a later period it was appro- 

Ipriately called the " sterling.'' 

\ Arabian Coins found in Gotland, Sfc. — More than 20,000 
ji moslem coins have been found in various parts of 
' Scandinavia, chiefly in Gotland, some dated so early as 
' A.H. 79, others so late as a.h. 401. The presence of such 
large numbers of these coins evinces an extensive com- 
merce with Arabians, and implies the currency of their 
■coins and familiarity with their ratio in Scandinavia and 
I probably also in Mercia and Northumbria — in short, 

^ Keary assigns the first coins of this type to a still later date. " The 

s pennies of OfEa, struck about the year 760, were the first ever struck in 

England. Their artistic beauty was not equalled for many centuries, not 

until the period of Henry VII" ("English Coins," p. xxii). These so-called 

k pennies we regard as half-dirhems. The penny, or Roman denarius, was 

j of a different size, thickness, and metallic composition. 


Scandinavian England, or all England nortli of a line 
drawn between the Severn and the Wash.^ 

Offa's Dinar. — In every country which fell beneath their I 
sway, whether Syria, Irak (Persia), Egypt, Barbary, 
Spain, or Sicily, the Arabians struck bilingual coins of 
the denominations and partly of the type of those which 
.they found in circulation. " I left to Irak its dinar, to 
Syria its dirhem," boasted Mahomet. His successors 
took care to observe this wise policy. From the reign of . 
Abd-el-Melik coins were struck by Arabian moneyers , 
after the type of the dinars and dirhems which he pre- 
scribed. A gold dinar of this character belongs to the- 
reign of Oifa, king of Mercia,^ and its type is only to be 
accounted for upon the supposition that that prince waa 
obliged to employ Arabian moneyers. On this coin 
appears, in Arabic, the words " In the name of Grod: 
This dinar was struck in the year 157'^ (a.d. 774). 
The I'everse has : " Mahomet is the messenger of God, 
who sent him with the doctrine and true faith to prevail 
over every other religion,'^ and, " There is no other God 
than one God — He has no equal.'' Between the lines, 
in Latin, appear the words " Offa Rex.'^ A description 
of this coin by Adrien de Longperier is published in 
the " London Numismatic Chronicle," iv, p. 232, and in 
Kenyon's " Gold Coins of England," 1884, where a fac- 
simile also appears in the frontispiece. The coin itself 
was in the collection of the Due de Blacas, who obtained 
it in Rome about the year 1840. It contains about 60' 
English grains of fine gold. Its genuineness has never 

' At the period mentioned Kent formed part of the Mercian kingdom. 
Arabian coins of gold and silver have also been found eastward, in the 
Gothic province of Novgorod, and in Great Permia. Hundreds of round 
bronze coins with ninic characters have been found in graves betweea 
the Irbyht and Toboll rivers. A cut of one appears in von Strahlenberg's. 
valuable work, p. 408 ; see also pages 110 and 409. 

2 Murcia was one of the names of Venus and the name of one of the' 
provinces of Spain. The gold maravedi was sometimes called obolus de- 


been doubted. It lias been asserted tliat towards the 
end of bis life Offa declared or pretended fealty to the 
pontificate^ and was summoned to Rome, where he per- 
formed homage and entered into an obligation to pay 

• to the Holy See 365 mancusses a year as Eome-scat. 

■ The conversion and the pilgrimage to Rome are doubtful. 

' Longperier believes that the bilingual dinar was the sort 
of coin stipulated. Its heretical inscription, which, 
although in Arabic, could not have remained long unread, 
supplies a reason for its early suppression and present 

The JIarJi. — The origin of the mark has ever been a 
mystery to the metrologists. Agricola says it is men- 
tioned in the earliest annals of the Cimbrian peninsular."^ 

' This carries it back to the third century. Queipo deduces 
it from the half-rotl of Ptolemaic Egypt ; De Vienne, 

• following the German metrologists, traces it from Etruria ; 
' whilst Saigey discovers it in a weight which he imagines 

■ was sent by Haroun-al-Raschid to Charlemagne before 
the year 789. These metr£»logists must have overlooked 
Agricola ; they also forgot the common custom of antiquity 
in using coins for weights.^ Instead of seeking the 
origin of this weight, as they have done, by means of 
mere literary coincidences, had they placed in a scale two- 
thirds of the silver coins representing a Roman "libra'' 
they would have found the mark at once. In the first 
place it is quite evident that the name " mark " is neither 
Egyptian, Etruscan, Gaulish, or even Arabic, but Gothic. 
Among the Saxons it meant a collective number of men 
or things — a community, a society, a clan, a market. 
Applied to money, it meant precisely what the Roman 

' ^ We are informed that upon Offa's return to England he built a 

■ monastery at Holmhurst, near St. Albans, another at Bath, and a church 
'at Off-Church in Warwickshire, and that he was buried at Bedford 

(Speed, p. 362, ed. 1650, fol.). Perhaps. 

'Bircherod, " Moneta Danomm," ed. 1566, p. 7. 

* See Herodotus, i, p. 65, where hair is weighed with a silver coin in 



'^ libva " of the Theodosian code meant, namely, five gold 
aureii, or else theii' equivalent value in silver. Among 
the Romans this equivalent was twelve times the weight 
of the gold ; among the Noi-thmen it meant eight times, 
because the ratio in Gothic coins was 8 for 1 ; 
hence the mark of money was always two-thirds of the 
" libra '^ of money, not of the Roman libra weight. During' 
the third century, between the reigns of Caracalla and' 
Probus, the aureus was degraded to 90 English grains 
fine ; consequently a " libra " of money contained 450 
grains of gold. The Roman equivalent of this weight 
of gold in the silver coins with which the barbarians 
paid their tribute was 5,400 grains. The Saxon equivalent 
of a gold libra of this period was (at 8 for 1) 3,600 
grains, which is the Saxon mark weight.^ In short, 
the mark was originally the Gothic equivalent at the 
ratio of 8 for 1 of a Roman libra.^ From this 
mark of money descended the mark weight, and from 
the mark weight the livre poid de marc (two marks) of 
King John of France. 

The mark of money is mentioned in the reign of 
Osbright, or Osbercht, the Norse pagan king of North- i 
umbria (848-67) ; in the Alfred-Guthrum Treaty of 878 ; ■ 
in the " Formanna Sogur," vi, p. 271 (a work ascribed to 
the tenth century) ; and in many other Norse writings. 

Tlie Manciis, Quarter-mancus, and Half-dirhem. — The 
gold dinar or mancus contained at first 65 grains, 0*979 

^ Bishop Fleetwood (" Chron. Prec") regards the mark of money and 
the mancus coin as identical, hut in this instance the learned and venerable 
numismatist is hopelessly wrong. Among other proofs the lawyer's fee 
of half a mark is still extant to refute him. 

2 These were the marks alluded to by Louis IX, in his reply to the 
moslem demand of ransom. But, as a matter of fact, in the various tem- 
porary valuations which were made in the course of changing from the 
moslem or the Saxon to the Roman ratio, the mark of account was not 
always valued at two-thirds of the libra of account. There are instances 
when the valuation was 150 pence to the mark, and at the same time 240 
pence to the " libra." 


fine, saj 63§ grains fine, afterwards about 60 grains fine. 
Two heretical and exceptional mancusses (so called) of 
54^ and 51i grains gross weight are mentioned elsewhere. 
In purity and colour the mancus resembled no other coin 
3f the Western world ; hence it always retained the 
Arabian name of mancoushj or, as Latinized, mancus.^ 
,Such was not the good fortune either of the gold 
jquarter- mancus or of the silver half-dirhem. These being 
smaller and less valuable coins, their superior purity and 
slightly different weight went unheeded, and in the inter- 
course between Goth, or Anglo-Saxon, and Roman, which 
took place in England, they passed respectively for the 
gold sicilicus and silver denarius. Although there was a 
jdifference in their purity, there was substantially none in 
the net contents of the mancus and besant, and these also 
.passed for one another. As greater precision was obtained 
,in refining the precious metals, and in striking coins of 
uniform weight, this practice gradually fell into disuse, but 
not until it had left the nummulary language of the period 
in great confusion. However, much of this disappears 
:when the weights and fineness of the two classes of coins, 
^Arabian and Byzantine, are contrasted in tabulary form. 
It is then perceived that while there was disagreement 
between the gross weights of the one set and those of 
the other, there was little or none in the fine contents of 
the gold coins, and also that each set of coins was by 

.itself harmonious. 

Arabian coins, 0-960 to 0-980 fine. 




Eng. gr. 

Eng. gr. 

Gold dinar or mancus ^ . . . . 



Gold quarter-mancus . . . . 



Silver half-dirhem (0-925 to 0960 fine) . 



' Wex, " Metrologie," p. 114 ; De Yienne, " Livre d' Argent," pp. 43 — 
56. Without agreeing with the conclusions of either of these writers, their 
works contain much incidental information on this difficult subject. 

- The dinar was probably struck sixty to the mark weight, then of 
3,600 to 3,7774 grains, while the besant was struck seventj-two to the 


Byzantine coins under Heraclius, about O'QOO fine. 

Gross Net 

Eng. gr. Eng. gr. 
Gold solidus, or besant .... 7000 63-00 

Gold sicilicus, or skilling .... 17'50 15"7o 

Silver quarter-drachma, or whole denarius, 

or penny 17*50 1575 

Arabian Money ers in England. — Among the money erg 
of the Norse and Anglo-Saxon kings, and afterwards oi 
•other kings of England, are many whose names are 
•clearly Arabian. These names are : Ahlman, Ahlraund, 
Almuth, Alchised, Alchred, Abenel, Adulfere, Alghere, 
Alvyda, Abba, Aldruri, Baba, Babba, Beriche, Bosa, 
Baee, Bofa, Bora, Buga, Buiga, Dealla, Diar, Diola, Duda, 
Dela, Dia, Deid, Diora, Eckber, Eoba, Eaba, Eana, Elda, 
Enodas, Gineef, Heaber, Hussa, Hdiraf, Ibba, Idiga, 
laia, Lulla, Liaba, Ludic, Lil, Messa, Nom, Osmund, 
'Osyaef, Ohlmund, Oshere, Osmere, Oba, Osmune, Oeldai, 
Tatel, Teveh, Tevica, Tata, Tila, Tisa. 

Five centuries later than this period, Edward I, was 
obliged to send to Marseilles and Florence for artists 
skilled in refining and coining the precious metals.^ 
Indeed, this was a common practice in England down to 
the fifteenth century ; and it is not too much to suppose 
that the princes of the heptarchy sent in like manner for 
Arabian moneyers. 

Arabian Ratio in England. — As will be seen in another 
place, the ratio of value between gold and silver was 
fixed by the coinages of Ethelbert, king of Kent, and 
Offa, king of Mercia, and perhaps other early English 
princes, at 6| silver for 1 gold. This was a distinctly 
Arabian ratio, that of the Byzantine Empire being 

Roman libra of, say, 5,250 grains ; the sicilicus 288 or 300 to the libra, 
•and the quarter-miliaresion 288 to the libra, or one-fourth of the whole 
miliaresion de sportula, which was ordered to be struck seventy-two to 
■the libra (M. de Vienne). 
' Lowdnes on Coins, p. 94. 


always 12 for 1. The coinages of those Merovingian kings 
of France who spurned the authority of Rome must be 
classed, like Offa's, with the Arabian. The following 
' table affords a view of various ratios of silver to gold pre- 
valent in England from the early portion of the eighth to 
, the twelfth century. Pepin le Bref adopted the Roman 
i monetary system in 754 or 755, from which date he 

■ refrained from striking gold. The ratio of valuation 

■ between his silver coins and the gold solidi of the Empire 
was 12 for 1, for the solidus is valued in the texts of the 

; period at 40 silver pence, and the quarter-solidus, or 
J petite sou d'or, at 10 pence. The ratio being 12 for 1 in 
\ France, it is difficult but not impossible to believe that, 
[ at the same period, it was successfully and permanently 

kept at 6| or 6| for 1 in England. However, there is 

no reason to doubt the ratios deduced in the table. 

The influence of Pepin's 12 for 1 is seen in the coinages 

of our Alfred. 

Ratio of silver to 1 gold in the moneys of England from the eighth to 
the twelfth century. 

East Indian, Eastern-Arabian, and Spanish-Ara- 
bian coins of seventh and eighth centuries. 
Coins of Ethelbert II, king of Kent. 
Coins of Offa, king of Mercia. 
Valuations of Egbert, king of Wessex. 
Coins of Burgred, king of Mercia. 
First coin valuations of Alfred. 
Second „ ,, 

Valuations of Athelstan, son of Edward, elder. 

„ Ethelred II, king of Wessex. 

,, Canute. 

„ Edward Confessor. 

William I. 

„ William Rufus. 

The Arabian ratio was adopted in England during the 
seventh century. It lasted without any substantial altera- 


Period a.d. 


650— 750 


725- 760 


758— 796 


800— 836 


852— 874 


874— 878 


878— (?) 


(?) — 901 


925— 941 













tion until the second valuation of Alfred — a period of 
about two hundred years, and this in spite of its great 
variance with the Roman ratio. ^ 

Arabian pre-eminence in the Metallurgical Arts. — Except 
the Byzantines and Arabs, there were few or no raoneyers 
in Europe during the seventh and eighth centuries who 
were able to reduce gold or silver to the uniform fineness 
requisite for the coinages of new and, as yet, untried 
mints and governments. Mr. Keary's assays of the early 
Norse scats fully prove this view with regard to English 
moneyers. The cutting of steel dies was another me- 
chanical difiiculty. To the Gothic mints of the dark 
ages it was substantially insuperable. 

The earliest coinages of mediaaval England are later 
than those of France. Dr. Ruding's flourish about the 
pontificate of pope Hadrian I, cannot weaken the assertion 
that, down to nearly the beginning of the seventh century, 
no Anglo-Saxon coins, other than the rude unlettered 
products of the early mints, were struck in England. 
The moslem occupation of Spain and southern France, so 
long as it lasted, put an end to the exercise of the coinage 
prerogative of the Byzantine emperors in those countries. 
The last triente struck by Roderic of Spain was coined 
under Byzantine authority, and this was followed, with 
scarcely any interval of time, by the bilingual coins of 
Mousa-ben-Nozier. The refining of the precious metals 
and the cutting of steel dies for the West now fell wholly 
into the hands of the Arabians, and, taking into account 
the Gothic aversion to the Byzantine hierarchy, it would 
be difficult to advance any valid proofs that the nearly 
pure mintages of pagan gold and silver, which appeared 
in England during the seventh and eighth centuries, 
could, under the circumstances, have been effected without 
the aid of Arabian artists and moneyers. 
V Practically Arabian Origin of Sterling. — This term is 

^ Foi* further information on Arabian ratio and coinages, consult 
" Money and Civilization." 


now applied to distinguisli coins, or bullion, of a standard 
fineness, or alliage, of metal, equal to that of certain 
sterling or easterling coins, or " sterlings " of the middle 
ao-es. This standard, afterwards called " old sterling,'^ 
was 0-995 for gold and 0-925 for silver/ 

There have been many explanations of the term sterling, 
none of which, however, are free from objection. There 
certainly existed during the eighth century an important 
traffic along the Gothic zone, which, bounded by the 
50th and tJOth parallels, extended from Mongolia to 
Britain, and found its chief emporia in Novgorod and 
Yinet, the eastern and western portals of lestia." The 
money chiefly employed in this trade, as we know from 
the vast quantities of it which have been dug up in 
modern days, was Arabian half-dirhems. This was the 
current money of lestia, whose cities were all destroyed 
and whose records and monuments all perished under the 
proscriptions of Charlemagne and his successors. The 
earliest mention of lesterling money which occurs in 
Western literature appears in the laws of the Ripuarian 
Franks. Hovenden, as cited in HoUingshed, attributes 
the term sterling (indicating a coin) to the reign of 
Osbright, the pagan king of Xorthumberland (a. D. 848—67).'^ 
It also occurs in the Alfred-Guthrum Treaty, still meaning 
a coin. It does not occur in Domesday book, where 
■"libra arsa" and "arsura'^ are used to indicate the 
metallic fineness of money, and denarius to indicate the 
coin in common use, which, to the Arabians, was a half- . 
dirhem, and to the Gothic races, as we are persuaded, 
was known as the iesterling or esterling. Ordei'icus 
Titalis, an author born during the reign of William I, 
uses the expression, " XVlibr sterilensium," meaning, 
doubtless, £15 in silver pennies.* The word sterling, 
meaning a certain coin, crept into extant texts during 

^ Lowndes on Coins, p. 18. ^ Von Strahlenberg. 

^ Chambers's Encyc. 

^ Samuel Pegge, in " Gent's. Mag.," 1756, p. 456. 


the reigns of the Norman and Plaatagenet kings, anc 
in the dealings of the Christian Hansa of the thirteentlj 
century. The origin of its present meaning is not ena 
tirely clear ; but, as the degree of fineness indicated, 
precisely that of the Arabian coins contemporaneous wit 
the heptarchy, and was not that of any other coini 
(unless we go back to the Roman coins of the thir( 
century), it is all but certain that sterling meant, firs- 
the Arabian half-dirhem, and afterwards the Arabiai 
standard for coins. The only people who struck sucl 
coins at this date were the Arabians, whether in Arabij 
Africa, Spain, France, Persia, Parthia, or Scythia ; an( 
not only did they adopt a high standard for coins, the] 
struck such immense quantities of them as to fill the 
channels of commerce, and render the standard well 
known and typical. Finally, they adhered to this standard 
for several centuries, and thus caused it to be depended 
upon and regarded as reliable, which, except as regards 
the besants of the sacred Empire, is more than can be 
said of any other coinages of the dark ages. 

These marks of moslem influence upon the early 
monetary types of England are submitted to the indulgent 
criticism of archfeologists. Before the discovery of these 
evidences it appeared strange to the author that, during 
a period when Arabian industry and commerce and 
Arabian art and literature dominated the Western world, 
no traces of moslem civilisation were to be found in 
England — a country always famous for its maritime pro- 
ficiency and the intimate knowledge of other maritime 
States which such proficiency promoted. These evidences 
bring to the surface a link in the chain of English history, 
whose long subversion finds ample explanation in the 
circumstances of the age to which it relates, and whose 
recovery, like a guide through a labyrinth, may enable 
us in future to outline with more assurance the stilli 
obscure history of the heptarchical era. 

Grafted upon the Gothic monetary system, described ini 


a previous cliaptei', the moslem coins aud types produced 
a hybrid system, which differed from its predecessor 
ichiefly in the weight and composition of the scat and in 
jthe number of scats to the ora, also in the weight of the 
latter. At first the Gothic- Ai-abian system embraced the 
following coins and scale of equivalents, but as time went 
on several of these were modified : 


Gothic- Arabian system {eighth century). Ratio, 

6^ for 1. 

Coins. Money. 

Value in scats 

8 stycas (bronze) . 1 scat (silver) . 


3 scats ... 1 thrimsa 


5 scats ... 1 ora (gold) 


4 oi-as .... 1 mancus, or dinar . 


8 eras .... 1 double dinar (dobla) 


20 oras .... 1 mark of account . 


Under the Salic law," as it was remodelled by Clovis, 
the gold sou, solidus, or besant, then of 68 English grains 
weight, was valued in Gaul at 40 silver deniers (scats), 
then of 17 English grains each — a ratio of 10 for 1. This 
was a mean between the Roman and Gothic ratios. 

The etymology of styca, scat, and thrimsa is uncertain. 
Lye derives styca from the Saxon sticce, but to this 
Ruding objects that the word sticce cannot express value 
distinct from magnitude ; and, again, why not sticce from 
;styca, rather than styca from sticce ? It is much more 
likely to be derived from the oriental word for a cutting 
instrument. Sicca (Indian), sycee (Chinese), styca 
(Gothic), saiga (Frankish), siccal, or shekel (Chaldean 

' Abd-el-Eaman spent on tbe mosque of Cordova over 600,000 doblas, or 

"double pieces," of gold (Calcott's "Spain," i, p. 152.) 

- The law of the Salian Franks (from the river Sala, les-sel, orYessel) 
'is believed to have been compiled after the Franks were established in 
'the Netherlands. None of the extant compilations are of an earlier date 
ithan tbe seventh century. The original compilation was in Latin ; in 
the later copies there are some German words, those copies containing 
the most German words being the most recent of all ("Wiarda, " Histoire 
et Explication de la loi Salique "). Upsala (Sweden) appears to be another, 
ifonn of Ober les-sel (Holland). 


and Hebrew), zicca (Arabian), and sequin (Venetian 
are evidently tlie same word and meant the same tliingr 
that is to say, an instrument or tool for clipping coins 
and, by metonym, a mint, a coin, etc. In fact, most o 
the coins of this period were finished with the shears. As 
the thrimsa was valued at three scats, its name was 
probably derived from the Latin trium. The etymologj 
of scat, scad, or shad, has been already treated. During 
the dark ages the Roman imperial fisc in Gaul was obligee, 
to accept its revenues and make its payments in rations/ 
If the Eomans were obliged to use rations for a measure 
of value there is nothing improbable in supposing thai 
the Norsemen used herrings. Ora, or aurar, is obviouslj 
from the Latin equivalent for gold. The term is stil 
employed in the monetary systems of Scandinavia 
Mancus is from the Arabian mancoush, coined money, anc 
this from the verb macasha, to strike. Marcrus, manenco 
etc., are corrupted synonyms." 

The scat, or properly half-dirhem, of this period was 
nearly of pure silver, thin and flat, but larger anc 
heavier than the composite scat which preceded it 
It contained 21^ grains, 0-925 to 0-960 fine. The tern 
scat is, of course, a name given to these pieces by moderr 
numismatists, by some of whom they are termed pennies 
but, for the various reasons herein adduced, these flat thii 
pieces must be regarded typically as half-dirhems, and o\ 
Arabian origin. Owing to their superior weight anc 
uniform standard, these scats were now reckoned at five 
to the ora instead of eight, as their namesakes had pre- 
viously been reckoned. The thrimsa (it was not long ir 
use) was either a coin or money of account, valued a1 
three scats, and therefore worth three-fifths of the ora ol 
five scats, or three-fourths of the later ora of four scats. 

The ora of this hybrid system was identical both ir 
weight and fineness with the Arabian quarter-dinar. Il 

' Guizot, " Hist. Civ.," i, p. 351. 

- Longperier, " Re vista Num.," 1844, p. 292. 


contained about 16^ grains of gold, 0*960 to 0"979 fine, 
or nearly 16 grains fine, and it so closely tallied in con- 
; tents with the sicilicus, or gold skilling, as to pass, at least 
\ in the south of England, for the latter. It is called a 
i scilling in the Christian chronicles, and at a later period 
i it found its way by the same Roman name into the Norse 
' sagas. " Olaf (1015—28) went southward across the sea 

■ from England and defeated the Yikings before Williamsby. 
; He captui'ed Gunnvaldsborg (in Seljopollar) and levied a 
i ransom on it and the jarl of 12,000 gull skillingar.^ 

The gold mancus, or dinar, has been already described. 
) That this coin circulated iu the Norse kingdoms of 
1 England the frequency of its mention in documents of 
' the seventh and eighth centuries leaves no room to doubt. 
: The only Gothic-Arabian mancus extant is the unique 
j coin of Offa, and this is stamped a " dinar. '^ Of the 
; doblas, or double dinars, there are no English specimens 
' extant, although there are plenty of Spanish-Arabian 
I ones. The ratio of value between silver and gold in this 

■ system is indicated by dividing the fine contents of the 
I era (about 16 grains) into that of its legal equivalent of 
: 5 scats, say lOJ? grains, the quotient being- 6^. Whilst 

this was the ratio in both the Indian- Arabian, Spanish- 
Ai'abian, and Anglo-Arabian monetary systems of this era, 

I it must not be forgotten that in the coinages of Byzantium 
the ratio was always 12 ; in other words, that the Chris- 
tian valuation of gold (in silver) was nearly double that 

: of the moslem. 

Such are the moslem remains yet to be found in 
England — remains which, being traced upon monuments 
that the impassioned eyes of superstition failed to per- 
ceive, fortunately escaped its merciless proscriptions. To 
point out their significance and bearing upon English 
history is a task that belongs to the philosopher rather 
than the historian. 

' Olaf's saga, c. 16. 



Summary of historical evidences furnished by the materials of this 
chapter — No coins of the Anglo-Saxons exist earlier than Ethelbert — 
Pagan gold coins — Gothic coins of Ethelred — Intei-polations in ancient 
texts — Moslem coins of Offa the Goth— Rome-scat, or Peter's-pence — 
Egbert adopts the Roman system of £'. s. d. — Danish invasions — Bur- 
gled is defeated and interned in a monastery — Guthrum is baptised and 
reigns as Athelstan II — Alfred of Wessex — Mingling of Gothic and 
Christian coins and denominations — Changes of ratio — Edward the 
Elder — Athelstan — Edmund I — Eadred — Leather moneys — Ethelred 11 
— Danegeld — Canute the Dane — Harold the Dane — Edward Confessor 
— Harold II — Evidences derived from these researches. 

T^HE monetary systems of the various Auglo- Saxon 
-■- States were of such essentially different structure 
as to denote the existence of different governments and 
religions, some Gothic, others Roman, some pagan, others 
Christian. After the era of baugs these States employed 
oras, scats, and stycas, that is to say, native coins of gold, 
electrum, and bronze, all of somewhat irregular weights, 
bearing no marks of a common authority, and issued by 
pagan chieftains owning no superior or over-lord. The 
tale relations were octonary, and the ratio of silver to 
gold was 8 for 1. At a later period some features 
of the Arabian monetary system were grafted on the 
Gothic : the mancus and half-dirhem — coins of sterling 
fineness and reo^ular weio;hts — were issued or circulated in 
the various States, the tale relations exhibit the influence 
of the Arabian decimal system, and the ratio was 6| 
for 1. 

AVhen they successively adopted Christianity these 
States received their monetary systems from Rome. The 


coius now used were besants (5 to tlie libra), shillings, 
and pence; the denominations were £. s. d. ; the weights 
were accommodated to these tale relations, which, as be- 
tween shillings and pence, were duodecimal ; the ratio of 
silver to gold was duodecimal ; and the coinage preroga- 
tive, as to gold, was exercised exclusively by the emperors 
of Rome, and granted by them to the English princes as 
to silver — practices that are held to denote both the feudal 
form of government and the Roman religion of the vassal 
States. Of these various features of money the absten- 
tion from the coinage of gold by the converted princes, 
and the marked difference between the Christian, Gothic, 
and moslem ratios between the value of gold and silver, 
are the most significant. 

It will simplify the subject to observe : first, that with 
few exceptions, which will be noticed as we go along, the 
only English coius now extant of the heptarchical period 
are silver scats, half-dirhems, and pennies, all of which, 
being of somewhat similar weight, are usually, though 
erroneously, classed as pennies ; ^ second, that as the 
Roman ratio was always 12 for 1, the denarii (of which 
40 went to the Roman aureus, when the latter was 
struck 60 from the pound weight of standard gold) 
weighed 26^ grains gross ; third, that the denarii (valued 
at 40 to the aureus, solidus, or besant, when the latter 
was struck 72 from the pound weight) weighed 21| 
grains gross ; fourth, that the denarii (when valued at 
240 to the £., or 48 to the solidus) weighed about 19 i 
grains gross, or 18i grains fine. There wei-e also lower 
weights to the denarius, explained elsewhere. As this 
was the prevailing system of valuation in Christian States 
of the period answering to the heptarchy, it follows, 
fifth, that when any so-called denarii, or pennies, belong- 
ing to such period, and being in good condition, are 

* There is nothing but historical inference to prove what these pieces 
■were respectively called at the date of their issue. 


found to contain more metal than is here indicated,\ 
they were either struck under the Gothic or Gothic- 
Arabian systems, and were really silver scats, or half- 
dirhems, or else, if of Christian stamp, they were valued 
in the law, at the time of their issue, at more than a., 
penny each — a practice concerning the prevalence of 
which we have the testimony both of Bishop Fleetwood, 
and M. Guerard. It does not, however, follow from this, 
rule that a scat, or half-dirbem, containing more silver i 
than a penny was worth more than the latter, because, as 
Christianity and " pennies " gained ground, and paganism, 
with scats and dirhems lost ground, the latter, evea 
when heavier, were accorded a lower value in the law. 

The earliest coin of the heptarchical kings now extant- 
is a certain unique one stamped " Ethelbert,'' containing- • 
about 20 grains of fine silver. Some writers ascribe this, 
monument to Ethelbert I, but there is not sufficient, 
evidence to warrant the inference. It is very much morer 
likely to have been an issue of the second Ethelbert, king 
of Kent (748—60), replacing the composite scat, which by. 
this time was disappearing in the refining crucibles of 
the Arabian moneyers. Mr. Keary prefers, indeed, ta 
attribute it to Ethelbert, king of the East Angles, who- 
died in 792 or 793, and, moreover, hints that its genuine- 
ness is not above suspicion. Of this class of coins twenty 
went at this period to the gold mancus, or solidus, of 60" 
grains fine, and five of them to the gold ora, or shilling — < 
a ratio of silver to gold of 6|- to 1, thus 20 x 20 = 400- 
-^ 60 = 6|-. In some Anglo-Saxon coinages of this 
period the ratio was 6| to 1, in others 6 to 1. In othei' 
words, gold in England was valued as in Asia and. 
Arabia, that is to say, at half the price (in silver) at which 
it was maintained by the sacred empire of Rome. The- 
adoption of the oriental ratio in England, though pro-i- 
bably due directly to the influence of the Arabian 

' In applying this rule some allowance must be made for the unskil- 
fulness of early mints in striking coins of an uniform weight. 


coinages of Spain, may also have been superinduced by 
the Gothic-Arabian trade of this period through Russia 
and the Baltic. Whatever the cause, the fact is believed 
I to be indisputable, and as its acceptance solves many of 
[ the otherwise inexplicable problems of this period, it is 
\ commended to the careful consideration of the reader. 
I Similar ratios of 6, 6h, and 6^ for 1 will be found in the 
I contemporaneous coinages and valuations of Spain and 
i southern France, 

f Hawkins and Keary both intimate that during the 
reign of Ethelbert II, thei^e was a silver penny of twelve to 
I the shilling, and leave it to be inferred that there was 
I either a silver shilling- coin or a shilling of account em- 
ployed in England at this period. A silver shilling coin 
is hardly worth discussing ; there is none extant and there 
is no evidence that such a coin ever existed until the 
reign of Alfred, and even then it is by no means cei'tain. 
, At all previous dates the shilling, whenever embodied in 
i a coin, was made of gold. With regard to a supposed 
silver " penny," of which twelve went to the shilling of 
account, this is an inference drawn from extant copies 
of the laws of Ethelbert, in which such denominations are 
mentioned. But as it is quite unlikely that two coins, 
namely, the scat and the penny, of nearly similar weight 
and contents, circulated in the same kingdom side by 
side, the one five, the other twelve, to the shilling, we 
must regard the latter as an anachronism introduced into 
copies of the law at a later period, when there were indeed 
twelve pence to the shilling. Ethelbert^s laws are unique 
in being written in English, but the MS. is Anglo- 
Norman of the twelfth century, and the original laws have 
evidently been frequently altered.^ Bishop Fleetwood has 
proved several anachronisms in the monetary terms 
employed in the earlier English texts of laws. The 
ratio ^ttjQ silver to 1 gold, assumed by Keary for the 
coinaHJWof Ethelbert's reign, rests upon this same 
^ Sir Francis Palgrave, i, p. 44. 


literary and probably auacbronical penny, and must stand 
or fall with it. It will probably be found difficult to 
overthrow the ratio of 6|- derived from the Anglo-Saxon 
valuation of 20 silver pence to the besant. Some of the 
other conclusions of Mr. Keary — for example, that the 
thrimsa was a tremissis, that the pound or livre of money 
always consisted of 240 pence, and that the mark weight 
was (in England) half a pound weight — will incidently 
receive consideration as we proceed. 

The tax of Peter's-pence was first collected in England 
by the Roman pontificate from Ina of Wessex.-" It is also 
alleged that after the conversion of Offa (about 790) it 
was levied upon that prince, who testified his submission 
to the pope by going to Eome in 793, and paying him 
homage in person ; but this is doubtful. At this period 
Charlemagne was at the height of his power, France, 
Germany, Saxony, Hungary, Italy, and even a portion of 
Spain acknowledged his sovereignty. Pope Hadrian I, 
had vowed himself Charlemagne's liege subject and 
vassal, and governed in his name. If Offa acknowledged 
the suzei'ainty of the pope, it is not clear whether he 
intended to admit or ignore that of Charlemagne, the 
pope's political superior or suzerain. Egbert, a Christian 
king of AVessex (800-36)," had been for three years a 
soldier in the army of Charlemagne. He obtained his 
kingdom through the good offices of that emperor, to 
whom he swore fealty and did homage. When Charle- 
magne died (814), and the weak-minded Louis le Debon- 
naire was brought under the domination of the pontificate, 
the latter seems to have at once claimed Egbert as its 
vassal ; but there are no evidences — at least not of that 
period — that the latter conceded this claim. The slender 
remains of Egbert's coinage system throw no certain 
light upon the question. The only coin of his reign 

^ For examples of Rome-scat, see Ruding, ii, pp. 205, 21^B|2, 218, 
230, 366, etc. ^^ 

• Xot Egbert, or Egf rid, son of Offa, who died in 796. 


extant is the silver penny of fifteen grains fine. The 
mutilated texts of the period mention a shilling of iive- 
pence and a pound of sixty shillings^ both of which may 
be anachronical, and supplied by the copyists of the 
extant MS. If the shilling was an actual coin, it was 
probably the old ora of 12|, worn down to 11^, grains 
fine. At fivepence to the shilling, this would give the 
Arabian ratio of 6^ for 1 — a result that would hardly tally 
with the Christian attitude ascribed to Egbert, for no 
Christian prince, except the Basileus, could lawfully coin 
gold, aud he only coined it at 1 for 12 silver. 

Following Offa on the Mercian throne were Egbert, his 
son (heterodox, died suddenly, 796), Coenwlf, or Kenulph 
(706-18), Kenelm, Coelwlf, Beornwlf, Ludica, Wiglaf 
(interned), Berthwlf, Bui'gred (interned), and Coelwlf, 
the last of the line. The church had employed excom- 
munication, female influence, monastic internments, and 
, other resources to reduce the Mercian and Northumbrian 
princes to submission, but without definite success. The 
Danish invasion served its ends better. London was 
taken in 851, York fell in 867, Guthrum, the East Angli- 
can, was baptised in 878,^ and both Mercia and stubborn 
Northumberland were at length brought beneath the 
dominion of Rome. From 831, when the seven kingdoms 
of England were merged into the three kingdoms of 
Wessex, Mercia, and Northumberland, until the date of 
the Alfred-Guthrum Treaty of 878, the intrigues of the 
pontificate and the military operations of the Danes were 
incessant. Gotfried, king of Denmark, having been 
poisoned in 819 and Harold installed in his place, the 
latter was baptised at the court of the conqueror, Louis 
le Debonnaire. Ridding himself of Regenfroy, his pagan 
rival for the throne, Harold made preparations to con- 

^ There are reasons for believing that Guthrum was a Christian before 
this time. In 875 he succeeded in dividing the Anglo-Danish army, of 
which a portion, under Halfdane, took possession of Northumberland 
and applied themselves to agriculture. 


tinue on a large scale the war against tlie English king- 
doms, which had been inaugurated a quarter of a century 
previously by Ragnar Lodbrok, under king Sigurd Snogoje. 
This circumstance, together with the suddenness of 
Harold's conversion, and the fact that his expedition was 
mysteriously directed from the south of England against 
the not yet converted kingdoms o£ the north, warrants the 
suspicion that papal intrigue was at the bottom of the 
entire project. 

In 832 the Danish forces landed on the isle of Sheppey ; 
in the following year they overran the coasts of Dorset, 
and in 835 those of Cornwall. At this juncture died 
Egbert of Wessex, yielding the crown to his son, Ethel- 
wolf, at that period a subdeacon of the cathedral at 
Winchester. In 844, at the Council of Winchester, upon 
the instigation of the bishop of Sherborn and the bishop 
of Wilton, and perhaps also influenced by the menaces of 
the Danish commander, Ethelwolf, as king of the West 
Saxons, made a donation to the church, by which he 
granted to it " the tenth part of the lands throughout 
our kingdom in perpetual liberty, that so such donation 
may remain unchangeable and freed from all royal ser- 
vice and from the service of all secular claims."-^ This 
embraced the Three Necessities — building bridges, forti- 
fying and defending castles, and performing military 
service. So soon as this grant was duly executed the 
Danish forces disappeared. 

A few years after this happy relief — that is to say, in 
854 — Ethelwolf went to Rome, where he did homage to 
the pope, and presented him with a crown of pure gold 
weighing four pounds, a sword adorned with pure gold, 
two golden images, two golden vessels, a service of plate, 
and a donation of gold to the clergy and of silver to the 
people of Rome. On his return from this pilgrimage, he 
married Judith, the daughter of Charles the Bald, of 
Prance. In the following year (855) the bishop of Sher- 
' " Anglia Sacra," i, p. 200. 


boru played Ethelbald, one of the king's sous, against 
the father, and won from the latter another donation to 
the church, which donation was to last — to quote its own 
terms — "as long as the Christian faith shall flourish in 
the English nation." 

Bearing in mind the fact that a ratio of 12 for 1 duriug 
this period was always a mark of Roman government, an 
attentive examiuation of the table of ratios in a previous 
chapter will afford a tolerably correct indication of the 
dates when Roman domination was thoroughly re-esta- 
blished in the various provinces or kingdoms of Britain. 
However, the new domination, though practically the 
same, was not altogether identical with the ancient one : 
its appearance was changed^ as though vieAved through a 
defective glass. The ancient domination of Rome, so far 
as Britain is concerned^ was in great measure a military 
one ; the re-established domination was practically an 
ecclesiastical one. Both brought in their train the benefits 
of the ancient Roman civilisation and the ancient arts. 
This civilisation during- its banishment had borrowed 
something, both from the anti-hierarchical spirit of the 
Norsemen and the scientific spirit of the Arabians. It 
bore a new aspect ; it lacked the refinement of the old 
imperial civilisation, but it was fresher, healthier, and 
stronger. To the student and philosopher who contem- 
plates the mediaeval ages, the civilisation that accompanied 
Christian government must have appeared like the face of 
a friend whom ill-health had banished to remote climes, 
but who had returned after a long absence — his frame the 
same, his features bronzed, his gestures coarse, but his 
step vigorous, and his eye animated with a new and 
hopeful vitality. Such seems to have been the character 
of that Roman civilisation which, cleansed in the fire of 
Christianity, had returned to regain its wonted influence 
upon the Western world. 

Resuming our consideration of the heptarchical mone- 
tary systems, the appearance of the extant coins and the 


study of the valuations accorded to them in the texts, make 
it evident that Burgred struck silver coins of 15 grains 
fine, which were valued by Christians at one penny each, 
with five pennies to the shilling. This gives a ratio of 6. 
silver for 1 gold, but owing to the varying weights of 
Burgred's coins, the ratio was in fact more commonly 6{ 
to 7^ for 1.^ In 874, after Burgred was driven from his 
throne by the Danes, he repaired to Rome, where he was 
quietly interned in the convent of St. Mary's,^ from 
which, it is perhaps needless to say, he never emerged; 
alive. We next turn to Guthrum, several of whose; 
money ers (like those of Offa and other Gothic kings of; 
England) were Arabian. It does not appear whether 
these officers were retained or not after Guthrura's public i 
avowal of Christianity. If his monetary system accorded 
with the valuations in his treaty with Alfred, it embraced 
the Saxon gull-skilling (now reduced to 10 grains), the 
Arabian gold mancus of 60 grains as the equivalent of 
30 silver pennies (each of 15 grains), and the mark of gold 
(a money of account) as the equivalent of 30 Saxon shil- 
lings. The ratio was 7| for 1.^ 

' In Schmid's " Gesetze der Angelsachsen " the scale of monetary 
equivalents relating to this period is confused and defective. \ Compar- 
ing the anachronical money " pound " of sixty shillings, mentioned in 
the tests of Egbeii's reign, with the contemporaneous money mark of 
thirty shillings, mentioned in those of Guthrum's reign, he deduces a 
money pound of two money marks. Whereas, in point of fact, when- 
ever the mark and pound were contemporaneous and belonged to the 
same system, whether they were moneys of account or weights, the 
former was two-thirds of the latter. 

2 Henry, ii, p. 71. 

^ An eminent English numismatist says of this period that the 
mancus was " one-thirtieth of the pound, or thirty pence." The mancus 
was, indeed, thirty pence, but there was no pound, and if there had 
been, it would not have been valued at 30, but at 7i mancusses. The 
equivalent in silver coins was not 900, as our authority would argue, but 
225 pence. 


Table of supposed moneys of Guthrum, afterwards Athelstan II. 

Contents, or value, in fine metal. 

Moneys. Gold, gr. Silver, gr. 

Penny, silver coin .... 2 . 15 

Saxon shilling, or ora, gold coin . 10 . 75 

Quarter-mancns, gold coin . . .15 . 112^ 

Mancus, gold coin . . . . 60 . 450 

! Mark, money of account . . . 300 . 2,250 

i . The monetary systems of Alfred of Wessex exhibit a 
[curious mingling of Arabian, Gothic, and Roman influ- 
' ences. The standard of fineness and the old mancus 
coin were Arabian^ the ora was Saxon, the £. s, d. system 
and the ratio of 12 silver to 1 gold, in his third system, 
was Roman. It will be remembered that after the im- 
mense benefice which Ethelwolf granted to the church of 
Rome, the Danes disappeared from Wessex. This man- 
oeuvre appears to have occasioned some dissatisfaction in 
'Denmark, for we hear no more of Harold the Christian, 
who, in 850, was succeeded by Eric the pagan. Under 
this monarch preparations were made to conquer England 
for the Danes, and in 851 a fleet of 350 vessels landed an 
army on the Isle of Sheppey, which soon afterwards cap- 
.tured and plundered Canterbury and London. In 853 the 
.Danes invaded Mercia, and upon the accession of Eric II, 
I (pagan) in 854, they landed an expedition on the northern 
'coast of Britain. In 858 Ethelwolf died, and Ethelbald, 
his eldest son, married Judith, his step-mother. This, 
and some other scandalous acts of the new prince, seem 
to have rendered the English nobles indifferent to the 
progress of the Danes, who (in 867) took York, and thus 
gained control of Northumbria. Two years afterwards the 
jconquerors occupied the county of Fife, in Scotland ; in. 
|871 they defeated the Anglo-Saxons at Merton, in. 
[Surrey ; in 875 they divided into two armies, led seve- 
rally by Guthrum and Halfdane the Black; in 876-7, 
although previously repulsed at sea, they invaded Alfred's 
.dominions by land, and before they were checked took 



Wareham, Exeter, and Chippenliam. In 878 Guthruni 
publicly accepted baptism, and made a treaty witli Alfred, 
by which Britain was virtually divided between these 
princes. In 885 Alfred turned the River Lea, where a 
number of pagan Danish war-ships were lying, and com- 
pelled their abandonment. In the following year he 
occupied, rebuilt, and strengthened London. In 893 the 
famous viking, Hastings, with 300 ships, one of which was 
commanded by Rolla, seized Appledore and Melton-on- 
Thames. In 894 Alfred defeated Hastings' forces at 
Farnham, and captured that leader's wife and children. 
In 897 the pagan Danes were defeated at sea, near the 
Isle of Wight, and although their forces afterwards 
roamed through Mercia, and even invaded Wales, they 
gave for a time a wide berth to Alfred's dominions, and 
made no substantial progress in their conquest of England. 
However, a very considerable portion of the island 
was already in their hands, and, evident as was Alfred's 
desire to submit his kingdom in all respects to the ordi- 
nances of Rome, it can hardly be supposed that, so far as 
his monetary S3'stem is concerned, he could bring this at 
once into harmony with the Roman system, while the very 
different system of the Danes was employed so close to 
his frontiers. 

In arranging the coins of Alfred, Mr. Hawkins says 
that " they seem to fall into four principal divisions, 
struck, apparently, at different periods of his reign." ^ 
This opinion is corroborated by a study of the tale rela- 
tions of his different moneys, which cannot be harmonised 
without admitting at least three different coinage systems. 
The Arabian mancus was certainly in use, or else its value 
was well understood, down to a certain period of Alfred's 
reign, for the king himself, writing of his translation of 
the pastoral of Gregory, says : " I sent a copy to every 
iDishop's seat in my kingdom, with an aestel, or handle, 

1 " Silver Coins of England," 2nd edition, p. 121. 



wortli 50 maucusses.'^ ^ The Guthrum Treaty and the 
writings of ^Ifric the Grammarian both testify that the 
mancus at this period was valued at thirty pence. Dr. 
Ending has deduced a silver mancus of about the year 
838, but no silver mancus has been found, and its exis- 
tence is doubtful. A silver coin, possibly a two-shilling 
piece of this reign, is mentioned farther on." 

Of the silver scats or pennies of this reign there are 
two sorts extant — one containing 19 to 20 grains, the 
other about 15 grains, of fine silver. The Alfred- 
Gathrum Treaty values the mark of account at thirty 
shillings ; ^rElfric the Grammarian valued the shilling at 
five pence. In another text^ he says *' they are twelve 
shillings of twelve pennies. '^ These last are regarded as 
coins and valuations which belonged to Alfred's third 
system. Bearing in mind Mr, Hawkins' opinion that the 
light pennies of Alfred were of his first coinage, his first 
monetary system, about 874—8 appears to have been pre- 
cisely the same as that supposed above of Guthrum. The 
contents of 60 grains fine, accorded to the mancus, is a 
measure derived from the contemporary dinars of Abd- 
el-Raman II, of Cordova.* There is a silver coin of 
Alfred, now in the British Museum, yf of an inch in 
diameter, and weighing 162 grains gross, presumably 
containing- about 150o;rains fine — a measure which would 
exactly answer for that of a two-shilling piece in this 

' Spelman, in Heniy, vol. ii, p. 58. 

- Both the mark and the ora are mentioned in the Edward-Guthrum 
Treaty of between 901-24 (Ending, i, p. 314). Keary says that the ora 
is first mentioned in Guthrum's Laws, vii, and is there valued at 2^ 
shillings. In the earliest Anglo-Saxon coinages and valuations, the ora 
'. and shilling, both gold coins, were of like weight and value. The shilling 
afterwards lost weight. The difference in the value of the ora probably 
arose when the shilling, no longer made of gold, was represented by a 
sum of silver pennies, the ora of gold still survi\'ing and the ratio being 
changed to 12. 

^ His translation of Exodus xxi, 10. 

■• The dinars of Al-Mostain-Billah were of the same weight. 


system. Humplireys and Hawkins regard it " more in the 
light of a medal than of a coin " — a convenient if not a 
convincing method of avoiding a practical contradiction 
of their theory of the ratio^ the ratio being the significant 
and political feature of the Avhole matter. 

Alfred's Second System. — This may be conveniently 
dated about the year 878. The principal features were 
the coinage of sterlings, containing about 20 grains fine 
silver, and an enhanced valuation of the foreign gold 
coins, in such sterlings. The Arabian mancus of 60 grains 
fine was still valued at 30 standard silver pennies, but as 
the latter were 5 grains heavier than the previous penny, 
this valuation makes a ratio between silver and o^old of 
10 for 1. The mark (money of account) of 5 mancuses 
was valued at 150 standard silver pennies.^ The shilling 
was represented by 5 sterling pennies. If the " pound " 
was in use it consisted of 45 shillings, or 225 pence. 

Alfred's TJiird System. — This must be dated some time 
between 878 and 901. Its principal features were the 
adoption of the modified Eoman system of 5 x 48 = 240 
pence to the pound of account, and the definite relin- 
quishment of gold coinage. This meant the eventual 
acceptance of the Byzantine gold coins and ratio of 12. 
By this time all gold coins, except old and greatly worn 
mancuses, had probably disappeared from circulation. 
Assuming that these mancuses (really zecchins) contained 
about 50 grains fine gold, the ratio was now 12, as 
follows : — 5 standard pence = 1 shilling of account ; 6 shil- 
lings of account = 1 mancus or zecchin ; hence 600 grains 
of coined silver equalled in value 50 grains of coined 
gold, or 12 for 1. 

^ During the mediaeval ages, the English mark of account is valued 
variously at 80, 100, 150, or 160 actual scats or pennies. It would seem 
that the mark of account was always two-thirds of the pound of account ; 
it was also, from the analogy of weights, counted as eight oras of 
account, and from this it was also, though erroneously, reckoned at 
eight times the value of the gold coin era. The ora of 2§ shillings has 
been mentioned in the text. 


In tlie earlier portion of the reign of Athelstan III/ 
Christian king of AVessex (925-41) the Byzantine shilling 
was valued at 5 silver pence, in the latter portion it was 
altered to 4 pence." This involved an alteration in the 
value of the Gothic thrimsa, which before was 2.V, and 
was now rated at 3 scats. It also involved a change 
from 5 X 48 = 240 to 4 x 60 = 240 pence to the £., 
while the mark of account was valued at 160, instead of 
150 pence as before.'^ There can be little doubt that this 
adjustment was made by Athelstan. At this period the 
terms '' mark " and " pound of account " were chiefly 
employed in the valuation of " retts," taxes, and fines, all 
of which went to the king. The adjustment, therefore, 
was in favour of the crown. The ordinary transactions of 
trade were conducted in pennies, or scats and stycas, and 
these were not affected by the changes mentioned. 
Guthrum had been the first English prince to assume on 
his coins the pretentious title of " King of England.-" 
Athelstan III. improved on this style by stamping his 
coins " Rex toticus Britanniee." It was after the battle of 
Brunanburg, when, flushed with triumph and backed by an 
overwhelming display of power, that he was most likely 
to have adopted this measure. In one of his edicts 
Athelstan orders that no coins except those struck or 
authorised by himself shall pass current in England, that 
none shall be struck except within the precincts of a town, 
and that no names, titles, nor effigies shall be placed upon 
the coins except those of himself. It is evident that coins 
were being struck by rival princes independent of his 
authority, and that the object of his edicts was to prevent 

^ There were three Athelstans or ^Ethelstans. The first was a son 
of Ethelwolf by his first wife. His father made him king of Kent, 
Sussex, and Essex, in the year 836 (Henry, ii, p. 65). The second was 
the converted Guthrum. The third was the son of Edward the Eldei", 
and the victor at Brunanburg. 

2 Hawkins, pp. 268, 269. 

^ rieetwood, p. 23. 


tbe chieftains whom lie claimed as vassals from striking 
coins in the name of such rival princes. 

Because tbe extant texts of the period mention but few 
alterations in tbe value of coins and moneys of account^ 
we are not at liberty to assume that no others occurred. 
On the contrary, from tbe appearance of the various 
coins, it is probable that many cbanges occurred, tbe 
only uncertainty about the matter being the precise date 
and manner of their occurrence. The weight of the 
penny, tbe proportion of alloy in this and other coins, 
the composition of the scat, tbe relation between penny 
and scat, the number of pennies and scats to the shil- 
ling, the number of scats to tbe mark, or pennies to 
the pound of account, and tbe ratio of value between 
silver and gold in tbe coins, were all altered. The 
kings of tbe heptarchy were no less ready to exercise 
the prerogative of "coining moneys and regulating the value 
thereof " than were the Romans before or the Normans 
after them. There Avere but few princes, from Offa to 
William I, who hesitated to avail themselves of some form 
of this financial resource. 

A later monetary scale of Athelstan shows a further 
intrusion of the Roman system into the moneys of 
Northumbria and Mercia. It consisted of Roman £. s. d. 
in the numerical proportions of 4x60 = 240 pence to the 
£., and of the following Gothic coins and moneys of 
account : — 8 stycas = lscat; 3 scats= 1 thrimsa ; 7 thrimsas 
= 1 ora ; 8 oras = lmark; 1^ uiarks = £l. The foregoing 
two classes of moneys were united by tbe following scale of 
equivalents: — 4^ scats = 4 pennies, or 1 shilling; 160pennies - 
= 1 mark. Hence, 250 (exact!}' 252) Gothic scats, or 
240 Christian pennies=l " pound ^^ of account. Hence 
also, 20 pennies to tbe ora, " Denar qui sunt XX in ora,^' 
as mentioned in Domesday Book, vol. i, fol. i. The 
styca of this reign was a small brass coin, the scat a small 
lumpish silver coin containing about 17 grains fine, the 
penny contained about 18 grains fine, or 22 grains alloyed, 


the sterling-, or lialf-dirhem, was slightly heavier than the 
i penny. The ratio of fine silver to gold in the coins of 
Athelstan was 12 for 1.^ 

During the reign of Edmund I, king of Wessex (941—46) , 
; the silver pennies contained from 16^ to 22^ grains fine." 
We are aware of no alterations in the valuation of money 
during the reign of Edred, king of Wessex. The reign 
of Edgai', king of Wessex, is marked by the issuance of 
, leather moneys and an effort to unitise the numerous and 
I heterogeneous coinages of England — an effort which proved 
futile. The sterlings of this prince contain 18 to 20 
: grains of fine silver, but we do not know at what valua- 
I tions they passed. Many of these coins were surreptiti- 
ously reduced by clippers to half their weight. After 
executing a batch of these criminals, a new coinage was 
ordered, and it was probably to fill the void thus tem- 
porarily created in the circulation that the leather moneys 
were issued. 

' The mark of silver was reduced to two gold mancuses, whereas pre- 
viously it was worth five. This was mainly due to the rejection of the 
Arabian and adoption of the Byzantine valuation of gold, an act which 
lowered the value of silver to a moiety. 

- Ending, i, p. 292. 


them weighed 19 lbs. 6 oz. 5 dwts. This is an average of 
22 grains each^ or (assuming the fineness as equal to- 
sterling) 20^ grains fine; but as he says nothing of the 
remaining 573 pieces found at Tealby, it may be that the- 
average of the whole corresponded with Keary's assays. 

With regard to tin money of the nobles, mention of 
albata, or white money {argentnm hlancum) occurs in the 
Exchequer Eolls pertaining to the fourth year of this 
reign, where it is expressly distinguished from silver- 
money [argenti). In the fifteenth year Walter Hose paid 
one shilling in the pound for the bianco firmse of 
Treatham ; in the seventeenth year twenty shillings wei^e- 
paid in argento bianco j in the twenty-third year Walter- 
de Grimesby forfeited a lot of the same metal ; in the- 
twenty- sixth year the sheriffs of London and Middlesex 
paid in, from the effects of a coin clipper, £9 55. 4c?. in 
silver pennies and iive mai'ks in '' white money." In. 
order to deteimine the meaning of " white money," it is 
to be remarked that the term " argento bianco examinato " 
was used when silver bullion was meant. For example,, 
in the thirtieth year of Henry II, the sheriff of Devonshire 
paid 8s. 9cl. in bullion {argento bianco examinato) , made up- 
of divers old coins, and in the thirtj^-third year the same 
sheriff paid twenty-six pennies in bullion {argento bianco- 
examinato) , made up of numerous coins dug up from the 
earth. Sir Charles Freemantle was of opinion that the 
trial of the pix mentioned in the Lansdowne MS. related to- 
this reign. ^ In this opinion the author finds himself unable 
to concui', but believes that it relates to the reign of' 
Edward I. Some consideration of this subject will appear 
further on. 

Turning from the monetary system of Henry to that of 
his successor, we find it marked by the same characteristics- 
— a full legal-tender gold coinage issued by the Basileus, 
and constituting the basis of the system ; a silver coinage 
(pennies) issued by the king, as nearly as practicable of 
• Bi-itish Mint Eeport, 1871, p. 12. 


even weight with and exactly one-twelfth the value of 
the Byzantine sicilicus ; and a base coinage of local circu- 
lation, issued by the nobles and ecclesiastics, the gold 
coinage being never, the silver coinage rarely, and the 
base coinage frequently, altered. 

Although there are no native coins extant of Richard I, 
the evidences that he exercised the usual coinage rights 
of provincial kings are so numerous as to leave little 
room to doubt the fact. In 1189, upon his accession to 
the throne, Eichard weighed out more than 100,000 marks 
from his father's treasure at Salisbury ; in an ordinance 
of the same year moneyers at Winchester are mentioned ; 
in the same year he granted a local coinage-license to 
the bishop of Lichfield; in 1190, while at Messina on a 
crusading expedition, he found it necessary to command 
and exhort his followers to accept his money — a tolerably 
sure indication of coinage; and in 1191, Henry de Corn- 
hill was charged in the exchequer accounts with £1,200 
for supplying the cambium, or mints of England (except 
Winchester), and with £400 the profits of the cambium 
for a year. The names of Richard's moneyers in his 
mints at Warwick, Rochester, and Carlisle appear in 
several texts relating to his reign. Coins which were 
struck in Poitou 4feider his authority are still extant. 
Finally, as will presently appear evident, he granted and 
revoked licenses to nobles and ecclesiastics to strike tin 
and other base coins. All these prerogatives were such 
as were common to provincial kings ; but^Richard struck 
no gold, and made no attempt either to interdict the 
circulation of the Imperial coins or to alter the sacred 
valuation of gold and silver which was laid down in the 
constitution of the Empire. 

With regard to his ransom, the inference of new coinage 
is totally wanting. In 1192 Richard was taken prisoner 
on the continent, and handed over to Henry YI, of Ger- 
many. In 1194 he was ransomed for about the same 
amount of money that he is said to have inherited from 


pence went to the zeccliin.^ Eegarding the penny aa 
containing 18| grains and the zecchin 51^ grains, this 
would imply a ratio of lOf for 1. 

There is little room to doubt that the middle term 
shilling was changed from forty-eight to sixty, and after- 
wards to twenty, to the pound of account. The first pro- 
portion rests upon the authority of Fleetwood (p. 23) and 
Anderson (i, p. 98), and the third upon yElfric GrammaticuSj 
the translation of Exodus xxi, 10, and the " Historia 
Eliensis." Both Guerard and De Vienne testify to thej 
same practice at the same period in France. Shifting 
the middle term affords the best proof that the ora wasi 
now too valuable to pass, for a shilling, and that thai 
latter was merely a money of account, payable in silver 

Canute, the Christian but anti-papal king of Denmark 
and England, has left us a greater variety of coin-types- 
than any other English prince before the Plantagenet 
dynasty. His Gothic coins and valuations were 8 scats = 
1 ora ; 3 oras = l mancus ; 5 mancuses = l mark of account. 
His Christian coins were valued in £. s. d. on the scale 
of 5 X 48 = 240 pence to the £." The pence vary in weight 
from 12 to 18, and the scats from 20 to 24 grains each, 
and are all about eleven-twelfths fine, the lighter weights,! 
or the pennies, greatly predominating. The intervaluation j 
between the two systems was 80 silver pence, each of 16 1 
grains fine, equal to 1 " mancus,^' really a zecchin, of 50'i 
to 54 grains, bespeaking a ratio of about 9 for 1. How- 
ever, his Danish coinages render this ratio uncertain. 

The accession of Edward Confessor marks the decline 
of Danish power and influence in England — an event long 
celebrated by the Catholic portion of the population in 
the religious festival of Hokeday. This prince's friend-' 
ship for Normandy and his fealty to Rome manifested,! 

