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On the Evolution of Specie: Circulation and Weight Loss in 18th and 19th Century Coinage


  • Velde, F R.


I measure the parameters of coin wear using data collected in the 19th century. A comparison across denominations and countries shows that coin wear (in relative terms) is linear in the logarithm of coin value. Data from coin hoards of the 18th and early 19th centuries yield similar estimates of mean coin wear, showing that hoards provide useful information. Finally, under assumptions of normality for initial coin weights and coin loss I use maximum likelihood estimation to recover the parameters of the wear process from a sample of coins whose age is unknown. The method performs well on the hoard data (for which the age is known and can serve as a check).

Suggested Citation

  • Velde, F R., 2013. "On the Evolution of Specie: Circulation and Weight Loss in 18th and 19th Century Coinage," Working papers 422, Banque de France.
  • Handle: RePEc:bfr:banfra:422

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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Yao & Palma, Nuno & Ward, Felix, 2021. "Reconstruction of the Spanish money supply, 1492–1810," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).
    2. Adam Brzezinski & Yao Chen & Nuno Palma & Felix Ward, 2019. "The vagaries of the sea: evidence on the real effects of money from maritime disasters in the Spanish Empire," Working Papers 0170, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    3. Gary B. Gorton, 2016. "The History and Economics of Safe Assets," NBER Working Papers 22210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Nuno Palma, 2018. "Reconstruction of money supply over the long run: the case of England, 1270–1870," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 71(2), pages 373-392, May.
    5. Manas, Arnaud & Velde, François R., 2021. "Coin wear: A power law for small shocks," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 574(C).

    More about this item


    coin circulation; coin wear; abrasion; velocity; denomination; gold; silver.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative

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