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Pre-1900 utopian visions of the ‘cashless society’


  • Hollow, Matthew


This article looks in more depth at the different ways in which ideas about cashless societies were articulated and explored in pre-1900 utopian literature. Taking examples from the works of key writers such as Thomas More, Robert Owen, William Morris and Edward Bellamy, it discusses the different ways in which the problems associated with conventional notes-and-coins monetary systems were tackled as well as looking at the proposals for alternative payment systems to take their place. Ultimately, what it shows is that although the desire to dispense with cash and find a more efficient and less-exploitable payment system is certainly nothing new, the practical problems associated with actually implementing such a system remain hugely challenging. This paper was written for the Cashless Society Project, an interdisciplinary and international effort to add some historical and analytical perspectives to discussions about the future of money, banking and payments. For more information, see

Suggested Citation

  • Hollow, Matthew, 2012. "Pre-1900 utopian visions of the ‘cashless society’," MPRA Paper 40780, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:40780

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gorb, Peter, 1951. "Robert Owen As A Businessman," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(03), pages 127-148, September.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. New Working Paper: Pre-1900 Utopian Visions of the Cashless Society
      by David Stearns in The Cashless Society on 2012-08-22 04:15:29
    2. New Working Paper: Pre-1900 Utopian Visions of the Cashless Society
      by David Stearns in The Cashless Society on 2012-08-22 04:15:29
    3. Utopian visions of the ‘cashless society’
      by bbatiz in NEP-HIS blog on 2012-09-18 15:04:20

    More about this item


    utopian; cashless; money; pre-1900;

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System

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