' ^Ifric the Grammarian. 
^ "Chron. Preciosum," p. 23. 


itself in the appointment of Xonnan favourites to office, 
in the quarrel with Godwin, the incarceration of Edgitha, 
the welcome which he accorded to William of Nor- 
mandy, and his removal of Godwin's hostages (his son 
Ulnoth and grand-nephew Haguin) to William's court. 
Although the quarrel with Godwin w^as patched up, the 
■ hostages remained in Normandy. After Godwin's death 
. (in 1053), when his son Harold, now the head of the 
. family, sought to recover these hostaijes, he was refused 
1 by William. Upon the death of Edward (in January, 
1066), Harold usurped the throne, and until the fatal 
battle of Hastings reigned for a brief period as Harold II. 
The following scale of equivalents will illustrate 
I Edward's system of moneys: — Five light silver pennies 
containing variously from 12 1 to 18^ grains fine = 1 
.shilling, and 48 shillings equal 1 pound of account; 
rfour heavy silver pence (scats), containing from 20 to 25, 
ibut for the most part about 20, grains fine = 1 shilling ; 
and 60 shillings = 1 pound of account. The shilling of 
four pence appears to have survived that of five pence. 
Thus there were successively two classes of pounds, 
shillings, and pence, and it is not improbable that 
there Avere three, the third consisting of the factors 
: 12 X 20 = 240 pence to the £., and based on a degraded 
; penny containing about 8| grains fine silver. Edward's 
coins were of uneven and oft-changed weights, and 
owing to the disturbed state of the government, they 
were also of uncertain and fluctuating value. The gold 
besant of Constantinople was in circulation, and, accord- 
ing to Dr. Henry, was valued at eight shillings, each of 
five silver pence. During another portion of Edward's 
reign the besant was valued at nine shillings.^ 

There is some reason to suspect that about this time 
the payment of Danegeld by the people to the king's 
officers was made in the degraded coins above mentioned, 

' Henry's " Hist. Brit.," ii, p. 275. 


but the evidences are not sufficiently conclusive to 
entirely warrant the inference. However, the imposition 
of this tax was abolished by Edward, and it was not 
imposed again until the reign of William I. The Gothic 
moneys of Edward Confessor were valued as in Canute^s 
reign. There is too much uncertainty about the weights 
and value of coins in this reign to make any reliable in- 
ferences concerning the relative valuation of gold and 
silver. The gross weight of an heretical zecchin ascribed 
to this reign, as given by Kenyou, is 54| grains. The 
ratio may have been any figure between 7| and 11 for 1. 
It was probably often changed.^ 

Harold II only reigned nine months, yet his coins are 
very numerous, nearly one hundred varieties of moneyers^ 
names having been found upon them. It is quite probable 
that in the confusion of the times the chieftains and the 
prelates who supported Harold's pretensions to the crowul 
took occasion to coin money for themselves, the profit 
upon such coinage varying from a twelfth to a tenth of 
the metal coined, sometimes more. Harold's silver 
scats weigh about 22 grains, and contain about 20 grains 
of fine silver. There is no reason to believe that he 
changed the previously existing system of £. s. d., nor 
that any of the coins previously in circulation — such as 
the Arabian zecchin, the besant and its fractions, or 
the Gothic stycas, scats, and oras — were decried or 

^ For allusions to ' mint laws of Edward Confessor, see Kemble, 
pp. 67-9 ; for " Treasure Trove," see Euding, i, p. 390. 





1 Norman, Anglo-Saxon, early Gothic, Moslem, Byzantine, and other 

; coins circulating in England — Difference in the silver value of heretical 

and orthodox gold coins — Scats, sterlings, and pennies — Efforts of the 

Xorman princes to escape the monetary supervision of Eome — Eeceipts 

and payments made in different moneys — Counterfeiting — Barter — Per- 

• mutation — Fairs — Taxes and rents in kind — Bills of exchange — The 

r monetary systems of the Noi'man princes exhibit a strange condition of 

political affairs. 

TPVUEIXG the Xorman dynasty tlie coins in circulation 
-*-^ consisted chiefly of five classes^ namely : Norman, 
Anglo-Saxon, early Gothic, Byzantine, and Moslem. 

Norman Coins. — These were " sterlings,^^ or flat, thin, 
silver coins of the half-dirhem type, containing about 
20 grains of silver 0"925 fine, or about 18 1 grains of 
fine silver. In modern numismatic works these are 
, always called " pennies.'^ Xo less than twelve thousand 
'; of the " pax " sterlings of William I. were discovered at 
Beaworth, in Hampshire, in 1833, besides other large 
hoards elsewhere. Twelve of these sterlings went to the 
Norman shilling. 

It has been assumed by numismatic writers that the 
sterlings were always valued at one penny each ; but in 
face of a contrary practice in France at this period, where 
the sterling was sometimes rated at three halfpence, 
two pence, etc., and of the twopenny sterlings, and three- 
penny sterlings cited elsewhere in the present work, this 
is by no means certain. 

Anglo-Saxon Moneys. — The best Anglo-Saxon silver 
sterlings (scats) were valued at four to the Saxon shilling 


of account, while sixty Saxon shillings were counted to 
the pound of account. These relations were not disturbed 
by William, who continued -to employ them in all pay- 
ments under the Anglo-Saxon laws, or in reference 
to Anglo-Saxon rents and contracts. There were, there- 
fore, two moneys of account employed during his reign, 
namely, the Norman 12x20 = 240 pence to the pound of 
account, and the Saxon 4x60 = 240 pence to the pound 
of account. 

Early Gothic Moneys. — The ora is valued in Domesday 
Book at 20 pence, from which it would appear that 
Edward the Confessor's base pennies were meant, or 
else that William's sterlings actually went for twopence 
each. It has been suggested that the ora here meant 
was either the ora weight of 45 grains (one-eighth of the 
Gothic mark), or else a gold coin of about that weight, 
say the Moorish obolus de Murcia or maravedi,^ because 
in 37 Henry III, (a.d. 1252), the maravedi of Moorish 
Spain was valued at 16 pence" — a fall in value which, if it 
related to a weight of gold bullion, would be difficult to 
account for, but which, if to an actual gold coin, 
might have been due to its having been reduced by abra- 
sion or " rounding." But, in fact, at the period of 
Domesday Book, the maravedi was a new coin, therefore 
we regard the first hypothesis as more reasonable. The 
composite or electrum scat had disappeared ; the silver 
scat is mentioned under the name of a penny. The brass 
stycas, so common during the Gothic era, do not appear 
to have remained in circulation during the Norman one, 
for no mention is made of them in extant texts. They 
were replaced by Roman bronze coins. 

Moslem Moneys. — The Spanish-Arabian dinar (60 to 

Q'o grains fine) and the zecchin (50 to 55 grains fine), 

circulated in England under the misnomers of besaut 

and mancus. Norman sterlings of the half-dirhem 

' The maravedi of this period weighed about 43 gi'ains (nearly) fine. 
2 Ending, i, p. 316. \ 


or sterling type, and containing 18 to 20 grains fine 
silver, liad taken the place of the half-dirhems coined 
in Arabian-Spain. A^alued in these Norman sterlings, 
the dinar was worth o-i to 36 sterlings, and the zecchin 
30 tool sterlings — a ratio of 9 or 10 for 1. The mark of 
5 zecchins, afterwards of 5 maravedis, was valued at 160 
sterlings. The other moslem coins which circulated in 
England during this period were the gold half-mithcal 
and a few of the old silver dirhems and half-dirhems. 
Byzantine Moneys. — These were the gold besants of 

; 65 grains, valued at 40 sterlings — a ratio of 12 for 1.^ 
The besaut of this period was a thin and slightly '"' dished " 
gold coin, or " scyphus,^^ with a rayed image on one 
side. It was the direct descendant of the sacred aureus 
of Augustus and the sacred solidus of his successors, the 
sovereign-pontiffs or emperors of Rome. 

Other Moneys. — Besides these coins the circulating 
money of England included the silver coins of France, 
Venice, and other States. These were rated, by official 
proclamation, at something near their bullion value. 
Roman bronze coins of varied types and designs also cir- 
culated among the common people, and, according to Sir 
John Lubbock, they continue to circulate among them, in 

,the remoter parts of England, to the present day. 

|| The legal status, history, and tale value of bronze or 

'Copper coins, and an investigation of the authority under 
which they were struck, during the interval between the 
establishment of Christianity in the provinces and the fall 

•of the SacredEmpireinthe thirteenth century, is a domain of 
numismatics upon which so little certain light has hitherto 
been shed, that it would, perhaps, be unsafe to make it a 

■ basis for historical induction. There is strong reason to 
believe that the Roman Senate never parted with its 
authority to strike copper, and that during the dark and 
mediaeval ages the Christian provinces were supplied with 
' It results that the ratio for moslem' or heretical gold was 9 or 10 
silver, and for Byzantine or orthodox gold, 12 silver. 


copper coins struck by moneyers appointed by the Senate, 
first of Rome and afterwards of Constantinople. It is 
certainly a remarkable fact, one well worthy the pro- 
foundest attention, that, except when at rare intervals 
they ventured to disregard the authority of the Empire, 
the Christian princes of England struck no copper coins 
until after the fall of Constantinople. 

The Anglo-Norman kings coined no gold at all. The 
coinage of gold ceased when Christianity was introduced, 
and the last gold coins known to have been struck in 
England previous to the reign of Henry III, were the 
dinars of Offa, before his alleged submission to the yoke 
of the gospel.^ 

A good deal of learning has been spent upon that 
passage in the Black Book of the Exchequer (ascribed to 
William of Tilbury, in the reign of Henry II), which 
states that a custom was introduced by William I, of 
requiring payments into the treasury to be made ad scalam 
(by weight). Lowndes treats this custom as general, and 
ascribes it to the universal prevalence of clipped and 
counterfeit coins ; but this explanation, in view of the 
valuations based on the Byzantine ratio, and in view of 
the large hoards of full-weighted sterlings which have 
been found in modern days, is not satisfactory. Madox — 
who if less concise, is more practical — assures us that 
coins were received in the exchequer by deducting six- 
pence from each twenty shillings, for light coins : this 
was payment ad scalam. When the coins were unusually 
light they were only received as standard bullion : this 
was payment ad jpensum. When their purity was in 
question they were received as crude bullion and sent to 
the refiners and assayers : this was payment by combus- 
tion. In brief, this means that payments mi/o the exchequer, 
when made in light or debased coins, were, as nearly as 

' Two or three heretical exceptions to this rule have been already 


possible, subjected to precisely the same regulations that 
they are to-day. 

There is no reason for supposing that the phrase of 

'^ payments into the treasury" meant anything more or 

less than what it literally conveys. Notwithstanding the 

theory of Lowndes, it may be asserted with confidence 

that it did not include other payments, such as payments 

Old of the treasury, nor payments between merchants, nor 

between merchants and nobles. For all these classes of 

payments the king, at times, assumed the right to 

.prescribe different sorts of moneys — a right which he 

invariably relinquished when admonished by the sacred 

college that he was exceeding his powers.^ In view of 

this tendency of the crown it would be absurd to suppose 

that when clipped or counterfeit coins were received at the 

treasury by weight, they were re-coined or paid out by 

weight. Nothing of the sort. The revenues came from 

comparatively few sources, whilst payments were made to 

a vast number of people ; and payment by weight would 

have been simply impracticable. On the other hand, if 

\ the clipped and counterfeit coins received into the 

treasury had been re-coined, it would have taken but a 

comparatively short time to reform the entire currency ; 

but no such reformation appears to have been undertaken. 

The fact is that the crown practically legitimatised clipped 

I and counterfeit coins, not by receiving them into the 

; treasury ad scalam, but by paying them out of the 

treasury ad numero. Some of the numismatists have 

,: patriotically paraded one custom, and carefully suppressed 

1 the other ; but the evidences of its practice appear 

i| plainly enough in the course of this work to satisfy the 

j! ordinary demands of reason. The power that scrupled 

|i not to receive and pay by different weights, would 

scarcely have hesitated to receive and pay with different 

coins, and it may be confidently believed that this was the 


^ This practice (elsewhere) is alluded to and condemned in the Koran. 



tlieni weighed 19 lbs. 6 oz. 5 dwts. This is an average of 
22 grains each^ or (assuming the fineness as equal to- 
sterling) 20^ grains fine; but as he says nothing of the 
remaining 573 pieces found at Tealby, it may be that the- 
average of the whole corresponded ^vitlL Keary^s assays. 

With regard to tin money of the nobles^ mention of" 
albata, or white money [argentum hlancum) occurs in the 
Exchequer Eolls pertaining to the fourth year of this 
reign^ where it is expressly distinguished from silver- 
money {argenti). In the fifteenth year Walter Hose paid 
one shilling in the pound for the bianco firmse of 
Treatham ; in the seventeenth year twenty shillings were- 
paid in argento hlanco ; in the twenty-third year Walter- 
de Grimesby forfeited a lot of the same metal ; in the 
twenty-sixth year the sheriffs of London and Middlesex 
paid in, from the effects of a coin clipper, £9 bs. 4d. in 
silver pennies and five marks in '' white money." In, 
order to determine the meaning of " white money/' it is 
to be remarked that the term " argento hlanco eomrninato " 
was used when silver bullion was meant. For example,. 
in the thirtieth year of Henry II, the sheriff of Devonshire 
paid 8s. 9f?. in bullion [argento hlanco examinato), made up- 
of divers old coins, and in the thirty-third year the same 
sheriff paid twenty-six pennies in bullion [argento hlanco- 
exavvinato), made up of numerous coins dug up from the- 
earth. Sir Charles Freemantle was of opinion that the 
trial of the pix mentioned in the Lansdowne MS. related to 
this reign. ^ In this opinion theauthor finds himself unable 
to concur, but believes that it relates to the reign of' 
Edward I. Some consideration of this subject will appear- 
further on. 

Turning from the monetary system of Henry to that of 
his successor, we find it marked by the same characteristics 
— a full legal-tender gold coinage issued by the Basileus, 
and constituting the basis of the system ; a silver coinage 
(pennies) issued by the king, as nearly as practicable of 
' British :irint Eeport, 1871, p. 12. 


even weight with and exactly oue-twelfth the value of 
the Byzantiue sicilicus ; and a base coinage of local circu- 
lation, issued by the nobles and ecclesiastics, the gold 
coinage being never, the silver coinage rarely, and the 
base coinage frequenth', altered. 

Although there are no native coins extaut of Eichard I, 
the evidences that he exercised the usual coinage rights 
of provincial kings are so numerous as to leave little 
room to doubt the fact. In 1189, upon his accession to 
the throne, Eichard weighed out more than 100,000 marks 
from his father's treasure at Salisbury ; in an ordinance 
of the same year moneyers at Winchester are mentioned ; 
in the same year he granted a local coinage-license to 
the bishop of Lichfield; in 1190, while at Messina on a 
crusading expedition, he found it necessary to command 
and exhort his followers to accept his money — a tolerably- 
sure indication of coinage; and in 1191, Henry de Corn- 
hill was charged in the exchequer accounts with £1,200 
for supplying the cambium, or mints of England (except 
"Winchester), and with £400 the profits of the cambium 
for a year. The names of Eichard's moneyers in his 
mints at Warwick, Rochester, and Carlisle appear in 
several texts relating to his reign. Coins which were 
struck in Poitou 4fcider his authority are still extant. 
Finally, as will presentl;^ appear evident, he granted and 
revoked licenses to nobles and ecclesiastics to strike tin 
and other base coins. All these prerogatives were such 
as were common to provincial kings ; but^ichard struck 
no gold, and made no attempt either to interdict the 
circulation of the Imperial coins or to alter the sacred 
valuation of gold and silver which was laid down in the 
constitution of the Empire. 

With regard to his ransom, the inference of new coinage 
is totally wanting. In 1192 Richard was taken prisoner 
on the continent, and handed over to Henry YI, of Ger- 
many. In 1194 he was ransomed for about the same 
amount of money that he is said to have inherited from 


his father. This ransom was collected in England and 
from the possessions of the English crown in France. 
From the particulars of its collection — to be found in the 
pages of Madox — it appears to have been contributed in 
coins. Caxton says that plate " was molten and made 
into money. ^' Stowe makes a similar statement. Alto- 
gether ten ancient texts agree in stating that the ransom 
was paid in money, and that the same was answered in 
" marks weight of Cologne/' which latter was natural, 
that being the standard of weight with Avhich the emperor 
was most familiar. Notwithstanding this testimony, it 
may be safely conjectured that there was no new coinage, 
for such an operation would have been needless, tedious, 
and expensive. The old coin and bullion was probably 
melted down, refined, cast into bars, assayed, weighed, 
and delivered to the emperor's legate — a supposition that 
precisely agrees with Polydore Vergil's account of the 

In this same year (1194), according to Trivet and 
Brompton, the king decried the divers coins of the nobles 
and ecclesiastics which remained in circulation, and 
ordained one kind of (silver) money to be current through- 
out his realm. ^ Among these various coins were those 
of tin. Camden would have us believe that the coinage 
of tin was a term used to denote merely the payment of 
that forty shillings per one thousand pounds weight 
which was the heirloom of the dukes of Cornwall ; but 
this can only relate to a subsequent period, for there were 
no dukes of Cornwall in the reign of Richard I. 

In 1196 Henry de Casteillun, chamberlain of London, 
accounted to the king for £379 Is. 6d., received for fines 
and tenths on imported tin and other mercatures, also for 
' In this same year (1194) occurs what has been regarded as the earliest 
mention in extant texts of the mark, valued at 13s. 4d. (Fleetwood, p. 30, 
from M. Paris) ; but, as shown in a previous chapter, the mark of 13s. 4cZ. 
is three or four centuries earlier. The mark of 1194 was composed of five 
gold maravedis ; 13s. 4<d. was its value in silver, at the Christian ratio 
of 12. 


16s. lOd., the chattels of certain clippers.^ In the same 
year £1 19s. Id. were allowed to Odo le Petit in his 
account for the profit of the king's mint for erecting- 
therein a hutch and forge (fahrica) and utensils for 
making " albata silver/' or albata money [dealhandum 
argentum), also £2 4s. for a furnace and other devices for 
working the same. These coins, though struck in the 
royal mint, were not of royal issue, and could have had 
only a local and limited course within the domains of the 
noble for whom they were made. In the same year the 
sheriff of Worcestershire accounted for £40 13s. 6d. 
albata, or album, money, the balance of his form of the 
county. Of this sum he had paid £12 in album money 
to the archbishop of Canterbury, and owed £28 13s. 6d. 
in album money to the exchequer, besides enough more 
to make up the difference between £12 silver money and 
the like sum album money, paid to the aforesaid arch- 
bishop. In explaining the use of the term "hlanc," Madox 
confuses hlanc silver and hlanc money. The former was 
silver bullion, the latter a white money, sometimes called 
album, made wholly or for the most part of tin. The 
: meaning of album money is clearly indicated in several 
of the Exchequer Rolls, which he himself cites." 

In the same year (1196) the king granted a coinage 
hcense to the bishop of Durham. In 1198 William de 
Wroteham accounted at the exchequer for the yearly 
farm and profits of the mines of Devonshire and Corn- 
wall, partly in money and partly in tin bullion. This 
bullion appears to have been sold for tin marks, for in 
the loth and 1-lth John, who succeeded Richard I, 
this same William de Wroteham accounted to the king 
both for his ferm and for the marks obtained from the 
tin {de marcis provenieutihus de stanno). It may be safely 
inferred that in all cases these base coinages were issued 
by the nobles or ecclesiastics, and were of limited course.^ 

1 Madox, i, p. 775. " Ibid., i, p. 280. 

2 The writei-s who aUude to these corrupt coinages are Tindal (" Notes 


Sir Mathew Hale {'' Slieriffs' Accounts '^) proves that 
during tlie Norman era farms were let variously upon a 
money rent [numero) or a bullion rent (hlanc), but that 
in both cases the actual payments were made in kind. 
Even the payments into the exchequer — which Madox 
would lead us to infer were always made in silver ad 
scalum, ad jpensuni, or by comhiistion — were often made ' 
with goats and pigs. Lord Liverpool's researches led 
him to the same conclusion. He says (chapter x) that in 
the reigns of William I, and William II, and during a 
great part of the reign of Henry I, the king's rents, 
arising from his demesnes (which formed at that time an 
important part of the royal revenue) though reserved in 
money, were realh' answered in cattle, corn, and other 
provisions, because money was then scarce among the 
people.^ The rents of private landholders continued to 
be paid in kind down to a still later period. The best 
evidence with respect to this matter is given by the 
writer of the Black Book, or Liber Niger Scaccarii, cited 
elsewhere, who avers that he had conversed with men 
who saw the rents brought in kind to the kingf's court. 

Such are the monetary monuraents, and such were the 
monetary systems, of the Anglo-Norman kings. That 
attempts were made to harmonise the diverse materials 
of which they were composed — Roman, early Gothic, 
Moslem, Anglo-Saxon, Carlovingian, and Byzantine — ^is 
proved by the intervaluations of Domesday Book, and 
the gradual suppression and disappearance of some of 
these materials, chiefly the eai'ly Gothic and Moslem; 
but it is equally evident that the attempt was only 
partially successful, and that there yet remained — as, for 
example, in the mark and pound — an incongruous medley 
of pagan and Christian denominations, and in the divided 
authority to coin — for example — to the Basileus gold, and 

' However, they were commuted for money by Henry I. (And. " Com." 
i, pp. 248-55). This was probably after his various coinages had ren- 
dered money sufficiently plentiful. 


to the kings, nobles, and prelates silver (upon conditions) — 
another medley, which faithfully reflected the general 
confusion of a period, whose history was one of personal 
wars, personal combats, and personal displays of heroism, 
chivalry, or religious devotion. Coeur de Lion is its 
false ideal ; Froissart was its true historian ; and all 
attempts to deduce from such materials an independent 
national existence or policy for France, England, Ger- 
many, or Spain during this early period have been both 
unsuccessful and misleading. 



Purity of the coinage before the fall of Constantinople — Corrupt 
state afterwards — The change was due to the destruction of the sacer- 
dotal authority, the disappearance of the sacred besant, and the assump- 
tion of certain regalian rights by the kings of England — "Whilst con- 
tracts could be made in gold besants, there was no profit in tampering 
with the silver coinage — Afterwards it became one of the commonest 
resources of royal finance — Coinage systems of Henry II — Eichard I — 
John — Henry III — Edward I. 

^ I ^HE evidences whicli will be brought together in this 
-*- chapter maybe conveniently formulated as follows : — 
Previous to the fall of Constantinople there were but few 
tamperings with the English coinage, afterwards such 
tamperings became numerous and continual — a proof that 
some event had occurred meanwhile to render them prac- 
ticable and profitable, such event having been, in fact, 
the acquisition by the king of the coinage rights which 
the Basileus had lost. Previous to the fall of Constanti- 
nople no king of England had ventured to strike a gold 
coin, whereas soon after that event, and following the 
example of other princes of the West, a gold coin was 
struck by Henry III ; and although this coin was recalled 
and melted down, it was followed by another one struck 
by Edward III. The issuance of this coin, the gold 
noble, or half-mark, is regarded as the definite declaration 
of England's independence. 

Reference to other portions of this work must convince 
the reader that from William I to Henry II — an interval 
of nearly a century — the coins issued by the kings of 
England Avere substantially free from degradation and 


debasement. In other words^ the Xornian kings rarely 

tampered, with the coinage. The coins were all of one 

class — silver pennies, sometimes including half-pennies, 

i but usually pennies only. These did not constitute the 

only money in circulation, but the only money issued by 

the king. In addition to the silver pennies, there were 

coins issued by the nobles and ecclesiastics, commonly base 

silver coins, of local course and circulation, and the gold 

coins of the Basileus, valued by the Basileus always at 

cue for twelve weights of silver, and made and accepted 

as legal tender for any sum in all parts of the kingdom.^ 

i Other foreign coins had only a permissive circulation, at 

: valuations announced from time to time by the king ; the 

• gold coins of Constantinople constituted the backbone of 

the circulation, and kept the rest of it straig-ht. So long 

as contracts could lawfully be made in these coins, the 

king could make no profit by tampering with the silver 

i pennies ; accordingly he struck the latter, as nearly as he 

could, to contain exactly the same quantity of fine metal 

as the gold shilling, or quarter-besant, of the Empire. 

As previously shown, the besant contained about 73, 

afterwards 65, grains fine. The gold shilling, therefore, 

contained 18 j, afterwards 16;^, grains fine ; and this was 

exactly the contents of silver in the two classes of silver 

pennies of the heptarchy and of the Norman kings; twelve 

such pennies being valued at a shilling and forty-eight 

at a besant. 

With the reign of Henry II, (Plantagenet) commenced 
those tamperings with money which announced the 
advent of independent sovereign power in England, and 
presaged the extinction of imperial control. Plantagenet 
inheinted from his mother the States of Normandy and 
Maine, and from his father Touraine and Anjou, from his 
wife Eleanor, who had been divorced from Louis VII, he 
received Poitou, Saintonge, Angumois, and Aquitaine ; in 

' The subject of Eoman copper coins during the medireval period is 
alluded to in the last chapter. 


a word, he became possessed of the entire western hal 
of France from the Channel to the Pyrenees. Afteil 
adding these domains to the crown of England, he 
acquired Northumberland by treaty with the king oJ| 
Scotland. Ireland he acquired by a grant from Popt 
Hadrian TV, in 1154. The productions and trade of these 
extensive domains, together with his share of that 
additional trade and wealth, which, in common with othei 
Christian princes, the king of England derived from the! 
suppression and spoliation of the Spanish- Arabian empireJ 
are indicated to some extent by the vastly increasec 
revenues of crown and mitre, the splendour of the courti| 
and the number and wealth of the churches. To this|| 
period belongs some of the finest specimens of ecclesias- 
tical architecture yet existing in England. Yet the] 
monetary monuments are still those of a vassal andij 
feudal State. An important part of the coinage was|| 
struck, valued and made part of the circulation by onel 
foreign prince (the Basileus), whilst an important part of] 
the revenues were collected and enjoyed by another (theJ 
pope). The influx of besants, the efflux of Peter's-pence,] 
the defiant issues of baronial and ecclesiastical mints,! 
which included leather and tin coins, all betray the 
impotency of the king to preserve the national measure] 
of value from degradation and derangement. 

Of old sterlings there were probably few or none in 
circulation when Henry II. came to the throne ; whilst of 
the base and adulterated coins issued by the robbers and 
forgers, who flourished during the weak reign of Stephen, 
there were many. Among Henry's early cares was the 
suppression of these moneys and the issuance in their 
place of a new coinage (about the year 1156). This coin- J 
age in violation of the king's commands was made below 
the standard — a fault for which he severely punished the 

About the year 1180 ^ Henry II. sent to Tours for Philip 

' " The Norman Chronicle " states that the new sterling money was 
stiTick in 1175 (Madox, i, p. 278). 


Ayiuary, a French tuoneyer, and committed to liis charge 
the striking of a new stamp of sterlings. These were 
issued^ and the previous sterlings retired. After executing 
this work, Aymary was himself charged with fraud, and 
dismissed to his own country, yet the appearance of the 
coins supposed to have been minted under his superin- 
tendence, great numbers of which are extant, afford no 
support to this accusation. The pieces are indeed badly 
executed, and may thus have formed a ready temptation 
t-o rounders and clippei's ; the weights are also irregular. 
Perhaps it was on these accounts that the foreign artist 
was so summarily treated. 

The rates of exchange established by the mint between 
the new sterlings and the old ones — whether the base ones 
of 115G, or the rounded and clipped ones, is uncertain — 
prove that the latter were inferior in value to the former 
lay about 10 per cent. ; at all events, this rate probably 
marks the degree to which clipping extended at this 
period. For £375 Ss. 9cl. of old clipped money the mint 
paid £343 15s. 6d. of new; for £100 old, £89 6s. 8d. 
new ; for £100 old, £83 6s. 8d. new, and so on.^ This 
nova moneta is known to numismatists as " short- 
cross pennies,'^ and these became so popular that they 
continued to be struck in the name of " Henri " until the 
middle of the reign of Henry III (1247), although the 
reigns of Richard I, and John Lackland intervened. This, 
however, does not necessarily imply that Richard and 
John struck such coins. The extant coins of Henry belong 
solely to the last issue. A hoard of these coins was found 
at Roylston in 1721. Other pieces, to the number of 
5700, were found at Tealby, in Lincolnshire, in 1807. 
They were as fresh as when they left the mint. Accord- 
ing to Keary, the fineness is 0*925, and the contents in 
fine silver of the most perfect specimens, 18 j grains. Dr. 
Ruding's valuable but antiquated work gives what seems 
to be a wholly different account. He says that 5127 of 
^ Madox, i, p. 278. 


tliein weighed 19 lbs. 6 oz. 5 dwts. This is an average of 
22 grains each^ or (assuming the fineness as equal to- 
sterling) 20^ grains fine; but as he sajs nothing of the 
remaining 573 pieces found at Tealby, it may be that the- 
average of the whole corresponded with Keary's assays. 

With regard to tin money of the nobles, mention of 
albata, or white money {argenhnn hiancum) occurs in the 
Exchequer Eolls pertaining to the fourth year of this 
reign, where it is expressly distinguished from silver- 
money {argenti). In the fifteenth year Walter Hose paid 
one shilling in the pound for the hlanco firmss of 
Treatham ; in the seventeenth year twenty shillings were- 
paid in argento hlanco ; in the twenty-third year Walter- 
de Grimesby forfeited a lot of the same metal ; in the 
twenty- sixth year the sheriffs of London and Middlesex 
paid in, from the effects of a coin clipper, £9 5s. M. in 
silver pennies and five marks in '' white money." In. 
order to determine the meaning* of " white money," it is 
to be remarked that the term " argento hlanco examinato " 
was used when silver bullion was meant. For example,, 
in the thirtieth year of Henry II, the sheriff of Devonshire 
paid 8s. 9f?. in bullion {argento hlanco examinato), made up- 
of divers old coins, and in the thirty-third year the same 
sheriff paid twenty-six pennies in bullion {argento hlanco- 
examinato) , made up of numerous coins dug up from the 
earth. Sir Charles Freemantle was of opinion that the 
trial of the pix mentioned in the Lansdowne MS. related to- 
this reign. ^ In this opinion theauthor finds himself unable 
to concur, but believes that it relates to the reign of' 
Edward I. Some consideration of this subject will appear- 
further on. 

Turning from the monetary system of Henry to that of 
his successor, we find it marked by the same characteristics. 
— a full legal-tender gold coinage issued by the Basileus, 
and constituting the basis of the system ; a silver coinage 
(pennies) issued by the king, as nearly as practicable of! 
' British Mint Eeport, 1871, p. 12. 


even weiglit with and exactly oue-tAvelftli the value of 

the Byzantine sicilicus ; and a base coinage of local circu- 

! lation, issued by the nobles and ecclesiastics, the gold 

: coinage being never, the silver coinage rarely, and the 

; base coinage frequently, altered. 

Although there are no native coins extant of Richard I, 
the evidences that he exercised the usual coinage rights 
I of provincial kings are so numerous as to leave little 
' room to doubt the fact. In 1189, upon his accession to 
; the throne, Richard weighed out more than 100,000 marks 
I from his father's treasure at Salisbury ; in an ordinance 
I of the same year moneyers at Winchester are mentioned ; 
I in the same year he granted a local coinage-license to 
I the bishop of Lichfield; in 1190, while at Messina on a 
! crusading expedition, he found it necessary to command 
; and exhort his followers to accept his money — a tolerably 
sure indication of coinage; and in 1191, Henry de Corn- 
i hill was charged in the exchequer accounts with £1,200 
for supplying the cambium, or mints of England (except 
Winchester), and with £400 the profits of the cambium 
for a year. The names of Richard's moneyers in his 
mints at Warwick, Rochester, and Carlisle appear in 
several texts relating to his reign. Coins which were 
struck in Poitou 4fcider his authority are still extant. 
i Finally, as will presently appear evident, he granted and 
I revoked licenses to nobles and ecclesiastics to strike tin 
I and other base coins. All these prerogatives were such 
as were common to provincial kings ; butTaichard struck 
j no gold, and made no attempt either to interdict the 
' circulation of the Imperial coins or to alter the sacred 
valuation of gold and silver which was laid down in the 
constitution of the Empire. 
' With regard to his ransom, the inference of new coinage 
' is totally wanting. In 1192 Richard was taken prisoner 
j on the continent, and handed over to Henry VI, of Ger- 
many. In 1194 he was ransomed for about the same 
amount of money that he is said to have inherited from 


his father. This ransom was collected in England and j 
from the possessions of the English crown in France. ' 
From the particulars of its collection — to be found in the 
pages of Madox — it appears to have been contributed in : 
coins. Caxton sajs that plate " was molten and made ' 
into jnoney." Stowe makes a similar statement. Alto- ■ 
gether ten ancient texts agree in stating that the ransom i 
was paid in monej^ and that the same was answered in ' 
" marks weight of Cologne/' which latter was natural, 
that being the standard of weight with which the emperor 
was most familiar. Notwithstanding this testimony, it i 
may be safely conjectured that there was no new coinage, | 
for such an operation would have been needless, tedious, 
and expensive. The old coin and bullion was probably 
melted down, refined, cast into bars, assayed, weighed, 
and delivered to the emperor's legate — a supposition that 
precisely agrees with Polydore Yergil's account of the i 
affair. ' 

In this same year (1194), according to Trivet and 
Brompton, the king decried the divers coins of the nobles 
and ecclesiastics which remained in circulation, and 
ordained one kind of (silver) money to be current through- 
out his realm. ■^ Among these various coins were those i 
of tin. Camden would have us believe that the coinasre 
of tin was a term used to denote merely the payment of I 
that forty shillings per one thousand pounds weight ' 
which was the heirloom of the dukes of Cornwall ; but i 
this can only relate to a subsequent period, for there were j 
no dukes of Cornwall in the reign of Richard I. I 

In 1196 Henry de Casteillun, chamberlain of London, 
accounted to the king for £379 1^. 6d., received for fines 
and tenths on imported tin and other mercatures, also for 
^ In this same year (1194-) occurs what has been regarded as the earliest 
mention in extant texts of the mark, valued at I3s. -kl. (Fleetwood, p. 30, 
from M. Paris) ; but, as shown in a previous chapter, the mark of 13s. 4d. 
is three or four centuries earlier. The mark of 1194 was composed of five 
gold maravedis ; 13s. 4cZ. was its value in silver, at the Christian ratio 
of 12. 


16s. 10^., the chattels of certain clippers.^ In the same 
year £1 19s. Id. were allowed to Odo le Petit in his 
account for the profit of the king's mint for erecting 
therein a hutch and forge {fahrica) and utensils for 
making " albata silver/' or albata money {dealhandum 
argentum), also £2 4s. for a furnace and other devices for 
working the same. These coins, though struck in the 
royal mint, were not of royal issue, and could have had 
only a local and limited course within the domains of the 
noble for whom they were made. In the same year the 
sheriff of Worcestershire accounted for £40 13s. Qd. 
albata, or album, money, the balance of his ferm of the 
: county. Of this sum he had paid £12 in album money 
j to the archbishop of Canterbury, and owed £28 13s. Qd. 
\ in album money to the exchequer, besides enough more 
: to make up the difference between £12 silver money and 
\ the like sum album money, paid to the aforesaid arch- 
bishop. In explaining the use of the term "6/a?ic,"Madox 
\ confuses hlanc silver and hlanc money. The former was 
silver bullion, the latter a white money, sometimes called 
album, made Avholly or for the most part of tin. The 
; meaning of album money is clearly indicated in several 
of the Exchequer Rolls, which he himself cites.^ 

In the same year (1196) the king granted a coinage 
license to the bishop of Durham. In 1198 William de 
Wroteham accounted at the exchequer for the yearly 
ferm and profits of the mines of Devonshire and Corn- 
wall, partly in money and partly in tin bullion. This 
bullion appeal's to have been sold for tin marks, for in 
the 13th and 14th John, who succeeded Richard I, 
this same William de Wroteham accounted to the king 
both for his ferm and for the marks obtained from the 
tin {de marcis jprovenientibtis de stanno) . It may be safely 
inferred that in all cases these base coinages were issued 
by the nobles or ecclesiastics, and were of limited course.^ 
' Madox, i, p. 775. 2 jbia., i, p. 280. 

^ The writers who allude to these corrupt coinages are Tindal (" Notes 


Tlie albata money of Richard's time was either a com 
position of tin and silver — a good deal of tin and verj 
little silver — or else merely tin coins blanched with silver, 
The clippers, whose chattels were confiscated to the 
exchequer by Henry de Casteillun, must have practised 
their art upon the royal coins, for there could have been 
but small profit from exercising it upon those of the 

Although, immediately after the payment of his ransom, 
Richard decried all other coins but his own, his edict 
became a dead letter; indeed, he was probably glad 
enough to see the base coins remain in circulation. The 
population of England and Plantagenet France during 
the reign of Richard I, was probably not over four or 
five millions, and the total money not over as many shillings, 
or, say, £250,000. Richai'd's ransom therefore stripped 
the kingdom of probably one-third or one-fourth of its 
measure of value, and but for the album money of his 
nobles, this circumstance might have brought on far 
greater calamities than the release of the king was 
expected to avert. 

The main defect of the tin coins was not the low cost 
of the material of which they were composed. The gold 
and silver obtained from the spoliation of the moslem 
and the Jews were cheaper than tin, for they cost 
nothing to produce beyond the labour of cutting so 
many pagan and infidel throats, whilst tin ore had to be 
discove^red, excavated, and reduced to metal. But there 
was no world-wide demand and no world's stock in hand to 
enhance and steady the value of tin, whilst as to gold and 
silver there was ; and this is chiefly what has always ren- 
dered these metals preferable for coins. Tin coins were 
also easily counterfeited, the material was exposed to 
rapid oxidation, and the condition of society and govern- 
to Rupin," i, p. 258) ; Leake (" Histoncal Account of English Money," 
p. 58) ; Nicholson (" Eng. History," lib. i, p. 254) ; and the modern special 
■writers on tin and base coins. 


ment was wholly unfitted for the use of coins of any 
material which could not conveniently and without sub- 
stantial loss be buried in the earth, or otherwise hoarded 
for use in future and safer times. 

There are no English coins extant of John. It is stated ^ 
that this king sent for certain Easterling artists to refine 
his silver coins. These may have been the coins he struck 
in Ireland, as lord paramount of that country, specimens 
of which still remain. On the other hand, they may have 
been English sterlings, of which no specimens have 
vet been found." John lost most of his French posses- 
sions to Philip II, and thus, almost at the outset of his 
career, gained the name of Lackland. His return to 
England Avas marked by the imposition of fines and aids, 
which, because they extended to the monasteries, earned 
for him the curses of the archbishop of York and a de- 
famation of character which extends to the present time. 
This being probably in great measure unjust,^ should enjoin 
caution in weighing the events of his reign. Camden 
ascribes to this period the leather money attributed to 
John, but though belonging to his reign, it may have 
been issued by his vassals ; at all events it wholly failed 
to secure public appreciation. In 1205 John publicly 
decried all coins which were clipped more than an eighth ; 
severely denounced and threatened all clippers, particu- 
larly the Jews, whom he affected to believe were the chief 
offenders; forbade the re-blanching of old pennies, which 
could have been none other than the tin coins of his nobles ; 
and fixed the rate for exchanging " fine and pure silver 
at the king's exchanges of England, and at the arch- 
bishop's exchange of Canterbury, at sixpence inthepound." 
This could not have meant the exchange of new coins for 

^ Anderson's " History Commerce," i, p. 199. 

2 The " Encyc. Brit.," art. " Coin," states that since Richard I, all coin- 
ing has been confined to the Tower of London and the provincial mint of 
"Winchester. This is a double error. Sir Mathew Hale's account of this 
matter is the correct one. 

^ Anderson's " History Commerce," i, p. 193. 



old ones by tale, because the latter were mucH worn and 
clipped. It probably meant the exchange of new coins, 
weisrht for weight, for old ones. 

More important, however, than the king's coins were 
those of the Basileus. The form used in expressing 
large sums of money proves the still common use of gold 
besants and Byzantine trientes and shillings. For 
example, in the previous reign, where £100 of old coins 
are bought for £83 6s. Hd. of new, the sum is thus writtea 
in the Great Roll of the Exchequer : '^quarter XX 1 & 
IXVj, s. & Yiij d." meaning four score libras, sixty-six 
solidi, and eight denarii. The former were evidently 
composed of actual besants and thirds, and quarter- 
besants. In the Magna Charta of this reign (Art. 2), 
where " centum solidus " is mentioned as the price of a 
knight's relief (a sort of succession duty), it is usually 
translated as ''one hundred shillings." Were thesa 
shillings merely moneys of account, as is commonly held^ 
it would be difficult to explain why they were not ex- 
pressed in '' libras " or pounds of account, like the sums 
which precede them in the same text. They were 
evidently actual quarter-besants, or shillings, and, there- 
fore, belonged to the gold issues of the Basileus. The 
vassalian coinage of tin, which characterised the preced- 
ing reigns of Plantagenets, appears to have been also 
permitted by John, for in the thirteenth year of his reign 
(1211), William de Wroteham paid into the Exchequer 
£543 5.9. 0^., and in the following year (1212) £663 12^. 9d., 
for the money which he was permitted to strike from the 
tin of Cornwall and Devon. ^ The meaning here 
given to this record finds corroboration in the allowance 
of one-eighth for clipped coins contained in the decree of 
1205, which would have been excessive and impracticable 
in relation to sterling silver, but which, when applied to 
tin or albata coins, was reasonable. 

^ " Provenientibus de Stanno Comubise et Devonias " (Madox, ii, 
p. 132). 


j Two yeai's after John had taken his humiliating oath 

; of vassalage to the pope he revolted from his servitude, 

and in the Great Charter which he sealed at Ruunymede, 

1 June 15, 1215, he assumed powers which only belong to 

■ an independent monarch. With the fickleness that 

i mai'ked his entire career, he violated this charter in the 

[! following August, and in September it was formally 

! annulled by his mastei', the pope, Soon after this John 

i was poisoned to death. He was a weak prince, but brief 

: though his reign and irresolute his purpose, he earned 

the glory of executing an instrument which has served 

:. as the model of every Bill of Rights won by Anglo- 

'. Saxons from that day to the present. Though disclaimed 

by John and denounced by the pope, Magna Charta was 

not dead, but lived on, and both in its inception and 

repeated confirmation it marks the slow and toilsome 

: steps by which our race has won from hierai^ch, king, and 

, noble its present inestimable liberties. 

The only silver coins of the reign of Henry III. now 

1 extant are the sterlings struck in 1248, originally of the 

' usual weight and fineness, but for the most part much 

worn, rounded, and clipped. In addition to these issues, 

certain base coins where in circulation, which are reputed 

to have been of foreign fabrication; but which are more 

i likely to have been struck by or for English nobles and 

. ecclesiastics. Some of these were probably coined in 

the abbey of St. Albans. When complaint was made of 

. them, the transgressors were permitted to avail themselves 

! of a technical defence, and so escaped punishment. ^ 

I Heme states that he had one of these base coins in his 

: possession, and describes its composition." 

The presence of tin money, also struck by the nobles 

and ecclesiastics, is evinced by several contemporaneous 

(references which point to the use of that metal for coinage. 

> Madox, i, p. 759, note x. 

2 W. Henningford, preface, p. xlv, cited in Ruding, ii, p. 74. 


The following passage from Matthew Paris (sub anno 
1247) is an example : — 

" As the money was now adulterated and falsified 
beyond measure, the king began to deliberate on some 
remedy for this, namely, whether the coins could not be 
advantag-eously altered in form or metal ; but it seemed to 
many wise persons that it would be more advantageous to 
change the metal than to alter the shape, since it was for ; 
the sake of the metal, not the shape, that the money was 
subject to such corruption and injury." As a matter of 
fact, however, the king did not change either the metal 
or the shape. 

In the 30th Henry III, the sheriff of Devonshire paid 
into the exchequer 25s. Id., the profits of his contract for 
fining the black metal {nigra minera), which we take to 
be tin, that being its usual colour in the ore (oxide) . He 
also accounts for 79s. received from the sale of dealbanda 
and tin. Dealbanda seems to have been a composition of 
tin, like album or albata. He also accounts for £6 13s. 8d., 
profit upon an issue of small coins, and of £54 15s. 3(i. 
upon an issue of large coins [de exita majoris cunei) ,\)otla. 
of which were evidently of tin, and were emitted by some 
local magnate. The comparatively small profit thus 
derived by the crown from the issue of tin coins in one 
of the principal tin-mining districts of England, implies 
a dwindling of this coinage. It is true that we have no 
accounts from Cornwall, and none from the mints, of tin 
coined during this reign, so that quantitative conclusions 
drawn from this single entry are apt to be misleading. 

Although, as is shown in another chapter, this reign is 
marked by the issue of a native gold coin — the first one ever 
struck by a Christian king of England — the issue was almost 
immediately retired, and matters remained apparently 
as before; so that the besants of the sacred mint continued 
to form the basis of the English monetary system. But 
though in shrinking from the coinage of gold the king 
was afraid to definitively repudiate the suzerainty of the 


sacred Empire, the nobles and the burghers were not. 

The General Council of 1247 resolved to lower the stan- 

I dard of royal silver coins — an act which by itself is almost 

1 sufficient to raai'k the fall of the sacred Empire, and 

the declining authority of Rome.^ Corrupt coins 

: made their appearance in all directions — counterfeit coins 

; at St. Albans; tin coins in Cornwall and Devon ; base and 

clipped coins everywhere.^ It is now evident that 

i at this juncture the besant began to disappear from 

I circulation, and that its agency in regulating the English 

monetary system was sensibly diminished ; but in the 

j era of the Plantagenets no such explanation offered itself. 

' In that age the solution of all monetary problems was 

found in torturing the Jews. Henry had resorted 

to this measure before the decision of the General 

Council.^ He now resorted to it again. It was a 

pretty theory, a furtive belief in whose efficacy is not 

yet wholly effaced from the minds of men; but it did not 

work. With the second persecution of the Jews, the 

besants became still scai'cer, and as, for lack of besants, 

couti'acts could no longer be discharged with them, the 

use of other coins was rendered unavoidable, and the 

multiplication of base or over-valued ones was thus 

encouraged. One of the last contracts in which the 

consideration is specifically expressed in besants is still 

extant. It is a Hebrew bond and mortgage executed 

during the reign of Henry III, a complete English 

translation of which, by Dr. Samuel Pegge, the antiquarian, 

appeared in the " Gentleman's Magazine," 1756, p. 465. 

The besants are therein called laku of gold, in allusion to 

the rayed figure which is stamped upon them, laku being 

the Hebrew form of the Greek lacchus, and Roman Bacchus. 

/^ The division of the pound of account into twenty 

parts, and each of these into twelve, was in this 

* The profits of this coinage are shown in Ending, ii, p. 67. 

^ Eliding, ii, p. 74. 

^ The second massacre of the Jews was in 1264. 


reign extended to the pound weiglit^ used for the assize 
of bread. Still more strangely it ^Yas imitated in the sub- 
divisions of the agrarian acre. By the Act 51 Henry III, 
(1266) it was provided^ aniong'other things^ that ''when 
a quarter of wheat is 12d. per quarter, then wastel 
bread of a farthing shall weigh £6 16s. ;" by which we 
suppose was meant 64- pounds weight.^ A similar enact- 
ment was made as to acres. The acre was divided into 
160 pence, or 320 halfpence, or 640 farthings, so that it- 
tallied with the subdivisions of the mark of account.^ 
Thus denariatus terrse (a penny of land) meant a rod or 
perch, for the perch was the 160th part of an acre^ as the 
penny was the 160th part of a mark. So the obolus, or 
half-penny, of land meant half a perch, and the quadrante, 
or farthing, of land, meant a quarter of a perch, or 4^ 
square feet. The expression " 40 perches of candles " 
quoted in Anderson's "History of Commerce" (i, p. 178), and 
the use of "shillings'' for ounces in the mint accounts 
of Henry III, are puzzling."'' rThis application of the 
divisions of moneys to weights and measures was not 
peculiar to England. It is to be found in all the king- 
doms which grew up from Eoman provinces ;' for the 
custom is as ancient as the Empire it self J Wine measures 
were based on the Eoman ace, which was the integer, and 
consisted of twelve cyathi. Thus a cup of two cyathi, 
was called a sextans, three cyathi a triens, four cyathi, a 
quadrans, etc., after the names of Eoman coins.^ 

' Martin Folkes' " Table of English Silver Coins " ; Harris on Coins, 
i, p. 51. 

- " Chronicon Preciosum," p. 40. 

' Ending, i, p. 179. The term " shilling " appears to have been also 
used in the mint accounts of this reign for an ounce weight (Fleetwood, 
p. 23 ; Ending, i, p. 179, etc.). The origin of this practice is obscure. 
Twelve sterlings (value one shilling) weighed less than half an ounce, 
so it could not have been derived from this analogy. Perhaps it was 
due to the use of tin or albatapennies, of wliich twelve may have roughly 
weighed an ounce. 

* Adams, p. 396. The custom is accounted for by M. de Vienne. 


Many modern economists and writers on money have 
argued that because by this law a £ meant a pound 
weight, as applied to bread, therefore it meant a pound 
weight of silver as applied to coins ; that because an s 
meant the twentieth of a pound weight as applied to 
bread, therefore it meant the twentieth of the pound 
weight of silver as applied to coins ; and that as a d 
meant the two-hundred-and-fortieth part of a pound 
weight as applied to bread, it meant the two-hundred-and- 
fortieth part of a pound weight of silver as applied to 
coins. This mode of reasoning, if applied to the sub- 
divisions of the acre, would lead to very startling results. 
For example, because by law a mark meant the whole 
and a penny the one-hundred-and-sixtieth part of an acre, 
therefore when applied to coins the mark meant an acre 
of silver, and the penny a perch of that metal ! 

Another fallacy of money — one of practical importance 
at the present time — derives its origin from the monetary 
issues of this period. Jevons, in his " Money and Ex- 
change," avers that the " standard " of England, from 
the reign of the Plantag-enets to that of the House of 
Brunswick, was silver, and afterwards gold. This is one 
of a host of modern sophistries which have sprung from 
the Act of 1666, and which no one before that period 
ever stumbled upon. It will be found in Harris's '' Essays 
on Money and Coins," printed in 1757, and possibly in 
somewhat older books, although neither so old as the 
Dutch prototype of the Act of 18 Charles II, nor as that 
story of the disputative knights and the shield, which on 
the one side was of yellow metal and the other of Avhite. 
In the case of money, the shield was neither of one metal 
nor the other. The term standard, as here used, can 
only mean measure, and neither gold nor silver metal was 
ever the measure of value in England until 1666, while 
since that date it has been such only to a limited extent^ 
and under the operation of that Act as affected by sub- 
sequent legislation. Down to 1666 the ''standard'' of 


England was the whole number of £. s. d. in the kingdom, 
whether of gold, silver, tin, copper, or leather, and the 
whole number of £. s. d. was whatever the combined 
coinages of Basileus, king, barons, and prelates happened 
to make it. In the course of this history many instances 
have been given when the king altered the measure or 
*' standard " of value by simple decree, and without 
increasing or diminishing the quantity of either gold or 
silver — an irrefi'agable proof that the standard was not 
either of those metals, nor any other metal, but merely 
the whole number of £. s. d., whether coined or existing 
by the king's will. Had either gold or silver been the 
standard of value, that standard would have been beyond 
the power either of Basileus, pope, or king to alter. It 
needs but a cursory perusal of the annals of the time to be 
convinced that such was not the case, and that, in fact, 
gold and silver metal had very much less to do with 
measuring value than the imperial and royal constitutions 
and edicts. 

Edward I, Longshanks, found the coinage of England 
in great confusion and very corrupt. The sterlings of 
Henry III, badly executed, and so much worn and rounded 
or clipped that they contained but half their original 
weight of silver ; the base silver coins of the nobles and 
ecclesiastics, which had in great degree replaced them in 
the circulation ; the gold besants and maravedis, which the 
Jews and goldsmiths hoarded for export ; and the nu- 
merous foreign silver coins which had crept into the 
circulation, combined to form a melange of money which 
was impossible to replace and troublesome to improve. 
Before making any efforts in this direction, the king 
commenced to fill his treasury by robbing the Jews and 
the goldsmiths,^ putting great numbers of the former to 
a cruel death, and throwing the latter into prison. In 
the reign of Edward III, there were few or no Jews left 
to kill, so the king robbed the Lombards ; in that of 
Charles I. there were no Lombards, so the king robbed 


the goldsmiths. Edward Longshanks' apology for slaying 
the Jews was that they circulated base money ; but^ in 
fact, everybody did this, including the king himself, for 
there was at one period practically little other money in 
circulation. Their real crime was the hoai'ding of gold, 
which the king coveted. 

Edward's raid upon the Jews and goldsmiths was 
made in 1279, the eighth year of his reign. As a make- 
weight to this transaction, he affected great concern for 
the purity of the silver coins purchased with this innocent 
blood. In the ninth or tenth year of his reign, he 
ordered the barons of the exchequer to '' open'the boxes of 
the assay of London and Canterbury, and to make the assay 
in such a manner as the king's council were wont to do.'^ 
Nothing is said in these instructions about the base coins 
minted at St. Albans, nor the coinage of tin in Devon 
and Cornwall, nor the issue of leather moneys at Conway, 
Caernarvon, and Beaumaris, nor the pollards and crock- 
ards valued in other royal edicts, nor the light coins, 
called from their devices mitres and lions, nor the 
cocodones, rosaries, stepings and scaldings," nor the 

' three sorts of copper coins which this king issued after 
cunningly plating or washing them with silver. Lowdnes, 
with some intemperateness attributes to this reign " the 

, most remai'kable deceits and corruptions found in ancient 
records to have been committed upon coins of the king- 
dom." Nothing is said of these matters in Edward's 
instructions concerning a trial of the pix ; and nothing is 
said of them in modern numismatic works.^ Yet these 

. corruptions of money have the highest historic value. 

I Just, as in after times, the New England shilling first 
announced the stern resolution of her people to be free, 
and the " Continental " note proclaimed and asserted that 

' Madox, i, p. 291. 
- Fleetwood, pp. 39, 47. 

^ For leather issues of this reign, consult Ruding, ii, p. 130, and 
, * Money and Civilisation," p. 64. 


freedom, so did the leather notes and base coins of 
Edward's reign mark the parting of that mighty cable 
which held the province of Britain to the sinking ship of 
the Empire. The laws of politics, like those of pathology,. 
are not gained by study of the healthy or the normal,. 
but by observing the diseased and the abnormal. 

In 1289 an indented trial-piece of ''old sterling" 
(0*925 fine) was ordered to be lodged in the exchequer,, 
and " every pound weight troy was to he shorn at twenty 
shillings and three pence, according to which the value of 
the silver in the coin was one shilling and eightpence farth- 
ing an ounce. '^ So says Lowdnes (p. 34), citing the Red 
Book of the Exchequer, but this citation o.nly conveys part of 
the truth, the remainder being supplied by Dr. Ruding.. 
This conscientious author states, with reference to sterling 
coins, that from the Conquest down to the year 1527, the 
royal mints of England bought bullion by the pound troy 
(5,760 grains), and sold it by the pound tower (5,400' 
grains) ; so that even when the buying and selling price 
was the same, there remained to the crown a profit of about 
7 per cent.^ The weight of Edward's sterling pennies, 
many of which, in a perfect state of preservation, are still 
extant, corroborate this statement. If we assume with 
the Eed Book that Edward paid 243 sterling pence per 
pound troy for stei'ling silver bullion — which is doubtful, 
for there were probably deductions made from this price 
to cover the cost of coinage — the coins prove that he sold 
it at 260 pence per troy pound, or, Avhich is the same- 
thing, 280 pence per tower pound. According to Keary's 
assay's, the extant sterling pennies weigh 22^ grains, eleven- 
twelfths fine, equal to about 20| grains net ; but these- 
are exceptionally heavy specimens. 

In the same year (1289), says the Black Book, Edward 
sent for foreign moneyers, to teach him how to make and 

^ The statute of the Pillory and Tumbrel and o£ the Assize of 
Bread and Ale, 51 Henry III (1266), provides punishment for those 
" that sell by one measure and buy by another " — a proof that the royal 
example had become contagious. 


orge moneys. Forging here means simply striking. It 
loes not relate to the forged coins which were current in 
his reign, and which Edward's apologists imputed to the 
oreigners and the Jews, but which^ it is much to be 
eared, were made with the connivance and for the profit 
)f that ingenious prince. However, the Jews suffered for 
he forgeries all the same, for in the very next year 
Edward plundered and banished the remainder of them 
rem the kingdom.^ In 1298 (27 Edward I), it was com- 
nauded 'Hhat all persons, of whatever country or nation, 
nay safely bring to our exchanges^ any sort or sum of 
j-Qod silver coins or bullion, which shall be valued or 
j-educed by the assayers according to the ' old standard ' 
)f England. Silver bullion, when assayed and stamped 
;,vith its value"' at our exchanges, may be used as a 
oiedium of barter — that is to say, as money .^' This was 
dmilar to a Spanish- American regulation of the sixteenth 
:entury,^ and it proved quite as impracticable and futile. 
It was also provided by 27 Edward I, " that no bullion 
ishall be exported out of the country without special 
license." This prohibition was repeated by Edward II, 
in 1307, thus implying that it had meanwhile been success- 
fully evaded. This, and some other acts of the Planta- 
genets, which encroached upon the imperial prerogatives 
of Rome, must be recognised as efforts on the part of 
these kings of England to throw off their allegiance to 
the Empire. But it was not yet thrown off entirely. In 
1299 (28 Edward I), it was provided ''that silver plate 
shall be of no worse standard than coins. Gold plate 
shall be no worse than the ' touch ' of Paris. All plate 
shall be assayed by wardens of the craft, and marked 
with a leopard's head. The wardens shall visit the 

' See forgery, confession, and pardon of Sir William Thurington, in 
reign of Edward YI. 

- OflBces in the mint for exchanging coins (Madox, i, p. 291). 

^ This could only mean the value with reference to gold, which the 
coins of the Basileus still imposed. 

* "Money and Civilisation," pp. 17, 78, 146. 


goldsmitlis' sliops, and confiscate all plate of a lower 
standard." This Tvas a new exercise of royal authority. 
With regard to the pollards, crockards, and other base 
coins of the reign^ Dr. Ending assumes (apparently be- 
cause they were base, or because their coinage does not 
appear to be provided for in the laws or mint indentures) 
that they were of foreign fabrication and surreptitious 
circulation ; but this does not follow. Base issues were 
the rule, not the exception^ of this reign. It is mere 
prejudice to heap them upon Phillip le Bel and other 
French kings, and omit them from the records of the 
English monarchy. Base coins were quite as common in 
England as in France ; they were due to similar circum- 
stances ; they were attended by similar social phenomena ; 
they had similar results; and no good can come of their 
suppression, concealment, or false ascription by modern 
historians. Pollards and crockards appeared in the circula- 
tion so early as 1280. In 1303 (32 Edward I) the custodes 
of the ordinance for the money at Ipswich were charged 
upon the Exchequer Eolls with £14 4.5. lie?, for pollards and 
crockards.^ If these were foreign and unlawful coins it 
is difficult to account for their use in the royal treasure 
and their appearance and recognition in the royal accounts 
In 2 Edward II, there is an entry of a relief granted to the 
kinof's sheriffs and bailiffs who had received these coins 
at a penny each, which '' by the king's proclamation were 
fallen from a penny to a half-penny." " Does this lool; 
like a reference to foreign or discredited coins ? Tht 
king's officers are first required to receive them at a peun} 
and afterwards at a half-penny each, and royal relief is 
o-ranted to them for such of this class of coins as hat 
accumulated in their hands during the royal alteration ir 
their legal value. That they were m use during the whole 
of the reign of Edward I, and part of that of his successoi 
is of itself almost sufficient proof of their legality. Sii 
MathewHale says that they were decried in 1300 (29 Ed. I) 
1 Mados, i, p. 294. - Ibid., i, p. 294 


lit is possible that this was the date when they were lowered 
by pi'oclamation, but the entries above quoted prove that 
they actually continued in use for years afterward. As to 
their omission from the laws and mint indentures, there 
are no such instruments extant. With a fragmentary and 
unimportant exception, all instruments relating to the 
coinage previous to 18 Edward III, if an^^ existed (which 
is doubtful), have been lost or destroyed. 

