Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. III.: Of the Forms of the Money anciently and now in use. - A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on Money
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
CHAP. III.: Of the Forms of the Money anciently and now in use. - John Ramsay McCulloch, A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on Money 
A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on Money from the Originals of Vaughan, Cotton, Petty, Lowndes, Newton, Prior, Harris, and Others, with a Preface, Notes, and Index (London: Printed for the Political Economy Club, 1856).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Of the Forms of the Money anciently and now in use.
IT follows in the next place to be Considered, by what degrees Gold and Silver came into these forms of Money, which are now in use. And for that purpose it is most manifest that the most proper measure in nature for mettals is weight; and the notice of Antiquity doth confirm it that it was so in practice; for when the use of money hath excited the industry of men to search for these rich metals and by study and practice to discover their natures, it was easily found out that there was no measure so fit to them as weight: But it was speedily found out and discovered that weight alone was not a sufficient measure for them, by reason that they are subject to mixture, and therefore there was an examination made of the pureness of them, and a mark impressed upon them to shew that they were approved; which was of no other nature, but as the Assaymaster in the West Indies doth mark the wedges of Silver to shew that they were approved of such a fineness, and as the Corporation of Gold-smiths in London, and other Cities, do mark the Bullion which is melted as a Testimony of fineness, but not to make it Current at any price, because the mark hath no relation to the weight but onely the fineness. The most ancient and most undoubted Testimonies whereof are in Scripture: as that of Abraham, when he had bought the field of Ephron for the burial of Sarah, for which it is not said that he paid, but weighed four hundred shekels of silver, approved among Merchants; which denoteth the fineness. And it is said that the sons of Jacob brought back their Silver in the same weight that they carried into Egypt; and Tobit lent unto Gabael the weight of ten Talents: By which it is manifest they did not count their Moneys in pieces, as they did in succeeding Ages, or by imaginary, or abstracted sums, as we do make their valuation, but by weight, the fineness only is approved of by the mark. It were tedious to search the proofs of Antiquity in this kind, but it is manifest that almost all the Names of Moneys, both among the Hebrews and Greeks, were not properly the names of any species of Money, but of several sorts of weight. As of Sicle, Mina, Talent and Drachma; so likewise the Original Moneys, both of the Romans, the Francks, and of the Monarchy of England, were the As, the Livre, the Pound and the Mark; and amongst the Romans, the ancient Receivers were not called numeratores, but libripendes; the names of Moneys being originally only the proportions of weight, and the mark serving only for a proof of the pureness of the Metal: There did succeed a form of Money, wherein the impression did not only signify the fineness, but the weight also. This among the Romans was called moneta, from whence our name of Money is derived a Monendo: it is attributed to Servius Tullius, to have bin the first in Rome, to have stamped with an Impression a certain piece of Money which was called As (as being of Copper, and weighing a pound weight) and that he coyned lesser parts, distinguished by ounces: it was long after in the Consulat of Quintus Fabius, that the first Silver coin was made, called Denarius, because it was valued at ten As, and at the same time were made half and quarters of the Denarii, called Sestertii, marked LLs, to signifie duas libras cum semisse. The first Denarii were made of Sextula or six in the ounce: it was above threescore years after ’ere any Gold was coined, the first pieces were of such a weight as 40 made a pound: which Example of the Roman Coins, I do not alledge as the first, for it is manifest, that both the Median, Persian and Grecian states did use Coins, which by their Impression did signify both the weight and fineness; but because they were the first, whereof I have any certain relation, and upon whose ground all these parts of the World have formed their Coins and made their divisions of weight. It doth not appear what Allay was mingled or what Tribute was charged in the first Roman moneys of Gold and Silver; by which word of Tribute, I do understand whatever was substracted out of the Intrinsical value of the Money, and allowed to it as an over-value towards the charge of Coinage, or right of Soveraignty, rated by the State, or what remedies were allowed for their weight and fineness; only it appeareth by their medals that they were cast in a mold. But after ages did grow to stamp their Coins finding how useful it was to have lesser coins than could well be cast in a mould, and also to avoid counterfeiting, which is with more difficulty in Coins stamped: and because it was hard to observe an exact proportion of weight, there was a certain remedy of grains, beyond which, if the pieces of Coin did not fail of their just weight, they were to be received of Officers appointed, otherwise they were rejected to be new coyned. There was a Remedy of fineness, for when Allay grew to be mingled in the Coins, the workmen could not constantly and precisely hit upon the mixture, and therefore had allowed them a certain proportion for Remedy, which if they did not exceed, their work was not subject to censure. This Allowance of Remedy hath been of two sorts, for when States would Coin their Money strong and rich in value, they did not give any allowance to any pieces of Coin under the just weight and fineness: but if they were of a just weight and fineness, not exceeding the grains of Remedy, then they were allowed; so as in this case, the Coins were upon accompt to be recompence for so much as the over-put in the Money, being within the remedy permitted, and this they call in French Battre le fort. But all States rather inclining to make their Moneys weak than strong, there is in these latter Ages another way practised, which is more general; that is, that Coins are not made one jot above the just proportion of weight and fineness, but (notwithstanding) the fail of either, so as it be no more than the grains of remedy, they are allowed as compleat: and by this means, upon Accompt, the Coiners are to make recompence to the State of so much as is short in their Coins, of the just weight and fineness, being within the permission of their remedy, which in French they call Battre Sur le foible. This is as much as I hold fit to be spoken of the Antient and Modern forms; Except I should discourse of the Inscriptions or Characters, or of the Figures of Money, which in some times and places, have been long, oval, or square, and are now almost everywhere round, which to the searchers of Antiquity might prove grateful, but to my purpose would be of no use.