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The Bracteate as Economic Idea and Monetary Instrument

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  • Svensson, Roger

    ()
    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

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    Abstract

    Although the leaf-thin bracteates are the most fragile coins in monetary history, they were the main coin type for almost two centuries in large parts of medieval Europe. The usefulness of the bracteates can be linked to the contemporary monetary taxation policy. Medieval coins were frequently withdrawn by the coin issuer and re-minted, where people had to pay an exchange fee. Bracteates had several favourable characteristics for such a policy: 1) Low production costs; and 2) various pictures could be displayed given their relatively large diameter, making it easy to distinguish between valid and invalid types. The fragility was not a big problem, since the bracteates would not circulate for a long period. When monetization increased and it became more difficult to handle re-coinage (around 1300), the bracteates lost their function as the principal coin. However, for a further two centuries (1300–1500) they were used as small change to larger denominations.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 973.

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    Length: 26 pages
    Date of creation: 10 Sep 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0973

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    Keywords: Bracteates; Medieval coins; Re-coinage; Short-lived coinage system; Monetization; Monetary taxation policy; Small change;

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    1. Dowd, Kevin & Greenaway, David, 1993. "Currency Competition, Network Externalities and Switching Costs: Towards an Alternative View of Optimum Currency Areas," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(420), pages 1180-89, September.
    2. Svensson, Roger, 2013. "Re-Coinage as a Monetary Tax: Conditions, Consequences and Comparisons with Debasement," Working Paper Series 950, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    3. Sussman, Nathan, 1993. "Debasements, Royal Revenues, and Inflation in France During the Hundred Years' War, 1415–1422," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(01), pages 44-70, March.
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