The extant sterlings ascribed to the first and second 
Edwards are not distinguishable one from the other. 
Numismatists assign those with the name composed of 
the fewest number of letters, as " Edw.,^' to Edward I ; 
those with more lettei-s, as " Edwa,^' to Edward II ; and 
those with the full name, " Edwardus," to Edward III. 
This classification is attributed to Archbishop Sharpe, a 
numismatist of the last century, whose reasons for its 
adoption are, however, far from convincing.^ In respect 
of the groats. Bishop Sharpe's capricious arrangement 
was as capriciously reversed, for there the full-spelt 
" Edwards " are ascribed to Edward I, and the abbre- 
viated Edwards to his successor. For the reason that 

; Lowndes' citation from the Red Book merely relates to 
the buying price of silver at the exchequer, and as there is 

' no certainty that any of the extant coins were struck by 
Edward I, and, finally, because it is incredible, in such a con- 

I dition of society as existed during this reign, that sterlings 
should have remained in a circulation filled with tin, copper, 
and leather coins, we should deem it quite likely that no 
sterlings at all were issued during this reign were it not for 
a circumstance recorded by Bishop Fleetwood, namely, that 
Edward's sterlings were valued at the time at two, three, or 
four pence, or sterlings, each — a custom quite common, both 

• in England and France, during the whole period from 
the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries, but commonly 

' Euding, ii, p. 123 ; from " Bib. Top. Brit.," No. xxxv, p. 25. Per 
contra, see Leake, p. 8, and Folkes. 


ignored or suppressed by modern writers on the sul^' 

Among his other issues Edward struck silver coin 
weighing 80, 85, 92, 116, and 138 grains each, whic' 
are regarded by various writers as groats, shillings 
medals, etc., but which might have passed as half-marki 
•or even marks, for all that can be learnt from the fe^ 
recoi'ds now left of his numerous issues and their capriciou 
valuations. The whole sum of money coined during thi 
reign is estimated by Dr. Ruding at less than £16,000, bi3 
as this calculation leaves out of view the enhanced lesrs 
valuation of the sterlings, it is of little worth." Th 
native mines produced some small amount of silver 
this reign. Those of Martinstowe, in Devonshire, yielde 
S701bs. weight of silver in 1294, 5211bs. in 1295, an 
704 lbs. in 1296, after which time they seem to hav 
been abandoned as unprofitable.^ An assay of silve 
from the mine of Byrlande, in Devon, was made in 2 
Edward I.* The assumption of control over the min^ 
which the i-endition of these accounts imply, was also 
new exercise of royal authority. The system of £. s. 
remained unchanged, but what constituted a pound 
account was now quite within the king^s newly-assume 
powers to determine at pleasure. The king's prerogati^ 
to raise or lower moneys, or to enhance or diminish the 
value, or to reduce them to bullion — a prerogative whit 
had only been assumed by Henry II, when the sacre 
empire drew to its close, and was only asserted after 
had expired — developed during the course of Edward 
reign into a very practical form. 

• Fleetwood, pp. 34, 35, 39, etc., and " Present State of England." 
- Consult Humphreys, p. 140 ; Sir M. Hale in Davis' Reports, 

1674, p. 18 ; Drier's Rep., 7 Ed. VI, fol. 82 ; Madox, i, p. 294 ; " Mo: 
and Civilisation," p. 65 ; Ruding, ii, p. 129. 
3 Jacob, " Hist. Prec. Met," Phil, ed., p. 195. 

♦ Madox, i, p. 291. 



i Ko mint indentures prior to Edward I — Xo statutes of any kind pre- 
vious to Magna Ciiarta — Sudden beginning of frequent monetary 
changes in the reign of Edward II — Significance of this movement — 
'proo'ressive assumption of regalian rights — Lowering of pollards and 
crockards — Interdiction of commerce in coins and bullion— Lowerings of 
'sterlings— Establishment of a maximum— Coinage of base money by the 
ikiug — His death — Accession of Edward III — New monetary ordinances 
—Black money — Mercantile system — Tin money — Review of the gold 
question — The maravedi of Henry III — Preparation of Edward III, to 
issue gold coins — Permission from the emperor — Convention with Flan- 
dei-s — Authority of parliament — Issue of the double florin — Its imme- 
diate retirement — Fresh preparations — Issue of the gold noble or half 
mark — Its great significance. 

]VrO written annals so plainly mark the steps by which 
■^^ England gradually developed from the provincial 
to the national phase of its existence as those which are 
stamped upon the coinages of the second and third Edward. 
Before describing these issues, one or two observations 

^are necessary. 

I With the exception of the statute 28 Edward I. 
already cited, not a single indenture of the mint, from 
1066 to 13-i6, is extant at the present day, nor is there 
any reason to suppose that any ever existed. If negative 
evidence were admissible in an enquiry of the present 
kind, this fact would be conclusive. It furnishes the 
inference tbat, down to the era of the Plantagenets, the 
princes of England did not enjoy control of the coinage, 
and had neither occasion nor authority to prescribe its 
regulations. The continued coinage and circulation of 
the gold solidus by the Basileus, its recognition by the 
Latin pontificate, and the prescriptive ratio of 12 silver for 


1 gold, rendered the coinage of silver by the king a mer 
perfunctory act. The silver penny coined by Christiai 
princes had to be of the same weight as the gold shilling' 
coined by the Basileus. AVhen the penny failed to con 
form to this rule, it failed to circulate ; and the sacrei 
college had the power to seal the prejudices of the publi 
with its official condemnation of the heretical coin. Bu 
no sooner was the power of the Basileus extinguishe^ 
than all this began to change; and every prince o 
Christendom stretched out his hands to grasp the covete^ 
prerogative of coinage. The Gothic and Saxon princes 
as usual, were the foremost. It was a Gothic prince c 
Leon who, next after the emperor Frederic, struck th 
first Christian coin of gold, and a Gothic prince c 
Denmark who first openly repudiated the suzerainty c 
pontifical Eome.' It need hardly be added that in sue 
a cause the Saxon kings of England were not behiu' 
their compeers. Gold coinage began with Henry III 
and mint indentures with Edward III. 

Not only are there no mint indentures before the foui 
teenth century, there are no national laws of any kin 
previous to the fall of Constantinople. The earliest entr 
in the Statutes at Large is an altered copy of Magn 
Charta, not drawn from any official registry, but fishe 
out of an antiquarian collection. Hardly more creditabl 
is the appearance of the ordinances which follow it dow 
to the reign of Edward III." They have all the appea: 
ance of having been "restored" in modern times. 
the kings of England previous to Edward III were n( 
vassals, why have we none of their ordinances ? and if tt 
pope or the Emperor was not their suzerain, why do th 
marks of the latter's superior authority appear in this, i 
they do in every kind of literary record, except, indee( 
upon the pages of recently written history ? 

' See letter of Waldemar in the preface to Boulainvillier's " Life 

2 These ordinances are not in the English, hut the Eoman language. 


, However, it is not alone upon literary evidence that tlie 
aro-ument relies ; it stands also upon the far more certain 
evidence of coins and the nummulary grammar. Many 
of these evidences have been already adduced. Those 
which will now be furnished relate chiefly to the sudden 
and frequent alterations of money which began after the 
, fall of Constantinople, and culminated in the reign of 
Edward III. There are, indeed, many modern writers 
, who either affirm or assume that no such alterations took 
: place ; but the evidence on the subject is overwhelming. 
From the accession of Edward I, to the coinage of gold 
, by Edward III, is a period which corresponds with the 
I reigns of Philip le Hardie, Philip le Bel, Louis Hutin, 
; Philip le Long, Charles le Beau, and Philip Valois, when.. 
, we are taught, that hundreds, almost thousands, of 
alterations were made in the monetary system of France, 
I of which country apart still remained subject to the kings 
of England. In 1346 (reign of Philip Valois) there are 
recorded no less than ten alterations of the ratio between 
gold and silver in the French coinage. As to the debase- 
ments and degradations of Philip le Bel, every historical 
; work is full of them. Yet all this time, while a furious 
I storm of monetary changes and financial shifts was raging 
; across the Channel, and whirling into every nook and corner 
! of the English possessions in France, the political econo- 
mists assure us that England lay in the midst of a dead 
I calm, and that nothing of the sort happened there. How 
utterly unfounded is the inference upon which they rest 
so confidently will be seen when the positive evidence of 
the extant coins is unfolded. 

The wave of monetary alterations which distinguishes 
this period began in Gothic- Spain, whence it flowed into 
, France and England. The changes which began in 
France Avith Philip le Hardie and became so numerous 
under Philip le Bel and his successors, have rarely been 
correctly described and never fully understood. Even Mr. 
Hallam, one of the ablest and most impartial of historical 



writers, must have failed to grasp the significance 
these transactions when he stigmatised them by the coarg 
names of fraud and robbery. '' The rapacity of Philip 
Bel kept no measure with the public. . . . Dissatisfacti( 
and even tumults arose in consequence. . . . The film hd 
now dropped from the eyes of the people, and thes 
adulterations of money, rendered more vexatious by con 
tinued re-coinages of the current pieces, upon which 
fee was extorted by the moneyers, showed in their trt 
light as mingled fraud and robbery.^' ^ The fidelity of th 
description is discredited by Mr. Hallam himself, wl 
elsewhei'e says, " these changes seemed to have produce 
no discontent " — an admission that ill-agrees with tl 
imaginary dissatisfaction and tumults above set fort' 
That the crux of the situation is misunderstood is evidei 
from the absence of all allusion to the fall of the Empiit 
and the recent acquisition of its coinage prerogatives 
the Christian states of the West. 

If we turn from Mr. Hallam's condemnation of Phil 
le Bel to his approval of his contemporaries, the princ< 
of England, we shall, find even less cause to be satisfie 
with his opinions on this subject. In the former cas 
they find some apology in the defamation with Avhich th 
medigeval ecclesiastics pursued Philip for curtailing the: 
privileges and restraining their rapacity ; in the latter, 
is left with the poor defence of patriotic partiality. Saj 
the historian : " It was asserted in the reign of Philip 
Bel as a general truth that no subject might coin silve 
money. The right of debasing the coin was also claime 
by this prince, as a choice flower of the crown. ^' Whils 
a little farther on in the same paragraph, he says : " N 
subject ever enjoyed the right (I do not extend this t 
the fact) of coining silver in England without the royj 
stamp and superintendence — a remarkable proof of th 
restraint in which the feudal aristocracy was always hel 
in this country." If, in fact, the nobles and ecclesiastics o 
1 Hallam's "Middle Ages," chapter ii. 


England exercised the privilege of coining silver, as we 
know they did, it is difficult to see wherein they were 
under greater restraint than the same classes elsewhere. 
But this is not all ; Mr. Hallam's flourish goes farther. 
It implies that the right to coin, which he represents to 
have been so sadly abused by Philip, was more rightfully 
or more justly exercised by his contemporaries, the 
English princes. 

Such is not the opinion of the earlier English writers. 
Our Matthew Paris says that the coins of his own time 
were adulterated and falsified beyond measure. Holinshed 
(ii, p. 318) says that, notwithstanding the baseness of the 
father's coins, the son, Edward II, proclaimed them to 
ibe good and current money. Stowe (p. 326) says that 
Edward II, ordered that his father's base coins should not 
be refused on pain of life and limb ; and Carte prefers a 
similar accusation.^ Indeed, the text of the proclamation 
(4 Edward II), which contains this mandate is extant, to 
justify the mediaeval chroniclers. Lowndes (eighteenth 
icentury) says that the greatest deceits and corruptions 
known to history were committed in the coinages of 
Edward I; and Lord Liverpool — who wrote during the 
present century — reluctantly confesses, in a letter to the 
king, the adulterations of money which were inaugurated 
by the Plantagenets." 

We shall presently offer even better testimony than 
the opinions of historians, namely, the evidence of the 
coins themselves. It will then be seen, not only that 
England fully kept pace with France in the wildest ex- 
cesses of a now unrestrained right to coin, but also that 
these excesses, in which Mr. Hallam only perceives fraud 
and robbery, really constitute our most valuable proofs 
of England's approach toward national autonomy. They 
are the unsteady steps of tutelage, which preceded the 
firm march of an actual and independent sovereignty. 

1 " History England," ii, p. 308. 
, 2 " Letter to the King," chapter ix. 


The year 1307 (1 Edward II), is the most probabli 
date when the value of the pollards and crockards wai 
lowered one-half. In effect it was decreed that tha 
■which was yesterday a penny, to-day shall be but a half- 
penny, and that which yesterday constituted a pound 
shall be to-day but ten shillings.^ In the same year wai 
also enacted an explicit interdict against the expoi'tation 
of either coined money or bullion from England." j 
similar interdict was made in 1326.^ It does not appes 
to have occurred to the crown that the Jews, banishei 
to the continent, had it largely within their power to pre 
vent the shipment of foreign moneys to England by paying 
for English merchandise with, bills of exchange, drawi 
against foreign merchandise shipped to England. In 
this way they could, and doubtless did, intercept and 
prevent the shipment to that country of some of the coins 
or bullion which would otherwise have been remitted to 
it to pay for its exports. Many people, even at the pre- 
sent day, similarly fail to comprehend the operation of ex- 
change. Their view is that unless every nation makes its 
money of the same material as other nations, it will place 
itself in the position of being unable to pay its foreign 
debts. A lesson from practical bill-drawers would greatly 
tend to alleviate such an apprehension. 

In 1810 the Commons petitioned, and represented to the 
king that the coins were depreciated (meaning probably, 
not in value, but in contents of silver) more than one-half. 
Nevertheless, the king made proclamation the same year 
that the coins should be current at the value they bore under 
iEdward I, and that no one should enhance the price of 
liis goods on that account. This is the edict of which Hol- 
inshed, Stowe, and Carte complain. Mr. Jewitt ^ says that 

' Madox i, p. 294, 
^ Eggleston, " Antiq.,'* p. 196. 

^ Ruding, ii, p. 136. ] 

■» Rolls of Par., i, app. p. 444. Consult 4 Edward II, m. in 12 dors. 

(Ruding, ii, p. 133). ' 

■' " Antiq.," p. 146. 


] the petition of the Commons set forth that the coins (pro- 
bably meaning- the old sterlings) were clipped down to 
. one-half. This was very likely, because unless the silver 
, coins were cut down so as not to contain any more silver 
than the base coins of like denomination, they would pro- 
bably have disappeared. But this time it could not have 
been the Jews who committed the offence, for there were 
no Jews now in England. Nor should the Caursini, 
Peruchi, Scali, Fiscobaldi, Ballardi, Reisardi, or other 
.Roman clans or families, who filled their places in the 
English marts and exchanges, be suspected, for these were 
all good Catholics, and therefore presumably loyal sub- 
jects. Clippers and counterfeiters had been condemned 
to excommunication by the Council of the Lateran in 1123, 
and were subject by a statute — attributed to Edward I — to 
I the penalty for treason.^ Earth denounced such sacrilegious 
criminals, and heaven forbade them to approach its holy 
precincts. We are therefore at a loss to look for the 
transgressor, unless, indeed, he was to be found in the 
iToyal sanctuary itself. It may have been with the object 
to more effectually keep his base money afloat that the 
,king, by proclamation in 1310, forbade, under heavy 
penalties, the importation of false moneys. If these false 
moneys were close imitations of the king's base coins, and 
.contained the same proportion of fine silver, the practice 
of importing them infers that prices had not risen to the 
level of the debasement. 

In 1311 the Lords Ordainers enacted that no changes 
should be made in the value of the coins without consent 
of the barons in pai'liament assembled. This startling 
declaration amounted to a claim on the part of the nobles 
for a share in those regalian rights which the king was 
daily acquiring from the falling power of Constantinople 
:and Rome, but it was successfully resisted by Edward, who, 
in 1321, repealed the ordinance, at York. There are no 
records relating to its operation in the interval. Accord- 
1 Euding, ii, pp. 214-226. 


ing to tte Eoll of 9 Edward II, the king commanded Eichard 
Hy wysli, sheriff of Cornwall, by writ, to pay on his account 
£372 14s. 4d. to Antony di Pessaigne of Janua, out ol 
the profits of the tin coinage [coignagio stagminis)? 
Indeed, tin money and gold money appear to have been 
struck by the Western princes at the same time, and 
owing to the same parent event, the fall of the Basileus. 
There being then a great deal of false money in circula- 
tion, a writ was issued in 1318 to the barons of the 
exchequer, commanding them to order the sheriffs of 
England to make proclamation that '' no man should 
import into the realm clipped' money or foreign counter- 
feit money, under great penalties, and that such persons 
as had any dipt money in their hands, should bore it 
through in the middle, and bring it to the king's cam- 
bium to be re- coined." ~ This proclamation must have 
had some other than its professed object, for in the, 
same year Edward complained to Philip le Bel of France 
that ^'merchants were not permitted to bring any kind of 
money out of France into England, for that it was taken 
from them by searchers." AVhen it is remembered that 
the coins of Philip le Bel were greatly debased and over- 
valued, it appears more likely that the clipped and 
" foreign " counterfeit coins mentioned in the proclama- 
tion were fabricated in England. This view finds further 
corroboration in the fact that, in 1318, "an assay was 
made of the money minted in the exchanges of Londoi 
and Canterbury ... to wit, of £40,730 minted in the saidH 
exchanges within the said time'' (about two years), and 
''upon this assay it was found that the said money wasi 
too weak and of a greater alloy than it ought to have 
been by £258 5^. lOcl." ^ ' i 

The classification of bullion into domestic and foreign ' 
first occurs in the reign of Edward II, and was continued 

1 Madox, i, p. 386. 

- Ibid., i, p. 294 ; " Statutes at Large," vol. i. 

3 Madox, i, p. 291. 


(Jiin that of Edward III, after which no traces of it appear 
••in the mint records. Nature does not admit of such classi- 
fication, because all bullion of the like metal and when 
refined is alike. Domestic metal cannot be distinguished 
: from foreign. It was clearly impracticable to prevent 
foreign bullion from being imported, indeed, the complaint 
of the times was that foreign clipped and counterfeit coins 
were imported, and if practically coins conld be imported, 
so also could bullion. Nor was it tho policy of 
the crown to prevent the importation of bullion; on 
the contrary, it did everything in its power to promote 
such importation. It is therefore difiicult to see 
what object was aimed at by classifying silver into 
eismarinuni and transmarinum^ except a further asser- 
tion of that newly-acquired imperial prerogative of entire 
control over the coinage, and the materials of coinage, 
which the king had in his mind and seemed determined 
to proclaim to all the world. Whatever his plans, they 
were defeated by the rebellion of his Avife Isabella and 
ithe nobles whom he had previously curbed and restrained. 
These, fleeing to France with the infant son of the king, 
: there organised an expedition, which landed in England 
;during the autumn of 1326, defeated and captured the king, 
.threw him into a dungeon, and there dispatched him, 

Edward III, was crowned January 25th, 1327. To the 

numerous and sudden alterations of money which, like an 

exhibition of firewoi'ks, celebrate the emancipation of the 

i Western princes from the thraldom of Caesar^s empire, but 

! introduced the greatest confusion into nummulary denomi- 

. nations and relations, England contributed an additional 

element of confusion. At all events, it was far less com- 

• iiion in other countries. This was a marked difference 

I between the contents of a coin as provided by law or mint 

j indenture and its actual contents, as found by weight and 

assay, of perfect specimens still extant. For example, 

the mint indenture of 1345 provided that the pound tower 

^ Rudinsr. 


of silver, 0"925 fine, should be coined into 22| pennies 
This would make the gross weight of each penny 24 grains 
and the contents of fine silver 22'2 grains, whereas the 
actual coins in good condition weigh but 20 grains and 
contain but 18^ grains of fine silver. Similar differences 
are to be found in other coins of the period. 

In choosing between the conflicting evidences of the 
statutes, the mint indentures, and the actual coins, the 
author has observed the following order of preference : — 
first, the actual coins ; second, the mint indentures ; third, 
the Acts of Parliament, which in many instances were only 
intended for show or deception, and in such cases were 
practically a dead letter. Even in the actual coins there 
is room for error, because they vary considerably. Mr. 
Keary's weighings are those of the heaviest, and because 
this practice is regarded as misleading, we have not always 
been guided by that author. Among the earliest statutes 
of the new reign were those of 1327, against the importing 
of light and counterfeit coins, and of 1331, against the ex- 
portation of either coins or bullion. The penalty for the 
latter was at first made death and the forfeiture of all the 
offender's profit, but two years afterwards it was lessened 
by proclamation to mere forfeiture of the money so' 
attempted to be exported, and in 1335 the Act was ex- 
tended to " religious men " as well as others. The 
conviction which must enforce itself upon all persons in 
authority that such ordinances can never be practically 
executed, the actual failure of similar ordinances in the 
preceding reign, and the language and tone of the present 
ones, all combine to produce the impression that the latter 
were intended as a cover, to account for the melting down 
of the '' old sterlings " in the king's mints, and to furnish 
an apology for that emission of black money which soon 
afterwards made its appearance, and was probably fabri- 
cated at the king's behest. That he was not above the 
art of issuing insincere edicts is strikingly proved by his 
proclamation of 1341, wherein he avows that in his 


previous Interdict of Usury he " dissembled in the 
premises " and " suffered that pretended statute to be 
sealed/^ which he now revokes and declares void.^ 

Dr. Ruding naively enquires if the Turouensis nigri, 
mentioned in the statute of 1335 as being "commonly 
current in our (the king's) realm/' meant copper coins 
struck at Tours ? We think not. There are no proofs 
that copper coins of Tours circulated in England at this 
period, but many proofs that English black money did ; 
for in the same statute it was provided that all manner of 
black money in circulation should cease to be current 
in one month's time after it is decried." Yet but a short 
time afterwards the king's council in parliament at York 
authorised new black money to be made, containing one- 
sixth part of alloy .■'^ In 1338 various proclamations were 
made, which denote that black money was still in circu- 
lation, and in 1339 one was made which authorised the 
circulation of black " turneys " (Tournois) in Ireland.* 
Black money was not peculiar to Edward III, but had 
been used by both his father and grandfather. Edward I, 
(in 1293) agreed to pay to the emperor Adolphus 300,000 
" black livres tournois," and in 1297 to certain nobles 
of Burgundy 30,000 "small black livres tournois."^ 
To the earl of Guelders Edward promised to pay 
100,000 "black livres tournois,"^ and it is not likely 
that at this period he would have stipulated to pay 
so laro-e a sum in a coin which he did not himself 

1 " Statutes at Large " (Ruding, ii, p. 251). 

- " All manner of black money which hath been commonly current 
of late in our realm " shall cease to be current within a month after it is 
decried (" Statutes at Large," 9 Edward III, 1335). 

^ A great part of this statute is not printed in the modern editions of 
the " Statutes at Large." Consult 9 Edward III in Statutes, folio ed. 
(1577), black letter. 

* Consult 4 Edward III, pt. ii, 35 dors (Rymer, ' Fcedera," v, p. 113). 

'" Anderson's " History Com.,"' i, p. 250; " Fadera," ii, p. 778. 

^ Anderson, i, p. 251 ; Eymer's " Fcedera," ii, p. 675. 


In the royal ordinance autTiorising the establishment of 
a mint at Calais, after the capture o£ that city in 1347, 
the king (Edward III,) commanded " white money " to be 
made there similar to that which was struck in England.^ 
In ISSi the moneyers of Aquitain were allowed threepence 
in the mark for all money coined by them for the king, 
whether " white or black,^' except gold." We repeat that 
these black moneys, which the historians usually evince 
much anxiety to keep out of view, ai-e really the proofs 
of England's dawning independence ; for while she re- 
mained a fief of Rome, and the mints of the Basileus 
supplied her with besants, nobody was obliged to use 
silver, aud the fabrication of black money would have 
brought the king no profit, and therefore none was coined. 
The coinao-e of black monev and the abrog-ation of the 
sacred besant mean the same thing — the refusal and 
rejection of any further allegiance to the Empire. 

In 1341 a great mass of sterling coins and silver-plate 
was collected in London by private parties for exportation. 
In 1342 a similar event occurred at Boston.'^ It is difficult 
to see the motive for these attempts to export silver, 
unless the circulation consisted of royal money overvalued, 
and unless there was no further use for sterlings and 
silver bullion in the hands of private owners. In 1342 
the king's rents in Guernsey, Jersey, Sai-k, and Alderney 
were exacted in sterlings, while his payments were made 
in light coins worth but ten shillings in the " pound. ■'^ * 
This may have been clipped coins or black money, of 
which each penny piece had but a half-penny's worth of 
silver in it, and therefore the nominal " pound " but ten 
shillings' worth. 

In 1343 the council in parliament advised the king to 
issue what would now be termed a Convention gold coin, 
to be current, with permission of the Flemings, both in 

1 Rot., France, 22 Edward III ra. 19 (Euding, ii, p. 182, n.). 

2 Eot., Vase, 28 Edward III m. 1 (Ending, ii, 195). 
^ Euding, ii, pp. 150-2. ■* Ibid., ii, p. 152. 


Flanders and England, that no silver sliould be carried 
out of tlie realm except by noblemen, and that these 
should be limited to the carrying out of silver plate for 
use in their houses. The first part of this proposal 
introduces one of the most important subjects connected 
with the regalian rights of the English crown. Down to 
the year 1204, or practically to 1257, the gold coins law- 
fully circulating in England had been supplied exclusively 
by the Basileus, and consisted, as before stated, of the 
besant and its fractions. When in that year Henry 
resolved to invade the prerogative of the Sacred Empire, 
he struck, not a solidus nor a fraction of a solidus, but a 
Moorish maravedi — a piece which commerce with the 
Spanish-Arabians had rendered familiar to Englishmen 
under the various names of " maravedi,^' '' new talent,'* 
" obolus de ]Murcia,'' " gold penny,'' etc. The maravedi 
of that period contained 40 to 43 grains of fine gold ; it 
circulated in England, not, like the besant, by force of 
law and immemorial usage, but mereh' because it was 
a justly-minted and well-known coin of regular weight 
and fineness, and preferable to the adulterated and 
clipped coins which had made their appearance when 
the besants began to disappear in the reign of John. 
The maravedi had filled the circulation in continually in- 
creasing proportions. Its low valuation in silver (10 for 
1) proves that it had no standing in the law. As the 
common circulation of the maravedi in England may 
seem incredible to a certain class of numismatists, it has 
been deemed useful to bring together some of the texts 
in which it is mentioned. It will be seen at a glance 
that its era agrees substantially with that of the 
Plantagenet dynasty. 

Year when 


Eegnal period. 


23 Henry II 


5 Richard I 


17 John 


35 Henry III 


37 Henry III 


41 Henry III 


12 Edward I 


22 Edward I 


21 Edward III 


Table showing the texts which mention the maravedi, or obolus de 
Murcia, as circulating in England. 

Madox, ii, p. 367, valued at 20 sterlings. 
Madox, i, p. 278, valued at 10 for 1. 
Madox, ii, p. 261, valued at 21 sterlings. 
Madox, re Philip Lurel. 
Euding, i, p. 316, valued at 16 sterlings.* 
Weight 41^ grains fine, coined by the king,j 

valued at 20 sterlings. 
Sir M. Hale, in Davis' Eeports. 

The maravedi was first coined in Spain^ during the 
dynasty of the Almoravedis, hence its name. One of 
these coiuSj struck in Murcia^ a.h. 548 (a.d. 1153),' 
during the interregnum between the Almoravedi and 
Almohade dynasties^ is called by Queipo a " Mourdanish/ 
which we are inclined to believe is a misnomer. This' 
piece, in a very good state of conservation, is now in the' 
cabinet of Gayanos, and weighs 44^ English grains. It' 
tallies in weight with the siliqua weight, or the y^ part' 
of the Egypto-Roman pound of 5,243| English grains,^ 
with the gold maravedi, with the silver dirhem, and with 
two sterling pennies." The true Mourdanish should 
rather be found in the half-mithcal, a specimen of which,.' 
struck during the first years of the Almohade dynasty, is 
now in the cabinet of Cerda. This coin is also published 
by Queipo, who accords it its true name the " Mourdanish 
of Murcia," and gives its weight at 34| grains, the state- 
of conservation being very good. The use of the gold' 
mithcal in Spain can be traced back to the eighth century, 
when Hachem I, settled upon his brother Suleiman a life 
annuity of 70,000 " mithcales or pesantes " as an equiva- 

* From Henshaw's translation o£ Domesday Book, vol. i, fol. i. The 
pence were light ones. 

^ The siliqua weight must not be confused with the siliqua coin, which 
weighed scarcely more than a third as much. 


lent for Ms estates in Spain. ^ In the tenth century 
the mithcal was called by the Christians the ^' dobla/' 
probably in reference to its being the double of the more 
popular and better known half-mithcal or " Mourdanish." ^ 
Abd-el-Raman III, (912-61) settled a life annuity of 
100,000 " doblas of gold " upon Ahmed-ben-Saia for 
his capture and plunder of Tunis.^ The annual reve- 
nues of Alhakem II, besides the taxes in kind, were 
" twelve million mithcals of gold.'' * The piece we are 
considering is therefore not the half-mithcal, but the 
maravedi, and its period is not that of the early but of 
the later caliphs of Spain, the contemporaries of the 

The weight of Henry's gold coins was 43 grains (0'965 

fine), equal to about 41^ grains fine. They were probably 

intended to weigh exactly the same as one gold maravedi, 

or two silver sterlings. These coins he called " oboli,'' 

and ordered them to pass for twenty silver sterlings, or 

half-dirhems — a ratio apparently of 10 for 1, but really of 

9 fori, because his sterlings weighed less than 20 grains, 

and were only 0'925 fine. It is alleged that these gold 

coins were objected to, on commercial grounds, by the 

merchants of London. This is hardly credible, because 

the coins were really undervalued. They could be 

: bought with nine weights of pure silver, whereas they 

• were worth twelve, which was the ratio of the time in all 

' Christian States. This conclusion is strengthened by the 

jcircumstance that these same " oboli," after being tem- 

'porarily demonetised, were raised, by Henry's command 

!in 1269, to 24 pence — a ratio of 12, and that at this ratio 

they actually passed current without objection. As to 

' Calcott, i, p. 139. 
' - The contents of the dobla de la vanda in " Money and Civilisation," 
p. 93, deduced from the assumption that the castellano coin was as 
I heavy as the castellano weight, are given erroneously. 
j . » Calcott, i, p. 223. 

-• ibid., i, p. 249. 


their mechanical execution, the author is able, from per- 
sonal examination, to declare that they were far superior 
to any other coins, English or French, of that day. The 
only valid reason that can be assigned for the objection 
made to them was the superstitious repugnance to accept i 
gold coins not stamped with the authority of the Sacred 
Empire. This repugnance may have been enhanced by * 
the fear that the coins would not be currently accepted i 
in England, or, if in England, not in other Christian ! 

Bearing in mind the example and failure of Henry III, i 
Edward did not venture to strike coins of gold until he 
had acquired that full degree of sovereignty which the 
Basileus had involuntarily bequeathed to the Western 
princes. In Xovember, 1337, Edward was appointed, 
and he accepted the appointment of Yicar-General to the 
German emperor, with power to coin gold and silver. 
Though this formality now seemed needless, yet that it 
was entered into with the view to prepare the way for the 
coinage of gold is evident from several circumstances. 
In 1340 the king's council in parliament enacted that all 
shippers of wool should undertake to bring in for each 
bag two marks' worth of gold or silver.'^ Again, in 1342 
the king ordered still more pointedly that all corn exported 
to foreign countries should be sold for gold coins or 
bullion. Another preparation — a futile one to be sure- 
consisted in employing Raymond Lully, or some other 
alchemist, for whom a laboratory was fitted up in the 
Tower, which should enable that impostor to transmute 
gold from baser metals. Was it an excess of caution, 
lest the great step he meditated might miscarry at the 
last moment, that the king found a means to prompt the 
advice of his council in parliament that he should coin 
gold ? At all events, such seems to be the character of 
the insinuation that the Fleinings sold their goods only 
for Flemish gold florins, which were valued so highly in 
1 Euding, ii, p. 149. 


English silver coins as to render payment in the latter 
unprofitable to English merchants. ''In other words/' 
said the king, " by paying gold florins with silver coins our 
; merchants continually lose ; let us, therefore, enable them 
to pay with gold ones.'' 

Such appears to have been the genesis of the famous 

ordinance of 1343. Upon the king's information, the 

i king^s council advised the king, in case the Flemings 

I were willing, to issue a convention gold coin, and it was 

provided, in such event, that such coins should be un- 

, limited legal tender between merchant and merchant, 

: " as money not to be refused ;" that all other persons, 

[ great or small, might accept them if they pleased, but 

I not otherwise ; that all other (foreign) gold coins should 

I be melted down ; and that no silver should be carried 

out of the realm, except by noblemen, and then onlv 

, silver-plate for use in their houses. This advice was 

: carried into effect in 1344 by the coinage of a gold double- 

: florin, weighing 50 to the pound tower and 23^ carats 

: 0-979i fine, the " old standard " for gold.^ Thus, each 

I piece would contain lOSJ grains fine. It was ordered ta 

ibe current at six shillings (each of 12 sterlings). Two or 

; three specimens of this piece are extant, both found in 

I the river Tyne. The best one weighs 107 grains gross. 

I There were also florins and half-florins of the same issue, 

'now extremely rare. At first — and differing' from the 

advice of the council in parliament — the double-florins were 

made full legal tenders in " all manner of payments," 

afterwards optional legal tenders, and finally they were 

demonetised all within the same year. They were the 

first English coins of any kind upon which were stamped 


I ' As this was the first issue of gold coins by any Christian king in 
'England, or any king of all England, except the abortive maravedis of 
Henry III, the expression "old standard" in the mint indenture could 
only refer to the Byzantine or the Arabian standard. The former was 
' about 0-900, the latter was 0-979^ fine (23^ carats). Therefore, " old, 
, standard " in reference to gold meant the Arabian standard. 


tlie words ^' Dei arratia."^ Down to tliat time the kinofs 
of England coined by the grace of Caesar, or, as in John^s 
case, tlie pope, his successor. Edward III. first coined 
by the grace of God. 

Previous to 1344 the sterlings of Edward III/ con- 
tained 20f grains 0"925 fine =19^ grains fine silver. 
Hence the ratio between the double-florin and sterling 
was about 12"6 for 1 — too hig-h for gfold and too low for 
silver. As the Flemings were evidently unwilling to 
accept gold at this valuation, and the double-florins 
found no welcome with the merchants, the king, bent 
upon the successful issuance of this significant proclama- 
tion and token of national independence, ordered a new 
gold coin to be struck, and he decried the first one. The 
■second issue, which was made in the same year as the 
first, was of nobles weighing 39| to the pound tower, same 
fineness as the double florins, hence containing 1338 grains 
fine, and valued at 6s. 8d. — a ratio of 11 '06 for 1, These 
were made legal tender for all sums of 20<s. and upwards, 
but not for any sum below. The obverse of this coin repre- 
sents the king standing in a ship in mid-channel, obviously 
in allusion to its international chai-acter. Some of the 
numismatists, however, make it typify the strength of the 
English navy in 1369, fifteen years after date ; others a 
victory over corsairs in 1347, three years after ; and others 
a naval victory over the French in 1340, four years before. 
Mr. Keary gives the weight of an extant noble of this 
issue at 138i grains standard. This is evidently excep- 
tionally heavy. He also gives the weight of the later 
issues of 1346 at 128y grains standard, and the still 
later ones of 1351 to 1360 at 120 grains standard, the 
legal value being always 65-. 8d. The king's seigniorage 
upon these coins was £J for each one pound tower weight 
of gold, and the charge of the Master of the Mint was 
Ss. 4c?. — together, £1 3s. 4d. As the tower pound weight 
was coined into £13 3s. 4cZ. of account, the merchant re- 

* Ruding, ii, p. 212. - " Old Sterlings " (Lowndes). 


ceived back but £12, or scarcely more than 91 per cent., 
of the gold deposited at the mint. In the following year 
the merchant's proportion of the £13 3s. 4d. coined out 
of his pound weight of gold was raised from £12 to 
• £12 13s. 4(?., thus leaving to the Crown and mint only 4 
per cent.^ 

When the Crown came to deal with the Flemings it 
' found that people less compliant than it had wished. 
They agreed to accept gold nobles provided they were 
■ coined (under the king's letter of authority) in Flanders, 
I and also provided tbey could agree upon a proper division 
' of the profits from the coinage." To determine this pro- 
portion and superintend the issuance of the coins, com- 
missioners were sent to Ghent, Bruges, and Ipre, but the 
result of the negotiations is not definitively known. 
Froissart and Grafton both state that gold coins with the 
name of Edward were struck at Antwerp in 1337, but such 
coins are not extant ; neither are there any of the Anglo- 
Flemish gold coins proposed in 1344. In a mint inden- 
ture of 1345 the weight of the noble was reduced. The 
pound tower of gold, 23^ carats fine, was to be coined 
into 42 nobles, each valued at 80 sterlings. In 1351 the 
: noble was reduced to 120 grains standard without 
alteration of nominal value, which continued as before at 
Qs. 8d., or 80 sterlings. 

One thing more. This coin convention with the 
Flemings is the earliest, or among the earliest, international 
monetary treaties known to history since the establish- 
ment of the sacred Empire. If the "kingdoms" of France, 
Spain, Portugal, England, Burgundy, etc., were as in- 
dependent as the modern historians of those countries 

' Ruding, ii, pp. 165, 174. 

- Ibid., p. 194. The Flemish ratio of the time was evidently 10 
for 1 ; and to warrant the acceptance of the gold nobles in Flanders at 
Edward's valuation, the Flemings must have demanded the entire 
abandonment of the seigniorage, to which, of course, the English com- 
missioners would not assent. 



would fain pretend, why is it that they have not been' 
able to produce the evidence of any international conven- 
tions between them previous to the fall of Constantinople 
and why is it that such conventions took place imme- 
diately after that event, and have continued to take place 
down to the present day ? 

Down to the issuance of the gold nobles, the monetary 
systems of the English monarchy belonged to the Empire: 
they conserved no local or national principles; they con- 
tain no lessons for Englishmen. But from this moment 
they assume an entirely different phase and beai'ing : 
they become imbued with life ; they partake of the spirit 
which had begun to animate the nation to which they 
belong ; they occupy a distinct position in the British 
constitution ; and they bear upon them the marks of those 
endless struggles and vicissitudes through which the 
Anglo-Saxon races have borne the standard of religious 
and political liberty. 




Impetus afforded to the development of British national independence 
—The Great Interregnum — Assertions of English sovereign authority- 
Assumption of royal or national control over the precious metals and 
money — Assumption of Mines Royal — Assumption of treasure trove — 
Royal coinage of gold— Interdict of the besant — Trial of the pix — 
Royal monetary commission — Suppression of episcopal and baronial 
mints — Export of precious metals prohibited — First complete national 
sovereignty of money — Prohibition of tribute to Rome. 

^T^HE gold coinage of Henry III, proclaimed an assump- 
-^ tion of sovereign power which Henry's weak and 
■ faithless character was not fitted to support by force of 
; arms. It bears about the same relation to England's 
declaration of independence as the coinage of Pine Tree 
I shillings did to that of America : it was the trumpet- • 
sound of a coming event; not the event itself. The 
latter was embodied in the magnificent gold coinage of 
11344; upon which Edward is pourtrayed with drawn 
'; sword, and standing on the deck of a man-of-war assert- 
ing his readiness to defend the new-born liberties of his 
country if necessary against the world. 

The interval between the coinages of Henry and 
Edward was filled with significant events. Prominent 
[among these was that Great Interregnum^ which marked 
jthe fall of the mediaeval empire, and the dissolution of 
flthat political partnership^ which had joined the prayers 
of Leo III, to the dripping swords of Pepin and Charle- 
magne. Frederick II, died in 1250, and, as Mr. Bryce 

> The name given to the interval between the death of Frederick II, 
jand the acceptance of the so-called " imperial crown " by Rudolph of 
'Hapsburg in 1273. 


pithily remarks, " witli Frederick fell the empire." Thel 
brief and eventless reign of Conrad IV, and the assassin- 
ation of Conradin, by the connivance and with the ap- 
proval of Clement, ended the Suabian line of ^'^ emperors,' 
but furnished no basis for a new dynasty. In vain didl 
the See of Rome urge Richard of Cornwall, Alfonso of: 
Castile, and others, to fill its puppet-throne of empire. 
In vain did it urge upon the Western princes the necessity! 
of choosing an imperial sovereign. It met with nothing 
but respectful apathy. Edward was not the only princej 
who, during or shortly after the Interregnum, drew ani 
independent national sword. The church had extinguished! 
both the Basileus and the "emperor"; there was no longer; 
any Empire, neither sacred nor holy, neither Eastern nori 
Western. The edifice which Csesar had erected had often 
given way, and had been as often propped up, patched^ 
and repaired. This time it went to pieces, and many ofi 
these pieces disappeared in the void of the Interregnum. 
The pope remained master of the field, but the field wasi 
a desert. The princes of Europe, the pro-consuls, dukes, 
and kings of the Roman provincial states were free. 
Nay, more ; the people also were free, and the Commons! 
once more assembled together as a political body, withi 
political rights and functions. 

Yet, though long since condemned by the united voice 
of Europe, though dismembered and past all hope of 
resuscitation, there was still enough vitality in the empire! 
to make a show of authority. The pope of Rome, who 
had been its executioner and Avas now its legatee, wasi 
anxious to revive its prestige, in order that he might! 
inherit that as well. He possessed sufficient resources toi 
make a strong effort in this direction, and resolved to 
embark them in a contest with the Western princes. This 
struggle did not come to a close until the reigns of Philip 
le Bel and Edward III. Boniface VIII. had written to ! 
Philip, claiming him as " a subject both in spirituals and ; 
temporals." To this Philip had replied, " We give your 



Foolship to know that in temporals we are subject to no 
person."' And with this contemptuous retort was blown 
out the last spark of Caesar's empire. 

From this period commenced a new era in the develop- 
ment of European liberty. Previously the movement 
, against Roman suzerainty was directed both against the 
" emperor " and the pope, and, therefore, was divided and 
weakened. It had now only to contend against the pope, 
land the result was that it won many important victories. 
i Among the great political signs which mark the birth 
iof the independent English monarchy was the assumption 
iby the Crown of entire control over the precious metals. 
This was accomplished by various steps — the assertion of 
mines royal ; treasure trove ; coinage of gold ; demonetisa- 
tion of the Imperial besant and other coins ; control over 
the movement of the precious metals ; the suppression of 
episcopal and baronial mints ; the trial of the pix ; the 
regulation of the standard; and the doctrine of national 
money. All these steps were accomplished at this period. 
Control over such supplies, as mining and commerce 
.afford, of the material out of which money is to be made 
by the sovereign power, is a necessary corollary of the 
sovereign right to create money, and the two prerogatives 
will always be found in one hand."^ The doctrine of 
imines royal holds that all mines producing such materials 
belong of necessity to the Crown. Down to the fall of 
the sacred Empire the only material out of which the 
princes of Europe could lawfully create money was silver f 
•after that period such material or materials included gold. 
iThe earliest assertion of the doctrine of mines royal, 
including gold as well as silver, by any Christian king 
was made by Louis IX, of France. He was followed by 
^ Brady, " Clavis Calendaria," ii, p. 84. 

- Consult my " Money and Civilisation " on this subject. A proper 
idjustment of the rights of government to mines of the precious metals, 
both in England, France, Spain, and America, still awaits the dispas- 
sionate consideration of this great principle. 
' ^ With regard to copper, see elsewhere herein. 


Henry III^ who in 1262 asserted, for the first time ini 
England, a similar doctrine and prerogative. But Henry — i 
though in this, as -well as in other respects, he frequently i 
assumed an attitude of independent sovereignty — wasi 
easily bullied out of it by the effrontery and swagger of i 
the pope ; so that, according to Matthew Paris, the inde- ; 
pendence of England was asserted and surrendered many 
times during his weak reign. The heroic example of 
Frederic II, in defying the impudent claims of the 
Vatican, was thrown away upon this superstitious and 
faithless voluptuary, who saw his country again and again 
led captive to the foot of a foreign throne rather thani 
brave a single curse from the lips of a scheming pontiff. 
The prerogative of mines royal was, therefore, practically 
abandoned until the period of the first issue of gold coins 
by Edward III, when, without any formality, it again 
came into force, and has so remained, with apparently 
little change, down to the present time. However, ini 
point of fact, the institution of private coinage has dragged | 
this prerogative down with that of I'oyal coinage. i 

The prerogative of treasure trove was adopted, 
held, and subsequently relinquished by the sovereign- 
pontiff of Eome, who, in the reign of Hadrian, equit- 
ably divided it between property and discovery. This 
right afterwards fell into the hands of the Koman 
proconsuls, vassal kings, and great lords. What dis- 
position they made of it does not appear in the 
chronicles of the mediaeval ages, but we need no chron- 
icle to inform us. The chance discovery of a hidden 
treasure was not, like the opening and working of a mine, 
a public and onerous enterprise, involving outlays of 
capital, the co-operation of numerous persons, and the 
permission of the State authorities. On the contrary, the 
finding of hidden treasure -was of a secret and furtive cha- 
racter, and in the medigeval ages treasure trove belonged to 
him who could keep it. The earliest public notice of the 
subject in England relates to Edward Confessor, who 


declared that all of the gold and one half of all silver 
•treasure trove belonged of right to the king. It will 
be borne in mind that the England of this prince em- 
braced only a portion of the present kingdom. We next 
hear of treasure trove in the reign of Louis IX, of 
France (1226—70), who declared: "Fortune d'or, est au 
roi ; fortune d'argent, est au baron/' thus claiming gold 
treasure trove for the Crown and relinquishing silver to 
the nobles.^ The same doctrine in England belongs to the 
reign of Henry III, and it was not until the following cen- 
tury that the Crown claimed both the gold and silver of 
treasure trove. 

The coinage of gold, first timidly attempted by Henry, 
then boldly and resolutely begun by Edward, has been 
sufficiently treated in this work. It is only necessary to 
repeat that it forms, and has always formed, practically 
the most striking, notorious and unequivocal assertion 
which it is possible to make of sovereign authority and 
power, and that its entire relinquishment and avoidance 
by the Western Christian princes is to be accounted for 
on no other sufficient grounds than that the Basileus 
■was universally conceded by them to be the lawful suc- 
cessor of Constantine, and therefore the lawful suzerain 
of the Empire to which in certain respects they owed 
i fealty. 

An intermediate step between the acts of Henry and 
Edward III, was taken by Edward I, who in 1291, or 
■thereabouts — the date being uncertain — ordered that no 
iforeign coins should be admitted into the kingdom except 
such as might be in use by travellers and others for casual 
expenses ; and as to these, he provided public offices where 
jthey might be exchanged. This law may have been in- 
tended to iuclude^and aim at the besant, then the most 
important "foreign" coin in circulation; for, with regard to 
other foreign coins, they appear to have been as numerous 

* " Etablissements," liv. i, chap. 15. 


and as commonly employed in England after this enact- 
ment as before.^ 

The policy of regulatings or attempting to regulate, 
the import and export movement of the precious metals, 
which, as we may see from Cicero, Pliny, and other 
authors, was systematically pursued by the Roman State, 
both as it approached, and after it had assumed, the 
condition of an Empire," was also first adopted by the 
king of England during the Plantagenet period. It is 
true that Mr. J. E,, McCulloch was of opinion that this 
policy was pursued in England before the Norman Con- 
quest ;^ but as he has offered no proofs to support it, 
and the coinage and other legislation respecting gold 
contradicts it, the author is compelled, though with reluc- 
tance, to differ in this instance from that distinguished 

The same policy of regulating the movement of gold 
and silver, now erroneously known as the mercantile 
system, was assumed by all the States that rose on the 
ruins of the empire, but not until they had shaken off its 
claims to their allegiance. The sudden assumption of this 
regalian right implies a previous interval of over thirteen 
centuries, during which, save the Empire itself, there was 
no permanently independent sovereign State within the 
domain of Christendom with power to exercise it.* 

Analogous to this regalian right was that of purging 
the kingdom of episcopal and baronial mints, with the 
view to concentrate the prerogative of providing an unital 
measure of value for the whole kingdom, and placing it 
in the hands of the sovereign. Such right was evidently j 
attempted to be exercised by means of the Monetary Com- 
mission of 1293 (22 Edward I), which was appointed to 

1 Jacob, " Hist. Prec. Metals," p. 204. 

- At that period, for reasons which the readers of this work will 
understand, it was confined to gold. 

3 « Polit. Econ.," p. 27. 

* This view is amply supported by Mr. Bliss in his recently published 
" Papal Eegistei-s." 


examine the various coins employed throughout the 
kingdom, and report upon the same to the king. The 
text of the instructions to this commission is preserved in 
Madox's '^ History of the Exchequer/' i, p. 293, note F. 

xinother assertion of regalian rights during this period 
was the trial of the pix, which is first specifically 
:3ientioned in the Exchequer Rolls relating to the 9th or 
10th Edward I, about 1280 or 1281.^ 

• The regulation of the standards of weight and fineness 
s necessarily connected with the prerogative of coinage. 
So long as the sacred Empire remained, the coinage pre- 
•Qcrative of the Basileus — which the princes of Christen- 
'lorn had never presumed to violate — acted as a continual 
iiheck upon any desire or tendency on their part to 
.idulterate or lower the coinage. Anybody could balance 
L quarter-besant against a silver penny, and so settle out 
|)f hand the question of weight. That of fineness, though 
'lot susceptible of so satisfactory a solution, was almost as 
eadily determinable with the aid of the touchstone. 
3y these means the tendency of the vassal princes of the 
:3mpire to adulterate their silver coinage was effectually 
defeated. That such was their desire and tendency, and 
ihat they often attempted to indulge it, has been abundantly 
iroved ; and to rid themselves of the serious restraints 
rhich the ancient prerogatives of the Basileus imposed 
■ pon their fiscal operations, they would probably have 
•teen glad to enlist in a dozen crusades, instead of 
: 1 The regulation of weights and measures— an obscure subject await- 
'flg elucidation at the hands of scholars — seems to have been in ancient 
:mes connected with the coinage, and exercised as an ecclesiastical func- 
ion. With the organisation of the Eoman empire it fell into the 
ands of the sovereign-pontiff, and continued to be exercised by his 
-iccessor, the pope. The ninth decree of the council assembled bj 
-thelstan, at Gratanlea, forbade the holding of fairs on Sundays, while 
le tenth exhorts the bishops " to keep the standards of the weights and 
leasures of their respective dioceses, and take care that all conformed 
) these standards." The acts of this council, or parliament, were 
videntlv made in conformity with orders or advices from Eome (Henry, 
•Hist. Brit. II," i, p. 262). ' 


five. Bat whilst the faineant Empire of the Basileui 
actually lasted — and this it did so long as the pope hesi 
tated to destroy it — the Christian princes had to retu 
sooner or later to the ratio of value and the standards ol 
weight and fineness imposed upon them by its senile but 
venerable authority. The moment the Empire fell all 
restraint flew before the winds. The standards then, and 
for the first time, began to permanently vary, and they 
continued to vary until all sight of the originals was 
lost. Indeed, nothing more curiously, yet unerringly, 
marks the emergence of the Christian princes from the 
position of vassals to that of independent monarchs than 
the open, flagitious, and radical alteration, debasement, 
and degradation of the coinage which began in all parts 
of Europe after the fall of Constantinople, and which, un- 
like all previous alterations, parted completely from the 
original Eoman standards and never returned to them. 

In all its aspects money is the most certain indication 
of sovereignty, but in none of them so absolutely as in 
the practical and continued assertion of the principle 
that that is money which the State declares to be money. 
This principle was asserted by the ancient Commonwealth, 
preserved by Paulus, and enshrined forever in the Digest 
of the Civil Law. It was practically observed and em- 
ployed by every sovereign of the Empire, but, until the 
downfall of that Empire, by no other prince of Christen- 
dom ; then, like all the other prerogatives left by the 
defunct Basileus, this one was assumed by the princea 
who had shaken off his ancient but dishonoured claims of 
suzeraintv, and we first hear of it in Enc^land durinof the! 
reign of Edward II I. ^ 

If we turn from the prerogatives of the Basileus to 
those of the pope, to mark the end, as we have already 
marked the beginning and progress, of those practical 

1 Plowden's " Com.," p. 316 ; Polvdore Teigil, Pari. EoUs, 21 
Edward III, fol. 60 ; Chief Justice Hale's opinion in " State Trials," ii» 
p. 114. 


lissertions of sovereignty -svliicli constitute the birth of the 
ndependent monarchy of England, we shall find it in 
il366, the fortieth year of the glorious reign of Edward III. 
lin that year it was ordered that Peter's-pence should no 
jnore be gathered in England nor paid to Eonie.^ 

1 Cooper's " Chronicle," fol. 245 ; Stowe, p. 461 ; Fabian's " Chron." 
.0 Edward III, in Nicholson's " Hist. Lit." ; Statute, 25 Henry VIII, 
■. 21 (1533) ; Ending, ii, p. 205. 



Fish, vadmal, baugs, and coins — Eatio — The mark — Imitations o: 
Eoman coins — The pagan Hansa — Charlemagne — The Christian Hans^ 
— Great fair of Xovgorod — Ruric — Harold Hardrade — Christian II- 
The tyrant's "klippings" — Massacre of Protestants — Mons — Gustavni 
Vasa — " Klippings " of freedom — Marks, talents, and dalere — Pnvat< 
coinage — Rundstyks — Copper plates — Assignats — Transport notes — 
Bank of Stockholm — Goertzdalers, or mynt-saicen — State notes — Banks 
of Copenhagen — Inconvertible notes — Silver dalers — Demonetisation oJ 
silver — Gold " standard " of 1872. 

\ NCIENT Saxony consisted of the southern sliores of 
-^"^ the Baltic and North Seas. It was situated between 
Germany and the ocean. Its inhabitants were Goths, 
that is to say, a mixture of the SacEe and the native 
tribes whom they had conquered, and with whom they 
had amalgamated. Their original seat of government was 
Yinet or Julin. In the eighth century the Goths were 
destroyed or dispersed by Charlemagne. Those who sur- 
vived an almost exterminating war, escaped for the most 
part to the Cimbrian and Norwegian peninsulars, where 
they united the fylkis, and founded new kingdoms. The, 
principal ones were Danmark, Gotland, Upsala, and 
Halgoland, now called Denmai-k, Sweden and Noi'way. 
Collectively these are known as Scandinavia.^ 

In very early ages, and in later ages among the 
more remote, isolated, or primitive communities of ancient 
Saxony and Scandinavia fish, cattle, vadmal, and linen- 
cloth were used as money; but as society became more 
numerous and its affairs more complicated, the equity of 

^ Scanda was the name of a Getic city in Colchis, and Scandea that of 
a Getic seaport at the extremity of Cythera, a large island off the 
southern coast of Greece. Pausanias in " Laconics," p. 23. 


lexchanges, rentals^ and heritages demanded a measure of 
value more refined than commodities ; and this — as 
ippeared in the customs and institutes of China and 
,[ndia to the eastward, and Greece and Rome to the 
southward, with all of which States the Goths were in 
jommunication — was money. The earliest moneys found 
n Saxony and Scandinavia are coins of Tyre and Sidon. 
ifter these come native baugs and Greek and Roman 
;oins. Between the era of baugs and the ninth century 
he Goths were obliged to use foreign moneys, and they 
)ften compelled captured cities to strike coins for them.^ 
during this period they successively used five classes of 
Qoneys, only two of which were of native fabrication. 
,(^irst, native baugs ; second, oriental coins ; third, Greek 
,nd Roman coins ; fourth, native and rude imitations of 
ioman coins. For example, a Gothic imitation of a 
loman imperial gold coin was found with a skeleton at 
lareslen, in Odense, amt Fyen, an island about 86 miles 
rom Copenhagen ; while a similar imitation of a Byzan- 
ine coin of the fifth century was found at Mallgard, in 
Totland.^ Fifth, moslem coins of the seventh and eighth 
enturies, of which immense numbers have been found all 
iver Scandinavia and the shores of the Baltic, from 
ICsthonia to the Netherlands. It is possible there was a 
lixth class, silver sterlings, struck in Saxony before 
he Carlovingian period ; but there are none in the 
British Museum collection nor in the collections of Paris, 
Copenhagen, or Christiania.^ 

( Bang means literally a ring or bracelet. In the 
ormer sense the term is still used in France ; in the latter 

1 Thompson's " Social Science," p. 157. ' Du Chaillu, i, pp. 262, 275. 
■ ^ The Gothic kings strack coins in Spain from the Roman to the 
iioslem period, that is to say, from a.d. 411 to 711. Other Gothic kings 
truck coins in England from Ethelbert II, to Harold, that is to say, 
pom A.D. 748 to 1066. Specimens of all these coins are extant (" Ancient 
jritain," chap. xix). Under such circumstances it is difficult to believe 
iiat the Goths of the Baltic struck no coins before the Carlovingian era ; 
t'et this is what some numismatists maintain. 


sense it is retained in the bangles of India. Bangs wen 
used as money in the Northern lands at a very remote 
date. They were mentioned by C^sar as being in use 
when he landed in Britain; and they have been found 
in graves of apparently a far higher date. On thd 
other hand, they continued in use long after coins were 
introduced, and only disappeared when the superior 
eflSciency of the latter, as a measure of value, was univer- 
sally recognised, or else when the use of the former w&i 
forbidden. As baugs thus passed fi'om use as money,! 
they were employed as relics and ornaments — a circum* 
stance which appears quite plainly when the texts of the 
sagas are examined with attention. 

Egil, having been paid two chests of silver as indemnity! 
for his brother's life, returned thanks in a song, in which 
he calls the indemnity a " gul-baug." ^ In this passage! 
" gul " cannot mean, as " argentum " did in Latin and 
" argent " does in French, money generally, because it is! 
coupled with " bang " ; nor can it mean gold money; 
because it was actually paid in silver. It can only meanj 
a money payment, that perhaps was once made with gold- 
baugs, and was now commuted with silver coins, of which 
a "chest " was a known number. 

" If a leudr-man wounds another he has to pay 12 
baugr, each of 12 aurar, valued in silver.''^ Twelve 
aurar to the bang is an alteration of rather low date. 
Aurar was the name of the Gothic ounce weight of 450 
English grains, derived from the weight of a " libra " of 
gold, or five Roman aureii, of the time of Caracalla to 
Probus. It was also the Gothic name of a gold coin, the' 
sicilicus, or skilling, containing from 30 down to 16 grains.J 
Still later it became the name of a Gothic silver coin,! 
eight times the weight of the gold one. Du Chaillu 
(i, p. 549) regards the aurars mentioned in the last pass- 
age as weights. If they were, it would follow that thej 

^ Egil's saga; Du Chaillu, ii, pp. 16, 476-7. 
- " Frothstathing Law," iv, p. 53. 



indemnity for wounding a man was equal to 18 marks 
„veight of silver, which at the period of this law would 
,iave been a prepostei-ous penalty. They are far more 
ikely to have meant gold skillings, payable in silver 

I "Olaf II, (1015-28,) went southward across the sea 
ifrom North Britain or Norway to the continent), and 
lefeated the vikings before Williamsby. He captured 
■xunnvaldsborg, in Seljopollar, and laid ransom on it and 
he jarl of twelve thousand gull skillingar. This was 
;)aid by the town."^ 

Grold baugr have been found at Baugstrop, with Eoman 
■oius of the third and fourth centuries — a circumstance 
ihat marks the contemporaneous use of bangs with Eoman 
mperial coins.^ Some of the bangs found in graves consist 
if small spiral rings, strung upon a large loop, like keys 
ipon a modern key-ring. If the spiral rings were used 
s money, the loop was probably the " silver aurar," But 
am inclined to believe that these particular baugs were 
lot money. 

