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Pre-industrial Bimetallism: The Index Coin Hypothesis

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  • Ernst Juerg Weber

    (UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia)

Abstract

In early monetary systems the unit of account was separate from the medium of exchange. Commodity prices and prices of coins were quoted in terms of a fixed quantity of metal that was embodied by an 'index coin'. Coins circulated at their metal value because coinage was imperfect and fixed exchange rates would have interfered with the operation of bimetallism. An indication that the exchange rates of coins were market determined is the absence of value marks on coins. During the Industrial Revolution, improvements in the quality of coinage led to the fusion of the unit of account and medium of exchange function of money. As a consequence, pre-industrial bimetallism gave way to nineteenth century bimetallism, in which the make of currencies alternated between silver and gold.

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File URL: http://www.business.uwa.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/402245/09_12_Weber.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion / Working Papers with number 09-12.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uwa:wpaper:09-12

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Separating the functions of money—the case of Medieval coinage
    by JP Koning in Moneyness on 2013-09-13 16:45:00
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Cited by:
  1. Tschoegl, Adrian E., 2010. "The international diffusion of an innovation: The spread of decimal currency," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 100-109, January.

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