, In the following passage the baug was evidently used 
,or sacerdotal or ceremonial purposes : " Egil fastened a 
laug on each arm of the dead Throlf, and then buried 
lim."^ ''A baug was paid for a bride."'' King Olaf 
[he Holy (a.d. 993-98) sent a large gold baug from 
Qngland to Queen Sigrid in Sweden. He wanted to 
:iarry her. She had the ring broken, and found that the 
nside consisted of brass. ^ This was the same Olaf who 
5 said to have established Christianity in Norway, and 
7ho helped Sveyn to conquer Northumbria. 
, Although the Goths employed moneys so diverse, as 
re shown in the five classes stated above, they accorded 
,3 them a valuation (as between the gold and silver ones), 
iT^hich was peculiarly their own ; and as in this valuation, 

1 St. Olaf's saga, c. 16 ; Du Chaillu, ii, p. 485. 

- Du Chaillu, i, 245. ^ Egil's saga. 

^ " Frostathing," vi, p. 4. * " Olaf Trygvaeson," pp. 65-6. 


and its connection with passages in the sagas, there ai 
locked up many precious fragments of a buried histoid 
it is worth while to explain it at length. 

"What the Eomans called a feira, or fair, the Goths ( 
Holnigard and lestland called a naerk, or market, possibl 
from mir, a community, the term being still used i 
Eussia.^ Gatherings by this name were held in village 
once a week, when the people came together and exchange 
their produce and wares. At these markets very little 
no money was employed. At the great fairs, which war 
held once a year — for example, at Novgorod Veleki— 
traders came from the most distant regions, from Chins' 
India, Mikliardi (Constantinople), Lumbardi, Gaullanc 
Angleland, Frakkland, Saxland, Gotland, Heligolanc 
Yinet, and lestland. "Lodin, a Norwegian trader, was one 
at a market in Eistland."" At these fairs money was th 
necessary medium of exchange ; and the most importan 
question to be settled in respect of money was the rati 
of value between gold and silver coins, for this is wher 
the utmost diversity existed among the various peopl 
who brought their goods to the merk. During the fon 
centuries which preceded the Gothic revolt against Romt 
that is to say from Sylla to Carausius — the oriental 
valued gold at about Qh times its weight in silver, th 
Persians at 13 times, the Greeks at 10 times, and th 
Eomans (from the time of Julius Csesar) at 12 times 
Possibly for the reason that it was a convenient meai 
between these various ratios the Goths of the third centnr 
adopted the ratio of eight for one ; in other words, gol«' 
coins were to pass current for eight times their weight 6 
silver ones. The Eoman libra of this period consisted o 
five gold aureii, each of 90 English grains. Hence, i 

' The tenn merk is still used by the Scots. In their ancient scale o 
moneys there were 2 doits (fingers) to a boodle, 2 boodles to a plack 
3 placks to a bawbee, and 13-| bawbees, or 160 doits, to the merk. 

- " Olaf Trygvaeson," p. 58. The Flateyarbok contains an animate* 
description of the Great Fair at Xovgorod ("Anc. Brit.," c. xii 
note 26 j. 


: contained 450 English grains of gold, and the libra of 
i silver 12 x 450 = 5,400 English grains of silver. At the 
Gothic ratio of 8 for 1, it only required 3,600 grains 
, weight of silver in merk money to pay off a Kotuan libra 
' of account, and hence it was that this quantity of silver 
coins came to be known as a merk, or mark. 

If we have correctly indicated the origin and signifi- 
:cance of this intei'esting term, the equivalents employed 
at the great fairs of the Baltic cities during the dark 
ages were as follows, the integer being the mark of 
silver coins, weighing about 3,600 grains, the origin of the 
Saxon mark weight of a subsequent age, but as yet only 
a sum of money. In this system there were eight silver 
saigas to the ortugar ; 4 ortugars to the ora ; 2 oras to 
the eyrir ; and 4 eyrirs to the mark.^ 

At a subsequent period there were 6 bronze penningen 
to the silver penningar, and 10 silver penningen to the 
ortugar ; but with these and other vai-iations we have at 
present no concern. As for the relation of the mark and 
syrir there is some uncertainty.^ There was also a coin 
called a thveit, but its value has not been ascertained.^ 

A few words here to those numismatists who still 

linger in the exploded belief that the names of moneys 

iire derived from weights. The mark of money was 

:raced by Agricola (a.d, 1550) to the earliest annals of 

;he Cimbrian peninsular ; the Roman libra of five solidi 

s defined in the Theodosian Code, and is mentioned by 

luthors of a much earlier period. It was Elagabalus who 

.)rdered all the tributes to be collected in aureii, or else in 

diver coins of equal value, which, as the law then stood, 

neant twelve times their weight. The ratio of 14'40 for 

. in the reign of Theodosian, deduced by Rome de Lisle, 

3oeckh, and other metrologists, is a blunder, based on a 

^ " German Law," vi, 13 ; " Bavarian Law," ix, 3, 4 ; De Vienne, 

■ Livre d' Argent " ; Du Chaillu, " Viking Age," ii, p. 216. 

I ^ " The eyrir of gold " is mentioned in the Egil saga, c. 7. Compare 

)u Chaillu, ii, pp. 13, 58 n, 216. 

^ Du Chaillu, ii, p. 238. 



wrong reading of the Code^ and the modern delusion thati 
a libra always meant a pound weight, which was no more; 
true in the time of Theodosius than it is now. The goldi 
sicilicus, or little solidus, which, toward the end of itsi 
career contained about sixteen grains, and was indicated 
by the middle of term of £. s. d., was struck by Justinian, | 
and specimens are now in the Madrid collection. Indeed,; 
we are assui*ed by Father Mariana tbat it was struck at! 
a much eai'lier date, when, of course, it weighed some-i 
thing more. He speaks of some of these earlier sicilici: 
in his own collection. 

Retuiming to the mark of the Baltic, if we include that 
whole period of the dark and middle ages, its weight 
varied in different places from about 3,800 to 3,200 grains, 
according to the date when the mark was adopted ; iu 
other words, according to the fineness of the baugs or 
coins employed to make up the sum of a mark. As this 
was to consist of 3,600 grains of silver in baugs or 
coins equal in fineness to gold standard, and as the 
Roman gold standard of the third century was -f-^ fine, 
it followed that whenever coins fell below this standard 
they had to be increased in number to make up the Gothic 
mark of money. This circumstance accounts for the 
variation in the mark weights of England, Cologne, 
Holland, Scandinavia, lestland and Novgorod. The mark 
weights which are of less than 3,600 grains — as are those 
of Castile, Stockholm, Riga, Konigsberg, etc. — are the 
progeny, not of early debased coins, but of subsequently 
degraded weights. 

The coins found at Aarleslen and Mallgard are not the 
only examples of Gothic or Saxon imitations. Moulds for 
making false Roman coins, and the coins with them, have 
been found beneath King William Street, London ; at 
Lingwell Gate, in Yorkshire ; at Edington, in Somerset- 
shire ; at Ruyton and Wroxeter, in Shropshire ; at Castor, 
in Northamptonshire ; at Epernay, in France ; and, at 
other places. Some of these may have been of Roman 


fabrication, wliile others were Gothic. The earliest ones 
mentioned imitated the coins of Claudius ; the latest, 
those of Constautius. Gothic imitations of the coins of 
Louis Debonnaire have been found in the Netherlands. 

I The monkish chronicles represent the Goths as being 
always pirates and destroyers, but the security and pros- 
perity of Vinet, Julin, Bardewic, Lunebui'g, and other 
Gothic cities ; the great fairs of Holmgard, Gardariki, 
Eistland, Saxony, and Denmark ; the organisation of the 
pagan Hansa, which — centuries before the establishment 

jof the Christian Hansa — monopolised the maritime com- 

'merce of northern and western Europe; and many other 
circumstances, prove the contrary. The following inci- 

;dent, which relates to the terrible invasion of Attila (a.d. 
450), indicates that the Goths, at all events at this period, 
were anything but savage people, for it alludes with horror 
to the cruelties of the Huns. It is from the Volsunga 
saga, one of the oldest Norse scriptures still extant. 

'' King Atli (Attila) tortured his prisoners at the stake. 

. . . He cut out the thrall's heart, because he would not 

tell where the gold was. . . . Then he cut out the heart 

of Hogni, who smiled as he underwent the torture. . . . 

'They showed the heart to King Gunnar (Gondicar I, the 

Gothic king of Burgundy), who said : ' I know where the 

;gold is, but the Rhine shall keep it sooner than the Huns 

jshall wear it on their arms. . . . Atli, mayst thou fare 

as ill as thou didst keep faith with me ! ' " How strangely 

ihis reads like the dying curse of Montezuma's brother, 

svhom Cortez coldly put to death at Shrovetide in 1525, 

"or precisely the same offence ! This was because he 

A^ould not, or could not, disclose the gold hoards or mines 

'or which the Spanish adventurer thirsted. '' Oh, 

Malinche (Cortez), it is long that I have known the falseness 

)f your words, and have foreseen that you would award 

ne that death which, alas ! I did not give myself when I 

urrendered to you in my city of Mexico. Wherefore do 

'ou slay me without justice ? May God demand it of you ! " 


Whatever development of civilisation was attained byi 
the Goths and other Saxon tribes of the Baltic, it -was 
cut down, I'oot and branch, by the mighty arm of Rome 
wielding the zealous sword of Charlemague. Between i 
A.D. 768 and 800 this bigot destroyed hundreds of thou- 
sands of the Saxon race, transported vast numbers of the 
survivors to Upper Germany, filled their places with! 
Germans, levelled their cities — including Vinet, Julin, 
Bardewic, and Luneburg — almost to the dust, and drove 
their commerce to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia,! 
Britain, Ireland, and even to Iceland. The exterminating 
wai's which the Western Empire waged against Gothic 
Saxouy explain an otherwise insoluble problem of history. 
Why are there no Norwegian or Swedish regal coins' 
before the epoch of Charlemagne ? Because these coun- 
tries had no kings. The seat of Ivan Yidfami's power 
was Eistland or Austriki. It was from this centre that,' 
in the fifth century, the Norse fleets ravaged the coasts i 
and began or extended their conquests in Saxony, Den- 
mark, Sweden, Norway, Britain, France, and Spain ; ! 
and it is with the saigas of Eistland that we must begin 
our researches into Scandinavian monetary history. The 
list of Norse kings from Odin to the Skol-konungs of the 
eighth century are purely fanciful. Jarls and fylki- 
konungs and vikings of Sweden and Norway there were 
in plenty, but we are persuaded that no sovereign existed 
on the northern peninsula, clothed with independent regal 
attributes, until the Saxon kings were defeated by Charle- 
magne, and the seat of Gothic power was removed from 
the southern to the northern, western, and eastern shores 
•of the Baltic. In the eighth and ninth centuries, Gothic 
kings, exercising sovereign powers, disappear from Saxony, 
whilst others spring up all of a sudden in Denmark, Nor- 
way, and Sweden ; the germs of Gothic republics are 
established in Russia and Iceland ; Gothic refugees re- 
inforce the populations of Normandy and Britain ; and 
in all of these countries Gothic coins make their appear- 


ance. In Scandinavia this period yields us the earliest 
coins of local mintage ; in Novgorod we have an issue 
of Gothic leather money ; in England, where the Goths 
had often before struck money, they now exhibit us — 
and that, too, in gold — the pagan coins and moslem legends 
of Offa ; while in Iceland the Norse colonists went back 
to the primeval vadmal and fish-money {" sild ") of the 
Saxon coasts. From this period the Saxons disappear 
ifrom history, and the Scandinavians take their place. Is 
,it not quite evident that these are only two names for 
.the same Gothic people ? 

. We must now make a short digression in order to trace 
the origin of the pagan Hanseatic League. Under the 
hierarchical government of Rome, which began with the 
.semi-mythical Romulus and ended with the overthrow of 
the Tarquins, all corporations {collegii) were chartered by 
the chief-pontiff. These included both sacerdotal and 
commercial bodies, such as the Fratres Ambarvales, the 
Luperci, and the trade guilds of Numa. In B.C. 306, the 
Senate, which had now become republican, forbade the 
formation of any new sacerdotal communities, and 
abolished all commercial corporations, new or old. In 
:B.C. 59, when the republic was about to expire, and upon 
the motion of P. Clodius, provisions were made for the 
:re-establishment and increase of corporations by the 
Senate — a power, of which, under the hierarchy erected by 
Julius Caesar, that ambitious body was afterwards entirely 
deprived. This power was now again, as in the ancient 
times, vested in the sovei-eign-pontiff, and it continued to 
ibe exercised by that functionary from B.C. 47 to a.d. 1204, 
when the long line of Roman hierarchs was broken by the 
■fall of Constantinople. Among the numerous commercial 
•corporations whose remains attest the exercise of this 
•power by the sovereign-pontiff of Rome are the Navicu- 
;larii of Alexandria and the Nautas of Paris, both of them 
companies of maritime adventure. But far more impor- 
,tant than these, or any other corporations of ancient or 


mediasval tiraes^ -was the Hansa established at a very early' 
epoch by the pagan Goths, chartered — or more properly- 
licensed — by the Basileus in the fifth or sixth century • 
greatly damaged by Charlemagne and his successors' 
during the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries, andi 
finally destroyed by the papal forces and superseded by 
the Christian Hanseatic League in the twelfth or thir» 
teenth century. As the Christian Hansa was the earliest 
trade corporation chartered by or under the authority of 
the Latin Christian pontiffs, and as all the so-called ancient 
trade-guilds of the present time came into existence soon 
afterwards, and by virtue of the same sacerdotal authority, 
it is worth while to rescue from the oblivion into which 
they have fallen the scant chronicles and remains of the 
once powerful pagan Hansa, upon whose ashes were 
planted this crop of Christian companies, the progenitors, 
in turn, of an entire forest of modern commercial cor- 
porations. The word ^'han^' is Mongolian, and means 
a corporation, guild, company, or association; ''hansa" 
is the Latin form of it. Concerning the origin of the 
Hansa we have no explicit information, but it may have 
existed when Csesar broke up the commercial emporium 
of the Yeneti, which he discovered at the mouth of the 
Loire, and who sent to their colleagues in Britain and 
the Netherlands for assistance against his attacks.^ Two 
centuries later than this there was a trading station at 
Scandea, in the island of Cythera, south of the Morea. 
From its Gothic name, the quarrel its people had with 
the king of Pontus, where the Veneti formerly dwelt, 
the fact that it was inhabited by a community of foreigners 
as well as Delians — and of foreigners, too, who were famous 
sailors and merchants — as wellas from other circumstances, 
Scandea appears to have been an emporium of the Veneti." 
The earliest positive information concerning the pagan 
Hansa is furnished by Werdenhagen, who informs us that, 
ages before the establishment of the Christian Hansa, there 
^ Caesar, " De Bell. Gall.," iii, c. 9. - Pausanius, "Laconics," 23. 



existed a number of confederated commercial cities on 

the shores of tlie Baltic and North Seas, and upon the 

lower banks of the rivers that empty into them, including 

the Volkof, Dwiua, Memel, Vistula, Oder, Elbe, Aller, 

Ems, lessel, Rhine, and Weser : that among these cities 

were Dantzic (Danes-wic) Julin, Vinet, Bardewic (Bhadr- 

wic), Munster, Dortmund, Nimeguen, Tiel and Deventer, 

and that the confederacy included such distant places as 

Novgorod and Cologne ; that all these cities practised 

freedom of trade ; and that they were all destroyed or 

conquered, and their inhabitants put to the sword, or 

banished, to make room for a Christian Hansa, that was 

' substituted in its place. Julin is described by Adam of 

' Bremen, writing about 1080, as the richest city in Europe. 

Helmoldus says the same. Meursius calls it the capital 

' of the Vandals, and Gibbon says that the Vandals were 

Goths, Vinet is described by Helmoldus. Bardewic 

• stood about a mile north of Luneburg. Both of these 

cities were captured and sacked by Charlemagne, and 

' their inhabitants slaughtered or driven away. In the 

! twelfth century these cities were finally destroyed — 

I Vinet in 1127, Bardewic and Luneburg in 1137, Julin in 

■ 1 140. Within half a century of this time the Christian 

i Hansa, chartered by the pope, slipped into the place of 

its pagan predecessor, absorbed its trade, and divided its 

! profits.^ 

\ Let us now visit the great annual fair or merk of 

S Novgorod, shortly after Euric made that city his seat of 

' government. Let us rehabilitate the moneys of the pagan 

' Hansa, and read the tablet upon which was inscribed, 

' in Gothic runes, the value of the various moneys then 

current in the Baltic. The weights are in English grains. 

The standard at this period was that of the Arabian coins." 

The scale of equivalents was 4 ortugar= 1 ora; and 8 oras = 

' 1 mark. There were probably 3 saigas to the ortugar. 

' " Ancient Britain,' 'ch. xiii. 

" For details of which see "Money and Civilisation," p. 20. 


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Besides these moneys the paper notes of Heentsung, 
A.D. 807, the leather notes of Edgar, king of Wessex, 
and of Ruric of Novgorod^ also porcelain coins of Thibet 
and Siani; were probably seen at this fair ; but we have 
no accounts of thera. There was also probably employed 
at this fair, as we know there was at the fairs of Baldwin 
III, in Flanders, a system of clearings called ' 'permutation," 
by which purchases and sales were offset by debits and 
credits, only the balances of which were settled in 

Specimens of nearly all the coins mentioned in the 
above table have been found in Saxony or Scandinavia. 
The finds of moslem coins number tens of thousands, the 
earliest being those of Abd-el-Melik (a.d. 684-705), and 
the latest of Al Kader (1010). At this period the moslems 
had mastered India. Coins of Abd-el-Melik, Hacham 
: (724-43), Walid II (743-4), Merwan II (744-50), Abbas 
'(750-4), Al Mansur (754-75), and Al Mahdi (775-85), 
together with others, have been found near Christiania, 
and one coin of the last-named caliph, together with 
several other moslem coins, at Eker, between Konigsberg 
and Drammen. A gold coin of Haroun-al-Raschid (786—809), 
besides several other gold and silver moslem coins, were 
found atTeisen Tundet, near Christiania, and are now in the 
museum at that place, where I personally inspected them 
in 1892. More than twenty thousand moslem coins have 
been found in Gotland and elsewhere in Sweden, some of 
them struck by the caliphs of Spain." The choicest of 
these, together with some specimens of the porcelain 
coins of Thibet and Siam, are in the Christiania collection. 
None of the leather or paper moneys alluded to in the 
table are known to exist at the present day. 

From the period of Ruric (a.d. 862), whom the moslems 
3alled a Frank or a Feringhese, and the Greeks a Va- 
rangian, a new era began for Scandinavia. In Norway 

' " Annales Flandrise," Anno 958 ; " Middle Ages Revisited," ch. xviii. 

^ L. B. Stenei"son. 


Harold Harfager (865—933) united tlie jarldoms and 
established the kingdom ; although, in consequence of 
the conversion of Olaf Trygvaeson (995— 8) , a civil war 
afterwards ensued, and Norway was divided (a.d. 1000) 
between Denmark (whose king had accepted Christianity) 
and Sweden, which had not. Under Canute (1014—35) 
Norway formed part of his united realms of Denmark, 
England, and Norway, and under Magnus it again be- 
came a sole kingdom. 

After the death of Gotfried by poison in 819, Den- 
mark was awarded by the pope to Harold, who had been 
baptised at the Court of Louis le Debonnaire ; but the 
Danes do not seem to have been disposed to accept a 
Christian king until nearly two centuries later. 

Like Norway, Sweden was ruled by petty fylkings, 
until Biorn united them under one crown and Eric Arsell 
(993—1001) acquired part of Norway. Thus, in the three 
Scandinavian kingdoms there existed a peculiar interval, 
which began in Denmark with Gotfried, in Sweden with 
Biorn, and in Norway with Harold Harfager, and ended 
in all of them with the plunder of the temple at Upsala 
by Hakon Jarl and the definitive establishment of 
Christianity in the eleventh century.^ During this interval 
all the Scandinavian states united their petty rulers, and 
became sole kingdoms ; they were freed from the evils of 
divided government, though as yet they were strangers 
o the trammels of Rome. They were devoted to traflSc, 
?and possessed an emporium in the powerful republic of 
Novgorod, through which passed a lucrative commerce 
V ij with the Orient. " Who can resist the gods and Novgo- 
rod V ran an exultant proverb of the period. But with 
the termination of this interval, the Hansa, which before 
the Carlovingian era possessed emporia or staples at 
every port of northern and western Eui'ope, was restricted 
to those only which adhered to the pagan religion; for 

^ Hakon Jarl (who had been baptised in Denmark) plundered the great 
temple in Gotland and got much property. Jomsviking saga, ch. i. 


the Christians i-efused it all accommodotion. Thus, in 
the tenth century Lhe Hanseatic commerce was confined, 
first, to the Scandinavian states, which being compara- 
tively poor and sparsely populated could take but little of 
it; second, to some of the French, English, and Ii'ish 
ports ; and third, to moslem Spain. This last was its 
chief dependence. In the eleventh century, as Christianity 
was introduced into the northern Courts (the first Christian 
pennies known to have been struck in Norway were those 
of Harold Hardrade (1047—66), the trade of the pagan 
Hansa was almost exclusively with Spain. The civil 
wars in which that country was involved during the 
minority of Hachem II, greatly injured the trade of the 
Hansa. Mahomet ben Hachem and other usurpers mounted 
the throne of Coi-dova ; the city was taken and retaken 
several times ; the aid of Christian princes was invoked 
by both parties, and always with loss of territory. By 
the middle of the eleventh century the sun of the Omeiads 
went down, and the prosperous epoch of the Spanish 
Arabs came to an end.^ This was the death-blow 
to the Gothic Hansa. It lost its remaining emporia 
in the west. It might buy, but it could no longer sell. 
Except as to the now distracted kingdoms of Cordova and 
Granada, Christianity had built a commercial wall around 
the whole of Europe, within which no pagan was per- 
mitted to trade. So the great ships of the Norsemen 
folded their wings and retired to the Baltic, while the 
pagan league of the Hansa underwent the process of 
christianisation, and fitted itself for a new career. The 
profits of the Hansa offered to the mediaeval church a 
powerful lever of evangelisation. During the interval 
following the civil wars in Spain, and before the earliest 
mention of the Christian Hansa (a.d. 1140), occurred the 
definitive conversion of all the Gothic sovereigns to 
Christianity ; in Sweden Ingo I, in Norway Harold 
Hardrade, and in Denmark Waldemar I; though judging 
1 Calcott's " History of Spain," ch. vii. 


from the tone of some of their letters to the pope, the 
Norsemen accepted the ne^v dispensation with no little 
distrust of Rome.^ Christianity is said to have been 
introduced into the whole " empire/' including Novgorod^ 
by Vladimir (him of the 800 wives and 12 sons) in the 
year 989 ; but the fratricidal wars between the sons of 
Yaroslov render it all but certain that, at least so far as 
Novgorod and Kief are concerned, those great trading 
centres did not accept it until about the period of the fall 
of Constantinople. By the middle of the thirteenth cen- 
tury the process of christianisation was completed. Kings, 
people, shipping, wore a new crown, a new dress, a 
new flag. One more reform remained to be accomplished. 
The Jews, who had officiated as go-betweens in the 
commerce of the old Hansa aud the earlier commerce of 
the new Hansa with Spain, were no longer needed. 
Accordingly some few thousands of them were slaughtered 
in the streets of London and Paris, and the rest banished 
to moslem Spain — or to Hades. When these middle- 
men were quite disposed of, prices advanced and trade 
became far more profitable. 

The earliest coins imputed to the kings of Sweden are 
the silver pieces of Biorn, a.d. 818, which imitated those 
of Charlemagne even to the cross stamped upon them, 
although Biorn was not a Christian." The next earliest 
moneys of the North appear to have been the leather- 
notes of Euric, 862-79.'^ Between this date and the reign 
of Olaf Trygvaeson of Norway we continue to read of 
fairs. There, money must have been employed,* but no 

1 Waldemav, King of Denmark, to the Bishop of Eome, greeting (this 
was Gregory XI. who had threatened him with excommunication) : " We 
hold our life from God, our kingdom from our subjects, our riches from 
our parents, and our faith from thee, the which if thou wilt not grant it 
to us any longer we do by these presents resign. Farewell." Boulain- 
villiei-s, " Life of Mahomet," p. 3. 

^ Humphreys " Coin Manual," p. 529. 

^ " Money and Civilisation," p. 294. 

* See the Flateyarbok and the Faerynga and Olaf Trvgvaeson sagas 
(oh. v). 


native coins ascribed to this period appear iu the public 
collections^ at all events, not in those of Christiania, 
Paris, or London. About the date of the battle of 
Brunanburgh, Ethelstan, or Etheh-ed, is said to have 
offered Olaf a skilling for every plough in his kingdom, 
if he would make peace. ^ This skilling I take to have 
been the quarter-dinar of about 16 grains. 

There are no Christian coins of Norway until Hakon 
Jarl, who appears to have conveyed the plunder of 
Upsala to England, for the " pennies '^ which he struck 
from it, and of which Rome received its share as Peter's 
pence, bear the names of Anglo-Saxon moneyei-s." Nor, 
as before stated, are there any native Christian coins 
until Harold Hardrade. These circumstances offer an 
emphatic contradiction to the monkish story of the con- 
version of Norway by Olaf Trygvaeson, for the Roman 
religion and monetary system always went hand in hand. 
It is not denied that Olaf himself may have beeu con- 
verted, nor that he committed the cruelties with which he 
is said to have punished those who refused to accept his 
new religion ; but it is held that the evidence of the coins 
and the nomenclature of moneys both go to prove that 
paganism was still the religion of the people. This 
numismatic evidence is supported by other circumstances. 
Olaf's son, Olaf II, was expelled from the kingdom by 

^ Egil saga. The period of this transaction was about that of the 
battle of Brunanburgh (Northumberland), A.D. 937. Tlie skilling here 
mentioned was probably the quarter-dinar of 16J grains. This same 
Ethelred paid more than 167,000 "pounds o£ silver" as danegeld (Du 
Chaillu, ii, p. 222). Some commentators regard this to mean 167,000 
pounds weight of silver bullion. Dr. Henry (Notes, 18), with more 
reason, makes it £167,000 money. But it is useless to conjecture what it 
means until we know the date when (assuming the statement to be true) 
the phrase "pounds of silver" was translated from its original terms. 

- Greijer. The Ynlinga saga informs us that for a time the tax of 
Rome scat was collected from the people " for Odin." Very likely. But 
it is pretty safe to conclude that, unless he lived in Rome, Odin never 
got any of it. 


Canute in 1028 and killed in 1030. After Olaf s expulsion 
Canute reigned until 1029, and after him reigned his son 
Sveyn^ 1030-35, both of them christian but anti-papal 
kings. In 1036 Magnus I, the natural son of Olaf II, and 
a protege of Rome, was awarded the kingdom of Denmark 
and Norway by the Papal See. In 1046 Harold Hardrade 
took the kingdom, invaded England, and entered York. 
After Harold^s defeat at Stanford Bridge in 1066 his son, 
Olaf III, with Magnus II, became joint kings of Norway, 
and in the following year Hakon became king of Sweden. 
In 1069 Olaf III, became sole king of Norway, and it was 
not until the reign of his contemporary, Ingo I, of 
Sweden, that the great pagan temple at Upsala was 
destroyed, about 1075, and Christianity definitely though 
not yet universally established in that country.^ Nor 
was it until 1152 that, taking advantage of the dissentions 
between Magnus lY, and Harold, the Papal See succeeded 
in establishing an arch-bishopric at Trondheim in Norway. 
Nor again was it until after two centuries of civil wars, 
during which the history of that country is written only with 
the sword, the bludgeon, and the torch, that Christianity 
was universally established under Magnus YI, the Legisla- 
tor. The intimate racial, religious, political, and dynastic 
connection between the states of the Gothic peninsular, 
render it highly improbable that either of them adopted 
the new religion much before the other. Sweden could 
not have been entirely evangelised, whilst Norway was 
shedding its blood in the played-out cause of Odin; nor 
Norway have been a Christian state, so long as pagan 
sacrifices smoked upon the polluted altars of Upsala." 

In the ninth century the Scandinavian mark of money 
contained 240 grains of gold, or 1920 grains of silver; in 

^ " Ancient Britain," xiv, p. 5. Adam of Bremen described the temple 
of Upsala as being roofed with gold and filled with the greatest riches 
(Du ChaiUu). 

2 During the pagan era Upsala was the name for all Sweden. It 
sounds curiously like the Ober-saala or Ober-icssel of the Low Countries. 


the thirteentli century, reign of Magnus YI, there were no 
gold marks, whilst the silver mark only contained about 
1200 grains. At the ratio which prevailed on the Con- 
tinent these were worth 100 grains, whilst in Scandinavia 
they were valued at 150 grains, of gold. In the reign of 
Magnus VII (Smek), 1819-43, a mark weight of silver 
was coined into five marks of money, and half-a-mark 
was deducted for seigniorage. If this was fine silver, 
each mark contained 720 grains, or about the quantity in 
two American or Mexican dollars of the present day ; but 
I am inclined to believe that all these quantities were of 
standard metal. During this reign copper coins were 
first employed in Norway, and toward the close of it even 
leather money was introduced, each piece studded with a 
silver rivet. The device of leather money had been 
carried from Novgorod to England, where Edgar of 
Wessex, 959-75, made use of it ; from England to 
Norway, where it was employed in 988 by Olaf I ; from 
Norway to France, where it was used by Philip I, 1060- 
1108 ; and from France to Sicily, where similar money 
was issued by "William the Bad, 1154-66. It now again 
served to sustain for a time the feeble resources of 
Norway : " Coriaria pecunia certis argenteis punctis 
quibis valor in pondere et numero pensavetur variata.'^ ^ 
But the State was exhausted and nothing could at 
present revive it. In 1379 Norway struck her last coin.^ 
Then she lost her national autonomy, and dropped into 
the lap of Margaret, queen of Denmark. From this 
time forward until the epoch of Gustavus Vasa, Norway 

.ceased to be an independent state. 

I The early history of the coinage of Sweden differs but 
little from that of Norway. Both of these states were 
erected by " Saxons,'^ who sought a refuge from the 


' Olaus Magnus, vii (?), ch. xii, in Greijer's " History of Sweden," 

,p. 103. 

' Humptreys. 


exterminating wars of Cliarlemagne ; both of them had 
thriven upon the profits of the Hansa, and both of them 
declined when the Hansa fell under the control of 
Rome. As if to render this decline the more rapid, both 
countries were overrun with a horde of Roman priests, 
who fastened themselves like vampires upon every source 
of revenue, including the silver mines. They reduced the 
bondr to slavery,^ worked them in the mines,^ incited 
the leudrmen to civil war, usurped their estates, and 
amused themselves by destroying or defacing the runic 
monumeats, altering the sagas, and inventing a fabulous 
history for the country which had so generously filled 
their stomachs and wallets. For venturing to question 
the right of the Roman priesthood to the estates which 
they had stolen from the lords, their elected king, Charles 
VIII (Canutson), was solemnly excommunicated at high 
mass by John, Archbishop of Upsala, assisted by six 
Swedish bishops and the rest of the clergy. " Then they 
went out of the church to commence a civil war, which 
lasted seven years," and which ended with the defeat of 
Charles and the triumph of their champion, John of 

In 1396, during the reign of Margaret, the mark of 
money was equal in value to 45 Lubeck skillings,* each of 
which contained about 9*43 grains fine silver, a proof that 
the mark weight of Denmark was coined during this reign 
into 8^ marks of money. As to the Christian talent of 
Scandinavia which seems to have originated at this period, it 
was identical with the money mark, and like that coin it 
contained about 424| grains of fine silver. It was divided 
into 48 shillings each of 12 pennies. Each skilling there- 
fore contained about 8*843 grains of fine silver. Under 
Eric YII (the Pomeranian), king of Denmark, also known 
as Eric XIII, of Sweden (a.d. 1434), the mark weight 
continued to be coined into 8^ marks of money. In 1470 
what Humphreys regards as half-pennies of silver were first 
1 Voltau-e. 2 Greijer. ^ Voltaire. * Greiger, p. 61, n. 


coined, but it is not safe to accept the denomination of 
these coins from an authoi- so unfamiliar with Scandinavian 
monetary law. During the reign of John II (Hans), of 
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (1481—1513), were struck 
the first gold coins since the pagan era. These were of 
240, 120, 60, and 30 grains, and were apparently intended 
to pass for 8, 4, 2, and 1 marks each respectively. 
They were of the same type (an armed man standing in 
the waist of a ship) as the gold coins of Edward III, of 
England. The writer found several specimens of them 
in the Christiana collection, one in Paris, but none in the 
London collection. 

As in 1509, according to Greijer, a mark weight of 
silver was coined into 12^ marks of money, there were 
about 288| grains to the mark. If this conclusion be 
well founded, and the gold coins were pure, the ratio was 
9'6 for one, thus 288^ -r 30 = 9*6 ; but, as coinage 
metal was used in both cases, and as the gold and silver 
standards differed, the ratio was intended to be 10 for 1. 
This agrees with the prevailing ratio of the period in 
northern Europe generally. I have met with a statement 
elsewhere that the mark weight of silver in 1509 was 
coined into 5 marks of money, but I can neither reconcile 
this with Greijer^s statement nor with probability. 

We now enter upon a period of great interest in the 
monetary history of Scandinavia — the period of Gustavus 
Yasa, the liberator of his country, and the political founder 
of the Protestant religion. The reign of Christian II. had 
been signalised by the greatest atrocities. Denmark and 
Sweden were the earliest to accept the religion of Luther 
(1517), which at that period consisted of little more than 
a protest against the avidity, the tyranny, and the impious 
sacraments (so they were regarded) of Rome ; and in 1517 
the senate of Sweden, wearied with the exactions and 
tyranny of Troll, the Roman archbishop of Upsala and 
the primate of the kingdom, passed a resolution recom- 
mending his retirement to a monastery. Whereupon Troll 



obtained a bull from the Pope forbidding the execution 
of their recommendation and annulling their decrees. 
Not content with this, the vindictive primate prepared, 
for them a fearful vengeance. At his instigation, King 
Christian, in 1520, invited two bishops, the whole senate] 
of Stockholm, and ninety-four lords, to sup with him at his 
palace. There, with the Pope's bull in his hand. Troll caused] 
the whole company to be butchered, and the grand prior of j 
St. John of Jerusalem to be ripped open and his heart! 
plucked out. The two monsters (Christian and Troll) 
concluded their entertainment by ordering a general 
massacre of the Lutherans without distinction of rank,! 
age, or sex.^ This abominable act summoned the entire] 
nation to arms, and for a leader and king they electee 
Gustavus Vasa, the nephew of Charles VIII (Canutson). 

At that period the Pope's legate in Denmark was anj 
Italian named Arcemboldi. Such was his avidity that,J 
by the sale of indulgences and other artifices, he managec 
to squeeze out of the poorest country in Europe nearly! 
" two millions of florins," and was on the point of remit* 
ting this plunder to Rome when Christian seized it upoi 
the pretext of needing it to subdue his excommunicatec 
siibjects.^ A further measure of this exemplary monarcl 
was the emission of certain base silver pieces, composec 
chiefly of copper, and cut with a shears, from which the] 
derived the vulgar name of " Christian's klippings." Oi 
the one side was the impress of an armed man, on th^ 
■other three crowns.^ 

■It was at this juncture that Gustavus Vasa appearec 
upon the scene. The people were impoverished ; thej 
were unorganised ; they had no firearms ; * but Chi-istiai 
(who was a tyrant as well as a zealot) and his minister (whc 
was little better than a wild beast) had combined to offei 
them the grossest indignities and inflJct upon them th€ 
greatest injuries. These had fired the Gothic blood. li 

1 Voltaire, iv, p. 65. 
5 Greijer, p. 103. - 

- Voltaire, lii, p. 185. 
* Voltaire, iii, p. 186. 


was not merely Norway and Sweden tliat rose up to throw 
off the shackles of Eome, it was all Scandinavia. Lubeck 
supplied troops and firearms, and the Chersonesus 
Cimbrica — that is to say, Jutland, or, as it was now called, 
the Duchy of Schleswick — transmitted to the tyrant of 
Denmark a demand of deposition which was read to him 
by a single unarmed man, the chief magistrate of the 
Jutes, whose act should never be permitted to fall into 
oblivion. This hero's name was Mons, and it deserves 
to be written over the gateway of every oppressor. The 
unlooked-for result of Mons's brave act was the abdica- 
tion and flight of the cowardly Christian, His uncle 
Frederick was chosen in his place, and became king of 
Denmark and Norway j but the real sovereign of Scan- 
dinavia was Gustavus Yasa, Him the Swedish senate had 
elected king ; and thenceforth Sweden became au inde- 
pendent kingdom and the centre of Scandinavian political 

In conducting the revolution, which was crowned with 
the liberation of Scandinavia and the establishment of the 
Protestant religion, Gustavus made avail of the monetary 
de^"ice instituted by Christian, The latter had introduced 
the klippings for the sake of personal profit ; Gustavus 
issued them for the benefit of his country. Christian 
issued his klippings in the place of the silver coins of the 
kingdom, which he obtained by taxation, melted down, 
and sold to foreigners for his own emolument; Gustavus 
issued his klippings to sustain the cause of liberty. 

And let it be remarked that I am not here advo- 
cating a policy, but chronicling an historical fact ; all 
the great enfranchisements of society have been accom- 
plished with the aid of fiduciary money. The Spartans 
won their liberties with the iron discs of Lycurgus ; the 
Athenians, before the Alexandrian period, rehabilitated 
the republic with '' nomisma,'' a highly overvalued copper 
issue ; the Romans overthrew their kings with the aid 
of overvalued " nummi/' whose emissions were controlled 


and regulated by tlie State^ ex senatus consulto. The 
earliest republic in Europe which had the courage to 
defy the moribund hierarchy of Csesar was that of 
Novgorod, whose money was impressed upon leather 
and, doubtless, issued by the State ; the money of the 
Scandinavian revolution was the " klippings " of Gustavus 
Yasa, which were issued by the State ; the money by 
the aid of which Gustavus Adolphus saved the Protestant 
religion from being stamped out by Ferdinand the Catholic 
was overvalued copper " rundstyks/' issued by the State ; 
the money of the Dutch revolution was the pasteboard 
" dollars '' issued by the city of Leyden ; of the American 
revolution, the paper notes issued by the colonial govern- 
ments ; of the French revolution, the " assignats " and 
" mandats '' issued by the National Assembly ; and of 
the anti-slavery war in the United States, " greenbacks/' 
All these moneys were issued and the emissions were 
controlled by the State. They were not individual 
notes, nor private bank notes, but essentially State 
notes. Indeed, the issuance of fiduciary moneys by the 
State has so commonly attended all social enfranchise- 
ments, that the occurrence of one of these events is 
almost a certain indication of the other. There is a 
reason for this, a reason that lies upon the surface. 
When the people take the government of a country 
into their own hands wealth naturally hides itself, and 
the first form of wealth to disappear is the precious 
metals. The moment a revolution or a civil war is de- 
clared gold and silver disappear. Thereupon the emission 
of fudiciary money by the State becomes imperative, or 
else the revolution runs the risk of immediate failure, for 
money is needed to purchase subsistence and arms, to pay 
troops, and generally to carry on the new government. 

Such were the klippings of Gustavus Yasa. Greijer 
says that they were valued in the laws at four times their 
metallic worth. They were fabricated at Hedemora in 
1520, and after having served the objects of the revolu- 


tion were decried or repudiated in 1524 witliout any 
complaint from the people. Indeed, with these klippings, 
as with the pasteboard dollars of Leyden, the people 
preserved them in grateful memory of their liberation. 

Before going any further, it becomes necessary for a 

clear understanding of what follows to trace the mark 

weight, the mark of money, and the riksdaler, reichthaler, 

or imperial dollar, from the period of the conjectural 

Novgorod table to the latest times. In a table printed 

below, the mark of Knric is given at 3600 grains. This 

is adopted because it is an even figure, and agrees with the 

Anglo-Saxon mark brought to England ; but it is more 

than probable that the mark of this period was, in fact, 

made to agree with the weights of the Arabian coins, 

which at that time formed the principal currency of the 

Baltic, and, therefore, that it weighed some multiple of 

the dirhem. The Danish and Norwegian common mark 

is given at 3631*139 grains, and the Danish and Norwegian 

mint mark at 3607-77455 grains, both by Schmidt's (Tate's) 

Cambist. The mark of Stockholm is given by Kelly at 

4384 Swedish iesen, or 3252 English grains. In tlie 

former case I have adopted 3607| grains, and in the latter 

3250 grains, as sufficiently exact for the mint mark. In 

the numerous changes of government which have occurred 

to the Scandinavian States, it is not always easy to 

determine what weights were used by the mints. In 

selecting the mark believed to have been used for coinage 

I have sometimes been guided by the nationality of the 

issuing sovereign, sometimes by the place of mintage, and 

sometimes by the actual weights of extant coins ; but as 

these were often of irregular alliage, I am not confident 

of having been always successful. However, for the 

purposes of the table referred to, the difference is not 


The silver talent, or thaler, as shown in the chapter 
of this work on the Moneys of Germany, was the Roman 
equivalent in value of a gold solidus, afterwards known as 


a ducat. Hence, during the Renaissance, wlien tlie ducat 
contained about 56^ grains, and in the Ecclesiastical States, 
where the ratio was 12 for 1, the talent contained about 
678 grains, whilst in the Italian Republics (ratio 10 for 1) 
it contained 565^ grains fine. Such was originally the 
contents of the croisat, the scudo, the ducatone, etc., these 
names and others meaning the same broad piece as the 
talent. In the Scandinavian States during the fourteenth 
centuiy, where the ratio was still 8 for 1, the mark of 
money contained about 450 grains. After the firm estab- 
lishment of Christianity every effort was made by the 
Chui'ch to eradicate pagan customs and reminiscences. 
The use of runic letters was forbidden, the names of pagan 
kings were suppressed, the pagan sagas were revised, 
and even the popular use of pagan names for moneys 
discouraged. Hence sild, saicca, styca, thveit, thrimsa, 
scat, ortugar, and mark successively fell into disuse, or 
were changed to Christian denominations. It was in this 
way that the saicca became the penny, the ora was 
changed into the shilling, and the mark was metamor- 
phosed into the talent. Notwithstanding these measures, 
it proved so difficult to change the popular names that the 
word " mark " continued to be stamped on coins so late 
as the reign of Adolphus Frederick. However, the plan 
succeeded far enough to destroy the ancient value of all 
pagan contracts, rentals, revenues, etc., and this indeed 
may have been the more practical object in view. 

Assuming that the substitution of the name " talent " 
for the " mark " of money was attempted at least as early 
as the reign of Margaret, it follows that the former con- 
tained at that period 452| grains gross, or 424^ gi'ains 
fine I for, as already shown, such were the contents of 
the money mark. From that period, until it acquired the 
name of " riksdaler,'^ the talent can be traced with great 
precision. Nearly all the weights in the following table 
were obtained from coins in the Paris collection, kindly 
weighed in my presence by M. Casanova. With few 


exceptions they were all very base, many of them showing 
a heavy alloy of copper. Where net weights are given 
they are mostly from Greijer and from the appearance 
of the coins. Greijer^s weights seem too high. I fancy 
that the standard was often much lower than the historian 
assumed. It will be observed that in the reign of Eric 
XIV, the talent suddenly rises from about 450 to 560 
grains. This was occasioned by changing the ratio from 
8 to 10 for 1. After having thus strangely but unmis- 
takably asserted its identity with the ancient mark of 
money, the (heavy) talent disappeared altogether, and in 
the succeeding years of the same reign it was replaced 
by the lighter and more serviceable riksdaler of about 
400 grains, divided (now) into 8 degraded marks. Hence- 
forth, excepting during the reign of Charles XI, and 
Charles XII, and again, during the Napoleonic wars, the 
riksdaler kept its weight pretty well ; whilst the mark of 
money, which had anciently contained 1920 grains of silver, 
was so often degraded, that in the seventeenth century it 
contained less than 30 grains. It was then raised a little 
and finally destroyed altogether. It is noticeable that 
both the talent and riksdaler, like the later solidi of the 
Byzantine empire, commonly bore the effigy of Jesus 
Christ. This was afterwards changed to Jehovah, in 
Hebrew letters, 7^^Tl^ surrounded by a circle of flames. 
A later form of this type was the legend, " Got heppel," 
on a very much degraded daler of 1694. 





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The Maek weight and the Silvee Maek of Monet. 

The following table shows the number of marks of money struck from 
the mark iceight of standard silver and the number of English 
grains of standard silver in each mark of money. The mark 
iveight ofEuric has been reckoned at 3600, of Denmark and Norwaij 
at 36071 and of Sweden at 3250 grains. 

Marks in 




mark wght. 


9 cent. 

Euric . . . . 




Magnus VI 




Magnus VII 




Hakon V 








Eric VII 








Gustavus Vasa 



















Christa'i'n III 




Eric XIV 




John III 
























Charles IX 



: 1606 





Gustavus Adolphus 



: 1628 




' 1629 













Charles XI 












Charles XII 



■ 1711 




: 1719 




: 1750 



*1 12-00 


Adolphus Frederick 



: 1762 





I Notes to the Table. * Deduced from the gross weight of coins in 
:he Paris collection. As these coins are greatly and variously debased 
;he deductions, so far as net contents are concerned, are only Approximative. 
, t Gross weight. 


It will be observed that in the ninth century the mark 
of money contained y\ of a mark weight of silver ; in the 
thirteenth century the mark weight was coined into 3 marks 
of money ; toward the middle of the fourteenth century 
into 5 marks ; toward the end of the same century into 
8| marks ; in the sixteenth century from 12^ to 65 marks ; 
and in the seventeenth century from 30 to 230 marks. Al- 
though a restoration of the coinage appears to have taken 
place in 1762 it is probable that the silver mark of money, 
except as hereinafter mentioned^ disappeared at that period 

If we turn from the silver to the gold moneys of Scan- 
dinavia, the information supplied to us by historical works 
and coin collections, though scant enough as to one, 
becomes still more scant with respect of the other ; and 
the following table is submitted to the reader not without 
some misgiving as to its entire correctness. However, it 
is the best that can now be made of the subject. T^e « 
scale of equivalents down to the sixteenth century was 32 
ortugars (afterwards called shillings) to the money mark ; 
for example, in the reign of John, 1481-1512, there appear 
to have been always 32 ortugars to the money mark, but 
in the reign of Gustavus Vasa, the money mark was divided 
into 24 ortugars. At this point the gold money mark 
disappeared, and marks were henceforth made of debasec 
silver. In 1604, according to Grreijer, there were but 24 
ortugars to the mark ; thus, 16 Gotland or 8 Swedish 
pennies = 1 ortugar ; 3 ortugars = 1 ore ; 8 ore = 
mark. As both the value of silver to gold, and the 
number of silver coins to the mark, were continually lowerec 
by legislation, it follows that the contents of the golc 
mark diminished with great rapidity, a fact which accounts 
for its disappearance. The ratio of silver to gold from 
the earliest period to the Renaissance was 8 for 1 ; during 
the Renaissance 10 for 1 ; after the Dutch revolutiou 
about 13 for 1 ; in the eighteenth century (1777) 14-82 for 
1 ; and since that time, more or less, the same as in the 


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We are now pi'epared to trace tlie copper system of 
Scandinavia, wliich, as with Russia before the present 
centurj^j was of more importance than either the gold or 
silver coins. 

The copper klippings of Christian and Gustavus 
Vasa were followed in 1569 by a third issue of the same 
character. These were the klippings of John III, In 
1575 this issue was retired, and the country was relieved 
from klippings until 1589, when John introduced another 
issue of them.-^ Meanwhile the revolution had broken 
out in the Nethei-lands, and the burghers had taken the 
monetary system into their own hands by establishing 
private or individual coinage. It was now no longer 
Charles V, nor the counts of Holland who determined how 
many gold ducats, or silver dollars, or florins, should be 
coined and added to the circulation, but the burghers of 
Leyden, Deventer, and Amsterdam. This legislation had 
been followed by an extraordinary influx of the precious 
metals into the Dutch ports. The example and good 
fortune of Holland was not lost upon the Swedes, who 
perhaps fancied that by copying the leglislation of the 
United Provinces they would promote a like influx of 
silver into Stockholm. But they were mistaken. It was 
not individual coinage which had filled the Dutch ports 
with gold and silver, but the Dutch fleets and buccaneers 
of the East and West Indies, and the Dutch traders in 
Japan. However, the Swedes, as yet unconscious or 
heedless of these circumstances, went on with their second- 
hand legislation. In 1604, by the statute of Nordchepiug, 
it was enacted that half an ounce (say 203 grains) of 
standard silver should pass for 16 ore, also that a rix- 
daler (398^ grains standard) should pass for 36 ore. 
This decree gave an advantage to coins over metal of about 
15 per cent., a pretty heavy seigniorage, the whole of 
which it was practical to evade by sending the silver to 
Amsterdam and there having it coined into florins and 
1 Greijer, p. 178. 


exchanged for Dutch wares aud products for shipment to 
Stockholm. As for the monetary function, which this 
decree conferred upon bullion, it was wholly ineffective. 
Nobody wanted bullion. Even although he got 15 per 
cent, more metal in the same sum, he preferred dalers. 

In 1607, the king (Charles IX)^ tried a new experi- 
,ment in money. He decreed that whosoever brought to 
the mint 4 riksdalers (1594 English grains of silver), or 
who brought 4^ ounces of silver (1828|- grains), should 
receive 4^ curi-eucy dalers.^ I have not the text of this 
act before me, and cannot give either the contents or 
value of these new dalers. They should contain about 
i350 grains each, but I have found no such coin of this 
date in the Pai-is collection. As no limits were placed 
upon the deposits of silvei', and as the right of the de- 
positor to demand coined dalers for his metal was not 
restricted, this decree was called a " Patent of Free 
Coinage.^' It should have been termed " An act enabling 
the king to grant to the burghers one of the chief preroga- 
tives of State.'' That prerogative was the right and the 
power to increase the currency by employing the mint to 
turn metal into coins, and the right to diminish the currency 
by melting these coins down to metal. With such a see-saw 
as this in hand the burghers were armed with a terrible 
oower over tlie fortunes of their fellow-subjects. For- 
ibunately for the pi'osperity of Sweden the Dutch system 
did not woi'k successfully in that country. Sweden was 
ooor ; no vikings now entered its ports laden with the 
jplunder of other lands, and very little silver was in 
iirculation. In 1613, after the peace with Denmai^k, a 
legraded currency daler was in circulation which could not 
lave contained more than about 266 grains, for it required 
)ne and a half of them to equal in value one riksdaler." In 
he same year the ransom of Elfsborg was agreed to be 
)aid in four years, whereas, in fact, it was not paid until 
he end of six years. It was collected by a tax on the 

^ Patent of January 7th, 1607. ^ Greijer, p. 221. 


people, levied according to class, and made payable in i 
coins, silver bullion, copper, iron, rye, or malt, the mer- 
chandise at fixed prices.^ Perhaps the best proof of the '' 
scarcity of money consists in the fact that in 1613 the 
inevitable over-valued coppers, noAv no longer called y 
klippings but '' rundstyks," again made their appearance " 
in the circulation. This was followed by another emission 
in 1625, and the following paraphrase from Mr. Bryce's 
'Holy Koman Empire' informs us to what a memorable 
use this issue was put to by the king. 

''In 1619 Ferdinand II. ascended the imperial throne 
of Germany. The arrangements of Augsburg, like most 
treaties on the basis of uti possidetis, were no better than a 
hollow truce, satisfying no one, and conscientiously made to 
be broken. The Church lands which the Protestants had 
seized and Jesuit confessors had urged the Catholic princes 
to reclaim, furnished unceasing ground of quarrel; and 
the smouldering hate of both parties was kindled by the i 
troubles of Bohemia in the Thirty Years' War. Jealous, i 
bigoted, implacable, skilful in forming and masking his 
plans, and resolute in carrying them to completion, this ' 
champion of Kome had as nearly destroyed the Protestant 
religion of Europe as Charlemagne had destroyed the 
Arrian Christianity of the Lombards and the ancient 
worship of the Gothic races. Leagued with Spain, < 
backed by the Catholics of Germany, and served by such i 
a leader as Wallenstein, Ferdinand proposed nothing less ' 
than the extension of the empire to its ancient limits, and 
the recovery of its suzerainty over all the Christian states. 
Denmark and Holland were to be attacked by sea and 
land ; Italy to be re-conquered by the help of Spain ; and ' 
Maximilian of Bavaria and Wallenstein were to be rewarded 
with principalities in the ancient Gothic provinces of 
Mecklenburgh and Pomerania. The last-named general t 
was all but master of the northern lands, when the i 
successful resistance of Stralsund and an unexpected 
^ Greijer, p. 221 n. 


event of still greater importance turned the waverino- 
balance of tlie war. In 1630 the Goths once more crossed 
the Baltic, and turned their arms against Rome. Ferdi- 
nand had required the restitution of all Church property- 
occupied since 1555. The Protestants -svere helpless, and 
Europe was on the point of being again subjected to the 
murderous vengeance of Rome, when it was saved by the 
Gothic king. In four campaigns he destroyed the arms 
and prestige of the Catholic emperor, ravaged his lands,, 
emptied his treasury, and left him at last so enfeebled, 
that no subsequent success could make him or his cause 
again formidable.'^ 

The rundstyks of Gustavus are noteworthy for another 
•eason ; they gave rise to one of the most interesting 
nonetary experiments known to the history of the north. 
iFhe modern sciolists of money are never tired of chanting 
he sing-song of the dialecticians that money is a com- 
.Qiodity — that it is subject to the economic laws pertain- 
ng to commodities, among which is '^ supply and demand, "^ 
ind that its value must necessarily conform to the cost of 
he production of this commodity. If this be true it can 
nake no essential difference of what commodity money is 
nade provided that it is valuable, imperishable, susceptible 
if being readily coined, etc., nor how much or little of it is 
oined. We are now about to see a monetary system 
'ased on this delusion. The overvalued copper money of 
iweden, issued by the Crown, reached such vast propor- 
ions that by the middle of the century it had fallen to 
,r near its value as metal. Thus, at a period when the 
)utch and English ports were enriched with the plun- 
ered treasures of India and America, the Gothic de- 
enders of a faith, which enabled the nobles and burghers 
f those lands to enjoy this wealth in peace, were en- 
uring the bitterness of poverty and putting up with the 
iconvenience of a copper currency. 

A remarkable document, of which a copy exists in the 
Torden collections, delivered by Axel Oxenstiern ta 




Gustavus Adolphus, bears this title : " According to his 
inajesty^s gracious command this is my humble opinion 
touching the copper trade and copper coinage/' 
*' So long as copper was at a good value, and the coinage 
•was limited in amount, so that it only supplied the wants 
of the community, and answered to their requirements, 
and was so kept within bounds that he who wished to 
have silver could obtain it, one coinage was as good as 
another ; but after the value of copper fell it drew down 
the coinage with it and diminished its value, so that we 
may indeed suffer and be silent on account of the prince's 
edict, but that does not alter the opinion and common 
sense of men." He then advises that the copper mines 
should be thrown open to individual enterprise — the sooner 
the better — with other advice concerning the copper mines 
and the old Copper Company.^ 

After the death of Gustavus the embarrassments of 
the treasury compelled his daughter Christina to issue, 
in 1644, a sort of exchequer-bill, known by the name of i 
^' assignats " or " assignations," which appear to have 
circulated as money. Turning, in this extremity, to 
Holland for a suitable financial expedient, Sweden found 
one in the Wissel Bank of Amsterdam, and in 1656 a 
private institution, on much the same plan, was esta- 
blished in Stockholm by a man named Palmstruck. This ■ 
bank received deposits of coin, bullion, and rundstyks, ' 
for which it granted credits, and in 1658 issued receipts 
known as " transport-notes," which, from their superior 
convenience, soon drove the copper rundstyks into the 
vaults of the bank and usurped their place in the cir- 
culation. This plan worked so well that in 1668 the 

^ Greijer, p. 295 n. The Copper Company was, in 1629, obliged to 
Testore the copper trade to the Crown, having made vain attempts to 
keep up the price. The copper coinage, first introduced into Sweden in 
1625, formed part of this system (Ibid., p. 222). Compare the treatise on , 
the old Copper Company and copper coinage in the time of Gustavus ^ 
Adolphus, by Master Wingquist, " Scandia," vol. iv (Ibid., p. 227 n.). 


government took over Palmstruck's bank^ which it char- 
tered in that year as the Riks-Bank, or Royal, or 
National Bank of Sweden, and embarked, without fur- 
ther reserve, in a monetary system based upon copper 
metal. It cut large plates of hammered copper into 
squares and oblongs, some of them weighing thirteen or 
(fourteen pounds,^ and, stamping them with an appropriate 
device and their value (that of the metal) in each corner, 
issued them as money. 

Upon the theory of the schools there could be no prac- 
tical objection to this money nor to the "free coinage" 
of it, except its bulk and weight, and as to bulk and 
Iweight, there was the bank ready to receive it on deposit, 
and to issue in its place transport-notes payable in copper- 
plates. But soon a diflSculty arose, for which no provision 
had been made, and which the schoolmen had not foreseen : 
the value of copper continued to fall, and with it fell 
the purchasing-power of the copper-plates, and of the 
notes that repi'esented them. It was then perceived that 
gold and silver made a superior metallic money, not 
because they cost more than copper to pi'oduce, but be- 
'oause they possess an attribute which is possessed neither 
by copper nor any other commodity. There is a vast 
'accumulation of gold and silver in the world saved up 
from distant ag-es. Hence their value — which is not that 
of their cost of production, but (with open mints) that of 
bheir numbers and function as coins — is slow to obey any 
change, however great, in the cost of producing new 
'metal. As there was no like accumulation of copper, every 
shipload that came in from Amsterdam further and further 
owered its value, and every withdrawal for the arts 
3nhanced it. At length, on account of the fluctuations 
Which occurred in its value, it became entirely useless for 
none J. 

' One of these plates, formerly in my possession, was 10 inches square, 
bree eighths of an inch thick, and weighed 6 lbs. 13 oz. avoirdupois 
3ut I have seen them of double this size and weight in the Paris col- 


During the Regency of Christina (1633—45) it was | 
resolved that, '^ Instead of the copper coinage which his 
late Majesty had determined to let fall of itself, as it had 
already mostly disappeared, a good and sterling coinage, 
yet somewhat under the standard, should be issued.'^ ^ 
There is no sterling coinage of this period in the public 

" The copper cross-pieces, struck and issued by order 
of Gustavus, seem to have had no currency. The Swedish 
agent in Holland, Eric Laurencson, offers to send them 
back again (Letter of the Council to the Chancellor, 
January 14, 1633). The government was constrained to 
order that debts which had been contracted in copper 
money should be paid according to the value which the 
riksdaler bore at tbe time, namely, until 1628, Q\ marks 
to the riksdaler ; 1629, 10 marks, and afterwards 14 marks, 
as ascertained by the Crown receipts. Thenceforth the 
riksdaler was to be worth 6 marks, or 48 ore, but the 
copper ore, or rundstyks, in circulation were at the same 
time depreciated to half their value, and the government 
undertook to cause silver coins to be struck."" 

The failure of the copper ingot system gave rise to 
another monetary experiment, this time with a tragic 
ending. After the defeat of Charles XII. at Pultowa and 
his return from captivity money was scarce and credit low 
in Sweden, but the genius of his financial adviser. Baron 
Goertz, saw a way to remove every difiiculty. George 
Heinricb de Goertz, Baron von Schlitz, was born of a noble 
family in Holstein. He joined Charles XII. at Stralsund 
on his return from Turkey, and through his activity and in- 
telligence was soon placed at the head of affairs. His 
scheme for establishing the currency was to issue not 
copper ingots but copper dollars, which, as they bore the 
king's stamp, were made full legal tenders, and were light 
and adapted for tbe pocket, he imagined would circulate 
at their nominal value without difficulty. This they would 
1 Greijer, p. 295 n. ' Ibid. 


liave done but for several circumstances, none of which 
' appear to have been sufficiently considered by this other- 
wise excellent and conscientious minister. First, the 
government was too prostrate and weak to sustain a 
' fiduciary money. Second, Goertz did not place any limitation 
upon the coinage. This (limitation) is the main principle 
and essence of money, without which — no matter of what 
substance the symbols are made, whether of gold, silver, 
i copper, or paper — it must fail to discharge its function 
equitably. Third, the copper dollars which he struck, 
i unlike the exquisitely finished sesterces of the Roman 
: Republic, were rudely made and therefore easily counter- 
:feited. Fourth, he seemed indifferent to the rights or 
i prejudices of the ecclesiastical, noble, and burgher classes, 
■ whose rents and other sources of income were grossly and 
■inequitably reduced through his neglect to secure the 
overvalued dollars from depreciation. He caused to be 
struck upon these dollars, not the images of the ancient 
Gothic gods, as some authors allege, but of Jupiter, Mars, 
Phoebus, Saturn, etc., and this, too, was deemed an offence 
to those who were injured by the depreciation which 
occurred. The pieces were of about the same size as a 
silver shilling of to-day, and were stamped '' 4 daler silf . 
mynt," being overvalued nearly a hundred times. Finally, 
as if to render these coins as odious as possible, it was 
asserted and believed that after an interval the tax officers 
would be instructed to refuse them in payment of taxes 
from the peasants,^ but such inequity and rashness seems 
incredible. This system, coupled with issues of base 
silver coins, heavy copper plates, and paper notes, to 
neither of which were any limits prescribed or observed, 
continued in force during the life of the king ; but the 
■moment his death occurred, in 1718, and his sister Ulrica 
•Elenora mounted the throne, a declaration was promul- 
gated whereby the paper notes were wholly abolished, and 
the copper dalers were reduced by several successive steps 

1 Ibid. 


to something near their metallic value. The next measures 
taken by the princess royal and her council are thus 

" A charge was drawn up against Goertz, who was 
accused of peculation, of having ruined public credit by 
imaginary money, of having formed a design to destroy 
the king and army by advising him to a ruinous campaign 
in the inhospitable kingdom of Norway, and so on. . . . 
Goertz, to whom the assistance of counsel was refused, 
defended himself with great ability, and clearly invalidated 
almost every article of the impeachment. His straight- 
ened circumstances were a proof that he had applied none 
of the public money to his own use ; the necessity of the 
times apologised for his substituting over-valued money 
to satisfy the wants of the treasury, and possibly such a 
measure might have proved of national advantage had it 
been pursued with more discretion. Notwithstanding 
Goertz's defence was clear and irrefragable, the case went 
on without regard to formality or perhaps to equity. The 
court and the citizens seemed equally determined to hound 
him to death, . . . He was condemned to lose his head, 
and at a place appointed for the execution of thieves and 
felons. ^^" This cruel sentence was enforced March 3, 1719. 

The insertion of a design to " ruin public credit with 
imaginary money " in the indictment against Goertz reads 
very much like the apology of the regicides for their 
murder of the Mongol ruler of Persia in 1294, that he had 
criminally substituted paper for metallic money. Indeed, 
one indictment may have been borrowed from the other.* 
Voltaire, citing the memoires of Bassevitz, gives an en- 
tirely different version of the Goertz affair. He does not 
say that the primate was executed either for circulating 
copper dollars in Sweden or advising a campaign in 
Norway, but for the abortive plots and intrigues which 

1 " Modern Univers. Hist.," xxx, pj). 284f-8o. 

"^ Ibid., p. 288. 

3 Wright's " Marco Polo," p. 217. 


he set afoot for tlie recoveiy of the Baltic provinces.^ 
1 This seems very much more likely. 

Besides the Goertz dollars, the base silver coins, and the 
paper currency of Charles XII, there were in circulation 
some of the old copper plates and the transport-notes of 
the Eiksbank ; indeed, this continued down to 1763, so 
; that from first to last the copper plates enjoyed a circu- 
lation of more than acentury. In addition to these strange 
elements of money in Sweden, there was a copper plate sys- 
: tern in Wismar. By the treaty of Westphalia, 1648, the city 
of Wismar, in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, had been ceded to 
i Sweden, which established there a court of appeals for its 
possessions in Germany. In 1715, during the prevalence 
of the copper plate bank notes and copper dollar system of 
1 Sweden, copper ingots or plates were issued in Wismar of 
; the denominations 4, 8, and 16 shillings, and the sizes 2, 
1 2^, and 3f inches square. Facsimiles of these pieces, which 
: are now very rare, are published in Maillet's '^ Monnais 
, Obsidionales et de Necessite," Bruxelles, 1868. They are 
i all dated 1715, and soon after this date they disappeared 
, from circulation, and found their way to the Eiksbank of 
; Stockholm." 

i During the last half of the eighteenth and first quarter 

I of the nineteenth century the currency of Sweden was 

': nominally based on silver dalers, but, owing to the wars 

in which the State was involved, it really consisted of 

i somewhat depreciated bank-notes and greatly depreciated 

government notes, both of which, it is perhaps needless 

to say, were inconvertible. This depreciation, and the 

desire to resume coin payments, gave rise to the coinage 

I ^ Voltaire, " L'Empire de Eussie," ii, 8. It is a curious fact that the 
' Goertz dalers were called Mynt-saicen, a retention of the ancient deno- 
mination of the saicca, saiga, sicca, or shekel, for the meaning of which 
; so many metrologists and numismatists have searched in vain (De 
Vienne, " Livre d'Argent ; " Brucker, in Hildehrand's " Jahrbok," 1864, 
i,p. 161). 

- Consult my " History of Money, Ancient," p. 199. 


of new silver dalers, designed to exactly equal tlie value 
of the depreciated notes, for whidi^ it was expected, 
they would become interchangeable. It will be remem- 
bered that the old specie riksdaler (in which these notes 
were payable) contained about 390 English grains fine 
silver. The new coins were the riksdaler-banco, contain- 
ing about 146|: grains fine, or three-eighths of the specie 
daler, and the riksgald (royal debts) daler, containing 
about 97^ grains fine, or one-fourth of the specie daler. 
The former represented the value of the bank-note, 
the latter that of the government note. Each of these 
dalers were subdivided into 48 skillings, each of 12 

As, by the Eoyal Ordinance of October 26th, 1829, the 
government notes were made legal-tender for riksgald 
dalers, and no adequate provision was made for their 
retirement, the new coins, when not exported, were 
added to the circulation, and they still further lowered 
the value of all the dalers, including themselves. Upon 
observing this, the government hastened its arrange- 
ments for the retirement of its notes, and the operation 
was eventually concluded satisfactorily, not, however, 
until the confusion caused by the presence of three dif- 
ferent classes of metallic dalers, skillings, and rundstyks 
had led to great annoyance.' 

By the legislation of 1854, the old specie riksdaler 
and the new riksdaler-banco were abolished, leaving the 
riksgald daler the sole ^' unit of circulation '' (a much 
better term than the misleading ^' unit of value " of the 

^ Consult table of the Talent or Riksdaler in the test. 

- Lieut. -Colonel F. S. Terry, in two pamphlets, "The Great Currency 
Problem" and "Independent Standards," London, 1893, proposed to 
" restore silver " by introducing into other states a like system of two 
metallic moneys, the one silver, the other gold, both open to " free coin- 
age," and both without limit, in either of which moneys people would be 
free to make their bargains. The Dutch authors of the Act of Charles 
n. gave us one illimitable and ever-varying measure of value ; Colonel 
Terry's plan would give us two. 


American statutes) . The riksgald daler was now termed 
the riksmynt daler, its subdivisions of skillings and 
rundstycks were abrogated, and it was subdivided anew 
into 100 ore.^ This legislation went into effect January 
1st, 1858. 

The religious fanaticism of Chi-istian II, which had 
arrayed against him both the nobles and the commons 
of Sweden, also occasioned the secession of Norway from 
the Scandinavian union. The election of Frederick I, by 
the Danes, though it failed to conciliate the multitude 
who supported the standard of Gustavus Vasa, appears 
to have satisfied both the peoples of Norway and Den- 
mark, whereupon, in 1523, these two States were joined 
under one government, and they so remained until 
1813—14, when Norway again united with Sweden. 

The monetary history of Denmark and Norway during 
most of this interval has been already sufficiently illus- 
trated. Previous to 1813 the Danish monetary valuations 
were 1 specie i-iksdaler equalled l^ sletdalers, 4 orts, 6 
jmarks, 96 skillings, 192 fyrkes, 288 witten, or 1152 
ipfennings Danish ; or one half of the like denominations 
:in Hamburg, or Lubeck, or Schleswig-Holstein money. 
:Thus the Danish specie riksdaler equalled 3 marks, or 48 
skillings '' Lubs,'^ etc. In other words, the mark or 
skilling of Lubeck, etc., was worth twice as much as the 
mark or skilling Danish. 

There were at this period no less than five different 
ikinds of money used in Denmark. These were as 
follows : — 

1. " Specie." The basis of this money was the 
" specie " or " effective " riksdaler of 390 down to 375 
lEnglish grains fine, valued in law at 6 marks, or 96 
skillings, etc., as above stated. 

2. " Currency.-" This money consisted of suspended 
|bank or government notes, and, according to Dr. Kelly, 
was 2211 per cent, worse than " specie." This is pre- 

' Appleton's " Encyc," xv, p. 217. 


sumed to mean in the year 1821, when the author wrote> 
but of course the relation -was variable. The books of 
merchants^ tradesmen, and others (except those of the 
bank of Aitona, which adhered to " specie ") were kept, 
in "cm-rency." "Specie" and "currency" were the 
two principal moneys. Besides these, there were : 

3. " Suudish specie," in which Sound dues were levied 
on foreigners. This was 2% per cent, worse than 
" specie." 

4. " Crown money/' in which Sound dues were levied 
on native vessels. This was lo|-f- per cent, worse than 
" specie." 

To enhance this confusion of moneys, the silver 
" specie " coins were struck by the Danish mint mark or 
about 3607| grains, while the gold coins and the " cur- 
rency " and " Crown " silver coins were struck by the 
Cologne mark of 3608 grains. The difference was small, 
yet it was sufficient to occasion annoyance in the com- 
putation and value of large sums. This dissonance of 
mint-weights arose out of the fact that the king of 
Denmark was also the duke of Holstein, and, as such, 
his coins had to agree in some sort with those of the 
empire. The " specie " ducat of Denmark contained 
52-6, and the " current " ducat 42-2, grains fine gold. 
The " Christian " contained 93-6, and the " Frederick " 
of 1813-39 contained 91^, grains fine gold. The gold 
coins were not legal-tender, and they fluctuated in value, 
from day to day, in silver coins. Bargains (special con- 
tracts) could be made in gold coins, but, as silver coins 
formed the basis of the monetary system, such bargains 
were rarely made, and the gold coinage constituted an 
expense to the government, for which the charge of f of 
1 per cent, seigniorage was deemed an inadequate com- 
pensation. The gold coins were commonly exported to 
Germany, where they were hoarded by the peasants. 

1 All thefie details will be found in the communication of G. Strachey, 


; A further source of confusion in the monetary system of 
; Denmark arose from the circumstance that, whilst in 

Bergen the system of money was based on the Danish 
; riksdaler of 6 marks, or 96 skillings, in Christiania, 
; Drontheira, Larwigen, Kopperwic, and other places in 

Norway, a riksdaler was employed of 4 orts, or 24 skil- 
i lings Danish.^ A final coufusiou was occasioned by the 
I fluctuations of the Danish paper currency, which, being 
; continually increased in amount, varied in Danish 
I "specie" or silver riksdalers, a subject which will be 
i explained after disposing of the specie system introduced 

in 1813. 
, In this new system one of the old riksdalers was coined 
I into two ; in other words, 18| new Riksbank dalers — as 

■ they were called — were struck from a Cologne mark of 
: silver, so that each one contained 195 English grains 

fine. This daler was divided into 6 marks or 96 skil- 
. lings, like the old riksdaler " specie," therefore both the 
[ dalers, marks, and skillings, since there was no limit to 
! their coinage, were worth only half as much as the former 
, ones. 

i '' The bank of Copenhagen has undergone many essen- 
I tial changes since its first establishment, and, in order to 

understand its present state, it may be necessary to take 
i a general view of those alterations. It was originally 
I founded, in 1 736, as a bank both of deposit and of cir- 
' culation. In 1745 it was released from the obligation of 
' discharging its notes in coin, and it continued still to 
1 make advances to the State and to individuals in paper, 
[ by which shares became greatly enhanced in their value. 
" This bank had issued paper to the amount of eleven 
I millions of riksdalers, when the king returned their 

deposits to the shareholders and became himself the sole 

Esq., to the Bntish Foreign Office, printed in the " Eepoi-t of the Royal 
Commission on Coinage," 1868, p. 234. 

1 Schmidt's (Tate's) " Cambist," p. 86, also mentions a Norwegian 

■ daler of 120 skillings ; but I have not been able to identify it. 


proprietor. The paper issued was twenty times the amount I 
of the capital, in consequence of which specie disappeared, 
and notes were fixed as low as 1 riks dollar. 

"To remedy this inconvenience, in 1791, all further 
emission of notes was forbidden, and a progressive liquida- 
tion of the paper was ordered. A new bank, called the 
Specie Bank, was created, which was to be independent of 
the government. The money deposited might be drawn 
out at pleasure, or transferred by assignment, and its 
issue of paper was limited to a certain extent. In 1804 
the new notes lost 25 per cent, in exchange with the 
currency in which they were payable, and the deprecia- 
tion continued to increase until 1812, when it became 

" In 181 o a new bank was established under the direction « 
of the king, and, therefore, entitled the Royal Bank of 
Denmark. Its chief object was to reduce the paper then 
in circulation, which was depreciated to one-sixth of its 
nominal value ; and in a new issue the dollar was equiva- 
lent to five-eighths of the old paper dollar, which reduced 
the composition to ^^y^. In 1817 this bank was converted 
into a National Bank, by making a certain proportion of 
the property of the kingdom a guarantee for the liquida- 
tion of its paper. 

" For this purpose all property was to pay 6 per cent, 
to the bank, and until the capital is paid the interest 
charged for each deficiency is 6| per cent, per annum. 
Valuation of property in this case is regulated by the 
public taxes, and all the payments are to be made in 
silver or in paper of the full value of silver, according to 
a certain rate of exchange, which is fixed quarterly ; but 
as this institution engages to pay off seven millions of j 
riksbank dollars annually, persons paying in their quota i 
at the bank are allowed a drawback of five- sixths of the . 

" This bank issues its own notes, which are gradually 
paid off ; and it is intended, when the new paper is , 


entirely reduced, to issue notes payable to bearer on 
demand. All revenues and great transactions are paid 
in this paper, according to the rate of exchange. This 
rate is called riksbank silver value, which may be some- 
times moi-e and sometimes less than the riksbank dollar. 
All private contracts and current transactions are under- 
stood to be settled in such paper, unless real silver is 
stipulated for ; likewise all payments of public actuaries 
and to the army ; but custom-house duties are settled in 
real silver. 

"In January, 1821, the debts of the bank were com- 
puted as follows : — 1. Seven millions of riksbank dollars 
of public stock, which it has undertaken to pay. 2. Seven 
millions of bonds for the redemption of the former paper 
money of Holstein, etc. 3. A debt of seven millions, 
lately contracted, for the diminution of the bank-notes in 
circulation. 4. The bank-notes in circulation, which are 
computed at twenty-two millions. 

" The capital ■ is estimated at thirty-three millions of 
riksbank dollars, and the bank is besides computed to 
possess about three millions in silver and in buildings. 
The surplus of its annual revenue, the principal part of which 
arises from the interest of its security on real estates, is 
employed in the reduction of the bank-notes in circulation. 
The contributors of 6 per cent, from estates, as well as 
voluntary contributors, are shareholders, and are equally 
entitled to interest, etc."^ 

This system was modified in 1839, by further pro- 
visions for the retirement of the paper money, similar to 
. those of Sweden, already described, except that in the 
, case of Denmark, the riksbank silver daler of 195 grains 
fine remained the '' unit of circulation." It was, therefore, 
worth a trifle more than two Swedish riksgald, or riksmynt, 

On September 20, 1872, a convention of the three 
Scandinavian States Avas concluded at Copenhagen, which 
1 KeUy's " Cambist," ed. 1821, i, p. 79. 



was ratified afc Stockholm on December 18, 1872.^ It I 
provided for a common system of coinage, based on the : 
gold kroner (crown) of 6*22 English grains fine, divided 
into 100 ore. This coin, or i-ather its multiples (four 
kroner being the smallest piece), was made full legal tender 
in all the States, and was opened to '' individual coinage ;" 
in other words, the State is obliged to coin anybody's 
gold bullion substantially free of expense, the seigniorage 
only amounting to from ^ to ^ of 1 per cent, ad valorem. 
•The silver coins were limited in legal-tender function to 
five specie riksdalei'S, equal (nominally) to twenty kroner, 
and their coinage was reserved to the State. In a word, 
the Scandinavian States practically demonetised silver, 
and adopted gold coins and " open mintage '^ as the basis 
of their monetary systems. Each State retained its own 
paper money system. The notes, so long as they continue 
to be redeemed in gold coins, are full legal tender within 
the State of issue — an attribute of which they are to 
become divested whenever redemption fails. " In the 
transcription of obligations contracted in the earlier money, 
the basis of conversion adopted was the proportion of 
silver to gold of 15*08 for 1." This simply means that 
obligations contracted in specie riksdalers of practically 
375^ grains silver are now payable with four kroner, con- 
taining 24*9 grains of gold. " The ratio of transcription" 
in Denmark was 15*675 for 1. Both the gold and silver 
coins of each State are accorded legal course in the others, 
subject, as to silver coins, to certain internal arrange- 

These provisions were adopted in the Danish, Swedish, 
and Norwegian laws of May 23, 1873, May 30, 1878, 
and June 4, 1873, and by the treaties of May 27, 1873, 
and October 16, 1875, which went into effect April 1, 1876, 
and were rendered obligatory from Januai-y 1, 1877. 

' The text of this convention will be found in the " Report of the 
U.S. Monetary Commission" of 1876, part I, p. 71. 



Ancient Saxony — Origin of the Dutch — Their maritime character' — 
Early moneys— The pagan lesterling, Engel, and Guilder — Trade with 
'Saracenic Spain — Moslem and Esterling ratios — Pepin, the Short — The 
Christian ratio — Compromise ratio of the Baltic — The Saiga — Fall of 
;the Eastern Empire — Coinages of the Renaissance — The Ducat, or Florin 
j — Proposed Anglo-Flemish Convention — Florins and Nobles of Edward 
III — Disagreement respecting the ratio — Burgundian ratios — The 
Ducaton, or Thaler — the Stiver — Causes of the Dutch revolution — 
Religion and Money — The right of coinage — Corruptions of money 
during the Renaissance — Sudden enhancement of gold by Charles V — 
■Revolt of the Netherlands — Demonetisation of gold — Paper money of 
jLeyden — the Wissel Bank — The Bank of Amsterdam — Sols banco — 
Burgher coinage — It destroys money and substitutes metal — Selfish 
.policy of Spain — The Buccaneers — Plunder of the Spanish galleons — 
Opening of the sea route to the Orient — The Dutch colony of New 
Amsterdam (New York) — The English follow the Dutch in all these 
;measures — Sir Thomas Gresham — Dutch coinage ratios from the earliest 
.times to the present — The Mark — Hanseatic money — Successive monetary 
systems of the Burghers from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century 
— Gold and silver alternately demonetised — Bank issues and insolvency 
— Recent demonetisation of silver — Present currency of the Netherlands 
' — Importance of the ratio as a guide to history — Urgent necessity for 
[reform of the Dutch monetary system — The Future. 

^ I ^HE early history of money in the Netherlands is 
-*- included in that of ancient Saxony^ of which an 
.outline appear.s in my " Ancient Britain." The present 
;treatise begins substantially with the Carlovingian or 
[Mediaeval empire, under which the various lordships, which 
afterwards constituted the provinces of the Netherlands, 
were held in vassalage. These were Holland, Zeeland, 
Utrecht, Guelderland, Groningen, Over-iesel, or Overyssel, 


and Friesland ; afterwards called the Seven United Pro- ! 
vinces. These, with three other provinces, carved out of the i 
Generality governed by the States-General, make the pre-! 
sent kingdom of Holland. The eight remaining provinces 
of the Netherlands now make the kingdom of Belgium. 

It will conduce to a better understanding of the Dutch i 
monetary systems to explain, at the outset, that the ancient ■ 
Batavians were not descended from the people of the 
highlands, or Germany, and shared neither their customs 
nor religion. The Batavians were a portion of that 
martial and amphibious race who carried the worship of 
the Sun and the art of navigation from the Gulf of Fin- 
land to the British Channel ; and were so mingled with 
the Iesthonians,Veneti,and Norsemen, that no ethnological 
nor philological theory has ever satisfactorily traced their 
genealogy, or accounted for their early history. Their 
rivers, provinces, and towns, as lessel, Ober-Iessel, and 
les-la-Chapelle, afterwards Aix-la-Chapelle, were named 
after the sun-god ; they were fishermen, traders, and 
pirates ; and so were their neighbours and kinsmen, the 
Yeneti and Norsemen ; and that is about all we know of 
them, until Charlemagne, including them among the ! 
pagans of Saxony, drove his pious sword through some of 
their obdurate hearts and obliterated their genealogy, by 
introducing German blood into the remainder. The 
conquest of the Veneti and Batavians by Caesar, the 
allusion to them in the " Germany '^ of Tacitus, the revolt 
of the Frisians against the exacting rule of Tiberius, the 
rise of Carausius the Menapian, the subjection of the Low 
Countries to the Western and Carlovingian empires, and 
the history of the Pagan Hansa, all of which subjects are 
treated either in the work above alluded to, or else in my ! 
" Middle Ages Eevisited," may interest the student of a \ 
larger history ; but cannot, in the present state of his- 
torical knowledge, lead to any more satisfactory infor- 
mation concerning the origin of the Dutch people. 

The oldest Dutch coins are attributed to Arnold II, count I 


;of Flanders, 964-89. The oldest Dutch coins in the British 

IMuseum are some small thin silver pieces of Bruno III, 

count of Frisia, A.D. 1038-57, a vassal of the emperors 

Henry III. and Henry IV. These pieces, which are in 

I fairly good condition, weigh from 10-2 to 10-4 "English 

1 grains each. I shall revert to them further on ; mean- 

; while it is necessary to observe that, although they are 

lamong the oldest Dutch coins, they are not among the 

boldest Dutch moneys. These were ieschen (corrupted to 

eschen, and falsely traced to the Eoman ace or as, which 

last was unknown in the Netherlands), iesterlings or engels, 

and gulden. The first and second of these names, like 

those attached to the sacred coins of China, India, 

jGreece, and Eome, are evidently derived from that 

■of the sun-god. Engel is probably derived from an 

effigy on the iesterliug. The last belongs also to a pagan 

era, for although now it is that of a silver coin, the name 

evidently belongs to a time when it was a gold one, and 

therefore to a pagan period ; because under the Christian 

empire no gold coins were permitted to be struck except 

by the sovereign-pontiff in Byzantium. The gulden was 

■probably the maravedi of about 40 grains weight. 

From near the beginning of the eighth to the close of 
the tenth centuries — when, as attested by the numerous 
inds of moslem coins in Esthonia, Julin, Gotland, Frisia, 
tc, an active trade was conducted in the Baltic and 
N'orth Seas and coastwise down to Saracenic Spain, by 
;he Norsemen, Dutchmen and moslem — moslem coins and 
valuations must have been familiar to the maritime pro- 
/inces of northern and western Europe. The influence of 
:he moslem ratio of value between gold and silver is 
especially noticeable. The ratio in the Roman and Christian 
systems was, until the thirteenth century, always 12 for 1 ; 
-.hat in the Indian and moslem systems, 6^- for 1. This 
•adical difference in the relative coinage value of the 
precious metals, maintained on both sides for centuries 
ivith little attempt at compromise or reconcilement, enables 



of new silver dalers, designed to exactly equal tlie value 
of the depi-eciated notes, for whicli, it was expected, 
tHey would become interchangeable. It will be remem- 
bered that the old specie riksdaler (in which these notes 
were payable) contained about 390 English grains fine 
silver. The new coins were the riksdaler-banco, contain- 
ing about 146j grains fine, or three-eighths of the specie 
daler, and the riksgald (royal debts) daler, containing 
about 97^ grains fine, or one-fourth of the specie daler. 
The former represented the value of the bank-note, 
the latter that of the government note. Each of these 
dalers were subdivided into 48 skillings, each of 12 

As, by the Eoyal Ordinance of October 26th, 1829, the 
government notes were made legal-tender for riksgald 
dalers, and no adequate provision was made for their 
retirement, the new coins, when not exported, were 
added to the circulation, and they still further lowered 
the value of all the dalers, including themselves. Upon 
observing this, the government hastened its arrange- 
ments for the retirement of its notes, and the operation 
was eventually concluded satisfactorily, not, however, 
until the confusion caused by the presence of three dif- 
ferent classes of metallic dalers, skillings, and rundstyks 
had led to great annoyance." 

By the legislation of 1854, the old specie riksdaler 
and the new riksdaler-banco were abolished, leaving the 
riksgald daler the sole "' unit of circulation ^' (a much 
better term than the misleading " unit of value ^' of the 

^ Consult table of the Talent or Riksdaler in the text. 

2 Lieut. -Colonel F. S. Terry, in two pamphlets, " The Great Currency 
Problem" and "Independent Standards," London, 1893, proposed to 
" restore silver " by introducing into other states a like system of two 
metallic moneys, the one silver, the other gold, both open to " free coin- 
age," and both without limit, in either of which moneys people would be 
free to make their bargains. The Dutch authors of the Act of Charles 
II. gave us one illimitable and ever-varying measure of value ; Colonel 
Terry's plan would give us two. 


American statutes) . The riksgald daler was now termed 
the riksmynt daler, its subdivisions of skillings and 
rundstycks were abrogated, and it was subdivided anew 
into 100 ore.^ This legislation went into effect January 
1st, 1858. 

The religious fanaticism of Christian II, which had 
arrayed against him both the nobles and the commons 
of Sweden, also occasioned the secession of Norway from 
the Scandinavian union. The election of Frederick I, by 
the Danes, though it failed to conciliate the multitude 
who supported the standard of Gustavus Vasa, appears 
to have satisfied both the peoples of Norway and Den- 
mark, whereupon, in 1523, these two States were joined 
under one government, and they so remained until 
1813—14, "when Norway again united with Sweden. 

The monetary history of Denmark and Norway during 
most of this interval has been already sufficiently illus- 
trated. Previous to 1813 the Danish monetary valuations 
were 1 specie riksdaler equalled Ih sletdalers, 4 orts, 6 
marks, 96 skillings, 192 fyrkes, 288 witten, or 1152 
pfennings Danish ; or one half of the like denominations 
in Hamburg, or Lubeck, or Schleswig-Holstein money. 
Thus the Danish specie riksdaler equalled 3 marks, or 48 
skillings " Lubs," etc. In other words, the mark or 
skilling of Lubeck, etc., was worth twice as much as the 
mark or skilling Danish. 

There were at this period no less than five different 
kinds of money used in Denmark. These were as 
follows : — 

1. "Specie." The basis of this money was the 
" specie " or " effective " riksdaler of 390 down to 375 
English grains fine, valued in law at 6 marks, or 96 
skillings, etc., as above stated. 

2, " Currency.'" This money consisted of suspended 
bank or government notes, and, according to Dr. Kelly, 
was 22|4- per cent, worse than " specie." This is pre- 

' Appleton's " Encyc," xv, p. 217. 


centuries, when nioslem coins and valuations were current 
in the Baltic, the gold shilling ceased to be coined, and 
was superseded by parts of the gold dinar of 63|- grains! 
fine. The silver dirhem of 41^ grains fine, of which ten 
went to the dinar (a ratio of 6^ for 1), was also in circu- 
lation among the Dutch ; a fact attested by the immense 
numbers of them found in recent years on the coasts of 
the Baltic and North Seas. From these circumstances 
regard the silver pieces of Friesland, mentioned above, 
as typically quarter-dirhems. It is of no practical con- 
sequence whether they are regarded tis quarter-dirhems or 
half-deniers ; only, if as half-deniers, they should bear a 
ratio of 12 to the gold shilling of the empire,which they dd 
not ; whereas, if as quarter-dirhems, they should bear a ratio* 
of 6ito the quarter-dinars of Saracenic Spain, which they do. 

There is no evidence that the ratio of 12 was employed 
in Holland, except at sporadic intervals, that is to sajj 
under Pepin, and possibly for a brief period under Charl© 
magne ; for the latter struck few or no gold coins 
probably none. It may have been again employed in the 
earlier Hapsburgh coinages of the fifteenth century. At al 
other periods, as is shown in a table further on, the ratio ii 
Dutch coinage and mint valuations, from the Carlovingiarj 
period down to the year 1524, varied from 8 to 10 for 1. 

From the date of their earliest coinages, down to the 
fifteenth century, the coins of the Netherlands which have 
fallen under my observation present no features of especial 
interest. The collection in the British Museum is not 
only wanting as to several provinces and numerous reigns 
of the Dutch princes, but many of the coins are in bac 
condition — clipped, bent, perforated with holes, or other- 
wise mutilated. Among the best specimens are a small 
silver coin of the count of Nassau, 1229—71, and anothei 
of Reynaud II, 1326—43 — both of the quarter-dirhed 
type. Another of Philip le Beau, dux Geldria, weighs 
41 i grains gross, and is evidently intended for a dirhem! 
The earliest gold coin in this collection is one of Charlesl 


Egmout, duke of Gueldria^ 1492—1538. It is stamped with 

the figure of a saiut, who is styled the "patron of 

Gueldria/^ weighs 50" 6 grains gross, and is apparently of 

about 22 carats fine. An earlier one, struck by Charles of 

Flanders, 1467—77, also stamped with the efiigy of a saint, 

.and weighing 51 grains gross, is in the possession of Mr. 

Lincoln, the London numismatist. These coins are ducats. 

There are no ducats of the fourteenth century in the 

Museum collection, yet that is the period when they 

.possess the highest interest ; for they were then connected 

with the history of England. In 1343, after Edward III. 

had been authorised by the emperor to coin gold, and 

whilst he was making preparations to exercise this pre- 

■rogative, it was intimated that the Flemings sold their 

wares only for Flemish gold florins (ducats), which were 

valued so highly in English silver coins as to render 

.payment in the latter unprofitable to English merchants. 

In other words, by paying gold ducats with silver coins, 

the islanders are represented to have suffered a disadvan- 

itage j whereupon the crown resolved that they should be 

enabled to pay with gold ones. Hence the issue of 

English double ducats of the year 1344. But as these 

; were valued at six shillings, or 12 times their w^eight of 

, silver, whilst the Flemish ratio was probably 10 for 1, the 

i Flemings declined to accept them ; whereupon they were 

' decried and withdrawn from circulation within the year. 

; Still bent upon issuing a gold coin that should not only 

retain its place in the home circulation, but also obtain 

I some currency abroad, Edward next (within the same 

•year) issued the noble at six shillings and eight pence, a 

! ratio of 11 "06 for 1 ; the seigniorage being 9 per cent. 

But this coin the Flemings also objected to unless they 

were to be struck (under Edward's letter of authority) in 

; Flanders, and also unless an amicable division could be 

■ made of the profits arising from their coinage. For this 

purpose commissioners were sent to Ghent, Bruges, and 

: Ipre; but nothing came of the negotiations. The ratio 


which ruled in the Netherlands must have compelled 
the Flemings to demand either a re-valuation of the 
noble, or an entire abandonment of the seigniorage 
conditions to which the English envoys were not authorisec 
to assent. Fi'oissart and Grafton both assert that a gol( 
coin with the name of Edward was struck in Antwerp ai 
this period ; but no such coin has ever been found. ^ 

In 1436 Holland was annexed to Gothic Burgundy, anc 
in 1477 to Austria,^ which governed it until 1506, when 
it was inherited by Charles Y, of Germany, or Charles I, 
of Spain, himself a native of Ghent. During the Bur- 
gundian period, some of the Dutch ducats now called! 
double ducats weighed 67 grains (British Museum ducatS 
of Utrecht), and were 23 carats 3^ grains fine (Budelius, 
p. 249, " Old Double Ducat "). Hence they contained 56J 
grains fine — substantially the same as the Venetian sequim 
of the thirteenth century. The halves were called gulden. 
The coinage ratio was 9 for 1, an inference derived! 
from the silver ducat or ducaton, whose weight at this 
period varied from 513 to 507^ grains gross. It wasj 
valued equally with the heavier ducat or double gulden. 
None of these broad ducaton pieces are in the collection 
of the British Museum, but they are frequently mentioned 
by Budelius, where their weights and finenesses are given 
with great minuteness. They varied from 0*936 to 0"916|-| 
fine, and were variously called ducatons, riders, talents,i 
king's-thalers, and Netherlands pennies. They werej 
commonly struck down to the reign of Philip II, and| 
occasionally down to the present century; but their value,, 
as related to the gold coins, was seriously impaired, as 

^ Del Mar's " Middle Ages Eevisited," chap. xix. The " dubble-ies ' 
was in use during the present century (" Tour in Holland," by Wm. 
Chambers, 1842). 

^ The Austrian mint ordinance relating to the Netherlands was issued 
by Maximillian at Breda, December 14th, 1489. It provided for a gold 
florin 39f English grains fine, valued at 12 times its weight in fine 
silver, a provision that practically nullified the ordinance and discredited; 
the florins. 


will be presently related, by the arbitrary legislation of 
•Charles V. There was also a silver dollar of about two- 
thirds the same contents, which was valued at a gulden — 
a ratio of 9 for 1. This piece was the prototype of the 
existing German thaler, the old Turkish grouch, and 
many other coins. 

If it seems difficult to believe that gold stood at so 
low a ratio to silver in the fifteenth century, perhaps the 
following ratios, taken from the coinages of France 
during that century, will reader our deduction more 
credible :— Year 1403— ratios, 7'31, 7-84, and 7-87; 
1411—6-64 and 6-85; 1417—9-60 and 6-40; 1418—6-67; 
1419_7-30; 14-21- 9-49; 1423 (2nd Charles VII)— 10-22; 
1425—10-94 ; 1428—7-45 ; 1435—12-59 ; 1437-7-97 ; 
^1447_10-93; 1456—10-79; 1473 (13th Louis XI)— 10-94 ; 
and 1475—10-98.^ 

It was during the thirteenth or fourteenth century that 
the stiver was added to the Dutch denominations of money. 
The ancient Roman libra of account had consisted of five 
solidi, or twenty quarter-solidi, or gold shillings. In like 
manner the Arabian maravedi (the Dutch gulden) was 
divided in Holland into twenty stivers. At a later period 
the Dutch talent, or silver ducaton,was divided into twenty 
stivers, each of about 25 grains of silver ; the talent and 
gulden were therefore of the same value. When, in 
still later times, the ducaton, talent, thaler, or dollar, was 
lowered in weight, the stiver became a bronze or copper 

The printing-press, the discovery of America, and the 
teachings of Erasmus — the Dutch leader of the Reforma- 

1 Del Mar's " Money and Civilisation," p. 202. 

- In Locke's essay on " Money " it is stated that the Dutch ducaton 

hove a premium in Holland of l^ per cent, over the newer and less 

valuable silver coins of the same denominational value, and that the 

, ducaton passed for 3 guilders and 3 stivei^s. Locke was in Holland in 

1682, and must have been thoroughly familiar with this subject; yet I 

cannot make these statements agree. 


tion — all of which influences made themselves felt at| 
about the same time, have been vai'iously put forward by! 
historians as the motive for the Revolt of the Netherlands. I 
No doubt that all of these influences contributed to bring | 
about the end ; no doubt that religion was the most 
powerful of them all, and that the proceedings of the 
Councils of Trent, E-atisbon, and Worms, and the sudden! 
and sinister alliance between the pope and the emperor^ i 
who down to this time had made numerous concessions to 
the Protestants, which now the emperor revoked, were 
among the immediate provocations to the rebellion. Buti 
there was still another motive behind this revolution. 
The learned Abbe Eaynal disclosed this motive, in alluding! 
to the disgust of the Netherlands with that edict of| 
Ferdinand which had foi'bidden them to take part in the 
gainful commerce of the East and West Indies, by re- 
stricting it to " subjects of Castile.''^ Religion may havei 
swayed the noble and even the common people ; it was 1 
commerce that swayed the burghers." This is proved by 
the revolt of Ghent in 1539, the ground for which wasi 
that the emperor's quarrels with Francis debarred the! 
citizens of the town from the rich trade with France, and 
loaded them with taxes which they protested they could 
not afi^ord to pay. It is also proved by the relative 
importance of the demands which were made by Prince 
Maurice, upon the conclusion of his campaign against' 
Charles. After providing for the liberation of the im-; 
prisoned Elector, these demands were, first, that the 
grievances in the civil government should be redressed ; ; 
and, last, that the Protestants should be allowed the free i 
exercise of their religion.^ 

Among these civil grievances none could have been | 

' Raynal, 12mo ed., i, p. 138. 

- " The parliament and the people, in their addresses to Queen Eliza- 
beth, always mentioned the reformation of the coin, after that of religion, 
as one of the principal events of the reign " (Lord Liverpool's "Letter 
to the King," ed. 1880, p. 111). 

^ Robertson's " Life of Charles V," iii, p. 252. 


ikiore heavily felt in Holland than the monetary decrees 

iof Charles V. In 1524 this monarch had raised the value 

of his gold coins in the Netherlands from 9 or 10 to llf 

; times their weight in silver coins. This occasionecl so 

imucli dissatisfaction that in 1542 he returned to a ratio 

of 10 for 1 by degrading his silver dollars — a mode of 

I reparation hardly more satisfactory than had been the 

original offence. But the worst- was to come. In 1546 

Charles suddenly enhanced the value of his gold coins to 

lo| times their weight in silver ones. In effect, this 

edict reduced the circulating medium of the Netherlands, 

which consisted substantially of silver coins, to scarcely 

more than two-thirds of its value previous to the year 

1524. It was a blow that everybody felt, and felt at 

once ; and it probably exercised no little influence to 

support both the operations of Maurice against Charles 

land the subsequent and more important operations which 

William of Orange directed against Philip. 

To justly estimate the onerous chai'acter of this last 
monetary ordinance of Charles, it should be explained, for 
! example, that it reduced the silver ducaton to two-thirds 
iof its former value, or, which is the same thing, it raised 
ithe value of gold nearly 50 per cent., by substituting a 
' debased ducat, first of about 37 grains, and next of about 

■ 35 grains fine, in place of the old ones of about 54 graius 
fine. Budelius (p. 249) mentions a ducat of Deventer on 

■the lessel, of 67 eschen, or 49*7 grains, which was only 
17| carats fine, and therefore contained but 36^ grains 
fine, and a " kaiser's ducat," evidently of Charles V, 
only 14 carats fine, and containing (if of the same gross 
weight as the former) only 29 grains fine; whilst the 
ducats of Philip, of the same gross weight, were only 16 

; carats fine, and therefore contained but 33g^ grains of gold. 

' Such a violent and sudden alteration of the value of 
money amongst a commercial people produced the greatest 

J distress and commotion ; and in view of the insurrections 

■ which have followed close upon the heels of arbitrary 


monetary decrees in otlier States, it cannot be doubtec^j 
that this measure was at least one of the causes thafei 
contributed to the revolution of 1572. 

From this date, indeed, commenced a new era, not! 
only in the monetary system of the Netherlands, but alsQ 
in all the other states of the Western world. To under^, 
stand its significance we must make a brief retrospecti 
concerning the riglit of coinage. • ,| 

In the imperial monetary system, wbicli was planneid 
by Julius Cfesar, matured by Augustus, and retained 
with more or less constancy down to the fall of Byzantium 
in 1204, the only full legal-tender money having a forced 
circulation in all parts of the Empire consisted of the gold 
coins struck by the emperor at Rome or Byzantium. The 
Emperor (in another capacity) also struck silver coins ; so 
also did the proconsuls, the subject kings, and tha. 
municipalities,^ but as these coins had only a local course^ 
and in some cases were entirely destitute of legal-tender 
function, and as the imperial taxes and tributes were 
payable only in imperial gold coins, or else in exactly 
twelve times their weight in silver ones (purity for purity), 
it mattered but little to the Imperial fisc what variations 
took place in the coinages of the latter. The Senate^ 
which after the Augustan period was the mere creature 
of the Sovereign, enjoyed the monopoly of the bronze- 
coinage. The lost Treaty of Seltz, which was made- 
between Charlemagne and Nicephorus, not only necesr 
sarily defined the boundaries of the Eastern and Westerij 
empires, it must have contained a provision securing the- 
monopoly of the gold coinage to the Basileus ; for, as a- 
matter of fact, no gold coins were ever struck by any 
other Christian prince until after the fall of Byzantium^. 
For the Netherlands, this covers the entire period from 
Charlemagne to Frederick II. 

' Adam Smith (i, p. 320, Hartford ed., 1804) talks of the " allodial T 
right of coinage. This is sheer nonsense, and bespeaks a fundamenta^l 
misconception as to the nature and function of money. 


. The Imperial system, therefore^ consisted of something- 
like what is now being proposed by currency doctors — an 
"universal money for the whole European world, but with 
; this essential difference : the Basileus alone struck such 
universal money, and therefore possessed the power to 
regulate its volume ; whereas, according to the plan which 
is now being matured, each State — and especially if it 
permits unlimited coinage, subject to the demands of 
1 private individuals — will sti'ike such money for itself, 
land there will be no united control of the volume. 
("Whether such money be made of one metal or two 
imetals will be of no consequence ; it can never become 
'an equitable or stable measure of value. 

From the fall of the Greek capital to the revolt of the 
Spanish Netherlands, a totally different system of money 
! prevailed in the states of Europe. Every kmg hastened 
,to strike his own gold coins : Frederick of Germany, 
Alfonso of Leon, and Sancho of Portugal, in 1225 ; Louis 
of France, in 1250 ; the Republic of Florence, in 1252 ; 
aod Henry III. of England, in 1257. Silver coins were 
.also struck by these powers, and also by the barolis and 
^prelates subject to their authority ; and both gold and 
isilver coins were commonly made full legal-tenders, at the 
iratio of value fixed by each State. The supreme right of 
'coinage, which previously was always Avielded and but 
(rarely abused by the Basileus, was now both exercised 
and abused by every petty prince in Europe. 

During the Empire the gold coins had been stamped 
with sacred images and devices, a plan which, in a 
superstitious age, sufficed to preserve them from abuse. 
>After the fall of Byzantium this restraint was relaxed ; 
like sacred images disappeared from the gold coins, 
and both these and the silver coins were altered so 
, often and so suddenly that it is difficult to follow either 
'their composition or value. Edward II, of England, 
PhiKp le Bel, of France, and Charles I, of Spain, were 
only types of the mediasvai adulterer of coins. The 


practice was continued down to the beginning of the 
seventeenth century ; and notwithstanding the apologetic 
theories or protestations of patriotic writers, no sovereign 
of this period was guiltless of it. Some of the alterations 
were no doubt rendered necessary by the dwindling stock 
and uncertain supplies of the precious metals, or were 
made for other good reasons ; for, as Mr. Hallam has 
remarked, no ill results appear to have followed them. 
But others, as attested by their evil consequences, were 
evidently made for private profit to the king, or else 
resorted to as a ready means to fill an exhausted 

In 1524 and 1546 Charles V. suddenly raised by pro- 
clamation the legal value of his gold coins in Holland from 
9 or 10 to 13^ times their weight in silver coins ; and by 
this imprudent device managed to temporarily replenish his 
barren coffers. This was the straw that broke the patience 
of his long-suffering subjects. The Netherlands showed 
signs of revolt; even Spanish America remonstrated, and 
eventually (in 1608) the latter secured a notable concession 
of the regaliau prerogative of money. Meanwhile, and 
during the reign of Charles, the revolutionary tendency in 
Holland was checked ; but with the accession of Philip 
the Bigot it burst into fierce flames. The '' Confederation 
of Beggars" was formed in 1566; the revolution was 
proclaimed in 1572 ; paper money was issued in 1574; the 
Jews of Amsterdam organised a sort of Wissel bank in 
1 607 ; and the bank of Amsterdam, which, under the 
authority of the city, imitated and then destroyed the 
AVissel bank and forbade the Jews from dealing in 
exchange, was established in 1609. " Free," or properly 
speaking, "individual" coinage, as it is still called by the 
Dutch, had long been permitted by the degenerate moslem 
governments of India, where Albuquerque found and 
Mascarenhas copied it (1555). From the Portuguese the 
evil institute w^as inherited by the Dutch East Indians, and 
' Of this character were the coinages of Edward VI, of England. 


iby them it was brouglit to Holland. It was among the 
first measures resorted to by the revolutionary government, 
who, however, limited their legal-tender coins to silver, 
which was coined into "guilders," or florins, of 160| grains 
fine. The operation of this system was promoted by the 
exchange transactions of the Jews, and the guarantee 
which their individual Credit afforded to importations and 
deposits of bullion. It was further stimulated by the ex- 
tension of Dutch commerce and by the superior credit of 
the bank of Amsterdam,\ with whose transactions sub- 
,stantially commenced the present system of individual 

In this connection it will be interesting to observe that 
■ two years after the first edict of Charles V, to wit, in 
1526, Henry YIII. of England felt obliged (in consequence 
of that edict, " forasmuch as coins of . . . gold ... be 
of late days raised ... in the emperor's low countries," 
land because there was an active trade with Flanders) to 
I raise the value of the angel-noble of 80 grains gross, from 
6s. 8d. to 7s. 4d., and two months later to 7s. 6d., in silver 
coins. Following is the text of the ordinance : 
I " Henry the Eighth, by the grace of God, King of 
England and France, defender of the Faith, lord of 
Ireland, to the most reverend Father in God, our most 
trusty and most entirely beloved councillor the lord 
Thomas, cardinal of York, archbishop, legat de Leicestre 
of the See Apostolic, primate of England, and our chan- 
' cellor of the same, greeting. Forasmuch as coins of 
; money, as well of gold as of silver, be of late days raised 
! and enhanced both in the realm of France, as also in the 
emperor's Low Countries, and in other parts, unto higher 
: prices than the very poise weight and fineness and valua- 
tion of the same, and otherwise, than they were accustomed 
to be current ; by means whereof, the money of this our 
realm is daily, and of long season hath been, by sundry 
persons (as well our subjects as strangers, for their par- 
ticular gain and lucre) conveyed out of this realm into the 


parts beyond the seas, and so is likely to continue more' 
and more, to tlie great hindrance of the generality of our 
•subjects and people, and to the no little impoverishing of 
our said realm, if the same be not speedily remedied and 
foreseen : We, after long debating of the matter with you 
and sundry other of our council, and after remission made 
unto outward princes for reformation thereof, finding 
finally no manner of remedy to be had at their hands, 
have, by mature deliberation, determined that our coins 
and moneys (as well of gold as of silver) shall be, by 
our ofiicer of our mint, from henceforth made of such 
fineness, lay (alloy), standard, and value, as may be 
equivalent, correspondent, and agreeable to the rates of 
the valuations enhanced and raised in outward parts, as 
is afore specified.'^ 

It will be recollected that during the Empire the supreme 
right of coinage was vested in the Augustus, or Basileus-, 
who, in fact, never permitted the gold, or full legal-tender, ' 
•coinage to go out of his hands; and that during the mediasval 
period (after a.d. 1204) it fell to the various princes and 
prelates who had inherited the prerogatives of the dead 
I Empire. We shall next see it fall under the control of 
/the Dutch and English merchants. 

Under the private coinage law of the republic, the bank 
■of Amsterdam, a private institution, received deposits of ! 
any kind of silver coins, giving credit only for the fine 
metal contained in them, and measuring its value in sols 
banco of twenty to the Dutch florin. Its payments were 
made upon the same basis. The bank also received gold 
coins on deposit, valuing them (in sols banco) at what 
they actually fetched in the mart of Amsterdam. This 
system deprived the gold and silver coins of Holland 
of such part of their value as they had previously de- 
rived from royal seal, proclamation, and seigniorage. 
It swept away alike the sacred effigies of Eome and 
Byzantium, the heretical inscriptions of Julin and j 
\Bardewic, the unjust valuations of Madrid and Sevilla, 


and tlie temptation everywhere to tamper with any 
money destined for use in Holland. Indeed, it destroyed 
money altogether; it made a market value for the 
: precious metals, a thing hitherto unknown; it practi- 
cally established unlimited coinage, and thus substituted 
metal, in place of money, as the measure of value. 

These revolutionary acts met with such immediate and 
marked success that they soon afterwards influenced the 
legislation of other States. Hitherto the precious metals 
.obtained in Amei-ica had vainly sought to evade the 
coinage exactions of the European princes ; now the 
door of escape was open; they had only to be sent to 
Holland, turned into guilders and ducats, and credited as 
silver metal under the name of sols banco. But as the 
Spaniards and Portuguese still controlled the American 
mines, and jealously conveyed their precious products to 
the mints of the mother country, how were they to be 
practically diverted to Holland ? The Dutch fleets and 
their allies, the buccaneers of the West Indies, at once 
answered this question, and the early settlers of New 
I Amsterdam could have told many a tale as to how the 
I plunder was safely transported to Holland. At a later 
'period, when the English took New York, this class of 
•bullion was quietly removed into Massachusetts, and there 
: converted into honest "pine-tree" shillings. 

Under the stimulus of " free " coinage, an immense 
quantity of the precious metals now found their way to 
Holland, and a local rise of prices ensued, which found 
one form of expression in the curious mania of buying 
tulips at prices often exceeding that of the ground on 
which they were grown. So rapidly did the influence 
of Dutch "free" coinage extend, that it induced the king 
of Spain to concede to his American colonies a right which 
had descended from the pagan gods to the pagan emperors, 
and from the pagan and Christian emperors to the inde- 
pendent princes who had seized the fragments of the 
Empire, but which had never yet been conferred upon a 


Christian vassal or vassal state.^ This was the right to 
coin gold, a right which was conceded to the American 
viceroys b}^ the royal ordinance of 1608. But we have 
not yet done with the tulip mania. In 1648, when the 
Peace of Westphalia acknowledged the independence of 
the Dutch republic, the latter stopped the " free " coinage 
of silver florins and only permitted it for gold ducats, 
which in Holland had no legal value. This legislation 
discouraged the imports of silver bullion, checked the 
rise of prices, and put an end to the tulip mania." How- 
ever, it had other and far more important results. During 
the wars which ensued between Holland and England, the 
Jatter found so many reasons for admiring the government 
and administration of its rival, that it commenced to copy 
them in every detail, in some cases where the advantages 
of imitation were doubtful, or had passed away. The 
English deposed their king and established a i-epublic 
in 1653 : they planted colonies in America to rival those 
of the Dutch ; they chartered their East India company 
on the same lines as the Dutch ; they encouraged Morgan 
and other buccaneers to pillage the Spanish plate-ships 
and settlements ; and they adopted '' free " coinage. 
The English commercial literature of this period — for 
example, the works of Sir Josiah Child, Andrew 
Yarranton, and others — is filled with suggestions to 
follow the policy of the Dutch, whether as to colonies, 
navigation, banking, interest laws, coinage, warehouses, 
or land registries ; and all of these measures were soon 
afterwards enacted in England, except the last one, which 
still hangs fire. Holland had dropped '^free^' mintage 

> The emperor Charles IV, of Germany, 1347-78, " gave to all the 
members of the empire the privilege of issuing gold coins with any 
stamp they choose " (Partington, on the ducat). This was quite super- 
fluous, for in fact most of the members of the empire had usui-ped this 
privilege a century previously. 

- This mania had already been discouraged by a resolution of the 
States-General, dated April 27th, 1637, which threw some difficulties in 
the way of enforcing time-bargains in tulips. 


for legal-tender coins in 1648 ; even France afterwards 
,tried it in 1679, only to drop it in 1689. England, under 
the influence of its favoured classes, adopted it in 1666, 
and held on to it until, through other means, she had 
gained the commercial supremacy of the world, and was 
enabled (chiefly during the last and present centuries) to 
urge it upon other states. Then she dropped silver. 

The monetary system of the Netherlands, which began 
with the Eepublic, consisted, first, of demonetising gold — 
.an act in which can be perceived more of resentment 
;against the arbitrary decrees of the Spanish monarch than 
wisdom in laying the foundations of a state. Second, it 
■consisted of pasteboard dollars, which were issued in 1574, 
iduring the siege of Leyden, and of which some half-a- 
dozen specimens are now in the British Museum collection. 
These " greenbacks '' of the revolution the Hollanders 
preferred to keep, rather than exchange for coins — ad 
perpetuam liherationis divinse memoriam — in perpetual 
memory of their divine liberation from tyranny.^ That 
jthey circulated beyond the precincts of Leyden, and 
effected an important augmentation of the currency and a 
rise of prices, is attested by the following quotations from 
jBudelius (p. 269) : The gold real, 1579, 45 stivers ; 
1580, 46 ; 1583, 47^ ; 1586, 52 ; and 1590, 53 stivers. 
The Philips silver thaler, 1579, 43 stivers ; 1580, 45 ; 
1583, 47 ; and 1586, 50 stivers. Here we see a gradual 
rise in the value of both gold and silver coins. In what ? 
Certainly not in either gold or silver stivers, but in cur- 

' Borniti, de Xummis, ed. 1605, i, p. 15. The revolutionaiy moneys 
of Leyden were of white pasteboard, round, about If inches in diameter 
and stamped or embossed to resemble a coin. They took their origin 
in the first, but were perfected during the second, siege — that of 1574. 
Their denominations were 24 and 40 stivei-s. The former bore on one 
side, "Haec. liberatis ergo," on the other " Godt behoede Leyden," or 
God protect Leyden. The latter had the city arms on one side, and 
" Pugno propatria " on the other (Davies' " Hist. Holland," London, 
1842, ii, pp. 9, 10). Silver pieces of the same stamp as the pasteboard 
ones were also issued (" Catalogue Schulthess-Eechberg," 7048). 



rency, and that currency necessarily of something else. 
Under the circumstances that something else could only 
liave been wholly or partly of paper. 

Thirdly, the Dutch system consisted of silver coins 
struck by the State, both, on its own account and for the 
account of individuals ("free" coinage), and therefore 
without limit as to numbers. These coins — guilders and 
their multiples, namely, the ducatou, the reichsthaler, 
etc. — were legal- tendei'S to any amount. There was also 
" free '^ or individual coinage of gold ; but as coins of 
this metal were no longer legal-tender in Holland, they 
were struck for circulation in other states, who, in using 
them, escaped the seigniorage and other coinage exactions 
of their sovereigns. Fourthly, subsidiary coins of silver 
and copper, which the Dutch State struck only for itself. 
Fifthly, the banking system, already described. 

At the period when the decrees of Charles V, so greatly 
and suddenly raised the value of gold coins, Thomas 
Gresham, an English mercer and financier, was applied 
to by the ministers of Edward VI. of England for a loan 
of money. In the third year of his reign this boy king 
had arbitrarily raised the value of his silver coins to a 
ratio of 5" 15 for 1 of gold ; in his fourth year to 4*82 
for 1 ; and in his fifth year to 2*41 for 1.-^ The profit 
made by the king in these transactions was, in the first 
instance, 113^ per cent. ; in the second, 128 per cent. ; and 
in the third, 356 per cent." Gresham w^as unable to comply 
with the ministers' request, but said he thought he could 
raise the money in Antwerp. Accordingly, he was com- 
missioned to proceed thither and effect the loan. He 
remained in Antwerp until after the death of the king and 
fall of the ministry, meanwhile advising them, what he 
had not ventured to set forth in London, namely, that a 
bad money will drive away good ; and that before he 
could procure the needful loan in Holland, it was necessary 
for Edward to reform his monetary system. This cor- 
\Lovd Liverpool, p. 101. ^ ib^d., pp. 101, 102. • , 


frespondence lias been lauded by Mi-. Henry Dunning 
MacLeod with fulsome praise, and the first portion of it 
formulated into what he has called '' the Gresham law." 
iThat bad money, when made lawful, will drive away good, 
by causing the latter to be hoarded, is a law or principle 
of money which will be found in the '' Frogs " of Aristo- 
Iphanes andthe "Maxims" of Theognis written some eighteen 
or twenty centuries before Gresham's time; a principle 
that every tradesman in the interval had learnt by 
'heart. ^ 

For example, in 1341, after the emission of black money 
|by Edward III, a great mass of sterlings and silver plate 
twas collected in London and Boston, for private convey- 
■ance to the Continent; in other words, the bad money drove 
(out the good ; and everybody knew it.^ This law applies 
equally to cabbages. It is not a law of money, but a 
truism that applies to all things. However, Gresham's 
pmarks, perhaps, had the effect to bring about that 
'permanence of the English monetary system, for which 
Elizabeth afterwards received so much credit ; that prin- 
bess having merely " completed the plan of reform which 
'Edward had projected (or assented to) and had begun to 
barry into execution."^ 

Gresham successively served Mary and Elizabeth ; and 
oy the latter was honoured with knighthood. But did he 
5erve the English people ; did he serve the interests of 
:he State ? Not at all. He was faithful only to his 
>wn class, the money-lenders of London. Not a word 
ippears in his correspondence of the tremendous monetary 
•evolution that was then brewing in Holland; not a word 
)f the imperial edicts that had raised the value of 
mperial gold from 9 or 10 to 11|, and from llf to 13^ ; 
lot a word of the resistance to these unjust decrees, or of 

1 " Maxims of Theognis," line 21 : " Nov will any one take in exchange 
rorse when better is to be had." 
- " Middle Ages Revisited," chap. xix. 
^ Lord Liverpool, p. 104. 


the fact that tlie regalian prerogative, which jurisconsults 
and statesmen in all ages had shown to be indispensable 
to the exercise of independent sovereignty, was in jeo- 
pardy of falling into the hands of Dutch monopolists, and 
might afterwards fall, as it did fall, into the hands of 
English ones. This was the prerogative of coinage. 
Gresham was silent on this subject , and his silence on 
such a subject far outweighs the merits of that "discovery" 
for which his admirers have claimed him so much 

But, indeed, who has properly written the history of 
Gresham's times ; who has dived into this supernal but 
obscure subject of money, except men of the very same 
class who profited in pocket by the Dutch Revolution, its 
institution of private coinage and the subsequent private 
control of bank issues ? Nobody. Is it yet clearly 
understood that whatever degradation of money was 
committed by the emperors, whatever debasement was 
afterwards committed by the kings, these have since been 
vastly exceeded by the dishonest use made of ''individual'' 
coinage and the control of bank issues ? Not at all. The 
Emperors of Rome controlled the emissions of European 
money for thirteen centuries, and the kings and dukes foi 
nearly four centuries afterwards ; whilst the userers have 
held it, to the present time, for about two centuries. It 
is not too much to say that during these two centuries 
greater monetary changes have been made and more 
losses have been occasioned to the industrial classes oJ 
the European world than were made by all the degrada- 
tions and debasements of the Imperial and regal periods 
put together. Monetary systems have been changed fron 
gold to silver, from silver to gold, and from both silvei 

^ Gresham remained in Antwerp until 1553. In 1553 Mary, and ii 
1558 Elizabeth, ascended the throne. In the last-named year Greshan 
was sent as ambassador to Parma, and in 1559 he was knighted (T. F' 
Burgon, "Life and Times of Sir Thomas Gresham," London, 1839, ' 
vols, 8vo ; Ward's " Lives of the Gresham Professors," p. 8). 


and gold to paper ; tens of tliousands of worthless banks 
have been erected, thousands of millions of worthless 
notes have been issued, and the entire products of 
industry have been seized and perverted to the enrichment 
of a class, who know only how to scheme, to undermine, 
and to appropriate the eaimings of mankind. The right 
to issue money needs a radical reform ; and the State 
which reforms it first will secure for its citizens far greater 
advantages than can be derived from Zollvereins, tariff 
bills, or any other kind of commercial legislation. " The 
control of money," says an eloquent writer on the subject, 
^'is the ground upon which an international or cosmo- 
politan combination ' finances ' the world and •' farms ' 
humanity.'^ ^ 

Writing in 1776, Adam Smith was at great pains to 
inform us what a strong institution was the '' burghers," 
Bank of Amsterdam, how " for every guilder in gold or 
silver to circulate as bank money, there is a correspondent 
guilder in gold or silver to be found in the bank. The 
City is guarantee that it should be so. The bank is under 
the direction of the four reigning burgomasters, who are 
changed every year. Each new set of burgomasters visits 
the treasure, compares it with the books, receives it upon 
oath and delivers it over with the same awful solemnity 
to the set which succeeds ; and in that sober and religious 
country oaths are not yet disregarded. A rotation of 
this kind seems alone a sufficient security against any 
practices which cannot be avowed. Amidst all the revo- 
lutions which faction has ever occasioned in the govern- 
ment of Amsterdam, the prevailing party has at no time 
accused their predecessors of infidelity in the administra- 
tion of the bank. Xo accusation could have affected 
more deeply the reputation and fortune of the disgi*aced 
party ; and if such accusation could have been supported, 
we may be assured that it would have been brought. In 

^ Reginald Fenton, Esq., formerly of Kimberly, South Africa, now of 
San Diego, California. 


1672, when tlie Frencli king was at Utrecht^ tlie Bank of: 
Amsterdam paid so readily, as left no doubt of the 
fidelity with which it had observed its engagements. Public 
utilit}^ and not revenue was the original object of this 
institution.'^ Alas, for Dutch burgher patriotism, and 
the credulity of our great Scotch sophist ! When, four- 
teen years later, that is to say, in 1790, the French again 
invaded Holland, they found the bank empty and insolvent. 
Even whilst Adam Smith was penning his panegyrics, it 
was secretly loaning away bullion which belonged to its 
depositors and noteholders. Its pious burgomasters were 
forsworn, the City was dishonoured, and the world 
received its hundredth useless lesson on the folly of trusting? 
to the stability of a monetary system which is not 
absolutely under the thumb of the State. 

Coinage Ratios in the Low Countries (after 1579 in 
Holland only). 






Saxon 8 


Revolt of the Frisians against fiscal exactions 
of the Romans. The Roman imperial ratio 
was always 12 silver =: 1 gold ; but silver 
bore a higher value in the Eastern trade of 
the Baltic, and the Frisians (possibly from 
choice) paid their tributes in ox-hides 
(" Tac. Ann.," iv, c. 72). The prevalent 
ratio of the Baltic was 8 for 1 (" Anc. 
Brit.," chap. xvii). 

Revolt of Carausius the Menapian. The mark 
of silver coins was in use as early, at least, 
as this date (vide Agricola, writing about 
1550). Its substitution for the Roman libra 
of account, which now consisted of 5 gold 
solidi, each of about 90 grains fine, or else 
12 times their weight in silver, implies a 
local ratio of 8 for 1. 

In the pagan coinages of Friesland, Jutland, 
etc., there were 8 silver siccals, saigas ' or 

^ According to the German law, vi, 3, " the siiiga (or sjiica) is the foui-thi 
part of the tremissis ; it is one denarius, and two saigas are two denarii. 


















iesterlings, each of about ISi grains fine, 
to the gull siccal, or skillingar, of the same 
weight : a ratio of 8 for 1. 

Foi-ty silver deniers, each of 171 grains fine 
(300 to the livre weight) equal 1 imperial 
solidus (now) of about 70 grains fine : a 
ratio of 10 for 1 " Anon. Chron. Aqui- 
taine," written in 843 and alluding to the 
period previous to Pepin's monetary reform 
of AD. 754-68. Same authority, for same 
period, gives 25, instead of the ancient 20, 
quarter-solidi to the livre of account; lead- 
ing to an inference that the Basileus struck 
light gold shillings to compensate for the 
heretical ratios of the North. 

De Vienne, " Livre d' Argent," p. 23. 

Pepin struck 264 deniers from the Roman 
pound weight and valued them at 40 to the 
solidus (now) of 66^ grains fine : a ratio of 
12. The gold shillings were valued at 22 
to the livre of account, of which the mint- 
master took one for himself, a proof that 
they were still light (DeVienne,pp.20, 21). 

Decretale precum. Charlemagne, in this de- 
cree, re-established the value of the gold 
shilling at 20 to the libra : he afterwards 
attempted to raise the value of these pieces 
by valuing them at 16 to the libra ; but 
judging from the equivalents given in the 
Saxon and Frisian Codes, which he altered 
at this period, the attempt failed (De 
Vienne, p. 42). 

Last year of Charlemagne. Petition of 
Council of Rheims against light solidi, which 
would not pass for 40 deniers (De Vienne, 
p. 36). Imaginary scheme of international 
money (ibid.). 

Unique solidus of Louis Debonnaire of sus- 
piciously fine execution, in Paris collection. 
Were this srenuine it would be the last gold 

A tremissis is the third part of a solidus and equals four denarii." The 
manuscript which gives this valuation is of rather a low date. The 
Bavarian law of a much earlier period accords to the saica the value of 
three denarii : " Si una saica, id est tres denarios furaverit. ... Si duas 
id est sex denarios " (Tit. ix. Art. 3, 4). There can be little doubt that, 
still more anciently, the saica was the sicca of the Orient which found 
its way through Tartary to the Baltic and there became degraded. 


^^"«'^' Ratio. 






13th Cent. 











9@ 10 


coin struck by any Christian prince, except 
the Basileus, until a.d. 1225. 
Charles the Bald : Edict of Pistes. 
Inferential valuation of the besant in the 
ducal silver coins of Holland, Flanders, 
Brabant, etc. 
Poid de marc, a weight derived from marks 
(coins) introduced into France under 
Philip I. Down to this time it was only 
used in the Netherlands and England. Du 
Cange ; Saigey ; De Vienne, 58. 
Hanseatic money. The ratio under the pagan 
Hansa was probably 8 for 1 : under the 
Christian Hansa, at first, probably 10 for 1 
("Anc. Britain"). 
Fall of Constantinople : end of the pontifico- 
imperial monopoly of coining gold for the 
Roman world. 
Jutland Code of 13th century. 
Xumerous changes of the ducal mint-laws 
during this and the two following centuries, 
the prevailing ratios being 8 to 10 silver for 
1 gold. In 1284 the earl of Holland and 
Zealand purchased silver in England 
(Andei'son's " Hist, of Commerce," sub 
From valuation of the gold noble of Edward 
III. of England, in the ports of Flandei-s 
(" Middle Ages Revisited "). 
Burgundian period of Flandei-s 1384 to 1477. 
The prevailing ratio was, however, 10 silver 
for 1 gold 
Earlier coinages under the German imperial 
house of Hapsburg. The ratio in England 
(4 Edward IV.), year 1464, was 10| for 1. 
Later Hapsburg coinages. Edict of Breda by 
Masimillian, Dec. 14th. Abortive attempt 
to re-establish the Caesarian ratio. 
Gold nobles (half-marks) and silver groots of 
Flanders, Lorrain, Bar, etc., ratio 10 ; 
ducat on, ratio 9 for 1. 
Charles V. : earlier coinages. 
Charles V. Edict of Esslingen, June 19th, rais- 
ing the value of bis gold coins. 
Charles V. The Holland mark-weight of 
3797"2 English grains was this year offi- 
cially compared with the Paris mark of 
3777'5 English grains ; and the former 





















found to be 19'7 grains heavier (Boissard, 
p. 259). If the mark-weight developed 
from the mark of coins (" Anc. Brit.," ch. 
xvii), the superior weight of the Holland 
over the Saxony mark-weight probably 
arose when Pepin compelled 12 instead of 
11 esterlings to be paid for a gull skil- 
lingar. The Amsterdam mark-weight 
was 3798 English grains. 

Edict of Esslingen by Charles V. Degraded 
Carolus dollars 354^ grains gross, or 3021 
grains fine silver, valued at 20 stivers or 
one gulden of about 30 grains fine gold. 

Edict of Charles V, again raising the value 
of his gold coins. 

Thomas Gresham at Antwerp (Spanish go- 
vernment begins, 1555). 

Abdication of Charles V. 

Confederation of Dutch leaders against 
Spanish government. 

Revolution. Mercantile system of indi- 
vidual or " free " coinage. Gold demo- 

Pasteboard revolutionary money of Leyden. 

Union of Utrecht: separation of Belgium. 

The right of coinage, previously conferred by 
imperial authority upon the counts of 
Holland, transferred to the Spanish crown 
by Philip II, king of Spain and heredi- 
tary covint of Holland ; an act that further 
incensed the Hollanders. 

"Market" or conflict ratio of 114 (Desro- 

Philip III, of Spain, cedes the Netherlands to 
Albert of Austria and the Infanta Isabella. 

Wissel Bank of Amsterdam. 

After the Edict of Esslingen the coins were 
greatly clipped, and both the Wissel Bank 
and the Bank of Amsterdam, which this 
year superseded it, were established, among 
other objects, to remedy this evil. 

Rise of the Buccaneers ; numerous captures 
of plate ; and opening of Dutch oriental 
trade by sea. Immense sums of gold and 
silver obtained from Japan. 

Spanish plate-galleons captured nearMatanzas 
with several million livres in gold and silver 
(Van Loon). 















"Market" or conflict ratio 12A for 1 (Desro- 
toiirs, 1785 ; Gaudin, 1803). 

Independence of Holland recognised by Spain. 
Individual coinage limited to gold, which, 
however, at the mint ratio of 14-45, is 
undervalued as compared with foreign 
mints. (The Spanish mint ratio of 1650 
was 15 for 1.) 

Most of the gold ducats of the German states 
now struck in Holland for individual ac- 

Newton's repoi-t gives the ducat or 5 -florin 
gold piece, stamped " Legem Imperii," at 
52"39 grains fine, and the silver florin at 
148-9 grains fine ; a ratio of 14-31 (Kelly, 
ii, p. 153, hints at Inexact Assays : 
this might account for the discrepancy). 
Newton also says the ducats were current 
in Holland for 5^ guilders. This is evi- 
dently correct, and indicates a " mint- 
conflict " ratio, or so-called " market " ratio, 
of 14-92. The imports of gold noticed by 
him were due in some measure to the large 
foreign coinage of ducats in Holland. 

Desrotours says 14-45 ; Dutot says 14-67 ; 
which last is incorrect. 


Hamilton's Report of this year says 14-90 ; 
evidently the "conflict," not the "coin- 
age," ratio. Gold coins being now greatly 
undervalued, as compared with foreign 
mints, they cease to circulate in Holland. 

Law of December 15th. " Double standard " 
under Louis, king of Holland. Gold 400- 
stiver piece 193-4 grains fine. Silver 50- 
stivers should contain 406f grains fine ; 
actual contents (Kelly) 367'9 grains fine: 
ratio 15-2 for 1. 

Union with Belgium. Mint Act, September 
28th, 1816. The " William " of 10 florins 
was to contain 93-465 grains fine gold ; the 
florin 148-39 grains fine silver: legal ratio 
15-8765. The assays of Eckfeldt and Du 
Bois gave but 46-52 grains fine to the 
ducat, and 14874 grains fine to the florin : 
actual coinage ratio 15-98. Gold coinage 
for individuals stopped. Silver coinage 
for individuals (one and three-florin pieces) 


















again permitted. Chevalier, p. 155, savs 
that there was no gold in circulation until 
1839. Foundation of New (present) Bank 
of the Netherlands, 1814. 

Separation of Belgium. 

Gold coins again circulate in Holland (Cheva- 
lier ; Yrolik). 

Eussian gold " scare." Mint Act, September 
26th, 1847. Gold demonetised. _ The 
silver florin lowered to 145-85 grains fine 
(Schmidt's " Tate's Cambist ;" Del. Mar's 
"Money and Civilisation," p. 17). 

Gold coins melted and sold at a loss of ten 
million florins (Vrolik). 

Gold coins again cease to circulate in Holland 
(Chevalier, pp. 78, 149). 

Nevada silver " scare." In accordance with 
an Act of the previous year the individual 
coinage of silver was this year suspended. 

Mint Act, June 6th. Ten-florin gold coins 
to contain 93-334 grains fine, and open to 
individual coinage. Mint still closed to 
individual coinage of silver. Old silver 
coins not demonetised ("Etalon boiteux," 

Same provisions extended to Colonial coinage 

A poi-tion of the circulating silver aiithorised 
to be melted and sold, in order to buy gold 
for bank payments. 

The money of Holland now consists chiefly of 
paper notes, about £16,000,000, secured by 
a " reserve " in gold and supplemented by 
a subsidiary silver circulation. Population 
about 4i millions, exclusive of Colonies. 
The home circulation fluctuates between 
£3 and £4 per capita, coins and paper com- 

From this table it ^ill be observed that the ratio in the 
Netherlands, from the earliest times nearly to the reign 
of Pepin, was 8 for 1 ; in the early part of the Carlo- 
vingian era, about 12 for 1 ; between that period and the 
fall of Constantinople, from 8 to 10 for 1 ; during the 


ducal period about 10 for 1 ; and that it was fixed by- 
Charles V. at 134-, whereupon gold was demonetised 
through the influence of the East Indian traders and the 
burghers. Since that time the ratio in Holland has fol- 
lowed that of Spain and France.^ 

In Holland the history of the ratio is almost the whole- ' 
history of money. It was the ratio that distinguished its 
earlier monetary systems from that of Rome ; it was the 
ratio that, until the Carlovingian era^ marked it a pagan 
State, allied, by commerce, with the pagan cities of the 
Baltic and the great pagan Hansa, whose fleets transacted 
the maritime commerce of all northern and western. 
Europe ; it was the ratio that proclaimed the monetary 
systems of its ducal masters a cross between that of a 
struggling nationality and Imperial Eome ; it was the 
ratio that fanned into a flame the embers of that resist- 
ance to Imperial authority which had been crushed under 
foot, but had never wholly lost their fire ; it was the ratio 
by means of which the traders and money-lenders first 
asserted their undue importance in the State ; and it was 
the ratio, snatched by their strong hands from the pre- - 
rogatives of the Crown, that has enabled them to rule the i 
State and make Holland " a nation of usurers." "When \ 
they wrested from the Empire what is virtually the pre- ^ 
rogative of coinage, they demonetised gold and declared ^ 
silver coins alone fit for the high function of legal-tender j 
when the mqnarchy of 1816 was erected, they submitted 
to a system of gold and silver coins ; but no sooner did 
the lapse of time strengthen their hands, and the great yield 
of the Russian gold mines afford them a pretext, than they \ 
agitated and brought about that reliance upon a single 
metal (at a time) which constitutes the fulcrum of the ' 
mercantile system. Here the real character of the burgher 

^ The ratios in Holland which appear in Dr. Adolf Soetbeer's works 
are purely hypothetical, and were probably not intended to be regarded 
as the results of any examination of the coinage laws or coinages of that i 


class discloses itself. Their patriotism was not for Holland, 
but for the burghers. Dr. Vrolik has in vain endeavoured 
to defend them from this imputation, by alleging that the 
. " silver standard ^' was not adopted after the discovery of 
gold in Califoi-nia, but before it.^ But he has adroitly 
omitted to mention that it occurred upon the heels of the 
great discoveries of gold in the Ural, and that it is dis- 
tinctly traceable to that event. Leon Faucher very 
correctly attributed to this unpatriotic class an " insurrec- 
tion of fear.'^ It was fear for their beloved securities 
that superinduced this measure, which cost the State ten 
millions of florins and the Dutch people ten thousand 
millions ; and it was the same craven fear that in 1873 
induced this class to clamour for that " gold standard " 
which now sustains their investments, but which lowers 
their claims of patriotism to the sordid level of their 
breeches pockets. 

The existing Bank of the Nethei'lands was established 
at Amsterdam in 1814, neai'ly on the plan of the Bank of 
England. Its original capital, of which the king was 
always to hold one-tenth, was five million florins. This 
capital was doubled in 1819, and has since been increased 
to twenty million florins. The bank has the right to 
strike coins for the State, to issue circulating notes, 
discount bills, lend money, and deal in bullion and foreign 
coins. It was this institution which, in opposition to Lord 
Liverpool, furnished the reasons for monetising gold, and 
for establishing the '' double standard^' in 1816; which 
showed in 1847 (the Russian gold mines were then very 
productive) that gold was unfit for legal-tender money ; 
which in 1873 (zenith of the Comstock Lode) proved, with 
equal facility, that silver was useless, and gold the only 
proper metal for money ; and which doubtless stands 
ready, whenever the relative production of silver shall 
decline, to furnish equally pliant arguments against more 
plentiful gold, and in favour of scarce silver. In a paper 

^ Speech of Dr. Vrolik in " Eep. Inter. Monetary Conference, 1881." 


read by Professor H. B. Graven, of Leyden, before the 
British Association at Manchester, September 7th, 1887, it 
is stated that in 1881—82 the Bank's stock of gold fell to 
£600,000, and that, to provide against a recurrence of 
such a calamity, an Act was passed in April, 1884, which 
empowered it " to sell at market prices a quantity of 
twenty-five millions silver florins, when the state of the 
currency required it." According to this authority, the 
regulation of the currency of Holland lies between the 
Bank and the bullion-brokers. It is a healthy national 
constitution that can survive such a combination. 



Until A.D. 1204 the right to coin gold in Germany '"'as a pontifico- 
imperial prerogative — It then practically became a regalian right, which 
in great measure was absorbed by the two principal German states — 
Legalised as a regalian right by the Golden Bull — Exercised as such by 
numerous princes and by the burghers, until 1871, when it was acquired 
for North Germany by the New Empire — Thereupon it was almost 
immediately abandoned to the burghers — Monetary systems of Germany 
during the regal period — French forgers of the sixteenth century — 
Earliest monetary conventions — Sudden enhancement of gold by Charles 
V — The German states and burghers demonetise gold — Silver becomes 
the sole material of legal-tender money — Monetary systems of Noiih 
Germany — Conventions of sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth cen- 
turies — The ratio — The banks — Paper money — Plunder of Napoleon — 
His downfall — Confederation of the Rhine — New system — Weights — 
Origin of the ducat, skilling, and thaler — Constitution, convention, and 
currency thalers — Later monetary conventions — Quantity of money cir- 
culating in Germany — History of the ratio — Burgher or "free" coin- 
age — The California scare — Treaty of 1857 tabooing gold coins — The 
Nevada scare — Legislation of 1871-73, demonetising silver coins — 
French War Indemnity — Great increase of paper money — Efflux of gold 
in 1873-74 — Operation of the new mint laws — Gold and silver produc- 
tion of Germany — Dr. Soetbeer, the evil genius of German monetary 
policy — The future. 

T^HE history of money and monetary systems in 
-'- Germany springs from the monetary laws of the 
' Roman Empire, a snbject which has beeli treated at length 
elsewhere. Briefly, the right to strike gold coins was 
vested exclusively in the Sovereign-pontiff, who usually 
resided, and exercised this function, in Rome or Byzantium. 
Such coins were unlimited legal-tenders in all parts of the 
Empire. The principal gold coin was the solidus, or 


besant, of 72 down to 60 grains line.^ Five of these made 
the libra of account." The striking- of silver coins was 
shared between the Emperors and the subject princes, 
prelates, and municipalities of the empire. The Imperial 
silver coins were legal-tender in the " Imperial/' not in 
the " Senatorial " provinces ; the other silver coins had 
only a local course. The striking of bronze coins was 
reserved to the Senate. The Imperial tributes were 
collected in gold coins, or else in silver coins containing 
exactly twelve times as much fine metal as the gold 
ones. Hence, for a solidus of gold, was demanded a 
talent of silver. 

Substantially, this system continued unchanged until 
after the fall of Constantinople, in 1204, when all the 
princes of Europe commenced to strike gold coins for*^ 
themselves ; and the Roman Imperial system fell, to rise 
no more. With the exception of a certain unique and 
very doubtful gold piece attributed to Louis de De- 
bonnaire, no Christian prince of Germany ever struck a 
gold coin until Frederick II, in 1225, issued his magnifi- 
cent angustals. Instead of making their weight conform 
to the besant of his day, Frederick put in these coins 
nearly 82 grains fine gold, the weight of a double 
maravedi or dobla of the Saracens : — a fact, which, when 
added to other circumstances, sufficed in brief time to 
consign them to the melting-pot. Although the right to 
strike gold coins was not legally acquired by the German 
princes until it was conferred, together with the working 
of mines, by the Golden Bull of Charles lY, December 25thj 
1356, yet practically these princes were governed by the 

^ The solidus descended from the aureus of 131-|- grains, and in the 
thirteenth century was lost in the ducat of 56 grains. This again was in 
the sixteenth centuiy degraded to the gulden o£ 37^ grains. There it ex- 
pired, and became a silver coin. The weights of the solidus given in the 
text are those which prevailed duringthe Roman Imperial monetary system.j 

2 Theodosian Code, lib. xiii, tit. ii, 11 ; " Ita ut pro singulis librif' 
argenti quinos solidos inferat." Argenti here means money, not silver. 

■ ■ GERMANY. 369 

example of Frederick, and as a matter of fact many of 
them had issued gold coins before the date of the im- 
perial ordinance.-^ This closes the first period of German 
monetary systems. The palsied hand of Rome had 
reluctantly dropped the prerogative of gold, and a host of 
independent cities and princes had purchased or picked 
it up. We shall presently see what they did with it. 

From the fall of Constantinople to the discovery of 
America is a period of great confusion in the monetary 
history of Germany. Although the Roman empire had 
lost its control of money, it had still enough vitality to 
split Germany into two great parties, whose perpetual 
antagonism and undying hatred served to keep the country 
always embroiled in civil wars. The ensuing political 
chaos is faithfully reflected in the coinages. They exhibit 
every kind of corruption, deceit, degradation, debasement, 
and even forgery. To crown all, the ratio of gold to 
silver, which the Roman and Byzantine monarchs, through- 
out all their vicissitudes, had kept constant for nearly 
thirteen centuries, was now changed almost every da}-, bv 
some one or other of the numerous princes who divided, 
distracted, and misruled the splendid empire of Charle- 
magne. Whether their motives were governed by the 
interests of their principalities or by the desire of private 
gain, is hardly worth discussing. Their monetary experi- 
ments were too trivial to furnish the basis of monetary 
principles, and they yield scarcely more than a single 
lesson of any value to postei-ity. It is this : that the 
right of coinage, which during this period fell from the 
Basileus into the hands of kings, princes, prelates, and 
burghers, was abused by the latter, not because they were 
rulers, but because they were petty ones, so petty that 
their private interests were scarcely less important than 
those of the State, and, indeed, cannot always be distin- 

' Edward III. of England was authorised to coin gold in 1337, but 
Henry III. in 1257 had coined gold ■without authority (" Middle Ages 
Revisited," oh. xxx). 



guished from them. In other words, it was not the 
States, but the petty rulers of the Renaissant period who 
tampered with money. 

These corruptions of money, the pet theme of politico- 
economical pedantry, were in many cases a necessity of 
the times. It was the period of the First Renaissance. 
Europe, enthralled for thirteen centuries by the pontiffs of 
Rome, had recently thrown off its shackles and begun its 
march of pi'ogress. On Midsummer Day in 1237, the 
emperor Frederick assembled at Vaucouvers the first 
secular council of nations ever held in Europe ; in 1241 
he wrote to Henry III, that the affairs of the world were 
no longer to be monopolised by the priesthood ; whilst 
the magnificent eagles which he stamped upon the imperial 
coins in place of the agonised saints of a previous period, 
were no less significant than his resolute defiance of pon- 
tifical tyranny. With the inauguration of this progressive 
era commenced a great increase of industry, of wealth, 
and of population. Mines of gold and silver can neither 
be discovered nor rendered productive at pleasure. They 
are not amenable to man's control, but are the subjects of 
adventitious discovery and fortunate development. Hence 
in progressive eras supplies of the precious metals fail to 
keep pace with the demands of society. During the Re- 
naissance felted paper was a novelty and printing was 
unknown. How was a measure of value to be supplied 
sufficiently ample to sustain prices? The people answered 
this question by clipping the coins, and the princes of 
Germany tacitly supported the action of the people by 
degrading and debasing their subsequent issues. It is 
scarcely to be expected that these multiplications of 
money should have kept even pace with the demand for 
its use. The clippings probably failed to supply the 
additional requirement for money ; the legal degradations 
and debasements probably exceeded it. Because princes 
sometimes took advantage of the public necessity for 
increased money to make some profit for the State by 


debasing it, is no just warrant for condemning either their 
honesty or wisdom, especially at this late day, when the 
circumstances of the times are unknown or forgotten. 
They probably did the best they could do under the 
circumstances. As the stock of gold and silver relatively 
diminished, these metals increased in value. Eents and 
other fixed payments running through long terms became 
unjustly and oppressively augmented. To have refrained 
from debasing the coins would have been to increase the 
burdens of the people until they found relief in revolt and 
the overthrow of the State. 

Debasement of the coinage during the period of the 
Renaissance, was in fact commonly inaugurated not by 
the prince, but the people. It was done by clipping, 
sweating, or otherwise diminishing the quantity of fine 
metal in the coins ; so that, when under a subsequent 
edict of debasement and re-coinage they came to the 
mints, the princes really gained little or nothing by the 
transaction, and merely gave the force of law to what was 
already an accomplished fact. 

In vain were the most terrible penalties enacted against 
those who tampered with money — as torture, hanging, 
drawing and quartering. These penalties were boldly 
risked every day by people who had never committed any 
other offence, and would probably never have committed 
this one but for the pressure of that law of legal-tender 
from which the mines of this period afforded an insufficient 

I repeat, that the monetary experiments of the Re- 
naissant period, whether in Germany or any other of the 
Western Christian states, are of little use as guides to 
modern legislation. A portion of them were not the 
experiments of States, but the financial shifts of indivi- 
duals ; another portion were dictated by the hampered and 
stationary condition of mining as compared with a growing 
population and commerce ; while still another portion, 
(changes in the ratio) were due to the loss of that central 


control whicli the Eoman imperial government, at Con- 
stantinople, had exercised over the coinage and the silver 
valuation of gold. Hence it is that among the few 
writers on money who have condescended to consult history 
on this subject, and who have a case to make against this 
or that kind of money, they invariably select this period 
of chaos for the foundation of their special pleadings. 
Leave out of view the Roman control of money and its 
loss with the fall of Constantinople, ignore the influence 
of the moslem and Gothic monetary systems, avoid all 
mention of the usurpation of the coining prerogative by 
the trading companies, adventurers, and monopolists of 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and you can prove 
anything you like about money, — you can even prove that 
money is not money at all, but merely bits of metal whose 
value is governed by the present economic cost of their 
pi'oduction in the mines ! 

Although the right of coinage continued to be exercised 
by numerous rulers in Germany, down to the period (1871), 
when it fell to the new empire, yet it was practically 
absorbed for several centuries by the Austrian and 
Prussian monarchies, whose extensive territories, numerous 
population, diversified industries, or great military re- 
sources, enabled their coinages to substantially fill the 
channels of circulation.^ The strangest circumstance is 
that the new empire had no sooner acquired this most 
important of all imperial or regalian rights, than, under 
the advice of Dr. Soetbeer and his Metallic School, it was 
immediately abandoned to the burghers. Fortunately, it 
is within the power of the imperial government to resume 
this prerogative whenever it chooses. This is a subject 
to which we shall revert further on. 

On June 8th, 1386, that is to say, shortly after the 
ordinance of Charles IV, the four Electors of the Rhine 
entered into a coinage union which had for its object the 

' Foi' history of money in Austria, see "Money and Civilisation," ch.. 


uniformity of the coins and theii' preservation from abuse. 
This was distinctly a national act, the happy precursor of 
that Bund which five centuries later drew all the North 
German states from under the mouldy and rotten canopy 
of Rome to that of a common Fatherland. In the six- 
teenth century the importance of the new supplies of gold 
and silver from America led to a rise of prices, which, 
beginning in Spain, soon spread to France and the com- 
mercial cities of Europe, but not yet to Germany. In 
that country the comparative scarcity of money was to 
some extent supplied by the spurious mintages of an 
organised band of forgers, who resided in France. The 
marquis of Tavannes, a representative noble, rendered his 
class odious and his name ridiculous by recommending 
the coinage of iron commodity money in place of gold and 
silver coins, with the selfish view to arrest the rise of 
prices. He assures us that many French nobles of this 
period retained professed forgers in their castles, dignified 
them with the title of " philosophers," and fraternised 
with them by admitting them to their tables. Because 
they refrained, or professed to refrain, from counterfeiting 
French coins, and confined their operations to German 
ducats, thalers, and florins, they complacently deemed 
themselves free from all reproach. The example set by 
the barons was followed by the monarch. Charles IX. 
(1560—74) was himself an expert foi'ger of coins, and 
devoted much of his leisure time to this elevating pursuit. 
The practice reached its climax in the reign of his 
successor, Henry III, when, owing perhaps to the pre- 
cautions taken in Germany, the art of baronial forgery fell 
into inferior hands and suffered a rapid decline. Salcede, 
who was executed for treason in 1582, had purchased a 
large estate from the profits of forging German coins.-^ 
In the same century a Correspondenz was formed 

^ Tavannes, pp. 132-33; Brantome, iv, cap. Fran., p. 29, in Wraxall's 
"Hist. France," ed. 1795, ii, p. 334; Busbeg, Letter viii, in "Wraxall, ii, 
p. 438. 


between several of the German states, providing mainly 
for uniform coinages and a general circulation. The 
texts of several monetary ordinances of this period are 
given by Budelius.^ 

This century witnessed an extraordinary event in Ger- 
many. During the regal period — from the thirteenth to 
the sixteenth century — the common ratio of silver to gold 
in the coinages of Germany was about 10 for 1. By an 
imperial edict dated at Esslingen, November lOth, 1524, 
Charles Y. ordered the mark of gold to be coined into 
89 gold guilders, -^ fine, and the mark of silver 
into 8 talents, or thalers, y^- fine. As this talent and 
guilder had the same value, this was a ratio of 11 ••38 for 1. 
In 1546 the emperor, who, although he struck no gold 
coins in Spain, monopolised the coinage of gold in Holland, 
Germany, Italy, and America, suddenly raised by pro- 
clamation the value of his gold coins to 13^ times their 
weight in silver of the same standard. These arbitrary 
acts lie at the base of the Dutch revolt, and had much to 
do with the subsequent history of Germany. That vast 
country was not yet sufficiently united for revolt, but it 
expressed its reprobation of this measure by boycotting 
gold. One after another the German rulers forbade or 
discouraged the tendering of gold coins in payment of 
debts. From this time forward the gulden was commonly 
paid in silver coins ; the ample ducaton, or talent, of 
silver, supplanting the unpopular and discredited ducat 
of gold. 

The arrest of commercial development, which followed 
these conflicting acts, was one of several causes which led 

' The legislators who met at Xuremburg in 1438 even -went so far as 
to hint at private mintage as a remedy for the corruption of coins, a 
suggestion that was actually realised some two centuries later. Such a 
device, as it afterwards proved, was indeed a remedy for corrupt coins, 
but not for an unstable and fluctuating measure of value ; a proof, if any 
were needed, that coins separately and coins collectively, or a monetary 
system (like separate individuals and the body politic) conform to very 
pifEerent natural laws. 


to the disturbed state of Germany during the seventeenth 
century. Religion has commonly been assigned as the 
pretext both for the revolt of the Netherlands and the 
Thirty Years' War. Upon a closer inspection of the 
circumstances which gave bii'th to these great events, 
the decrees of Charles V., the demonetisation of gold, the 
fall of prices, and the industrial depression that followed, 
will all be found lurking behind. 

But the fierce passions evoked by these wars, and the 
horrible scenes which characterised the last one, swept 
away all recollection of the causes that led to them. 
Though many valuable treatises on money had been written 
in the interval — notably those republished by Budelius — 
which ought to have directed public attention to the 
subject, they were consigned to obscurity. The Peace of 
Westphalia should have been accompanied by the re- 
habilitation of gold ; but no statesman of the period 
appears to have perceived the plain truth, that Germany 
could not share the commercial prosperity of the maritime 
states of Europe so long as she excluded from her legal- 
tender circulation one-half of the world's accumulations 
of the precious metals. 

The German monetary systems of this era were almost 
universally based upon silver coins. In Prussia, for 
example, the circulation (not to mention base silver coins 
and coppers) was filled chiefly by the currency-thaler, 
legally of 257J English grains fine silver, actually 252'6 
grains fine, and the gold ducat, of legally 53-14, actually 
52-6 grains fine, each ducat being nominally valued at 2| 
currency-thalers. This was a nominal ratio of 13^, and a 
coinage one of 134- for 1 ; thus— 2| x 257-75 =708-8125 
^53-14 = 13i; or, 2fx 252-15 = 694-25 -r52-t) = 13i. But 
gold coins were not legal-tender ; people accepted or 
refused them at pleasure, and virtually their coinage was 
relinquished to individuals who deposited their bullion 
in the mints of Holland or England, where it was coined 
1 Bayard Taylor's " Hist. Germany," pp. 409-10. 


into ducats or nobles that had no permanent legal value 
in Germany. In short, the Prussian system of money 
stood essentially in the same attitude that it did when 
Germany refused the gold coins of Charles V. 

Beyond the so-called empire, the effects of the ill-timed 
ordinance of 1546, though of an entirely different character, 
were fully as eventful. That command of the i*atio which 
Rome had so long maintained by the force of pontifical 
law, Spain had acquired through her practical monopoly 
of the supplies of the coinage-metals from America. The 
edict of Charles Y. flung this advantage away. It taught 
the kings of Spain (for Charles was king of Spain as well 
as emperor of Germany) a new device whereby to replenish • 
their treasuries. In 1641 they raised the value of their 
gold coins to 14 times that of silver ; in 1650, to 15 ; 
and in 1690 to 16 times. Here this strained device broke 
down, and Spain lost the hegemony of the ratio. The 
abandonment of the coinage of both the precious metals 
in Holland and England to individuals, and the virtual 
demonetisation of gold in Germany, had erected, for the 
first time in the history of the European world, a conflict 
price, or international mint ratio of value, between the 
precious metals, which at the last-named period stood at 
about 14^ for 1. Measured by the conflict-ratio, that in 
Spain was too high; in Prussia too low. In deference to 
the new arbiter of mint ratios, the crown of Spain has- 
tened, in 1760, to lower the value of its gold to 14^, and 
in 1775 to raise it to 15|. The imperturbable Prussians 
simply varied the premium on gold ducats.^ 

Returning from this digression to an account of German 
monetary conventions ; in 1667 was effected the coinage 
agreement (Recess) of Zinna, to which the Electors of 
Saxony and Brandenburg and the house of Brunswick- 
Luneburg were substantially parties. Passing over some 
minor ordinances of 1669 and 1680, in 1690 a coinage 
union, based on the Lubeck system, and establishing a 
1 Kelly's " Cambist." 


or THr 


GERMANY. *• " ' ""'^ 377 

common coinage rate^ was effected at Leipsig between the 
same parties. This rate was made common throughout 
the now shadowy empire by the decree of September 
10th, 1738.^ On September 21st, 1753, a coinage treaty 
was effected between Austria and the electorate of 
Bavaria, to which in the following year several other 
German States acceded. The table below shows that 
under this treaty was struck a convention-thaler of 353f 
grains fine silver. In 1 763 an imperial decree — which, 
however, excepted Prussia, Hanover, Liege, Swedish 
Pomerania, Hamburg, Lubeck, and Holstein ; that is to 
say, the kernel of the future North German Bund — 
established a convention coinage rate of 20 florins, or 13^ 
riks thalers currency, or lOriks thalers effective, to the mark 
of fine silver. This gives 1S0"4 grains fine silver to the 
j florin, 270*6 grains fine silver to the riks thaler currency, 
' and 360'8 grains fine silver to the riks thaler effective. 
The table below shows that the Austrian '^ effectives " 
[struck under this convention actually contained but 353*7 
; grains, and that Saltzburg alone struck them of full 
weight. On February 22nd, 1765, and January 19th, 1766, 
1 coinage unions were effected at Frankfort and Worms 
' between the Electors of Mainz and Treves, the palatinate 
Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and the free city of 
i Frankfort ; and in 1772 these conventions were modified. 
Meanwhile the fluctuations of gold and the unsatisfac- 
tory condition of all monetary institutes, occasioned by the 
arbitrary mint laws of Spain and the surrender of the 
coinage in Holland and England to individuals (called 
"free coinage ''), promoted the foundation of the banks 
of Berlin and Breslau in 1765, and suggested the Prussian 
royal ordinance of 1766. This ordinance extended to the 
banks and their branches throughout the king's dominions. 
Following an ancient Roman precedent, the king authorised 
and ordered their accounts to be kept in " pounds," or 
" thalers banco,^' each divided into 24 banco groschen, 
1 Kelly's " Cambist." 

378 HISTORY or monetary systems in various states. 

and these into 12 banco pfennigs; hence there wen' 
288 pfennigs to the '^ pound." Although Prussia did nof 
see fit to join with Austria in the Convention of 1753, sht 
nevertheless coined a silver thaler^ not indeed of precisely 
the weight provided by that Convention, but very close 
to it, and fully or more than equal in weight to the 
Convention thalers of the other German states. This 
was the so-called Prussian Convention thaler of (actually) 
359 grains fine. It was alsa the ^^ pound" or "banco 
thaler " of Frederick the Great. We shall revert to its 
historical origin later on. The currency thaler of 252*6 
grains fine was 29f per cent, lighter than the banco 
thaler. These the banks gave credit for at the rate of 
31|^ per cent, worse than banco, and thus made a profit 
of If per cent, on all deposits of silver ''currency." ^ The 
gold ducats, of (nominally) 2| currency thalers each, 
fluctuated, in silver money price, with the conflict-ratio. 
During the third quai'ter of the eighteenth century the 
ducats and "Fredericks," or pistoles, the latter (nominally) 
of 5 currency thalers each, were taken by the Prussian 
banks at a price in silver which closely agreed with the 
Dutch mint ratio of 14| ; whereas towards the close of 
the century, and for a long time afterwards, it was dis- 
tinctly influenced by the combined Spanish and French 
ratios of 15^.^ The banks of Prussia were authorised by 
the decree of 1766 to issue notes of 10, 20, 50, 500, and 
1000 " pounds " each, but these were not legal-tenders 
until a later period. 

The political storm which ravaged Europe towards the 
beginning of the present century was not without its 
effects on the monetary history of North Germany. The 
Confederation of the Rhine was established in 1806, and 
expired in 1813; the paper notes of Prussia were na- 
tionalised in 1806, and are in circulation to-day. By a 
decree published in 1807 they were to be taken for 
coined money, at a rate of exchange to be ofiicially pro- 
1 Kelly's " Cambist." ^ ibj^j^ 



mulgated from time to time. Between December 1st, 1807, 
and Febi'uary 28th, 1809, the premium on silver money 
fluctuated between 7 and 27 per cent. ; in June, 1809, 
the notes stood at 36 per cent, of their nominal value ; 
June, 1810, at 84^ per cent.; January, 1812, 13^; De- 
sember, 1812, when, of eight million thalei's issued, there 
were believed to be only three quarters of a million in 
sirculation,^ the notes stood at only 44^ per cent. ; June, 
1813, 264 per cent. ; July, 1813, 24^ per cent. ; Decem- 
ber, 1813, 49^ per cent. ; January, 1815, 88 per cent. ; 
January 5th, 1816, 99 per cent. ; afterwards at par.^ The 
Saxony treasury notes never fell below 98, and the 
government retired them in 1804 at an agio, which began 
it 9 pfennigs and ended at 1 pfennig, per thaler.'^ But 
Prussia was in the centre of the hurricane, and was 
)bliged to increase her emissions of paper, and to enforce 
ts circulation. In January, 1815, refusal to accept the 
lotes at par, except in certain cases, was made punishable 
by a fine of 500 to 1000 thalers, or by six to twelve months 
imprisonment. In April, 1815, it was ordered that the 
noiety of all taxes should be paid in paper money, or that, 
if not, 8| per cent, should be added as a penalty. In 
1827 this penalty was reduced to one silver groschen ; 
ind although long fallen into desuetude, it was not 
ibolished until 1870. In 1830, 1841, and 1848 the banks 
sustained runs for the redemption of the paper money. 
[n the run of 1848 the demand did not exceed 40,000 
whalers per day, nor altogether 100,000 thalers.* Previous 
,:o this (1846) the amount annually presented for re- 
demption did not exceed four-tenths of 1 per cent. 

In the early part of the century the stock of the precious 
netals in Germany was greatly reduced by the depreda- 
tions of Napoleon, who sent the spoil to France, and thus 

* Decree of January 19th, 1813, sec. 9. 

2 Roscher, i, p. 454; ii, p. 14, ^ Ibid., i, p. 448; ii, p. 5. 

•* Bergius, " Tubinger Zeitschrift," 1870, p. 226. 

5 Eau, " Archiv," v, pp. 125, 207. 


conferred upon its mints that hegemony of the ratio (thi 
Spanish 15^) which it held for nearly a century^ but t( 
which it was entitled neither by prescription, nor througl 
its mines, nor its commercial advantages.^ 

With the downfall of Napoleon, Germany resumed he 
wonted calm and industi'ial progression. 

On June 8th, 1815, the Confederation of the Rhine wa 
supplanted by the Germanic Confederation, which for 
time united not only North Germany, but also Austria 
Bavaria, and Wurtemburg. 

The monetary system of North Germany at this period 
is described by Dr. Kelly. It was based on the currencj 
thaler, which he gives at 257*78 grains fine silver. Th 
gold ducat of 53*14 grains fine, was valued nominally 
2 J currency thalers — a nominal ratio of 13^ for 1. Th 
gold Frederick, or pistole, of 93*45 grains fine, was nominal! 
valued at 5 currency thalers — a nominal ratio of 13*8 fo 
1. The first is the old Charles V. ratio ; the second 
modification of it. But neither of these ratios wer 
effective, for gold coins were not legal-tender and t' 
ducat commanded a premium of 20 per cent, and the pistol 
15 per cent. ; making the effective ratio about 16 for 1 
the same as in Spain. However, during the first quarte; 
of the century the premium on gold fluctuated withii 
limits that varied the effective ratio between the Spanis 
mint ratios of 15| and 16 ; a proof, if one were needed,|l 
that the hegemony of the ratio was not in Germany.^ 

The system of weights for the precious metals in 
Cologne during the sixteenth century is thus given by 
Budelius : — 32 ieschen or eisen, or moments = 1 esterling, 
engel, or pennyweight ; 19 engels = 1 ounce ; 8 ounces 
= 1 mark. The ies contained 0*74177625, say f of 1 
English grain ; the esterling, 23*737 grains ; the ounce, 
451 ; and the mark, 3608 grains.^ The Cologne weights 

1 This subject is treated in " Money and Civilisation." 

2 Kelly, i, p. 34. 

^ In this system 2 ieschen were called a duisch ; 3 a trii ; 4 a quart, etc, 


of the eighteenth century are thus given by Dr. Kelly : — 
17 iesclieu^ or eschen = 1 pfennig ; 4 pfennigs = 1 
quintlin ; 4 quintlins = l loth ; 2 loths = l ounce ; 8 ounces 
= 1 mark. The ies contained 0-829045, say 0-83 of 1 
English grain ; the pfennig, 14'09375 grains ; the quintlin, 
56| grains ; the loth, 225^ grains ; and the ounce and 
inark_, the same as before. To the experienced metro- 
logist it is evident that both of these are hybrid systems, 
originating remotely in the octonary numbers and relations 
of the sun-worship practised in the countries of the 
Baltic. In the first system it takes 4864 ieschen to make 
a mark; in the second, it takes but 4352. The odd numbers 
of 19 engels to the ounce and 17 ieschen to the pfennig- 
taken in connection with the common use of coins in 
ancient times, both for weights, measures, and other 
.numerical relations — suggest that the basis of the system 
was not the mark, but the ies; a suspicion that, could it 
be safely established, would upset a good many current 
theories, both metrological aud numismatic.^ 

The weight system of Troy (Troyes) was as follows : — 
1^ ieschen, or moments = 1 grain ; 24 grains = 1 ester- 
ling, or pennyweight ; 20 esterlings = 1 ounce ; 8 ounces 
= 1 mark of 3840 English grains. Here the ies contains 
exactly f of a grain." 

The system of Nuremburg (Noribergensis) was as 
.follows : — 1 pfennig = 14"336 English grains ; 4 pfennigs 
= 1 quintlin ; 4 quintlins = 1 loth ; 2 loths = 1 ounce ; 8 
ounces = 1 mark of 3670 grains.^ 

It is well known that the name of the ducat is derived 
from dux or duke, but the significance of the name is lost 
in failing to observe that the coin itself is a degraded 
solidus^ and that it was called a ducat only after the 
right to coin it was lost by the Basileus and usurped by 

' Some features of this subject are discussed in " Money and Civilisa- 
tion," chap, i, and "Ancient Britain," chap. xvii. 

- Budelius, p. 30, 

^ The subdivisions are from Budelius, whilst the equivalents in Eng- 
lish grains are from Kelly. 


the dukes, pi'elates, or vassal princes of liis moribum 
empire. The last gold coins struck by the Basileus wer 
the solidi of the Comnenus family, toward the close o 
the twelfth century, containing each a trifle under 6i 
grains fine gold ; the first ducat was struck by Alfonso IX 
of Leon, in 1225, and contained 54^ grains fine gold.^ 

The name of the skilling is evidently derived from th 
oriental " sical," or cut money, whence we have alsi 
"sicca," " shekel,'^ '' scissors,'^ " chisel," and many othe 
names for cntting-instruments and their products. Cut 
money and knife-money were both common in the Orient 
and doubtless made their way, at a very remote period 
across the steppes of Tartary to the Baltic." 

In a former work I followed the voice of numismati( 
authority and assigned the origin of the name " thaler,' 
or " dollar/' to " thai," or " dol," a vale or valley, anc 
repeated the idle tale of Budelius about the JoachimsthaL 
and Count Schlick. I am now convinced that the thale: 
has a far more significant origin. The ancient Greel 
and Roman systems both included coins or sums o: 
money called talents, neither resembling, nor immediately 
connected with, the weights called talents. In the rega 
and ducal systems of the Renaissance, when the prevail' 
ing ratio was 10 silver for 1 gold,' broad silver coins were 
struck each containing 10 (in the Gothic States 8) 
times as much fine metal as a gold ducat, and known 
variously as a talent, ducatone, cross, scudo, ecu, or silver 
ducat, and valued as one gold ducat. From the thirteenth 
century, when it contained 565i grains fine silver, the 
talent, or thaler, gradually dwindled down to about 400 
grains, when it was known in Germany (this was in the 
sixteenth century) as a Constitution thaler. During the 
following century the thaler lost some 30 or 40 grains 

^ "Middle Ages Revisited," ch. xx. - Ibid., ch. xxxvi. 

^ "Delia Decima, della Moneta e della Mercatura," Florence, 1765, 
shows that from 1262 to 1495 the mint ratio in Florence was always 
close to 10 for 1, sometimes a fraction over and sometimes under. 



nore, and was called a Convention thaler. When another 
lundred grains were lost it was called a currency thaler. 
The following tables exhibit the gradual degradation of 
his famous coin. 

Taleivt or silver thaler of the Renaissance and afterwards. 

Engr. ofi-s. fine. 

Same piece, called scudo (Kelly) 

Scudo, Piedmont, 1770 (K) . 

. 490 

1755 (K) . 

. 489 

Ducaton, Holland, old (K) .... 

. 4741 

new (K) . 

. 4711 

„ Liege, 1671 

. 465i 

Tuscany, 1676 .... 

. 460 

Scudo della Croce, Venice (K) 

. 458J 

„ of Genoa, 8 lire, 1796 (K) . 

. 457§ 

„ Ligurian Republic, 1805 (K) 

. 4541 

Ecu of Lorraine, 1710 (K) 

. 427 

German Constitution thalers. 

Austria, Siglsmund, silver gulden ..... 452 

Esslingen, Charles V, 1524, silver gulden . . . 423f 

Augsburg, „ 1551, „ ... 425 

„ „ 1559, „ 60 kreutzers . 3o3i 

Cologne, reichs or riks thaler, 18tli century . . . 404 

Nuremburg 402i 

Hanover 400| 

Austria, before 1753 390 

German Convention thalers — mostly eighteenth century. 

Hamburg reichs-thaler, 1687 to 1850, average weigbt . 385f 

Frankfoi-t-on-Maine, 1772 365§ 

Saxony 360| 

Brunswick, 1753 359| 

Prussia, Kuremburg and Manheim .... 359 

Bavaria, 1753 . 358f 

Saltzburg 358^ 

Austria, 1753 (nominally 361 gr.), actually . . . 353f 

Cologne 353f 

Hesse Cassel 353 


Germany Currency thalers — eighteenth century (Kelly). 

Eug. grs. fini 
South Germ., riks thai. Treaty Sept. 21st, 1753, legal 270-6 
Hesse Cassel, riks thaler, 1778, actual .... 270-3 

Poland, 1794, new riks thaler 
Prussia, riks thaler 
Auspack (Prussia) old riks . 
Saxe-Gotha, riks . 
Bareuth (Prussia) old riks 


Tliese tables show the gradual degradation of the thale 
in Germany. In Spain and America during the eighteentl 
century it never fell below 371 3- grains fine^ and there i 
stands to-day in the coinages of the United States. Ii 
Spain it has since fallen to 349-17 grains fine, whilst ii 
North Germany, where it is still an unlimited legal 
tender, it contains but 257-g grains fine, and is legalh 
valued at three imperial marks. 

On the 25th of August, 1837, a monetary conventioi 
was concluded at Munich between several States of th( 
German empire.^ 

On the 30th July, 1838, a monetary convention was 
concluded at Dresden between the States of the Zollverein 
in which the old weight of the Cologne mark (360J 
English grains) was recognised as equal to 233-851 
metric grammes. The mark of fine silver was agreed to b( 
coined into 14 thalers, or 24| florins. From 1st January 
1841, the thaler above defined was to be the sole ful' 
legal-tender money of the Prussian States^ Saxe-Royali 
Electoral Hesse, Saxony, Saxe-Altenburg, Duchy of Saxe- 
Coburg- and Gotha, Schwartzburg-Rudolstadt, Schwartz- 
burg-Sonderhausen, and the Reuss States. The florir 
was to be the sole full legal-tender money of Bavaria. 
Wurtemburg, Baden, Ducal Hesse, Saxe-Meiningen, Ducal 
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Nassau, Principality of Schwartz- 
burg-Rudolstadt, and Frankfort. Besides this, a new, 
coin of 2 thalers, or 3^ florins, was to be struck, 7 to the 
1 MacGregor's " Statistics," i, p. 543. ! 


mark fine, wliicli sliould be legal in all the States of the 

The coinage laws above established were ratified by 
the Treaty of Berlin, March 8th, 1841. Coins fabricated 
agreeably to these provisions were declared the legal- 
tenders of the Union. ^ 

On March 27th^ 1845, a coinage treaty was effected at 

On October 21st, 1845, a monetary cartel was effected at 
Carlsruhe, to provide for the punishment of all offences 
against the prerogative of coining and of issuing paper 
money. To this cartel, and to another one effected Feb- 
ruary 19th, 1853, all the States of the Zollverein were 

The total circulation of a given State is the most im- 
portant feature of its monetary system, since it is that 
which influences prices, and can be made to exercise a 
most powerful influence in stimulating or retarding in- 
dustrial progress. Yet it is precisely that feature con- 
cerning which Ave commonly possess the least reliable 
information. The usual method of estimating the cir- 
culation is to add together the coinages, the paper emis- 
' sions, and the imports of coins^ and to subtract the exports 
'and an allowance for re-coinages, wear, tear, and loss. 
But this method is so defective that it can only furnish a 
remote approximation to the truth.^ The table below 
'embraces most of the estimates which have fallen beneath 
the author's observation. Such estimates as were originally 
made in other denominations of money than German 
currency thalers are reduced to that denomination upon 
the following rough scale of equivalents : — 3 imperial 
marks (of 1871) = 1 currency thaler ; 1^ currency 
thalers = 1 convention thaler, or 1 Spanish or American 
dollar ; 6§ currency thalers = 1 English pound sterling. 
Sums of money in millions of currency thalers. 

' MacGregor's " Statistics," i, p. 544. - Ibid., i, p. 507. 

^ For a more ample discussion of the subject consult " Science of 
Money," chap. iii. 





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It is evident that some of these estimates are little 
more than conjectures, based upon currency theories. 
Soetbeer's later estimates are too high in gold. A 
tolerably safe and approximately correct estimate of the 
circulation of all Germany would probably be c€l per 

XoTEs TO THE Table. — * Eau, ii, p. 161, says that in 1780 Berlin 
bank-notes commanded a premium, but he fails to say in what. Pro- 
; bably in Convention thalers. - Krug, i, p. 244; Roscher, i, p. 374, 
1 n. 1. The discrepancy in the population is probably due to the inclusion 
; of Prussian Poland, for which, however, Krug makes no allowance in his 
; estimate of the circulation. ^ This estimate (1805) was made by the 
t authorities of Prussia, forwarded to the government of the United States, 
i and published by the latter in their Annual Finance Report. ■* ZVIem- 
; minger credits Wurtemburg in 1840 with a total money of about 12 cur- 
j rency thalers per capita (36 million gulden), whilst B. Hildebrand credits 
I the Electorate of Hesse in 1853 with about 8 currency thalers per capita, 
of which nearly one-half were paper notes (Roscher, i, p. 374, n. 2). 
'" In August, 1869, the various states of the Confederation (exclusive of 
; Bavaria, Wu.i-temburg, and Baden) had in circulation paper money to the 
amount of 40,652,742 thalers (" Rep. U.S. Bu. Stat.," Sept., 1873).' « This 
- t revised estimate made by Soetbeer, and is probably nearer the fact 
: .111 his previous statements relating to this period. On January 21st, 
1^70, the Bank of Prussia and its branches had in circulation 142:J 
million thalers, the other banks of the Confederation 70J millions, and 
. South Germany say 40 millions ; total, 252i millions (" U.S. Bu. Stat.," 
i Sept., 1873. The coin estimate (after Soetbeer) is given in Roscher, i, 
p. 374, n. 2. " Year 1871. In this estimate the paper money is evi- 
dently uudei-stated. ** Year 1873. Paper money 106 millions more 
i than previous year. ^ In 1873-4 a portion of the French War In- 
demnity gold was drawn away from Germany. In 1875 the issues of 
paper money were 1205 million marks (" U.S. Com. Rel.," 1875, p. 534). 
''^' In 1876 the paper money was wrongly stated at 1038 million marks 
(•• U.S. Com. Rel," 1876, p. 304). Of this amount 4<32 millions were 
'"uncovered" (" U.S. Con. Rep.," 1875). " Year 1879. In Soetbeer's 
estimate the gold is greatly exaggerated. i- Mint Director of the 

I United States (Report, 1893, p. 52). The Director says : '• Uncovered 
. notes, 59,680,000 American dollars," equal to 89,520,000 German 
thalers. As "uncovered notes" involves an assumption and a theoiy 
wliich as applied to currency statistics may not be sound, I have in- 
cluded the whole issue of notes. However, its extravagant amount of 
• gold rendere the estimate worthless. 


capita at the beginning of the century ; something less 
than £2 in 1850; and about £3 10s. at the present 
time. The average circulation of all Europe and America 
in 1893 was about £3 per capita, including paper 
money. At the rate of £3 10s. per capita Germany 
has in circulation more than an -average share of tlie 
money of the Western world. 

Besides her circulating money Germany possesses a 
war-chest of the precious metals, which, according to 
Arthur Young, amounted in 1790 to £15,000,000 sterling 
in silver, and which at the present time is said to consist 
of 40,000,000 thalers in gold.^ 

Before taking leave of the statistics of the circulation 
it may be proper to observe that German monetary statis- 
tics are not exceptionally inflated ; that exaggeration 
characterises such statistics in most countries ; and that 
the world's commerce is in fact conducted upon a much 
smaller metallic basis than is commonly supposed. 

In a foot-note to the table given above it is held that to 
include in the circulation of a State only that portion of 
its paper money which is " uncovered " by a reserve or 
guarantee of coins or securities involves an assumption 
and a theory which may not be sound, and that for 
this reason all the paper money issued was included in 
the table. It is now in order to briefly examine this 
subject. The assumption referred to is that when coins 
or bullion are deposited as a reserve to secure the payment 
of notes, it is erroneous to count both the coins or bullion 
and the notes as portions of the circulation. The answer 
to this is that so far as regards bullion, it is not money, 
that it is not counted in the circulation at all, and that to 
omit to count the notes issued upon its guarantee, or 
assumed guarantee, would be to omit an important element 

1 Arthur Young, "Travels in France," i, p. 519 ; "Eep. U.S. Bu. Stat.," 
Sept., 1873, p. 137 ; " Eep. Indian Curr. Com.," 1893, p. 211. The German 
war-fund (Act, Nov. 11th, 1871) is at Spandau entirely withdrawn from 
ch'culation. f 


of the circulation. The same answer applies to govern- 
ment bonds, — indeed, to any other form of reserve except 
full legal-tender coins. With regard to the latter, could 
it always be positively ascertained what proportion of the 
reserve consisted of such coins, it is admitted that to count 
them, together with the notes issued upon their guarantee, 
as portions of the circulation, would be erroneous ; but 
such is not the case. Banking establishments do not, 
as a rule, specify what proportions of their reserves con- 
sist of full legal-tender coins. For example, the Bank 
of England has the right under the Act of 1844 to hold 
one-fifth of its reserve in silver, which, whether coined 
or uncoined, is not full legal-tender. But it is not 
: required to, and in fact does not, inform the public how 
; much of its reserves consists of such silver. I am pri- 
I vately informed that at the present time no portion of its 
I reserve consists of silver. According to Professor Greven 
the Bank of the Netherlands enjoys a similar privilege, 
[ the proportion of silver being not merely one-fifth, but 
whatever the Bank deems proper. Says that authority : 
" Every banker knows that when he needs gold for 
I export, and the Bank (of the Netherlands) cannot pay in 
i gold, it will give him so much silver as will enable him to 
; buy a quantity of gold equal in value to so many gold 
I coins as the notes offered for payment represent." In 
I the United States the same bag of coins often masquerades 
j now as the reserve of one bank, and now of another. How 
I far similar subterfuges are employed in the various private 
' banking establishments of Germany is not known, and in 
, the absence of such knowledge it is deemed safer to 
include the entire paper issues in the circulation. This 
at least is a known quantity; the " reserves," as ex- 
perience has too often and too sadly proved, may only exist 
in the playful imagination of that fortunate class who 
: have secured the prerogative to issue bank money. So 
■ much for the assumption that the value of bank reserves 


should be deducted from the sum of coins and notes. 
Now for the theory of " uncovered paper.^' 

According to this theory the privilege to issue paper 
money is justified if the issuer retains a reserve, let us 
say, in full legal-tender coins, sufficient, under ordinary 
circumstances, to meet the demands for the payment of 
his issues. This is a very disingenuous presentation of 
the case ; and the economists, never suspecting its artful- 
ness, have been content to discuss the amplitude of re- 
serves and other details of a like character, wholly 
neglecting- to inquire whether there is not another aspect 
of the reserve theory which is of superior importance to 
the State, than security for payment of the notes. That 
superior aspect is the absence of any guarantee that the 
notes shall remain in the circulation — a guarantee that 
has never been demanded bv governments and never 
offered by private banks of issue, from the fatal day 
when they were first chartered to the present. And yet 
it needs but little reflection to perceive that the interests 
of the State, of society, of industry, of commerce, and 
the arts, are jeopardised a thousand times more by a 
contraction of the currency, than b}' the losses which 
A, B, or C may sustain in failing to receive payment for 
the notes they may hold of the banks. Such losses are 
the misfortunes of individuals, and are soon repaired ; but 
contraction of the currency is a wound inflicted upon the 
State — or in other words, upon the active forces which 
constitute its strength, — and against such a wound, bank 
reserves offer no defence whatever. 

Some particulars of the history of the ratio in Germany 
have already been given. The following remarks and table 
will render this account more complete and continuous. 
Down to the thirteenth century the ratio in the coinages 
of the northern states of Germany, including Lubeck and 
Hamburg, varied but slightly from the Eoman pontifico- 
imperial ratio of 12 for 1. During the thirteenth century 
the influence of the Eoman ratio for the first time 


exhibited signs o£ decline. Less silver and more gold 
was now put into the coins of the various Christian states 
or provinces, and still less into those which, like .Pome- 
rania and the Baltic provinces, had been but recently 
converted to Christianity, and had previously coined at 
the Gothic pagan ratio of 8 for 1. For example, the 
talent of 1484 only contained 451 gi^ains, a ratio of 8 for 1 ; 
while in the coinage of the Teutonic monk-knights during 
the last thirty years of the fifteenth century the ratio was 
9 for 1. 

The enhanced value accorded to silver in the German 
states during the Renaissant period is shown in the 
following valuations derived from the average of pur- 
chases (not the issues) of the Lubeck mint: — a.d. 1411, 
average for eight years past 12 for 1 ; 1451, average 
for forty years past 11*7 for 1 ; 1463, average for 
twelve years past 11 '6 for 1 ; 1475, average of several 
North German coinages for one year 11 for 1. Speaking 
generally, the coinages of the Renaissance exhibit a ratio 
of about 10 for 1 ; but the exceptions were numerous. 
However, the ratio never exceeded 12 for 1 ; and silver 
was sometimes raised to a fourth, a third, and even to 
half the value of gold, weight for weight. 

With the discovery of America commenced a new 
order of affairs. The control of the ratio, which Rome 
had lost and the Christian princes of Europe had acquired, 
was now monopolised by Spain, through its command of 
the new supplies and its comparatively vast coinages of 
the precious metals. We have seen how these advantages 
were abused by Charles V, and our table will therefore 
commence with the ratios established by that monarch. 

The ratio between silver and gold in Germany. 



Year. • 









Edict Chas. V. at Esslingen. 




Edict Clias. V. Gold boycotted by the 


13i- ' 


Deduced from coinages of Upper Ger- 




Deduced from coinages of Ferdi- 
nand I. 




Deduced from coinages of Ferdi- 
nand II. 1 




Desrotours ; the empire generally. i 




Deduced from coinages of Upper Ger- \ 
many. Leopold I. 




Deduced from coinages of Upper Ger- 
many. Leopold I. \ 




Deduced from quotations in Berlin 
" banco." 




Coinage Convention of Vienna, Sep- 
tember 21st. 




Deduced from quotations in Berlin 
" banco." 




Deduced from quotations in Berlin 
" banco." 




Deduced from quotations in Berlin 




Law, September 30th. Frederick d'or 
103-1 grains:=o thalers of (nomi- 
nally) 25"! grains each. 




Hamburg (only). The gold ducat 
varied from 51^ to 52J, average 



52g- grains fine, but was not legal- 

to !> 


i to 

tender. Average Convention thaler 


3So5 grains fine ; legal value, half 

1 1850 



a ducat ; ratio 14-8 ; thus. oSo'To X 
2 = 771-50-;- 52-125= 14-8 (Xew- 



ton ; Kelly). 

1851 — 


Various conflict ratios, 15-21 to 1559.^ 

1866 15§ 


North Gei-man Bund. 

1871 15* 


New Empire. Gold coin system 


Notes to Table. — ^ During the years 1851-65 gold was highest in 
1851, and lowest in 1854. In other yeai-s the ratio fell between these 
extremes (" Eep. U.S. I\Ion. Com.," 1876, i, p. 192. " One hundred 
and fifty million currency thalers retained in the circulation ; but the 
legal-tender of all other silver coins limited to 20 marks, or 6| thalers, 
in any one payment. 


It must be remembered that for a great portion of the 
period embraced in this table we are dealing not -with one 
government and one law, but with many governments and 

'. many laws, and it should be read with allowances. The 
legal or mint ratios shown in the first column are mainly 
those of Prussia and the North German Bund ; the first 
ones (llf and 13^ fori) were fixed by Charles V, and the 
second (15i for 1) by the mint laws of the Bund in 1865. 
During the interval 1790 to 18G6 there appears to have 

• been no legal ratio in Prussia, and the value of gold 

' followed the conflict ratio, which, however, was mainly 
governed by the Spanish and French mint ratios of 15^, 
established in 1775, 1785, and 1803, The Hamburg (and 
approximately the Lubeck) mint ratio during most of this 
period was 14"8 for 1 ; but as gokl coins were not legal- 
tender, they followed the conflict which resulted fi-om the 
mint ratios adopted by the principal coining states of the 
period, namely, Spain, England, and France. The conflict 
ratios shown in the table are approximate quotations 
intended to cover all North Germany; but as, during the 
period it embraces, Germany held no control of the ratio, 

; these quotations are little more than reflections of the 
prices paid for gold (in silver) at the mints of the 
principal foreign coining states. 

I We are now prepai'ed to continue our account of those 
monetarv conventions which have done so much to brinsf 
the German states under a united and powerful rule. 
On January 24th, 1857, was effected the important coin- 
age treaty of Vienna. At this period the commercial 
world was agitated by a strange disease ; the fear that so 
much gold would be produced from the mines and pass 
into the form of money, that a disastrous rise of prices — 

. that is, disastrous to millionaires — would ensue sufficient 

jTto shake the foundations of society. In vain had Vou 
Humboldt, whose familiarity with history and whose 
acquaintance with mining should have entitled him to 
speak with some authority on the subject — in vain had 


this most illustrious of Germans and of savants assured 
the world that the vast disparity between the world^s 
stock of coins of the precious metals, compared with any 
additions that might be made to it, rendered the latter a 
very trifling* factor in the account ; in vain had he shown 
that but a small proportion of the mining product of gold 
and silver Avas fabricated into money ; in vain did he 
advert to the increasing needs of an augmenting popula- 
tion.^ In vain had Hume and other able writers shown 
that rises of prices occasioned by an increase of metallic 
money had benefited not only the poor, but the rich as 
well. The individuals who had controlled the coinage 
of money, and augmented or restricted its volume at 
pleasure, the money-lenders and usurers of Frankfort 
and Amsterdam, knew better. Yon Humboldt's book, 
" The Fluctuations of Gold," was consigned to oblivion, 
and the essays of the Metallic School were hailed with 
applause, translated into all languages^ and published in 
every country of Europe and America. This school taught 
the luminous doctrines that value is both a noun and an 
adverb ; it is both a thing, an atti'ibute, and a relation ; 
it is and it is not the same as price : " price is value in 
relation to a substance ; " money is both a noun and an 
adverb ; it is a thing and an attribute of a thing ; it 
is a commodity; it is a measurer of commodities; it is 
also an attribute conferred upon a commodity ; standard 
is the material of which legal-tender coins are made ; it 
is a certain weight of a certain metal ; and it is a 
certain degree of fineness of any metal ; the unit of money 
is both the whole volume of money and each indivisible 
fraction of it ; money is metal, and metal is money ; 
finally, the national honour is subject to the comparative 
^ " Any increase in the production which our imagination could call 
into existence would appear infinitely trifling compared with the accumu- 
lation of thousands of years now in circulation, especially when we con- 
sider the small proportion coined into money and the large proportion 
absorbed in the arts" (Von Humboldt's "Fluctuations of Gold," Berlin, 


output of the gold and silver mines ! All these and 
many other sophistries will be found in the essays of 
Harris, Chevalier and Lord Liverpool.^ It is easy 
to perceive that they may be made to lead to any 
conclusion. Accordingly, in England, they led Mr. 
Maclaren to advocate life assurance on a silver basis, and 
Mr. Cobden to recommend corn rents and payments in 
kind. In Germany this school of muddled logic and 
easy principles loudly demanded the retention of silver 
' coins for the sole money of the Fathei'land ; and it was 
■ in the midst of this patriotic vociferation that the Treaty 
of Vienna was drafted and signed. 

It was declared to be enacted in pursuance of article 
ix of the Treaty of Carlsruhe, July 19th, 1853, between 
I Austria, the principality of Lichtenstein and the States 
•which were parties to the Treaty of Dresden, July 30th, 
1838. Thus the Coinage Treaty of 1857 embraced 
Austria, Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, "Wurtemburg, 
Baden, Electoral Hesse, Ducal Hesse, Ducal Saxony, 
Oldenburg, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Coburg Gotha, Saxe- 
Altenburg, Brunswick, Nassau, Anhalt-Dessau, Cothen, 
Anhalt-Bemburg, Schwarzburg-Sondenhausen, Schwai'z- 
burg-Rudolstadt, Lichtenstein, Waldeck, Pyrmont, the 
Eeusses, the Lippes, Landgraviate Hesse, and the City 
of Frankfort. 

The right of coinage as to full legal-tender silver 
(vereinsmunze), and as to gold coins, was conferred upon 
private individuals. The drudgery of striking the coins 
was to be done by the States. No limits were assigned 
to the coinage of silver thalers or gold pieces, and only 
temporary ones to that of florins. Gold coins were 
forbidden to be made legal-tenders in any of the States. 
■The full legal-tender coins were : first, currency thalers, of 

^ Chevalier's essays were published in the "Eevue des Deux Mondes " 
.shortly after the opening of California. Most of the sophistries enume- 
rated in the text will be found in the first chapter of his subsequent 
work, '• The Fall in the Value of Gold," translated by Cobden. 


which thirty were to be struck from 500 metrical grammes, 
or one zollpfund of 7716'1745 Eng-lish grains, hence 
each of 257-2 grains fine ; second, Austrian florins, of 45 
to the zollpfund, or each of 171*47 grains fine ; and third. 
South German florins, of 52 1 to the zollpfund, or each of 
about 147 grains fine. The thalers were to pass for 1| 
Austrian, or If South German florins ; and all of these 
coins were to be full legal-tender in all the States. The 
alloy to be added was such as to make them all of the 
metrical standard, or nine-tenths fine. The gold coins 
were to be crowns of 50 to the zollpfund of fine gold, hence 
each of 154J grains fine. Austria alone might continue 
to strike ducats until the end of 1865. The right of 
coining the subsidiary silver coins, scheidemunze, was 
reserved to the States. The smallest pieces were to be 
one-sixth of a thaler, or one-fourth of an Austrian florin. 
The zwanzeiger, or twenty-creutzer, or one-third florin 
piece, was abolished. The entire emission of subsidiary 
silver coins (this was reserved to the States) was limited to 
five-sixths of a thaler per capita ; and offices were to be 
assigned for their redemption in full legal-tender coins. 
Gold coins might be received at the State treasuries at a 
price in silver coins to be fixed for a period not exceeding 
six months at a time. The position of the gold coins 
was that of mere bullion ; and as such they ceased to 
circulate, and soon found their way to the melting pot.'^ 

The paper-money and bank-notes of each State were 
pei'mitted to circulate in the other States so long as 

' We have no data of the gold coinage from 1857 ; but of 175 million 
thalers, net, of gold coined during the years below there were esti- 
mated to have remained in existence down to 1867 not more than 15 or 
20 millions. Gold coinage in millions of thalers : Old Prussia, 1764 to 
1867, 85"7; New Prussia (Hanover, Electoral Hesse and Frankfort), 
1834 to 1867, 37-3; Brunswick, 1764 to 1867, oQ-O ; Hamburg and 
Lubeck, 1790 to 1867, 19 ; Saxony, 1839 to 1867, and Ducal Hesse, 
1819 to 1855 (together) 0-9; Bavaria, Wurtemburg, and Baden, 1837 
to 1867, 1"6 : total, 177'4 ; less re-coinages, 2'5 ; net issues, 174'9 
(" Rep. Bu. Stat.,"' Sept., 1873, p. 143). See also Prof. Wagner in " Rep. 
U.S. Mon. Com.," 1876, i, p. 191. 


" adequate " provision was made for their redemption in 
full legal-tender silver coins. In the case of the Bank of 

' Prussia^ which in 1872 issued two-thirds of all the paper 
money circulating in Germany, and in that of the other 
most important banks, this was legally one-third and (for 
a time) actually two-thirds, in thalers or florins. An 

' exception was made with respect to Austria, whose circu- 
lation was almost entirely of paper ; but such exception 
did not extend beyond January 1st, 1859. However, 

' Austria soon afterwards seceded from the convention 
altogether.^ No provision was made against a contrac- 
tion of the currency by the melting or export of coins, or 
by the retirement of bank issues. 

In this convention we perceive the mediate germs of the 
Latin Union of 18(35, and the Scandinavian Union of 1872 ; 
but of far more significance is the fact, which can scarcely 
be doubted, that it helped to pave the way to the North 
German Bund of 1866 and the Empire of 1871. Never- 
theless much remained yet to be done in unifying the 

'' monetary systems of Germany. At the conclusion of the 

• war of 1866 there still remained no less than ten different 
' systems of German moneys : 

First, the Prussian system of the currency thaler, divided 
, into 30 groschen of 12 pfennigs each. 

Second, the system of Royal Saxony, Ducal Saxe- 
, Gotha, Saxe-Altenburg, and Brunswick, which divided 
'the currency thaler into 30 groschen of 10 pfennigs each. 

• Third, the duchies of Mecklenburg- Schwerin, Meck- 
' lenburg-Strelitz, and Lauenburg, which divided the 
' currency thaler into 48 skillings of 12 pfennigs each. 

Fourth, the free cities of Hamburg and Bremen, 
. which divided the currency thaler into two-and-a-half 
' marks current, or into 40 skillings of 12 pfennigs each. 

Fifth, the system of marks banco of the free cities 
j of Hamburg and Altona and the vicinity. 

' Some other provisions of this treaty will be found in " Money and 
. Civilisation," p. 339. 


Sixth, the gold coin system of the free city of Altona. 
This was based on the louis d'or, or pistole, of l-84tli of a 
pfund, say 92 grains of fine gold, valued at 5 currency 
thalers — a ratio of aVjout 14 for 1. Here the thalers 
were divided into 72 groschen. 

Seventh, the talent {" specie-thaler ") of Schleswig- 
Holstein, of 9j talents to the Cologne mark of fine silver, 
say 390 grains each, subdivided into 60 skillings current. 

Eighth, the subdivisions of the South German florin 
system^ which not only prevailed in Bavaria, Wurtemburg, 
Baden, and Hesse-Darmstadt, but also in Frankfort-on- 
the-Main, Nassau, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Saxe-Mein- 
ingen, and Saxe-Coburg. 

Ninth, the gold coinage system of the free city of 

Tenth, the '^ banco " system of Prussia. 

In recounting the steps by which these diverse systems 
of money — the remains of the chaotic monetary period 
1204 to 1624 — were brought into harmony, I am compelled 
to copy the word " standard " in a perverted sense. 
Standard properly means alliage, or fineness ; as when we 
say sterling standard, which means for silver 0'925 fine, 
or metrical standard, 0'900 fine. A new and wholly 
unwari'anted meaning was conferred upon this word by 
.Harris (1757) ; and this has since passed into all the 
literature on the subject of money. Standard was by him 
and is now used to mean the material of which the full 
legal-tender coins of a state are made. Thus England is 
said to employ the gold standard, India the silver stand- 
ard, &c. But in this sense it is misleading, because it 
assumes that the money of England consists of gold, the 
money of India of silver, &c. ; whereas in fact the 
money of England consists of gold coins and bank notes, 
both of which (except the bank notes as from the bank) 
are full legal tender ; whilst the money of India consists 
not of silver, but of silver coins. In like manner has the 
phrase " unit of money " been perverted. The unit of 


mouey properly means all tlie money in a given state ; 
and, as shown in my " Science of Money," chap, i, it 
cannot properly or distinctively have any other meaning. 
But unit of mouey, or monetary unit, or unit coin, has 
acquired the meaning of the principal denomination of 
money, as the sovereign in England, the franc in France, 
the imperial mark in Germany, &c. This is misleading, 
because it assumes that the value of money is determined 
by the quantity of metal contained in the so-called unit; 
whereas it is in point of fact determined by the arith- 
metical denominations and aggregate volume of all the 
'' units," including paper notes, no matter how much or 
how little metal the former may contain. This principle is 
admitted, but often forgotten, by all the leading econo- 
mists and writers on money. With these explanations 
we are ready to proceed with our history. 

The various steps taken or proposed by the German 
government of 1866 toward further unifying the coinage 
are recounted at length in the '' United States Commercial 
Eelations," 1867, p. 447. The most important of the pro- 
posed steps was an entire re-coinage for the whole of 
Germany, and the substitution of gold for silver as the 
material of the full legal-tender coins. These great 
measui'es relating to the monetary system of Germany 
have since been actually realised ; and, as usual with all 
great events, they have been ascribed to a wrong origin. 
They are attributed to the Franco-Prussian war and the 
Indemnity provided by the treaty of Frankfort ; whereas 
in point of fact they constituted, together with the right 
of individual coinage and the privilege of issuing bank 
notes, a political move, intended to allay any opposition 
which the aristocratic and monied classes of Germany 
might be disposed to evince toward that Unification in 
which their importance was otherwise sooner or later 
destined to be obliterated. In a word, the " gold 
standard " was part of the price of German liberty. Its 
origin, though not its motive, is very distinctly set forth 


in the following official communication from Consul-General 
Murphy to the State Department of' the United States, 
dated Frankfort, August 13th, 1867, and printed in the 
volume of Commercial Relations above cited : — " As there 
have been made already several proposals in regard to 
the establishment of a unit coin for the whole of 
G-ermany, which will be discussed as soon as the North 
German parliament will have appointed a committee to 
deliberate on the subject of a joint measure, weight and 
coin, I beg to furnish a few remarks taken from a treatise 
of a privy councillor of the Prussian government. ... It 
is also proposed that the German states should change 
the silver standard into the gold standard." 

To trace the origin of this movement it is necessary to 
observe that the claim of individuals to have their bullion 
coined into money at their own pleasure was no sooner 
asserted in Holland, Germany, and England, than it led 
to another claim in behalf of the class to which such 
individuals belonged. This was that the money so coined 
should pass current, not merely in the State of which they 
were subjects, but in all States, — a claim that took form 
in the organisation of societies for the promotion of 
so-called International Coinage. An organisation of this 
character was formed so eai'ly as the beginning of the 
seventeenth centui'y, since which time numerous others 
have emerged into existence, all of them supported by 
men of the highest respectability, intelligence, and wealth. 
Several of these organisations, still in existence, date back 
to the middle of the present century ; and it is to their 
efforts, more than to any other agency, that is to be 
ascribed, first, that demonetisation of gold which was so 
distinctly ratified and confirmed by the treaty of 1857, 
and that subsequent demonetisation of silver which was 
planned before 1867, and effected in 1871-3. 

Thus, in the International Monetary Conference held in 
Paris in 1866, Privy Councillor Meinecke, the Prussian 
commissioner, declared that in the interest of international 


circulation (a sophistical phrase that disclosed the motive 
power behind him) his government might be willing to 
abandon its " silver standard " in favour of a '' gold stand- 
ard ;" but first they had to come to an understanding on the 
matter with the other states of the North German Confedera- 
tion as well as with those of South Germany, who had signed 
with them the mint treaty of 1857.^ That the motive power 
behind Meinecke was not the interests of the Prussian 
government is evinced by the arguments advanced in 
John G. Fichte's well-known work in favour of a dis- 
tinctive national money, and from the declaration of Yon 
Schultz, that to sign away the independence of the State 
in reference to money would constitute an act of treason." 
The Franco-Prussian war of 1870 furnished an oppor- 
tunity for furthering the interests of individual coinage. 
The world's production of gold, which in 1852 amounted 
to £38,740,000, had gradually fallen in 1868 to£21,940,000, 
and in 1869 to £21,240,000; and it was foreseen that, at 
least for some years, it would fall, as it did fall, still 
lower. On the other hand, the world's production of 
silver^ which in 1852, and for many years before and 
afterward, stood at about £8,000,000 per annum, sud- 
denly jumped during the years 1864-9 to £10,000,000 
per annum, and with, the practical opening of the great 
Comstock lode bade fair to reach, as it did reach, a much 
higher total. '^ We have seen that the Treaty of Vienna 
was dominated by the California scare of cheap gold. 
It is quite evident that the monetary provisions of the 
Treaty of Frankfort were equally dominated by the 
Nevada scare of cheap silver. These provisions are set 
forth in another work.* In effect, they stipulated that 
the five milliards (£200,000,000) war indemnity to be 

1 " Commercial Relations," 1867, pp. 448-9. 

2 "Science of Money," p. 47, note 1; "Money and Civilisation," 
p. 288, note 1; " Int. Conf.," 1878; "Int. Conf.," 1881, p. 9; London 
" Times," Feb., 1886. 

3 " Hist. Prec. Met.," oh. xxii. * " Mon. and Civ.," ch. xvi. 



paid by France should be paid in gold coins or tbeir 
equivalent. The indemnity, together with interest and 
other charges, amounted in fact to about £234,512,292. 
It was paid during the interval between May 10th, 1871, 
and December 4th, 1874, and, according to M. Leon Say, 
with only £20,491,797 in coins, of which nearly one-half 
were silver, the balance being liquidated by bills of ex- 
change for French credits in foreign countries. Accord- 
ing to another account, France lost £40,000,000 in gold, 
and gained £2^600,000 in silver, while Germany gained 
£33,540,000 in gold, and lost £2,600,000 in silver, 
the difference between the forty millions of gold lost 
by France and the thirty-three and a half millions 
of gold gained by Germany having gone to other 

It was with this promised accession of gold that Ger- 
many adopted the Mint laws of 1871—3, and authorised 
those increased emissions of paper money Avhich brought 
upon her a panic in the midst of a plethora. So long as 
a State resigns its prerogative of coinage and the issuance 
of circulating notes into the hands of individuals, so long 
is it exposed to monetary crises. These phenomena were 
unknown previous to 1572 in Holland, and 1666 in 
England ; they will never cease until the fatal legislation 
of those years is repealed — in short, not until the State 
assumes the control of its own mints and paper emissions. 
The laws of 1871—3 had for their object. First, the crea- 
tion of a new and uniform coin for the whole German 
empire. This was the imperial mark, of which 1395 went 
to the zollpfund weight of fine gold. Each mark would 
therefore contain 0'35842 metrical gramme, or 5*532 
English grains fine gold. This money (in pieces of 5, 
10, and 20 marks) was to be full legal-tender. Second, 
except as to the old currency thaler, of which there were 
supposed to be from 135 to 150 millions still in circula- 
tion, and whose full legal-tender function was retained 
1 " Mon. and Civ.," cli. xvi. 


for tlie present, no silver coins were tlieuceforth to be 
legal-tender for more than 20 marks. These provisions 
entirely reversed the policy of 1857 ; then gold was 
demonetised, now it was silver. Third, new subsidiary 
silver coins were provided for (called silver marks), of 
which 100 were to be struck from a zollpfund of fine 
silver; hence each mark contained 5 grammes, or 77*15 
grains, fine. The emission, until further notice, was 
limited to 10 marks per head of population. These coins 
were made redeemable at the imperial and state treasuries 
with full legal-tender coins. Fourth, " whenever the 
mints should not be engaged in coining for the govern- 
ment they were free to coin (only) twenty-mark gold 
pieces on private account, on payment of a seigniorage 
not to exceed 7 marks per pfund of pui'e gold." This 
substantially surrendered the gold coinage to individuals, 
yet wisely left the mint gates in keeping of the Crown. 
Fifth, provision was made for calling in all the old 
silver coins except the thalers above mentioned, recoin- 
ing them into imperial silver mai'ks, and selling the surplus 
silver if any. This surplus, as the event proved, 
amounted nominally to about 200,000,000 thalers, and it 
was the German demonetisation of silver and the sale of 
this vast amount of bullion in the London and other 
markets that precipitated the fall in silver which occui'red 
soon after. Sixth, all paper money issued by the states 
was to be withdrawn by January 1st, 1876, and replaced 
by imperial paper money. This excellent provision was 
not extended to the issues of private banks. 

The legal equivalents between the old and new money 
were — 1 currency thaler = 3 marks, and the other pieces 
in proportion. The ratio of silver in the thalers to gold 
'in the marks is 15| for 1 ; and as at present (there is 
now a " market price '^ of silver) there is a profit of about 
100 per cent, in coining the thalers, it is natural to expect 
that a good many surreptitious silver coins of full weight 
and fineness will find their way into the circulation. 


This is a danger which invites the solicitude of the 
German imperial government. 

The table relating to the circulation, however faulty- 
many of its details, furnishes the best guide as to the 
manner in which these various provisions were actually- 
carried into execution. In 1870 the silver circulating in 
Germany probably did not exceed 500,000,000 thalers ; it 
has since been reduced to about 300,000,000, of which 
probably one-half consists of thaler pieces. The gold 
scarcely exceeded 30,000,000 ; it has been successively 
increased and diminished, until now (excluding the war- 
chest) it amounts to about 367,000,000 to 400,000,000 
thalers. The paper circulation, which before the war 
did not exceed 150,000,000 thalers, has since amounted 
to over 450,000,000 ; it was then curtailed, and is now 
increased to 480,000,000. The present circulation 
therefore consists of about 300,000,000 thalers silver, 
367,000,000 gold, and 480,000,000 paper; total 
1,167,000,000 to 1,200,000,000 thalers, or about 24 
thalers or 72 marks per capita of population. An 
eminent German authority who was consulted on the 
subject estimated it one-sixth higher. 

The statistics of the reduction of gold and silver ores 
in Germany have been ingeniously employed to swell the 
estimated production of silver throughout the world. It 
may be stated at the outset that nearly all of the gold and 
most of the silver produced in Germany is from foreign 
refractory ores, whose metalliferous contents have already 
been credited to the countries of their production. These 
are chiefly America, Australia, and Spain. The product 
of gold in Germany for the year 1830 was about 10 pounds 
troy, chiefly in Saxony and Hanover; in 1850, 20 pounds; 
1860, 70 pounds (average of three years) ; 1870, 1G7 
pounds (average of three years) ; 1880, 800 pounds ; 1890, 
3,600 pounds ; at the present time it is about 6,000 
pounds, and valued at about £300,000 sterling. This gold is 
extracted in minute proportions from lead and copper 


ores. The peroxide of iron obtained in roasting arsenical 
ores is impregnated with chlorine gas, washed with 
water, and the gold precipitated with sulphuretted hydro- 
gen. The resulting sulphide is roasted, washed with 
hydrochloric acid, and smelted with borax and nitre. 
The product of silver in 1830 was about 72,000 pounds 
troy; 1850, 100,000 pounds; 1860, 150,000 pounds ; ^ 
1870, 240,000 pounds; 1880, 360,000 pounds; 1890, 
800,000 pounds ; and at the present time about 900,000 
pounds, of which about two-thirds are from foreign 
ores. The production of native silver, therefore, does not 
exceed 300,000 pounds, or in value about £450,000 ster- 
ling. In Dr. Soetbeer's work, translated and printed by 
the American government in 1887 for the guidance of 
statesmen (U.S. Cons. Rep., No. 87, p. 477), the pro- 
duction of silver in Germany is stated at more than twice 
this sum; and in that sciological monument, the '' Report of 
the Director of the Mint upon the Production of the 
Precious Metals in 1892,^^ it is stated at more than thrice. 
Both of these works were printed on the government 
press in vast numbers, and distributed gratis to the public. 
They were soon followed by the legislative cessation of 
full legal-tender silver coinage (repeal of the Bland and 
Sherman Acts), a tremendous fall in the price of securities, 
the insolvency of numerous credit institutions, and a 
general paralysis of trade. 

These disastrous consequences are not confined to the 
United States, but are common to the commercial world 
to-day. They are directly attributable to the selfish and 
unpatriotic clamour of a class of whom Cobden in England, 
Chevalier in France, and Soetbeer in Germany were the 
gifted exponents and dupes. The result is, they have 
killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. Their views, 
unhappily carried into practice, have ended in an almost 

^ For 1865 the product of the Hartz was given at 28,000 pounds troy; 
Prussia, 68.0<J0 ; Saxony, 80,000 ; and other German states 2500 : totial 
178,500 pounds (Phillips on " Gold and Silver," p. 320). 


total paralysis of trade ; and this will lose to their masters 
ten times more money than the latter can possibly gain 
by the demonetisation of one of the precious metals and 
the contraction of the basis of credit. Like Storch, like 
Bunge, like every zealot who has been permitted to 
influence the monetary policy of an empire, they have 
been the evil geniuses of their Fatherland. Soetbeer 
knew but little of the numerous monetar}'- experiments 
which had been made in Germany. He was totally 
ignorant of those which had been made in other countries. 
His works evince no knowledge of the conditions under 
which the precious metals have been won from nature, 
nor obtained by one nation from another. He fancied 
that the value of coins was due to the economical cost of 
producing, by the aid of free labour, the material of 
which they were composed; and he had the effrontery to 
reduce them all to kilogrammes of gold and silver. Such 
was his great talent and persistency that he infected a 
numerous and intelligent school with the same mad 
notions. The thousands of millions which the Spaniards 
extorted from the tears and blood of the Indians, the plunder 
which Buonaparte carried out of Germany, nay, even the 
vast Indemnity which the Germans recently exacted from 
France, and which was paid under his very nose, he 
weighed with the scales of a bullion dealer and he reduced 
to a fanciful " cost of production.^' With the experience 
of ages treasured up in the laws of the empire in which 
he dwelt, with the Roman Institutes and Codes at his 
elbow, he totally failed to comprehend the meaning of 
value or the function of money; and by reducing the 
latter to metal he converted the complicated transactions 
of modern societary life to the savage level of barter, in 
which that which is offered with the right hand is valued 
by something held in the left. The idea that numisma, 
nummus, money, is a Measure, a measure whose limits 
can only be equitably adjusted by the State, never entered 
his mind. Yet he might have readily found it in Plato 


and Aristotle, and Paulus and Humboldt ; nor could he 
have failed to find it in the laws of his own country, had 
he ever deemed it worth his while to read them with 
care. His pernicious advice was followed so blindly as to 
extort from the suffering farmers and peasants a cry of 
distress expressed in no less than two hundred petitions 
to the Imperial Chancellor and the Reichstag (December 
10th, 1886), which piteously begged for relief from the 
evils of hoarded money and the clutches of the usurer. 

Germany has a brilliant future before her. Her people 
are hardy, industrious, and intelligent ; her religion comes 
from the free air of the Baltic ; her laws are based upon 
the garnered wisdom of ages ; her mechanical aptitude is 
the legacy of Eome ; her domain is spacious, her soil 
exuberant, her climate genial, and her ruler enterpris- 
ing, progressive, and impatient to develop the vast resources 
of the State to whose guidance he has been called. But 
he may rest assured that in these times such development 
depends in no slight degree upon the adoption of a stable 
and equitable system of money ; and that such a system 
is not the one demanded by the class of individuals who 
practically monopolise the issues of the imperial mints, 
and by means of this all-powerful engine usurp for them- 
selves functions that rightfully belong to the German 
people and the German state. 



The swash-bucklers or conquistadores o£ La Plata^Plunder and 
oppression o£ the natives — Mining — Lethargic condition of La Plata as 
an appanage of Peru — The viceroyalty — Encomienda and slave systems 
— Jesuit missions — Opposition of the colonists to them — Exactions of the 
Crown of Spain — Scandalous sale of papal indulgences — Ruinous results 
— Eevolutions and civil wars — Subversion of the monarchy — Eetention 
of papal domination — Boom of 1825 — Relapse into anarchy — Further 
wars and revolutions — Paraguayan war — Dreadful cruelties — Feeble 
progress of the republic — Territory — Population — Agriculture — Sheep- 
farming — Commerce — Dishonest representations — Gross exaggeration of 
national wealth and resources — Boom of 1874-5 — The revulsion — Its 
causes — Supei-stition, poverty, and false pretences — ^Monetary systems — 
The Quinto — Seigniorage — Private coinage — Base coins — Mint law of 
1772 — Good money lowei-s the value of bad, but is not driven out — 
Illimitable paper issues — Their attempted retirement at 25 paper for 1 
coin — Law demonetising silver and establishing gold money — Its farcical 
character — The so-called "resumption" suspended — Further paper issues 
— Retirement of the old paper at 25 for 1 of new paper — The new paper 
falls to 40 per cent, of its face value in coins — Entire disappearance of 
gold and silver coins — Abject position of a gi'eat country brought about 
by bad administration. 

TT is quite impossible to form a correct estimation of the 
-*- monetary systems of tlie Argentine Republic without 
considering its peculiar history, so little known beyond its 
own borders : its lethargic condition as a mining appanage 
of Peru under Spanish rule ; its first development of 
political life as a viceroyalty ; its encomienda and slave 
systems ; the destruction of the Jesuit missions ; the un- 
bearable exactions of the Crown ; its anarchical condition ; 
the subversion of monarchical government in 1816 ; the 


boom of 1825; its relapse into anarchy; its numerous 
revolutions and civil wars ; its sheep-culture ; the first 
development of progress ; the boom of 1874, so recently 
brought to an end ; its singular monetary laws ; its ac- 
cumulation of debts, and its financial resources, so really 
few, and yet so grossly exaggerated as to have led to the 
wildest speculations and distui-bed the affairs of the entire 
commercial woi-ld. Mackenna said that the country was 
called La Plata because it had no silver; the President 
Sarmiento, that the inhabitants of its chief city were 
called Porteiios because it had no port. This appears to 
be true of many things in the Argentina ; from the name 
of the country, down to that of the smallest thing in it, 
much is illusoi'y. 

In comparing the resources of Argentina with the 
statements of them put forth by the Argentine govern- 
ment, one cannot help thinking of that clever Potempkin 
who led the Empress Elizabeth from St. Petersburg to 
the Crimea through a succession of well-built towns which 
he had assured her majesty would be found upon the route, 
and were the pride of her dominions ; the fact being that, 
to make his representations good, he had caused villas 
and temples to be painted upon canvas, which he stretched 
upon frames, like the mock architecture of a theatre, and 
moved from place to place along the desert, but always 
at a sufiicient distance from the imperial cortege to render 
the illusion complete. In like manner have the ministers 
of the Argentine Confederation beguiled the European 
investor. Paper farms, a paper population, paper sheep, 
paper buildings, paper money without limit, paid by 
repudiation and issued again, figures that represented 
nothing, promises that meant nothing, — these are the 
features of Ai'gentine statistics and of Argentine finance. 
The Mississippi Bubble of John Law consisted of the rich 
alluvial territory of Louisiana and a government bank of 
limitless issues. The Argentine bubble has also a govern- 
ment bank of limitless issues ; but instead of the peerless 


Mississippi valley behind it there is only the desert of the 
Gran Chaco, which under no likely circumstances can 
ever become much more than a sheep pasture. 

In 1872 the writer was one of the members of the 
International Statistical Congress which met at St. 
Petersburg. At that Congress the representative of the 
Argentine Confederation, Seiior Francisco J. Brabo, pre- 
sented a document containing the most striking evidences 
of progress which he could collect concerning that country. 
It was all contained on a single sheet of letter-paper. It 
set forth the imports and exports — the latter consisting 
chiefly of wool and hides, — and dwelt upon the advantages 
which his government expected to derive from a loan of 
150,000,000 francs which it was seeking to place in 
Eui'ope. In 1886 Mr. Mulhall, the editor of the Buenos 
Ayres " Standard,'' published the ninth edition of his 
" Handbook of La Plata," an ample volume, replete with 
statistical marvels, in striking contrast with the modesti 
exhibit of Seiior Brabo. The national domains comprised, 
according to this turgid authority, 1,600,000 square miles; 
the population amounted to 3,000,000; there were 
46,000,000 acres under tillage; there were 70,000,000 
sheep on the pampas ; and the national wealth, in houses, ' 
lands, cattle, and public works, amounted in value to 
£400,000,000 sterling, hard cash, whereas in 1857 it had 
only amounted to £73,000,000 — a sixfold increase in thirty 
years ! We were asked to believe that all the difference 
between Brabo's half-sheet and MulhalFs fat volume — I 
between the former's timid aspirations for a small loan 
and the latter's impudent array of pretended national 
wealth, had been wrought in twelve years. But even this 
was not enough for the Ai'gentine government, who, in 
November, 1889, by the hand of Seiior Estanislas S. 
Zeballos, its minister for foreign affairs, transmitted to 
the government of the United States an exhibit of. 
" Argentine Progressive Statistics " which leaves Mr. ' 
Mulhall's vigorous efforts quite in the shade. In five 


years^ time the population had grown from 3 to 4^ 
millions, and the sheep from 70 to 108 millions. 
There were four army corps, each of 33,000 men, besides 
a national guard, ready to take arms, numbering 400,000. 
All the other figures are on the same scale of magnificence. 
The Chinese mandarin, who in 1795 amused Lord 
Macartney and rejoiced the encyclopsedists with an 
account of the population and resources of China, was 
a mere child to this Zeballos. A population of 4j 
millions, owning £400,000,000 woi*th of property, in- 
cluding 108,000,000 sheep, is the wealthiest in the 
world, and certainly ought to be able to meet the 
interest on those loans, the principle of which has con- 
tributed so largely to these wonderful results ; but, un- 
happily, it is quite plain that it cannot ; and we who 
lent the money have, therefore, a right to look a little 
more closely than we have hitherto done into the validity 
of the representations upon which the loans were made. 
i The Argentine Republic consists of Buenos Ayres and 
thirteen other provinces, districts, or states, all of which 
were originally known as the River Plate country ; and 
included that portion of South America bounded by 
the rivers Urugviay on the east, Vermejo on the north^ 
and Negro on the south, and by the Cordilleras on the 
west. South of the Negro is the Indian territory of 
Patagonia, most of which is covered by the Argentine flag. 
The Rio de la Plata was discovered in 1516 by Juan 
de Solis, a Spanish commander; in 1523 Alexis Garcia, a 
Poi'tuguese commander, traversed Brazil and the Gran 
Chaco of the Argentine, scaled the Andes, and pillaged 
Alto Peru, three years in advance of Pizarro ; in 1527 
Sebastian Cabot founded San Espiritu, gave the name of 
La Plata to the river and country, and petitioned the 
king of Castile to aid him in opening a route to Peru 
via the Yermejo ; in 1535 Mendoza founded Buenos 
Ayres, his lieutenant, Del Campo, giving it that name ; 
in 1537 Juan d'Ayolas ascended the Paraguay, and struck 


across tlie continent to Alto Peru, whicli he pillaged ; in 
1542 Cabesa de Yaca, landing in Brazil, sent his lieutenant 
Yrala to pillage Peru, but he failed to reach it. Hi 
returned with 12,000 Indian slaves and a few sheep 
Upon being appointed governor of La Plata, with head 
quarters at the Fort of Asuncion, Yrala, in turn, sen' 
Nuflo de Chaves to pillage Peru, but was there conJ 
fronted by a pillaging pai'ty from Peru itself undei 
Hurtado de Mendoza. In 1560 these united expeditions 
founded Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Meanwhile, in 1535, tht 
mines of Potosi had been discovered and opened by 
parties from Peru, and a line of forts and settlementt 
was established between the mines and the estuary of Lai 

It was now perceived that the natives were too poor to 
afford further encouragement to pillaging expeditions 
and the efforts of the Spanish adventurers were turnet 
to mining for gold and silver. To render this profitablej 
experience had proved that it was necessary to capture 
and enslave the natives ; and as a pretext for this pro. 
cedure, there was read, nominally to them, but really to, 
the trees (a los arholes), a proclamation {requerhniento 
from the king of Castile, which recited that God hat 
committed the government of all the world and its in 
habitants to the Pope of Rome ; that the Pope had com- 
mitted America to the Catholic kings of Castile ; that 
they, in turn, had granted the various districts of that 
country to the commanders who carried this proclamation : 
that conforming to these premises, the Indians were 
bound to acknowledge the Catholic church as the Superioi 
and Guide of the universe, and to obey the king of Castile 
and his captains, and do all their behests ; and the pro- 
clamation ended with these words : " But if you will not 
comply or maliciously hesitate to obey these injunctions, 
I will enter your country by force ; I will carry on war 
against you with the utmost violence ; I will enslave and 
subject you to the yoke of obedience ; I will take your 


wives and children, make them slaves, and dispose of 
Ithem at pleasure ; I will plunder you, and do you all the 
mischief in my power, treating you as rebellious subjects, 
unwilling to submit to lawful authority ; and I protest 
that all the bloodshed and calamities which shall follow 
are to be imputed to you, and not to his majesty nor to me, 
nor to the gentle and honorable cavaliers who serve the 
king under me ; and that this requisition, having been 
made duly known to you, is hereunto certified in proper 
form by a notary here present/'^ This requisition was 
the original basis of Argentine civilisation, the Magna 
Charta of South American rights — mine-slavery for the 
endowment of a foreign church and king ; torture, pollu- 
tion, and death for the natives. Whether the Indians 
obeyed or disobeyed it, the result of the requisition was 
the same ; to them it only meant extinction, and but for 
, the events of 1816 it would have left South America a 

Clad in mailed shirts, armed with sword and pistol, and 
, mounted upon fleet horses, the ^'gentle and honorable 
cavaliers '^ of Castile now scoured La Plata for the slaves 
, which the king had granted to them in encomienda. 
" To our esteemed Don Juan, an encomienda of 5000 
Indians ; to our beloved Don Enrique, an encomienda of 
10,000 Indians ; to our cherished Don Manuel, an en- 
I comienda of 50,000 Indians ;'^ to have and to hold, to 
dishonour, to rob, to squeeze, to exploit to death in mines, 
to torture, to mutilate, to feed to the dogs. Such, prac- 
tically, was the nature of the encomienda. Its object was 
to stimulate the production of gold and silver for the 
j Spanish crown and for St. Peter^s of Rome. 
I Under these warrants — the Requisition and the Enco- 
; mienda — the natives of La Plata were hunted down with 
!; bloodhounds, and thrust naked into the frozen mines of 
; the Andes, which at the present time, and with all the 
aids of science, machinery, and steam, cannot be made ta 

^ Herrera, dec. i, lib. i, c. 14. 


pay tlie expense of their maintenance.^ There the Indian 
were confined to the work and driven with the lash unti 
they died. The price of a living man was three sheep 
of a woman and child, a sheep and a lamb.^ | 

" The number of deaths was so great that the corpses 
bred pestilence ; and in one mining district of New Spair 
Father Motolinia affirms that for half a league ronnd it, anc 
for a great part of the road to it, you could scarcely 
make a step except upon the dead bodies or the bones o: 
men." This was the era when the coinage prerogative 
was stolen from the princes of Europe, and the burgher 
class became opulent and powerful. 

During the pillaging era (1523 to 1550) and the first 
mining era (1550 to 1580) the whole of La Plata territory 
was explored. In the year last named, and together 
with Bolivia and other territory, it was made part of th 
viceroyalty of Peru, and Don Juan de Garay of Lim 
was appointed lieutenant-governor. 

In 1620 the territory of La Plata was separated into tw^ 
governments, both subject to the viceroyalty of Peru 
the north-western portion being governed directly fro 
Lima, and the south-western portion from Asuncion, 
frontier custom-house was established at Cordova, a 
which merchandise passing either way paid a duty of 50|_ 
per cent, ad valorevi' — a regulation that was not relaxei 
until 1665. In 1614 the gross annual revenues of th 
viceroyalty of Peru amounted to five million pesos-^ 
about a million sterling. Of these revenues about one 
third were derived from the taxes on the production and 
coinage of the precious metals ; one-sixth from the Indian 
tribute ; one- tenth from excise on spirits (pulque), playing 
cards, gunpowder, and cock-fights ; ^ and the balance, or 

^ Del Mar's " Hist. Prec. Met.," and authorities cited ; also Robert 
son's " Hist. America," ii, p. 503, and Mackenna's " Libro de Plata." 

^ Charlevoix, ii, p. 103. 

^ This strange basis of taxation was renewed in 1889, only instead of 
fighting-cocks it was race-horses. The basis o£ the tax and the motive 
for levying it were the same. The basis was a national vice, the legacy 


four-tenths, from customs duties and ecclesiastical ninths 
and annats. This did not include the biennial indul- 
gences, which were sold in the viceroyalty of Peru every 
other year to the amount of about 1,200,000 pesos, 
or £240,000. What with the alcavala of 4 per cent, on 
the sale of goods, and the profits on the sale of quicksilver, 
the entire gross revenues of Peru were about seven million 
pesos, or nearly a million and a half sterling. The expenses 
of collection Avere about one-half, and the moiety of 
■these figures may fairly he regarded as the proportion 
ibelouging to La Plata.^ 

A century had passed since Garcia crossed the con- 
tinent, but as yet, beyond the petty maize-gardens of the 
natives, scarcely a farm had been planted, and not a 
single manufactory erected. The one industry of the 
country was gold and silver mining, and this was carried 
on altogether with enforced native labour. Everything 
came from Spain, — horses, gunpowder, arms, blankets, 
sombreros, spurs, manacles, whips, playing cards, dice, 
fighting-cocks, and papal indulgences. Everything went 
to Spain, or to — elsewhere. Nothing remained in La 
Plata, not even the Indians. A few escaped to the 
woods ; the remainder, constituting communities, civilised 
and other, which had once numbered several millions of 
persons, were being coldly pressed to death in the mines. 

Upon the " gentle and honorable cavaliers " who had 
brought about this dismal tragedy neither the tears of the 
Indians nor the appeals of pitying priests produced any 
effect. In deference to the representations of the latter, 
the Crown in 1548 had enacted the Mita, which sought 
to limit the proportion of the Indians to be employed in 
the mines, and ameliorate the conditions of their service ; 
but the law was not obeyed, and it did but little good. 
So early as 1550 Father Domingo de Santo Tomas, 

of mining days ; tlie motive was an exhausted treasury (" CT.S. Commer- 
cial Relations," Consular Eeports), 1890, p. 113. 
' Robertson's " America," ii, pp. 511-12, 516. .1 


writing from Peru, said tliat from one-half to two-third 
of the native population had been destroyed by th 
Spaniards. Alluding especially to the Potosi mines, h 
said, '' The poor creatures died like cattle ; and even th 
few who escaped alive never lived to reach their miserabl 
homes. '^ 

To ensure the continuance of the Peruvian mines it ha« 
become necessary to follow the example which had beei 
set in New vSpain. This was to carry on a systemati 
slave trade across the ocean, and to substitute for th 
extinct races of America new races from Africa. Thi 
trade soon grew to large proportions. The run from th 
coast of Africa was comparatively short, and the slave 
were landed at the town of Buenos Ayres and drivei 
across the desert, to Peru. In the beginning of this tradt 
negroes were landed in the Rio de la Plata at a cost o 
about £5 per head — a valuation that will serve to measun 
the little difficulty of obtaining them, and the lack of car* 
bestowed upon them. Once in the mines, they wer« 
exploited as rapidly as possible ; it being cheaper to fil 
their places with fresh recruits than to take any troubh 
with the old ones. It was in the midst of this new anc 
horrible traffic, and before negroes became difficult t( 
obtain — that is to say, in 1607 — that the Jesuit fathers o: 
La Plata first saw their way to save what was left of the 
Indians. Of many millions of this race, but a few thoU' 
sands remained, near the settlements or in the forests 
hiding from the slave hunters and cursing the name o: 
Spaniard. The energetic representations of the priests ; 
court, backed by the known ease of obtaining mining slave 
from Africa, first met with success in 1609, when th( 
king of Castile authorised their " Provincial/^ Fathej 
Diego de Torres, of Rome, to establish missions in Lj 
Plata for the care and conversion of the Indians, forbadt 
these missions from being disturbed by any officers of th( 
Crown, and authorised the Provincial to oppose, in thi 
king's name, any such disturbance. 


This edict gave rise to a most interesting experiment 
in government. Whilst the Puritan fathers were govern- 
ing New England on the lines of the Old Testament, the 
Jesuit fathers governed the Paraguay missions on the 
lines of the New. They went among the Indians at risk 
of their lives. With infinite difficulty they persuaded 
them to emerge from their hiding-places, to abandon 
their fugitive and solitary lives, to trust themselves to the 
guidance of white men, and to live in social communities. 
The Jesuit priests taught and encouraged them to work 
and to pray as Christians; they indulged their native 
rites and customs ; they humoured their beliefs and super- 
stitions ; they themselves even spoke the native language, 
and avoided the use of that sonorous but treacherous 
tongue of Castile which to the Indians was only a 
presage of betrayal, violence, and death. 

In this task the Jesuits were opposed by the entire 
Spanish population of La Plata; even the officials, contrary 
to the king's express orders, throwing obstacles in their 
way and encouraging their enemies. Foremost among 
these were the Paulistas, those bandits—" Mamelucos,'' 
they were called — of the Portuguese frontier who had 
discovered gold placers in Minhas Geraes, and wanted 
slaves to work them. In 1628 these bandits broke through 
all restraints of law, and attacked the Jesuit missions. 
Some of them, disguised as Jesuit priests, visited the 
christianised Indians and entrapped them into slavery ; 
others rode boldly into the " reductions,'' as the missions 
were called, and tore the Indian converts away to the 
mines. Everywhere their steps were marked with blood ; 
the reductions were razed to the ground, the houses 
ransacked, the churches pillaged, the altars polluted with 
innocent blood.^ 
j Betw-een 1628 and 1630, over 60,000 christian Indians, 
! chiefly captured in these raids, were sold in the slave 
: marts of San Pedro and Rio Janeiro, and sent to the gold 
1 Charlevoix, pp. 478-9. 




and silver mines. Many thousands were slain by tlie 
Paulistas, or died from fatigue and privation. It is 
estimated that altogether over '' 100,000 christian natives 
were either enslaved or butchered.'^ ^ 

The unhappy Jesuits gathered together the scattered 
remains of their flocks — about 12,000 Indians, exclusive of 
women and children, — and retreated to the north-east 
corner of CorrienteSj where they again commenced their 
pious task. Their account of these transactions, carried 
to Spain by Fathers de Montana and Tano, resulted in 
extorting from the king a reluctant permission that the 
Indians might be allowed to bear firearms. In 1641, on 
the occasion of another attempt on the reductions by the 
Paulistas and Argentines, the Jesuits distributed 300 
muskets among the Guaranis ; and these were used with 
such deadly effect that but few of the white bandits 
escaped alive. 

But, though foiled in fight, the Argentines were fertile 
of intrigue. In January, 1649, their governor, who kept 
them in restraint, mysteriously died. Without waiting 
for the royal appointment of his successor, they at once 
effected a revolution, took the royal authority into their 
own hands, and chose Don Bernardin, a known enemy of 
the reductions, as governor. Their champion lost no 
time. In March, 1649, he authorised the pillage of the 
Jesuit College at Asuncion. When this design was 
accomplished, and while meditating further mischief to 
the reductions, he was summoned to give an account 
of his conduct to the Vicei-oy of Peru, and the revolu- 
tion came to an inglorious end. In 1651 the Paulistas 
and Argentines made a fresh attack upon the reductions, 
but the muskets again so effectuall}^ repulsed them that 
they abandoned all attempts of this character upon the 
missions of the Paraguay. 

In 1691 the Jesuits established similar missions among 
the Chiquitos of Bolivia, and these also were attempted 
1 Page, p. 482. 


to be destroyed and fhe Indians enslaved by the Paulistas 
and Argentines ; but after the latter had met with partial 
success, and depopulated a few villages, firearms again won 
the day, and the bandits were driven off. 

These transactions render it perfectly plain that the 
terms of submission which the colonists of South America 
were ordered to offer to the natives before making " war '* 
upon them, however soothing such terms may have been 
to the king's conscience, were altogether opposed to 
the policy of his Spanish subjects, and therefore im- 
practicable. This policy was to plunder and enslave 
the natives ; to squeeze out of them all that perfidy, 
cupidity, and the torture could extort ; to exploit them 
without pause or mercy ; and for the colonists to avoid 
doing any work themselves. Nowhere do we find them 
engaged in planting, in rearing hei'ds of animals, in 
gathering the gifts of Nature, or in utilising her forces^ 
These occupations were relinquished to the natives and 
the Jesuit priests, against whom they waged unceasing^ 
and unrelenting war. When the Jesuits first offered to 
civilise and evangelise the natives, the colonists opposed ; 
when the king issued peremptory orders that the Jesuits 
and their converts should not be molested, the colonists 
disobeyed and revolted ; when, notwithstanding their 
enmity, the Christian Commonwealth grew into an im- 
posing fabric, they once more revolted against the royal 

An eye-witness informs us what they did with the 
mission Indians. In " A Relation of Mr. B. M.'s Voyage 
to Buenos Aires, from hence by Land to Potosi" (Lon- 
don, 1716), the author says that in this frozen region, 
where even on the surface it never thaws till daylight, he 
saw in one place (in the year 1713) 2200 captured 
Indians driven into a paddock like sheep, and there par- 
celled out to various mine-owners, by whom they were 
driven to the workings under ground. It was death to 


attempt escape ; it was death to remain, for tliey died in 
platoons. This was the price of gold — death. 

In 1723, Antiquera, governor of Buenos Ayres, took 
upon himself to order the banishment of the Jesuits from 
the country, and he organised another raid upon the 
Paraguay missions. After the first surprise the Guarani 
converts recovered themselves, met his forces in the field, 
and stopped his further operations. When this news 
reached Lima a royal battalion was sent against Antiquera, 
who was arrested, carried to Lima, and there executed, 
in 1731. 

Several governors of Buenos Ayres now followed each 
other in rapid succession — Zavala, Barna, and Saroeta. 
The burning question that divided the colonists was still 
the mine exploitation of the christian natives. In 1732 
this question occasioned another rebellion. The pro- 
slavery and anti-Jesuit party were called the Com- 
muneros, or Home Rulers ; the king's party, the Con- 
trabandos.^ Upon the outbreak of this revolution the 
Communeros deposed the king's oflScers, appointed a 
provincial Junta, and elected, as president of the pro- 
vince, Don Luis Jose de Barreyo. Upon evincing some 
hesitation to attack the christian reductions, this officer 
was deposed in favour of Don Manuel de Ruiloba, who, 
for the same reason, was also deposed. The Communeros 
then dissolved their Junta and appointed a dictator to 
carry out their designs. Before these could be effected 
they were met and defeated by the king's forces under 
Zavala, and all these rebellions and revolutions were 
brought to an end. 

By this time the price of heathen negroes brought from 
Africa had increased to £15 each — a price so great as to 
be regarded as an intolerable burden by the colonists 
who owned the mines ; and a fresh effort was made to 
capture and obtain as slaves, and for nothing, the christian 
Indians of the Paraguay missions. From arms the colonists 
* Page, p. 53L 


bad recourse to intrigue, and they appealed from the 
plains of Tucuman to the Court of Madrid. 

About the year 1743 the christian missions were in 
the enjoyment of unprecedented prosperity and power. 
Those of the Parana and Uruguay numbered about 
140j000 souls : the Chiquitos reductions numbered 24,000 ; 
the Abipones and others about 6000 : total, about 170,000 
converts ; of whom 12,000 to 14,000 were provided with 
horses, arms, and ammunition. In thirty reductions the 
converts possessed 769,590 horses, 13,900 mules, and 
271,540 sheep, besides large herds of cattle and other 
animals. It has been suggested that this prosperity was 
not accompanied by any increase of population. The 
Abbe Raynal and other writers have even assigned causes 
for this phenomenon, such as changed habits of life, the 
prevalence of smallpox and fevers, etc., but they have 
one and all omitted to supply any evidence in support of 
these premises. Taking- into account the small numbers 
of the natives whom the Jesuits managed to collect 
together after the tragedy of 1628, and the mendacious 
reports which their enemies circulated at Court, the pre- 
sent writer is compelled to regard the supposed absence 
of increase among the natives as having no foundation in 

However this may be, the prosperity of the reductions 
furnished a weapon to their unscrupulous enemies ; and 
this was sharpened by the straitened condition of the 
royal finances. In vain the Jesuits pleaded the evan- 
gelisation of the natives ; in vain their docility, their 
industry, their sobriety ; in vain that priceless gift of 
nature, the Cinchona bark, which they had discovered 
and gathered from the trees of La Paz, to lay at the feet 
of suffering mankind. These sentimental pleas did not 
fill the king^s coffers. The mines were declining for lack 
of cheap labour ; the price of negro slaves had become 
prohibitive ; and but one resource seemed open to the 
Treasury — to reduce the reductions and thrust the 


christian converts into the mines. The annual revenues 
of the Crown had fallen from 401 million reales de vellon 
in the reign of Philip IV, to 42 millions in that of Philip V. 
The annual expenses had risen from 183 millions to more 
than 200 millions. The king's Fifth from the American 
mines, which formerly was paid without a murmur, was 
now evaded, and had seriously dwindled away. The 
christian Indians must go into the mines. Besides, were 
not the Jesuits accused of amassing great treasures for 
themselves ? were their churches not laden with plate ?^ 
had it not been alleged that their christian republic, 
their imperium in imperio, threatened the integrity of the 
Crown ? Assui'edly the missions ought to be destroyed, 
and the produce of the mines increased. 

In 1759, Pombal, the prime minister of Portugal, 
thwarted in his designs upon the lands of the Uruguay 
missions, had banished the Jesuits from the Portuguese 
possessions, and loading a ship with them in Portugal, 
had despatched it to Civita Vecchia. Here was example 
added to reason. The result of these considerations was 
a triumph for the colonists of La Plata. In 1767 the fiat 
went forth, and the Jesuits were banished by Charles III. 
from Spain and its colonies. Within three months' time 
this edict was enforced in La Plata, and the christian 
republic was levelled to the dust. 

In his letter to the pope, apologising for this trans- 
action, the king terms it a measure of "political economy; " 
and there is no reason to doubt the royal word. His 
first step was to ship all the Jesuits of Spain to Rome; 
his next to hunt down the 222 Jesuits of La Plata and 

' Says Postlethwayt (Diet., art. "Gold"), "The richest gold lava- 
deros (washings) of Chili fall into the laps of the Jesuits, who farm or 
purchase abundance of mines and lavaderos, which are wrought for their 
benefit by their servants." The belief that the Jesuits possessed rich 
mines in which they employed their converts to woi'k in secret is not 
even yet extinguished. See a curious note printed in 1882 by the 
" Industrial " of Buenos Ayres, and published in Mackenna's " Libro de 


deport them from Buenos Ayres ; then he authorised the 
colonists to plunder the Jesuit colleges and churches ; 
finally he let them loose upon the devoted Indians. 

The result can be told in a few words : the midnight 
raid, the chain-gang, the mines, torture, and extinction. 
In 1801 a census of the Indian population was made by 
Don Joaquin de Soria. There were in the thirty missions 
45,639 souls ; less by 98,398 than in the year 1767. In 
this interval of thirty-four years more than two-thirds of 
the original number, to say nothing of the natural increase, 
had disappeared ; horses, cattle, and sheep were gone ; 
the fields were destroyed, the houses pulled to pieces or 
burned down, and nought remained save a few hovels 
and a crumbling adobe church, with faded frescoes and a 
cracked bell.^ 

In August, 1776, the provinces of La Plata were sepa- 
rated from Peru, and together with several other portions 
of that viceroyalty erected into a separate viceroyalty, 
the fourth of that rank in Spanish America. It was 
called La Plata. This government consisted of the 
following provinces : — Buenos Ayres, Rio de la Plata, 
Tucuman to the Andes and the Vermejo, all of Paraguay, 
and all of the present state of Bolivia, including the 
mining districts of Potosi, Oruro, and La Paz. 

In 1806, whilst Sobremonte was Viceroy of the pro- 
vince, the city of Buenos Ayres was captured by British 
forces under Admiral Sir Home Popham and General 
Beresford, with booty valued at 1,500,000 dollars ; but they 
were soon afterward driven out. In the following year 
Sir Samuel Auchmuty captured Monte Video, and in 
1808 General Whitelock, with 11,000 British troops, en- 
deavoured to retake Buenos Ayres, but was repulsed by 
General Liniers ; and in the same year the entire British 
forces evacuated La Plata." 

Simultaneously with these events the king of Spain, 
Charles IV, abdicated in favour of his son, Ferdinand 
^ Page, p. 551. * Ibid., p. 556. 


YII, For his gallantry in the repulse of the British 
forces, General Liniers was appointed viceroy ; but being 
a FreuchmaUj and the Spaniards being at that time 
highly incensed against all Frenchmen, in consequence of 
the invasion of Spain by Napoleon Buonaparte, a re- 
volution broke out in La Plata, Liniers was deposed by 
the colonists, and Cisneros appointed viceroy in the 
name of Ferdinand VII. of Spain. As this monarch was 
himself soon after deposed by Napoleon in favour of his 
brother eToseph, Cisneros governed absolutely. On May 
25th, 1810, and with Cisneros' consent, a new govern- 
ment was formed in La Plata. This consisted of a 
council of the provisional government of La Plata. The 
formation of this council is regarded by the colonists as 
the first step of their national independence. In 1812 
the Spanish or king's party attempted to force Cisneros 
upon the colony as president, but the attempt failed ; 
and the ci-devant viceroy retired to Monte A^ideo, which 
still remained faithful to the Spanish crown. 

In 1813 a new government was formed at Buenos 
Ayres, consisting of a national congress, with Posadas as 
dictator of the republic ; and in the same year Ferdinand 
VII. was restored to the throne of Spain. In 1815 the 
republican government of La Plata solicited the ex-king 
Charles IV. to come and govern them ; but this movement 
was checked by a revolution in the province of Tucuman, 
which broke out March 25th, 1816, and ended with the 
selection of a new congress and the appointment of Payri- 
don as president of the republic. On the 9th July, same 
year, the united provinces of La Plata formally declared 
themselves separated from Spain, and made Buenos 
Ayres their seat of government : Bolivia, Paraguay, and 
Uruguay stood aloof and erected themselves into inde- 
pendent states ; and a period of anarchy followed, marked 
by endless intrigues, desolating strifes, and political 
schemes ending in nothing. Among these was the design 
to become a protectorate of France, with the young 


Duke of Lucca as viceroy. In 1822 a general agree- 
ment of amnesty was arrived at between the liberated 
states ; but the civil war was not ended until December 
9th, 1824. 

In 1825 a National Constitution for the Argentine 
Confederation was promulgated, and Senor Kivadavia 
chosen as president. In the same year the independence 
of the Confederation was acknowledged by Great Britain. 
In 1826 war was declared by the Confederation against 
Brazil for the possession of Uruguay, and this war con- 
tinued for nearly two years. In 1827 the Banda Oriental 
declared itself independent ; and in the same year, says 
Sir Woodbine Parrish, the Argentine Congress was 
dissolved, the Confederation, though it continued in name, ■ 
practically fell to pieces, and the whole of La Plata was 
substantially governed by the executive of the province 
of Buenos Ayres. 

About the year 1825 two Englishmen, Head and Miers, 
travelled extensively in Buenos Ayres, and published 
details concerning the ruin of this country by the early 
Spanish conquerors and miners, its present poverty, the 
extravagant and lying accounts sent to England for the 
purposes of speculation, and the delusive character of its 
boasted mining resources, which details it would have been 
profitable to refer to during the progress of recent events, 
and which the leaders in these later transactions have no 
excuse for not communicating to the public. Mr. Miers 
said that the population, wealth, and resources of the 
country were everywhere exaggerated, that phantoms of 
wealth and power were conjured up to feed the appetite 
of cupidity, that the mining companies recently organised 
in England to work these fabulous resources would 
probably all come to grief, and that he deemed it his duty 
to tear off the mask of deception which covered the real 
indigence of this exploited country.^ But these revela- 
tions went unheeded in 1825, and were forgotten in 1875, 
1 Malte-Bruu, Geography, iii, p. 361, n. 


when precisely the same sort of deception was practised; 
which had succeeded so well fifty years before. 

With the collapse of the boom of 1825, and the with- 
drawal of mining capital to Europe, mining in Buenos i 
Ayres came to an end, and the country was left without 
any industry except that of raising sheep for wool, andi 
killing wild horses for their skins and bones. While this 
was sufl&cient to satisfy the requirements of the Indians 
and guachos, it furnished no basis of commerce and no 
support for the Spanish population, which for this reason 
was always indigent, and consequently always discontented 
and ready for a change of government or for war — any- 
thing that promised some advantage. It is useless to 
look any further for an explanation of the anarchical 
condition of the Argentine. This one is enough for 
practical pui-poses. 

In 1828 a fierce war broke out between the Unitarians 
{" States Rights ") and Federalists, in which Donego, 
who had been elected president of the Confederation in 
1827, was shot, and General Rosas was made president 
by the Federalists. In 1829 Rosas became dictator. In 
1838 war broke out with France, and this lasted two 
years, during part of which time Buenos Ayres was 
blockaded by a French fleet. In 1840 Lavalle, the 
Unitarian chief, was captured and shot by order of Rosas, 
who followed up this advantage by endeavouring to utterly 
exterminate Lavalle's followers. In 1845 France and 
England tried to stop this internecine war ; their fleets 
even ascended the Paraguay ; but in 1847 they abandoned 
the country to its own quarrels. At length, in January, 
1852, Rosas was routed by the Unitarians under Urquiza ; 
in February he was again defeated, and this time deposed, 
after a reign practically of twenty-three years ; and in 
May of the following year (1852) a new constitution was 
promulgated, with Urquiza as provisional dictator of the 
Confederation, and Lopez as governor of Buenos Ayres. 
Martin says that this Constitution is modelled upon that 


of the United States of America, an opiuiou that has 
but little fouudation in fact. The Argentine Constitution 
adopts and supports a particular form of religion ; provides 
that the president of the Confederation shall be a Roman 
Catholic ; that public measures shall be proposed, not by 
the representatives of the people, but by a ministry, who 
are expected to resign when outvoted, — in short, contains 
numerous provisions, any one of which would entirely 
subvert the structure of the American Constitution. 

In September, 1852, a new revolution broke out in 
Buenos Ayres. Lopez was deposed, and Alsina appointed 
governor. A rising also occurred under Colonel Lagos 
in favour of restoring Eosas as dictator of the Confedera- 
tion. Alsina resigned as governor of Buenos Ayres, and 
General Pintos was appointed in his place; Lagos then 
besieged Buenos Ayres. In 1853 Urquiza made terms 
with Lagos, and joined in the siege of Buenos Ayres. 
In July of the same year they both suddenly withdrew, 
and leaving Buenos Ayres to pursue its career alone, 
Urquiza completed the government of the thirteen pro- 
vinces, and established its capital at Parana. Meanwhile 
in the same year Buenos Ayres declared itself for ever 
independent of the Confederation, and chose Obligado as 
governor. In 1859 Alsina again became governor of 
Buenos Ayres, and at once declared war against the 
thirteen provinces. In the same year he was defeated 
by Urquiza, who entered Buenos Ayres in triumph. Then 
Buenos Ayres again joined the Argentine Confederation, 
with Dr. S. Derqui as president, and with the capital still at 
Parana. In 1861 a revolution occurred in Buenos Ayres, 
which declared itself opposed to the policy of the Con- 
federation, against which it once more arrayed its forces. 
This time Buenos Ayres was victorious, and in 1862 the 
capital of the Confederation was removed to the city of 
Buenos Ayres, with General Mitre as president of the 

On May 1st, 1865, a secret treaty of alliance was 



signed by Brazil, the Argentine Confederation, and] 
Uruguay, which declared that the just limits of ParaguayJ 
formerly 103,145 square miles, were ouly 57,303 square 
miles, and apportioned the difference between themselves. 
The war that followed this act of partition was literally 
exterminating. At that time Paraguay, under the suc- 
cessive dictatorships of the two Lopez's, had attained as 
great a degree of prosperity as perhaps the nature of the 
country and its inhabitants permitted, Paraguay was 
the land of the old christian republic ; it was the land 
that Pombal had desired to possess for Portugal ; it was 
still the home of the Indian missions ; and although its 
inhabitants could no longer be dragged into mine slavery, 
their lauds and goods could be appropriated, their 
orphaned children made to do service as menials or peons, 
and the long-standing enmity between Spaniard and native 
could be revived and gratified. That such was the spirit 
which animated the allies is abundantly proved by events. 

In this war over a million of Paraguayans are stated 
to have perished. An enumeration made by the govern- 
ment in 1857 showed a population of 1,337,439 souls. 
At the beginning of 1873 the population, according to an 
official return, was reduced to 221,079 souls, comprising 
28,746 men, 106,254 women over fifteen years of age, 
with 86,079 children. 

Says a traveller in 1875 :^ '' When the war ended with 
the death of Lopez at Cerro Cora, women — even of the 
richest and most influential families — returned to their 
homes nearly naked ; the large majority made their ap- 
pearance in a still more forlorn plight. The population 
of the 'republic,' which had numbered about 1,300,000 
at the beginning of the conflict, had dwindled to 200,000 
or 250,000. These were mainly women and children, for 
the men were nearly all dead, and of the few male 
adults in the population the majority have immigrated into 
the country since the war. The national army, which 
^ Lippincott's Magazine, May, 1875. 


under Lopez was 60,000 strong, comprised, at the time 
of M, Forgues's visit, 250 yoatlis of fifteen or sixteen 
years of age, clad in the cast-off uniforms of the French 
mobiles. Of the Paraguayan children made orphans by 
the war, hundreds now live in Argentine families, either 
as adopted children or as servants. They were picked 
up by the Argentine soldiers during the flight of their 
parents to the mountains, their mothers having perished 
of fatigue or hunger, and Lopez's horsemen (who had 
been ordered to kill them to prevent their falling into the 
hands of the enemy) having spared them through pity or 
indifference to continued slaughter. 

'^ The sequel of the resistance of Lopez surpasses in 
gloomy details almost any similar struggle recorded in 
history. It has already been shown how women and 
children died by thousands or survived to poverty and 
want ; but to understand the melancholy story at its 
worst, one should visit the valley of the Aquidaban River, 
where Lopez fought his last fight, or follow the line of 
his army's march from its camp at Panadero to the 
encampment at Cerro Cora, where he perished miserably. 
A traveller in that part of Paraguay — not M. Forgues, 
but Keith Johnston the geographer — who visited these 
localities in the summer and autumn of 1874, says that 
the march of the army in its final retreat can still be 
traced by the heaps of human bones, with rusty swords 
or guns or weather-stained saddles lying beside them, 
•under every little shade-giving tree. These skeletons he 
saw everywhere at very short intervals.*' 

During the Paraguayan war a revolution broke out in 
the north-western provinces of the Argentine Confedera- 
tion, January, 1867, which declared for Urquiza. In 
1868 Mitre's term expired, and Colonel D. F. Sarmiento 
was elected president of the Confederation. In 1870, after 
the extermination of the population of Pai'aguay, Lopez 
was brought to bay and killed, the war was ended, and 
the lands of the conquered divided among the allies. 


who returned to their respective homes covered witli 
glory. In the same year Urquizaj governor of Entre 
Rios, "was assassinated by one Lopez, who gloried in the 
deed, and was duly elected in the place of his victini. 
The government of the Confederation having refused to 
recognise the legality of these transactions, this led in the 
same year to a new civil war, the Provincials being known 
as " Blancos," and the Nationalists as " Colorados,^' from 
the colours of their respective standards. During this war 
Lopez Jordan and General Mitre distinguished themselves 
as Provincial commanders in Entre Rios ; nevertheless it 
ended, in 1873, in favour of the Nationalists. In 1871 
Buenos Ayres suffered terribly from the ravages of yellow 
fever, a visitation to which all South American seaports 
are exposed, and a factor which should enter into all com- 
mercial speculations which depend upon the prosperity of 
these places. These ports were temporary landing-places 
established during the pillaging and mining eras ; they 
are all on the water^s edge, and without sufficient eleva- 
tion for drainage, and they are all filtby, fetid, and un- 
healthy. An English company has done much, of late 
years, to improve the drainage of Rio Janeiro, but the 
remaining seaports of South America are in much the 
same condition in respect of sanitation as they were in 
the sixteenth century. 

After the election of April 12th, 1874, when Doctor 
Nicolas Avellanda was elected president in preference to 
General Mitre, the Confederation was the scene of another 
revolution, Mitre being the leader of the malcontents. It 
ended December 24th with his surrender. In 1875 com- 
menced that false, extravagant, and deceptive vaunting of 
Argentine resources known as " The Boom," which had 
for its object to obtain money in Europe on bonds, 
cedulas, mortgages, and other inflated and worthless 
papers, a subject which will be referred to again further 
on in this work.'^ 
1 "U.S. Com. Relations," 1871, p. 4; 1874, p. 59 ; 1875, pp. 16, 52. 


In 1880 Rocawas elected president of the Confederation, 
and the capital was removed to the city of Buenos Ayres. 
In 1886 Dr. Celmann was elected president and Dr. 
Pellegrini vice-president, both for six years. In 1890 a 
revolution broke out in Buenos Ayres, many lives were 
sacrificed, and much property destroyed. The upshot of 
this outbreak was the deposition of Celmann and the 
installation of Pellegrini in his place. In 1892 Dr. Pena 
was elected president. All of these "doctors^' are lawyers. 

Revolutions and Wars in the Argentine. 

1628. Pro-slavery revolt of the Paulistas and Argentines against the 
royal authority. Massacre of the christian converts. 

1641. Second revolt of the Pro-slavery party. 

1649. Pro-slavery revolt under Governor Bernardin. 

1651. Pro-slavery revolt of the Paulistas. 

1691. Pro-slavery revolt of the Paulistas. 

1723. Pro-slavery revolt under Governor Antiquera. 

1732. Pro-slavery and Anti-tax revolution. Junta of the Communeros 
under Governor Barreyo. 

1732. Deposition of Bai-reyo and elevation of Euiloba. 

1733. Dissolution of the Junta and appointment of a Dictator. 
1767. Second massacre of the christian converts. 

1776. Erection of the viceroyalty of La Plata. 

1806. Capture and sack of Buenos Ayres by British forces under Sir 

Home Popham. 
1808. Evacuation of La Plata by the British. 
1808. Invasion of Spain by the French, and abdication of Charles IV, 

in favour of Ferdinand VII. (Regency at Cadiz. Bell, vi, 214). 

1808. Revolution in La Plata ; Cisneros appointed Viceroy in the name 
of Ferdinand VII. 

1809. Joseph Buonaparte becomes king of Spain and of the Indies ; 
Cisneros governs absolutely in La Plata. 

1810. Revolution of Independence; formation of the Provisional govern- 
ment of La Plata. 

1812. Royalist revolution to force Cisneros upon the Provincial govern- 
ment. Its failure. 

1813. Republican government under Posadas. 

1815. Royalist revolution in favour of Charles IV. of Spain. Its 

1816. Revolution in Tucuman : Payridon for President. 

1816. Declaration of Independence of the United Provinces of La 
Plata ; but Bolivia, Pai-aguay, and Uruguay refuse to join, and take 
up arms or stand aloof. 

1816. Anarchical period and civil wars. Attempt to place the pro- 
vinces under the protectorate of the Duke of Lucca. Its failure. 
Rodriguez, Dictator of Buenos Ayres. 


1822. Amnesty agreed upon, but the civil war continues until 1825. 

1825. End of the civil war. Adoption of the Argentine Constitution. 

1826. War declared against Brazil for the possession of Uruguav. 

1827. Uruguav revolts from the Argentine, and the government of the 
latter is chiefly confined to the province of Buenos Ayres. 

1828. Civil war between the Unitarians and Federalists. Success of 
the latter, who make Gen. Eosas their Dictator. 

1838. "War with France. A French fleet blockades Buenos Ayres. 

1840. Exterminating war waged by Eosas against the Unitarians. 

1845. The French and British fleets attempt to stop this war, but with- 
out avail. 

1847. Departure of the allied fleets. 

1S52. January. Success of the Unitarians ; defeat and deposition of 

1852. May. Eevolution. New Constitution. Urquiza as Provisional 
Dictator of the Eepublic, and Lopez as Governor of Buenos Ayres. 

1852. September. Eevolution in Buenos Ayres. Deposition of Lopez. 
Alsina appointed Governor. 

1852. Eevolution under Lagos in favour of Eosas. Alsina is replaced 
by Pintos. 

1853. Lagos and Urquiza join forces and press the siege of Buenos 
Ayres. They suddenly withdraw, and Urquiza completes the govern- 
ment of the Thirteen Provinces, leaving Buenos Ayres out. The 
Argentine capital established at Parana. Establishment of present 

1853. Buenos Ayres declares itself independent under Obligado. 
1859. Alsina again governor of Buenos Ayres. War declared against 
the Thirteen Provinces. 

1859. Defeat of Alsina. Urquiza enters Buenos Ayres in triumph. 
Union of Buenos Ayres and the Thirteen Provinces, with Derqui as 
president and Parana as the capital. 

1860. Eevolution in Buenos Ayres and its success. Constitution modi- 
fied to include Buenos Ayres. 

1862. The city of Buenos Ayres made the capital of the republic, with 
Mitre as president of the entire confederacy. 

1865. Secret treaty between Brazil, Uniguay, and the Argentina. 
War declared by the allies against Paraguay ; it is waged with un- 
paralleled atrocities. 

1867. Eevolution in the Argentine in favour of Urquiza. 

1870. End of the Paraguayan war. Partition of Paraguay. A million 
people killed and missing. 

1870. Civil war between the Blancos and Colorados, which lasted three 

1871. Yellow fever at Buenos Ayres. 

1873. Civil war in Entre Eios. 

1874. Eevolution led by Mitre. 

1880. The capital definitely removed to Buenos Ayres. 

1890. Eevolution. Deposition of Cellman. Appointment of Pelegrini. 

1892. Dr. Saens Pena elected president for six years. 









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According to the most recent surveys and estimates, the 
area of the fourteen provinces of the Argentine is 743,200 
English square miles, and of the Indian territories, the 
Gran Chaco, the Pampas, and Patagonia 876,300 square 
miles ; total 1,619,500 square miles, of which the Pata- 
gonian half is little better than a desert appanage. 

Broadly speaking, the lands of the Argentine Republic, 
omitting Patagonia, consist of an alluvial territory east of 
the Parana ; an alkaline desert — the Pampas — west of that 
river ; and a mountainous region west of the desert, 
and separated from Chile by the lofty peaks of the 
Andes. In ti'avelling from Buenos Ayres westward — say 
along the line of the Trans-Andean railway, the first 
portion of the Pampas, according- to Mr, Head, is about 
180 miles wide, and is covei-ed with clover and thistles ; 
the second portion, about 480 miles wide, is covered with 
long grass ; and both portions are destitute of trees, or 
stones, or gravel. The third portion, about 240 miles 
wide, is interspersed witb dwarf trees and evergreen 
bushes, often at considerable distances apart. Water is 
scarce and brackish. The whole region resembles that 
between the Missouri river and the Sierra Nevada of 
North America, and like that region is evidently the 
upheaved bed of an ancient lake or sea. The climate is 
also similar. It is very cold in winter and hot in 
summer, yet is dry, bracing, and salubrious. The north 
winds are, however, much dreaded ; and in the Spanish 
colonial courts of justice the prevalence of these winds 
used to constitute a valid plea of extenuation for breaches 
of the peace and other offences.^ 

The Pampas are subject to the visitation of locusts, 
who often entirely cover the gi*ound and devour every 
species of vegetation. The biscachas form another pest 
of similar character. Eain falls rarely and irregularly.^ 
Agriculture is almost impracticable, the region being 

1 " U.S. Agric. Kep.," 1864, p. 234. 
' " U.S. Com. Eel.," 1875, p. 52. 


only suitable for pasturage. " Its herds and flocks must 
ever be regarded as tlie principal source of wealth. Wool 
must ever be tlie grand staple of the great southern plains. 
Even this industry is imperilled by the frequency of 
revolutions and civil vsrars.^' ^ 

The principal grasses of the Pampas are spear-grass, 
foxtail, and a species of clover, whose yellow flower is 
succeeded by a burr, which, becoming attached to the 
sheep's fleeces, impairs the value of the wool to the extent 
of 15 or 20 per cent." 

Tucuman, Salta, Jujuy, and Corrientes are well adapted 
to sugar, cotton, rice, and tobacco ; but the agriculture 
of the republic is neither extensive nor prosperous ; the 
first owing to scarcity of arable lands and lack of rain, 
and the second to insecurity of life and property arising 
from frequent revolutions.^ A good crop is only to be 
got once in three years.* The natives will not engage in 
tillage, and foreigners are the only agriculturists.^ The 
Italians, many of whom are from the Papal States, are 
the best fruit and vegetable growers.^ The agricultural 
methods are often very primitive ; the fields are separated 
by ditches and hedges ; the plough consists of two heavy 
beams of hard wood, one of which is pointed for a share ; 
thrashing is done by the tramping of animals, and win- 
nowing by means of the wind ; the ox-cart is of the 
ancient Hindoo type, made without a particle of iron, and 
bound together with thongs of hide.^ The land " boom " 
of 1874 attracted much foreign capital aud invited many 
improvements. Better methods were introduced, and 
superior agricultural implements imported. Santa Fe 

1 Eev. G. D. CaiTow, of Buenos Ayres, iu " U.S. Agric. Rep.," 1864, 
pp. 240-41. - Ibid. 

3 " U.S. Agric. Rep.," 1876, p. 272. 
" "Consular Rep.," 1890, Xo. 113. 
* "Agric. Rep.," 1864 and 1876. 
« Ibid., 1864. 
7 J. B. "Wood, U.S. Consul at Rosario, in " Agric. Rep.," 1876. 


even has a grain elevator, aud another one is going up at 
Rosario.^ But the state of surrounding affairs is hardly 
up to this level of improvement. 

In the classifications of the land of the Argentine 
Republic, Mulhall, evidently copying some piece of official 
guess-work, because no surveys had been made, allows 
44 per cent, for mountains, forests, water surfaces, etc., 
55 per cent, for pasture land, and 1 per cent, for agricul- 
tural lands. This is no doubt the most favorable showing 
that could be made without exciting derision. The best 
lands near Buenos Ayres are valued at $5 to $15 per 
acre ; in Tucuman and Entre Rios at Si ; in Cordova and 
Corrientes, 50 cents ; and in San Luis, San Juan, Mendoza, 
and other parts of the Upper Provinces at 12 cents. 
These are ''boom" prices, and many of these lands, without 
roads, irrigating ditches, or other improvements, are 
practically worthless. Hundreds of millions of aci-es of 
lands, quite equal to those of the Upper Provinces of the 
Argentine, and possessing the advantages of a stable 
government, railway and telegraphic communication, and 
cheap supplies, can be had on the North American pampas 
for 25 cents an acre down, and $1 more at any time during 
five years ; yet nobody wants them. 

The number of acres actually under tillage in the 
Argentine is given by the same authority as follows : — 
Year 1854, 375,000 acres ; 1864, 506,000 ; 1874, 825,000 ; 
1878, 930,000 ; - and 1884, 4,260,000. The proportional 
number of acres devoted to each principal crop is given 
for the year 1884 as follows: — Wheat, 1,717,000; maize, 
825,000 ; fiax, 198,000 ; grapes, 63,000 ; alfalfa (lucerne), 
etc., 1,457,000. The " Statesman's Year-book " for 1890, 
evidently derived from the same " official " sources, 
gives the following acreage for 1889 :— Wheat, 2,500,000 ; 

1 "Con. Rep.," 1890. 

2 Dr. Espeche, of the Industrial Chib of Buenos Ayres, in " C. E.," 
1878, p. 84. According to " C. R.," 1875, p. 51, the acreage under till- 
age in 1874 was 810,000. 


maize, 2,000,000; flax, 350,000; alfalfa (1888), 950,000; 
other crops (1888), 500,000 : total 6,300,000 acres. No 
evidence is given to support these figures : and I can 
only express my entire disbelief in them. They 
neither agree with the description of the country by Sir 
Woodbine Parish, Lieutenant Page, Consul Baker, Dr. 
Espeche, or other wi'iters of repute, nor with the commer- 
cial statistics of recent years, nor with other figures from 
the same source. The "Standard" of 1878, in reviewing 
Dr. Espeche's figures, claimed less than 2,000,000 acres 
under cultivation. Says Consul Baker (" Consular Re- 
ports," No. 113, dated February, 1890): "The Agricultural 
Department of the Argentine Republic has never inter- 
ested itself enough in such matters even to know the 
actual breadth of land in cereal crops, or the amount of 
the average crops raised. Even the amount required for 
the home demand is quite a matter of guess-work, and 
about all that is known in reference to a crop is learned 
from the amount which is exported." This guess-work 
and exaggeration, here imputed to Buenos Ayrean statis- 
tics, is nothing new. It was noticed sixty-five years ago ; 
and strangely enough by Mr. Baring (the late Lord 
Ashburton), who warned the British public against its 

The " Statesman's Year-book" for 1894 gives the land 
under cultivation in 1891 at 7,400,000 acres, of which 
wheat, 3,300,000 ; maize, 1,700,000 ; barley, etc., 400,000 ; 
alfalfa (hay), 1,200,000; vines (1892), 85,000; and sugar, 
67,000. For 1892 it lowers the wheat acreage to 3,000,000. 
The truth appears to be that the acreage at present (1895) 
devoted to wheat is about three and a half millions, whilst 
two other million acres comprise all the remaining culti- 
vated land ; the total cultivated area being less than five 
and a half million acres, or about one per cent, of the 
total area of the fourteen provinces, exclusive of Pata- 
gonia. Agriculture is subject to great vicissitudes. In 
' McCulloch, " Com. Diet.," ed. 1856, p. 860, n. 


1856 McCullocli wrote, '' Corn, which for a considerable 
period was not produced in sufficient quantity for home 
consumption, has latterly become an occasional article of 
export." Says the Buenos Ayres ''Standard '^ of February 
1st, 1890, *' La Plata, as a rule, can rely on only one 
good crop every three years, and we are now witnessing 
the effect of a short harvest." Wheat was imported in 
that year from California, Oregon, and Russia. 

At the present time (1895) and in good years the 
wheat crop is about 30 to 40 million bushels per annum, 
of which about one-fourth (or 3 bushels per capita of 
population, the latter estimated at about 2,500,000 to 
3,000,000) are consumed for seed and food, and the 
remainder exported. The average yield of wheat is 
about 10 bushels to the acre ; the quantity sown about 1 

Excluding wild Indians, the population of the southern 
provinces of La Plata, afterwards the Argentine Con- 
federation, has been estimated from time to time as 
follows:— 1730-1740, about 170,000; 1776, about 300,000. 
This number and the following ones probably included the 
Mission Indians. 1818, about 718,000; 1830, about 700,000; 
1833, about 550,000 ; 1836, about 600,000 to 675,000 ; 
and 1850 about 673,000. The number of wild Indians, a 
mere matter of conjecture, was estimated in 1776 at 
700,000 ; and this number was retained by all succeeding 
writers until 1869, w^hen 600,000 of these imaginary 
Indians were added to the number of whites, mestizoes, 
and negroes by attaching them to the various provinces.^ 
They disappear from Patagonia to swell the total number 
elsewhere. By these means the total population, exclusive 
of Indians, is made to increase three times in nineteen years, 
namely, from 673,000 in 1850, to 1,737,000 in 1869— a 

1 " Com. Diet.," p. 199. 

2 Malte-Brun ; Morse, p. 130; Macgregor ; Balbi; Sir "W. Parish; 
Page, p. 535 ; " C. E.," 1890, No. 119 ; and other authorities. 


device and pretence that exposes the correctness of the 
''census^' to grave doubt. 

The "official estimate" of 1887 is no better. The 
census of 1869, including the 700,000 savages of Patagonia, 
gave a population of about 1,800,000. The immigration, 
less emigration, from 1870 to 1887 inclusive, was about 
650,000. This would make 2,450,000 ; and as the official 
estimate fur 1887 gives 4,035,000, we are asked to believe 
that the population increased about 1,600,000 from births 
over deaths alone ! For a population that only increased 
from 1,418,000 in 1818 to 1,830,000 in 1869 this is utterly 
incredible. It would be quite safe to regard the entire 
popiilation of the Argentine Confederation in 1887, savages 
and all, as not much over 2,500,000. In 1892 the popu- 
lation was about 2,750,000 ; at the present time it is under 

Of the whole population at a recent date, Mulhall 
said that one- sixth were foreign born, a statement that 
does not agree either with the census or immigration 
tables. The census of 1869 showed that one-fourth were 
foreign born, and including those not classified, they 
probably constituted fully one-third or more. This pro- 
portion has not since decreased.'^ 

An account is kept at the seaports of the republic of 
all passengers arriving and departing by sea. With the 
object of exaggerating the resources and growth of the 
State, this account is termed that of immigration and 
emigration, which, of course, it is not. According to this 
account, the " immigration '' from 1857 to 1869 inclusive 
was 166,782, less about 35 per cent, "emigration." The 
persons embraced in these numbers who actually remained 
in the country are, of course, included in the census of 
1869. From 1870 to 1888 inclusive the " immigration " is 
stated to have been about 1,200,U00, and the " emigration " 
about 420,000. Such of these numbers as actually 
remained in the country are included in the census of 
1 " Com. Eel.," 1875 and 1893. 


1889.-^ An agricultural colony of Jewish refugees, cliieily 
from Russia, has recently been planted in the Argentine, 
through the munificence of Baron Hirsch. Its progress 
\vill doubtless be watched with great interest. At last 
accounts it was said to be doing well. 

Miniug for the precious metals is on the average the 
most unprofitable of all industries. Many states and 
communities, aware of this fact, have entirely forbidden 
its continuance." The richest mining countries are among 
the poorest in general wealth. The contents of a mine 
when once exhausted can never be renewed ; the value 
of the newly added product (when measured by other 
commodities) must always tend to diminish, because, at 
least in peaceful times, the quantity of the former always 
tends to increase — a fact due to the imperishable character 
of these metals, and the fabrication of a certain proportion 
of them into coins. After its initial phases, mining 
requires large capital and elaborate machinery and plant. 
As mines are usually in remote and inaccessible regions, 
it seldom pays to remove the plant ; so that when a mine 
" shuts down,'^ the plant is commonly a total loss. When 
a mine becomes barren, the owners do not abandon their 
costly plant at once, but keep on in the hopes that the 
mine will improve. For these reasons mines are often 
worked for long periods at a loss, and -with only a remote 
prospect of gain — a prospect sustained by occasional 
instances of good fortune, but far more often frustrated 
by bad. 

During the first twenty years after its discovery by 
the Spaniards there was no mining in La Plata, only 
plunder of the Indians, who were forced into a few 
wretched alluvions, or placers, and compelled to produce 
a stipulated quantum of gold, or suffer the torture. 
Mining began with the discovery of Potosi in 1535. 

' Concerning assisted immigration and lands granted to immigrants, 
consult " Com. Eel.," 1875, p. 51, and 1876, p. 85. '— ' 

- " Hist. Prec. Met.," ch. ssxix. 


This is a mountainons district, about eighteen miles in 
circuit and three miles above the sea level. The dis- 
covery of its treasures was made by an unlucky Indian 
while in seai'ch of some animals. To save himself from 
slipping, he caught hold of a tree, tore away some brush- 
wood, and laid bare a piece of native silver. His revela- 
tion of this discovery cost the lives of millions of his race. 
During the first ten years the workings were small and 
desultory.^ Systematic working commenced in 1545. 
From 1545 to 1549 it was considered a bad month when 
the mines failed to yield $2,000,000 ; from 1548 to 1551 
the produce fell to about 81,000,000 a month. From 
1556 to 1578 the average annual product was 82,200,000 ; 
from 1579 to 1736 the average annual product rose to 
about 84,000,000 ; from 1737 to 1789 it fell to 82,500,000 ; 
from the discovery to 1789 the total production was 
8788,000,000; in 1835 the Prefect of Potosi calculated 
the product from official records at 734,000,000 dollars, 
or pesos ; altogether, from first to last, it w-as probably 
(including smuggling) about 800 millions, or twice the 
product of the Comstock mines. The principal mining- 
districts in the viceroyalty of La Plata proper w^ere La 
Paz, Caraugas, and Oruro, 

In the list published by Helars from the records of the 
Spanish Chancery, it appears that there were no less than 
twenty-two districts worked for gold and silver, and that 
in these districts there were simultaneously worked 27 
principal mines of silver, 30 gold, 7 copper, 7 lead, and 
2 tin. Humboldt estimated their united product, at the 
period of the revolt from Spain, at 4,200,000 dollars per 
annum. It is a significant fact that no native will invest 
his capital in the working of mines. He will search for 
mines, develop them until they look promising enough to 
sell, and then scour the earth for " foreign capital " to 
purchase or work them. 

In 1825, after the independence of the Confederation 
^ Garcilasso de la Vega, who visited the mines in person. 


was acknowledged by Great Britain, a mining boom was 
organised in La Plata, and several millions sterling of 
British capital were invested in enterprises, not one of 
which ever paid a dividend. In 1851 Dalence said, 
" In Potosi there are 26 silver mines workiug, more than 
1800 abandoned ; Porco, 33 working, 1519 abandoned ; 
Chayanta, 8 working, 130 abandoned ; Chicas, 22 work- 
ing, 650 abandoned; Lipez, 2 working, 760 abandoned; 
Oruro and vicinity, 11 working, 1215 abandoned, also 200 
gold mines abandoned ; Poopo, 15 silver mines working, 
316 abandoned ; Caraugas, 4 working, 285 abandoned ; 
Cicasica, 9 working, 320 abandoned ; Inquisivi, 5 work- 
ing, 160 abandoned ; Araca, 4 gold mines working, 
hundreds abandoned ; Soratu, 7 working, over 500 aban- 
doned ; Berenguela de Pacajes, all abandoned, although 
many were rich ; Arque, 2 working, 100 abandoned ; in 
Ayopapa many silver mines, and in Choquecama many 
gold ones, all abandoned/' Altogether there were about 
8300 mines, of which 150 were being worked. These- 
numbers must have included prospects as well as 

At a later period there occurred a slight revival of 
mining in these districts ; but as they now belonged ta 
Bolivia, and no longer to La Plata, they need no further 
mention in this place. Among the best data on the- 
subject of Argentine mines are the reports of the British 
consuls in the Consular Reports, and the American con- 
suls in the " United States Commercial Eelations," 1875, 
and the year following also in " El Libro de Plata,'^ 
por B. Vicuna MacKenna, Santiago de Chile, 1882, in 
which the author concludes the subject with these words : 
" There is no more misleading name than that of La 
Plata : that country's true source of wealth is not silver 
mines, but wool and hides " (p. 607). 

' " Bosquejo estadistico de Bolivia," por Jose Maria Dalence, Chuqui- 
saca, 1851, pp. 293-4. 


Statistics of the Domestic Animals of Argentina. 

Year. Horses. Cattle. Slieep. , Authority. 

18103,000,00012,000,000 — Malte-Brun, iii, p. 364. 
18303,000.000 — 1 — Macgreggor says one million 

I horses in Buenos Ayres. 

18403,500.000 — 110,000,000 Macgreggor, for horses. 
1856'5,200.000 16,500,000 20,000,000 Ihid. 
18644,000,000 15.000,000 30,000,000 Based on exports of hides and 

I wool. 
18704,000,000 — 50,000,000 " Consular Eep.," 1871, says 70 

i million animals. 

18784,000.000 13.500,000 57,500,000 " Consular Eep.," 1878, p. 88. 
18844,200,00014,200,000)70,900,000 Mulhall. Excessive. 
18884,400,000|22,800,000|70,500,000" Statesman's Year-book." Ex- 


1893 5,200,000 22,000,000 80,000,000 Ibid. Excessive. 

Upon comparing them vrith the exports of hides and 
wool, it is evident that many of these statistics are merely 
empirical figures designed to prove ;i regular and rapid 
increase of sheep. Seiior Zeballos added about 50 per 
cent, to Mulhall's extravagant figures, without the 
slightest warrant of fact. About one-fifth of the cattle 
and one-twentieth of the horses are skinned yearly, and 
the hides exported. The number of sheepskins ex- 
ported, as compared with the number of sheep living, 
gradually increased from about one-eighth to one-half, as 
railway and other facilities brought the estancias and 
shipping ports into closer communication ; but of late, 
the frozen mutton trade has changed this. In 1850, 
pampas sheep, only 300 miles from the city of Buenos 
Ayres, could be bought for ]5 cents (7|cl.) a head, 
" hard money." fThe w^ool was so coarse as scarcely to 
be worth conveyance to market, and the flesh was rejected 
as food even by the natives.^ Since that time the breed 
(by crossing with a few merinos imported between 1824 

1 " U.S. Agric. Rep.," 1864. 


and 1847) improved so mucli as to increase the exports 
of wool from 14,000,000 pounds in 1850, to about twenty- 
five times as much in 1892. 

Argentina is essentially a pastoral country ; cattle and 
sheep have always been, and for many generations yet 
will probably remain, the principal source of its wealth. 
In glancing over its statistics of horses and cattle, there 
appears to have been no substantial increase of these 
animals. There were 3,000,000 horses in 1810, 3,000,000 
to 4,000,000 in 1840, 5,000,000 in 1856, and there were said 
to have been upwards of 4,000,000 in 1890. There were 
12 million cattle in 1810, 16^ millions in 1856, 14 millions 
in 1884. As for the reputed' 22,000,000 of 1888 and 1893, 
they are doubtful. On the other hand, sheep have in- 
creased enormously. These animals were probably much 
more numerous before the war of independence than 
afterwards. In 1840 there were about 10,000,000 ; in 
1864, about 30,000,000 ; in 1870, about 50,000,000 ; in 
1878, about 57,000,000 ; and in 1884 and 1888 about 
70,000,000. At the present time they are said to number 
80,000,000. Some of these figures seem open to ques- 
tion, but perhaps this is due to the substitution of the 
date of the statement for that of the estimate, a common 
form of error with inexact writers. I regard them as 
substantially correct. As for the figures published by 
Mulhall, they are totally invalidated by the export 
statistics, and can have but little basis in fact. 

The exports of wool in 1843 amounted to 12,000,000 
pounds weight; 1848, 14,000,000; 1849, 17,000,000; 
1850, 14,000,000; 1851, 14,000,000; and 1852, 14,000,000. 
In 1867 they Avere 150,000 bales ; 1871,157,000,000; 
1872, 203,000,000 ; 1873, 184,000,000 ; 1877, 214,000,000 
pounds; 1892, 154,600 tons. The •number of hides 
exported was — in 1867, 2,333,000 ; 1871, same ; 1872 
(eighteen months), 3,300,000; 1873, 2,600,000; 1877, 
2,500,000. The number of sheep (including goat and 
deer) skins exported was — in 1872, 6,600,000 ; 1873, 


5,000,000; 1874, 11,000,000; 1878, 28,800,000 skins; 
1892, 32,100 tons. 

Some impetus has of late been given to slieep fanning 
by the discovery of a practicable method of freezing 
mutton, and of conveying it to Europe. To meet this new 
trade the quality of the mutton had been improved by 
judicious breeding. Poultry farming has made no pro- 
gress in Argentina. Down to a recent period eggs were 
actually imported from Italy. ^ 

In 1864 the Argentine Confederation had about 50 
miles of railway ; 1869, about 400 miles ; 1874, 884 miles ; 
1879, 1500 miles ; 1884, 2290 miles ; 1889, about 6940 
miles (Mulhall) ; 1893, 8023 miles {" Statesman's Year- 
book"). These works, including equipment, cost about 
£6850, or 834,000 hard money, per mile ; say altogether 
about £54,750,000. The telegraph lines of the Argentine 
Confederation in 1872 were 3150 miles long, in 1876 about 
4820 miles, and in 1891 about 17,500 miles. They should 
not have cost for wire, poles, insulators, instruments, and 
construction more than £10 per mile. Allowing double 
this amount, the actual outlay could not have been more 
than £350,000. The improvements to the port of Buenos 
Ayres are valuable. 

Down to 1870 water in Buenos Ayres was carted up 
from the river. In that year the waterworks were com- 
pleted, and now the city is properl}" supplied. 

In 1826, within a year after the independence of the 
Argentine Confederation was acknowledged by Great 
Britain, it made its appearance in the London market 
for a loan of £300,000, which it negotiated through 
the house of Barings. From that time to this the 
" finances " of the republic have chiefly consisted of the 
following ingenious features : first, borrowing money in 
London, and not paying it ; second, issuing an illimitable, 
unredeemable, and constantly depreciating paper money 
with which to pay for foreign goods, chiefly English ; 
1 " Com. Eel.," 1875, p. 19. 


third, levying export duties, so that the Argentine 
expenses of government might be paid by foreign nations, 
chiefly England ; fourth, taxing the banks and commercial 
houses in Buenos Ayres, chiefly English ; fifth, borrowing 
money from them, and not paying it ; sixth, sales of 
national territory to foreigners. 

In 1836 the funded debt of the Argentine •amounted 
to $36,000,000, besides £1,000,000 ($5,000,000) at 6 
per cent, interest " unpaid since January, 1828."^ In 
1865 the national debt was $66,000,000, 1872, 
$71,000,000; 1874, $63,500,000; 1877, $122,000,000; 
and 1888, $152,500,000, bearing $17,750,000 annual 
interest, besides 7 per cent, interest guaranteed by the 
government on the Trans-Andean railway. In 1893, 
after the Barings failed, the Argentine debt was 
$323,000,000, and the annual charges about $20,000,000, 
to say nothing of railway guarantees, provincial and 
municipal debts, cedulas, and other obligations. The 
entire financial policy of this model government may be 
summed up in one expi'essive word — manana ! 

We are now prepared to deal with the monetary systems 
of Argentina. At the period of the discovery of La Plata 
by the Spaniards the principal coins of Spain were the gold 
castellano, containing about 63^ grains fine, identical Avith 
the Arabian dinar and Byzantine solidus ; the gold ducat 
of about 56 grains fine, identical with the Venetian sequin ; 
the real de plata of bl^ grains fine silver ; and the 
billon maravedi of 1*52 grains of fine silver. These coins 
were valued in maravedis as follows : — the maravedi, 1 ; 
the real, 34 ; the ducat, 383 ; and the castellano, 490. 
On or before 1579 the ducat was raised to 434 and the 
castellano to 556 maravedis. The castellano was sometimes 
called '^apiece of gold,^' and sometimes" a gold peso;" the 
ducat was sometimes called "a gold real. ^' The "dobla" 
and the "pistole" were double ducats. The " escudo " was 
a silver piece of 8 reals, or " piesa de a ocho," or " peso 
^ Vethake, " Cyc. Americana." 


fuerte," or, as it was afterwards called, a hard dollar. 
The " peso seucillo,'' or soft dollar, contained 304| grains 
of fine silver (about 6 reals). This was the value of the 
Paraguay and River Plate peso, as fixed by the royal 
ordinance of 1618. 

The following data, from the year 1535 to the year 
1620, are taken from the " Recopilacion de Leyes de 
les Reynos de las Indias," or code of laws relating 
to America, published by royal authority in Madrid, 

1492. One-half of all gold or silver obtained in 
j^merica must be paid to the king. During the govern- 
ment of Ovando in Hispaniola this requirement was 
reduced to one-third ; and in 1504 to one-fifth (quinto), 
at which rate it continued until 1736. This tax is of 
very ancient origin. In India the king exacted one- half 
of gold and silver spoil or produce.^ In Japan the 
emperor exacted two-thirds." The government of Athens 
exacted one-twenty-fourth from the mines of Laurium.^ 
The temple of Delphos exacted a tenth from all gold 
mines. The government of Rome levied a similar tax ; ^ 
and although the rate is not mentioned, it was probably 
one-tenth.^ One-fifth was the proportion demanded 
by the Koran and exacted by the earliest moslem caliphs 
on both spoil and produce.^ The same proportion was 
reserved for the caliph by the moslem in Spain,'' The 
Christian kings followed this example, and even exceeded 
the moslem in avidity. From 1147 to 1550 the king of 
Portugal exacted one-half of their produce from the gold 
washers of the upper Tagus.^ In 1379 King John of 

' " Code of Manu," viii, p. 39. 

^ " Hist. Money in Ancient States," p. 54. 

^ Xenophon, " De Vectigal." '' Livy, xxiv, p. 21. 

* Adams' " Roman Antiq.," voc. " Decumse." 

^ Al Koran, c. viii, of Spoils. 

^ Calcott's " Spain," vol. i, p. 95. 

8 " Hist. Prec. Metals," p. 37. 


Castile declared the mines " free of lords and church/' 
and subject only to the royal fifth of the gross produce. 
In 1578 Queen Elizabeth of England stipulated 
with Sir Humphrey Gilbert that he should pay 
the Crown one-fifth of all the gold and silver 
he might obtain in Nova Scotia.^ At the present time 
the Vigra copper and gold mine, North Wales, be- 
sides rental, pays the Crown of England one-fifteenth 
of its produce. The quinto tax had much to do with the 
monetary systems not only of La Plata, but of other 
countries, and its study is commended to those " econo- 
mists " who imagine that the cost of producing the 
precious metals has anything to do with the current 
value of coins. 

1519. All gold and silver bullion obtained in America 
shall be taken to the governor of the province wherein 
obtained, or to the justice, or royal assayer, or to the mint 
master, if there be one, who, after having retained one- 
fifth for the king, shall stamp the remainder with its 
value in Spanish coins of the same metal, enhanced to 
the extent of the value of the dues (derechos) pertaining 
to the king. These last appear to have been one-and-a-half 
per cent, ad valorem. This law forbids private coinage ; 
it secured two payments to the king so long as the 
bullion remained in America, and further payments 
whenever it was sent for coinage to Spain. It was 
repeated in 1535 with the penalty of death for in- 

1535. The law of this date establishes the first mints 
in America, namely, those of Mexico, Santa Fe, and 
Potosi ; also a mint to coin billon pieces for the king at 
San Domingo, in the island of Hispaniola. Besides 
the quinto or fifth on production, there were levied three 
reals on every mark weight of silver, namely, two reals to 
cover the cost of coinage and one real for the king's 

^ Calcott's " Spain," vol. i, p. 66. 



seignioi'age. The dereclio of H per cent., tliougb not 
mentioned, appears to have remained. All bullion pre- 
sented for coinage must exhibit proofs of its having paid 
the quinto, or else it is liable to confiscation. The 
exportation of coins, except to Spain, is forbidden. The 
date of this law proves that the celebrated mining 
district of Potosi, in La Plata, was discovered ten years 
earlier than is commonly supposed. 

1535. Counterfeit money reported in circulation, and 
ordered to be traced up and seized. Mint offices to be 

1537. The American mints are permitted to coin 
" reales de a ocho " (pesos), halves, quarters, and eighths, 
" como en estos reynos," same as in Spain. 

1544. The law of 1537 repeated more explicitly, ''of 
same weight, fineness, and value as the coins of Cas- 

1546. Changes the ratio of value between the precious 

1550. Forbids dealings in gold dust or bullion. 

1551. Besides the quinto, a duty (derecho) of H per 
cent, ad valorem is made payable to the king on all 
gold and silver. This law (the '' covos '') is repeated in 

1565. Silver coins may continue to be struck in America, 
but neither gold nor billon coins. The explanation of 
this regulation is found in the sacred myth of gold, and 
the facility it offered to the Spanish emperor-king to raise 
the value of that metal by proclamation. After the 
plunder of America, which chiefly yielded gold, the 
Spaniards discovered Potosi, and commenced mining, when 
the produce became chiefly of silver. Believing that the 
seigniorage upon gold would henceforth yield but a small 
revenue, the king determined to enhance the value of the 
metal by decree, and to enjoy the entire advantage of 
this enhancement by coining the gold himself, and for- 
bidding the coinage of that metal in America. The 



valuation of gold to silver in Spain previous to 1546 was 
1 to 10"755; in that year it was raised to 1 to 13"333. 

1565. Counterfeit money reported in circulation, and 
ordered to be traced and seized. Mint offices to be 

1567. The seigniorage law of 1535 is modified by re- 
mitting the two reals for cost of coinage, and retaining 
the one real seigniorage due to the king. The derecho 
or " covos ^^ of H per cent, also remains. 

1579. The law recites that not merely of gold and 
silver, but of all metals and minerals, one-fifth part 
belongs of right to the king. In taxing gold and silver 
there shall first be exacted 1^ per cent, of their weight 
to compensate the royal smelters, weighers, and assayers, 
and immediately thereafter 20 per cent, of their weight 
for the king (Law xix of the Eoyal Fifths). 

1579. In retaining the derechos and the quinto of gold 
the royal officials shall count at the rate of 24 maravedis 
to the quilate (carat) of gold, or 556 maravedis to the 
castellano of 22^ carats, "which is its just and true 
value." The carat is usually regarded as a measure of 
fineness ; here it is evidently used as a weight. If it was 
a weight, I can only suppose that it weighed 2*96 English 
grains, because in weighing gold there were 4 Spanish 
grains (the silver mark was divided into 4608 grains) to 
the carat, and 4800 grains to the mark, which both as to 
gold and silver contained 3550| grains English. In such 
cases the castellano weighed 66| English grains. This 
must mean gross or standard weight, including alloy ; 
but I am not at all confident that the calculation is correct. 

1579. By the same law silver was valued at 2050 
maravedis " per mark of eight ounces of five pesos." I 
can make nothing definite of this. Here the maravedi 
is ordered to contain 1"73 English grains of fine silver; 
whereas, according to its relation (272) to the dollar, 
or peso, or piece-of-8, it could not have contained over 
1*52 grains fine. 


1581. The preamble sets forth the vexatious diversity 
of weights and measures employed in the various vice- 
royalties or provinces of America, and substitutes for all 
of them the weights and measures of Toledo (New Castile), 
and the vara, or yard, of (Old) Castile. 

1589—95. Gold, silver, and billon money authorised to 
be coined in Hispaniola ; the billon money to be legal- 
tender at fixed rates, the refuser to be punished. This 
money was apparently intended to circulate in all of the 
American provinces. 

1591. The law of 1550 is modified by repealing the 
prohibition as to dealings in gold dust or bullion, and re- 
enacting the prohibition to deal in silver bullion. The 
viceroys are to furnish coined money in exchange for 
silver bullion upon which the king's fifth and other dues 
have been paid. This appears to be a sort of counter- 
move to the " individual coinag-e " lesfislation of the 
Netherlands in 1572. 

1595. The following coins, struck in Hispaniola under 
the king's warrant, were declared legal-tender in that 
island under heavy penalties : peso de plata,450 maravedis, 
or 225 quartos ; escudo de oro, 400 maravedis, or 200 
quartos ; real de plata, 34 maravedis, or 17 quartos. Bad 
(false ?) money was stated to be in circulation in Hispaniola. 

1596. The colonial ofiicial practice of exacting the 
king's dues in heavy coins and paying the public expenses 
with light ones, is forbidden. 

1596. The Viceroy of Peru is ordered to confine the 
Indians to the work of mining, and not to permit them to 
leave the mines {" Recop.," ii, p. 257). 

1603. The value of all billon and copper coins is doubled 
by decree in Spain. This decree brought about a virtual 
suspension of coin payments caused by the exportation of 
full-weighted gold and silver coins. Premium on silver 
coins in Spain, 40 per cent, in billon coins. Great confu- 
sion in the monetary system, which the Spanish-American 
viceroys resented by suspending individual coinage. 


1608. The Viceroys of Spain are permitted to coin 
money for individual account, and without any more 
specific limit than they may deem necessary. This appears 
to be a more complete measure of private coinage than the 
ordinance of 1591, because it says nothing about the king's 
fifth or other dues. 

1611. Final expulsion of the Moors from Granada. 

1618. The peso of the Indian ti'ibute, and of Paraguay, 
Rio de la Plata, and Tucuman, shall be discharged with 
six reals. 

1620. From all silver bullion brought to the king's 
officers shall first be deducted the king's fifth,^ and his 
prerogative (derecho) of mintage, 2 reals per mark, and 
his seigniorage, 1 real per mark ; then out of the remain- 
ing bullion there shall be coined 67 reals to the mark 
weight. In this year base silver money made its ap- 
pearance in New Granada, and is noticed in one of the 

1632. Royal taxes on gold, or taxes paid in gold, 
shall be remitted to the king in the same metal, and 
not paid with silver or any other metal or commodity 
(Law sx of the Royal Fifths). This implies that the king 
derived some advantage from gold which he did not 
from silver. It could not have been in the change of 
ratio from 13 J to 14, because that did not occur until 
1641 ; nor did it arise out of the seigniorage on gold 
coinage, but was apparently the elaboration of a similar 
decree issued in 1557, designed to prevent fraud on the 
part of officials. 

1643. No modification of royal decrees fixing the value 
of money is to be permitted or countenanced. 

^ The evasion of the quinto at this period was common. Captain 
Shelvock captured a Spanish vessel in 1721 which was laden with a 
quantity of preserved fruit packed in boxes. Upon opening these boxes 
some o£ them were found to contain cakes of silver bullion (" Mavor's 
Voyages," iv, p. 118). Numerous other instances of like kind prove that 
the smuggling of silver out of Spanish America had become an organised 



1621-55. Reign of Philip IV. The value of the billon 
and copper coins of Spain again doubled by decree ; no 
limit assigned to their fabrication, and no adequate safe- 
guards provided against counterfeits. The consequence 
was that the country was soon flooded Avitli base coins fabri- 
cated in Germany, Flanders, France, England, and Italy. 

In the reign of Philip V. (1700-45) the floating debt 
of Spain was funded. This debt consisted of assignments 
of anticipations (exchequer bills), temporary debts created 
by the Bureau of Loans, tickets of subsistence (military 
scrip), and mint bills (bullion receipts?). In October, 
1710, all these demands upon the State were ordered to 
be funded, with or without consent of the creditors, into 
5 per cent, stock. At this period (the close of Louis 
XIV^s reign) the finances of France were in such a 
deplorable condition that 500 patents of nobility were 
sold by the French government for 2000 ecus each, the 
currency was depleted, prices declined, and a vortex 
was being formed which was soon to be filled by the 
paper emissions of John Law.^ Under these circumstances 
there was no market in France for the Spanish stock. 
Hence its emission in place of the floating debt caused 
a violent outcry from those who had expected pay- 
ment of their claims. Indeed, the discredit of the mint 
bills had already — that is, in 1710 — caused the failure 
of Samuel Bernard, at that time the richest banker in 
Europe. He had 20 millions of these demands upon 
the Spanish goveimment, and was forced to exchange 
them for 20 millions of unmarketable stock. The poli- 
ticians of to-day who are trifling with the dangerous 
subject of money may glean a lesson from what happened 
on this occasion. The failure of Bernard brought on a 
general financial panic in 1714, and, like the closure of 
the Boston colonial mint in 1694, the panic ended with the 
revolt of the colonies and their loss to the mother country. 

The South American revolution of 1732 was not merely 
^ " Money and Civilisation," p. 231. 


a protest against the State protection of the Jesuits and' 
their system of Indian tutelage ; it was a general ex- 
pression of disappointment and disgust with the royal 
government. The contraction of currency and credit 
rendered the taxes not only doubly oppressive^ it de- 
prived the colonists of the power to pay them. Indeed, 
the colonists contended that these circumstances and 
measures compelled them to coerce the Indians and 
thrust them into the mines ; that it induced them to 
oppose the Jesuits and their benevolent system ; that it 
forced them either to become smugglers under cover of 
the royal flag, or else to rid themselves of trickery, 
deceit, favouritism, bribery, and connivance by taking 
the field as home-rulers (Communeros). The South 
American revolution of 1732 was the herald of the North 
American revolution of 1775. It is true that the Com- 
muneros were put down by the royal forces, nevertheless 
they gained something. By a royal decree of the year 
1736, the king's share of the precious metals^ produce was 
reduced from one-fifth to one-tenth of the silver, and to 
one-twentieth of the gold ; and this arrangement con- 
tinued in force until the revolution of 1810 and the 
extinction of the royal authority. 

The Spanish mint laws were usually altered so fre- 
quently, that an absence of alterations for so long a period 
as from 1736 to 1772 seems remarkable, yet the writer 
can find no data for this period except the changes in the 
ratio shown elsewhere herein. By the mint law of 1772, 
which Dr. Kelly says was applicable to all the provinces 
in Spanish America, there were ordered to be coined from 
a mark of gold 0'900 fine, 8^ doubloons, and from a mark 
of silver 0*900 fine, 8^ pesos, duros, or hard dollars ; the 
halves and quarters to be of proportionate weight. The 
doubloon therefore contained 374^ grains of fine gold, 
and the peso 374^ grains of fine silver. As there were 
16 pesos to the doubloon, the ratio was 16 for 1. All 
these coins were full legal-tender, and were open to 


illimitable private coinage after paying the tenth on 
silver, the twentieth on gold^ and the mint charges. On 
silver the royal dues and mint charges were each one 
real per mark weight. There was also a '' small change " 
currency, of limited tender, consisting of pesetas and 
half-pesetas, 0"812| fine, the former containing "SSf 
grains of such debased silver, and the latter one-half