Front Page Titles (by Subject) What is a Coin? - Money and the Mechanism of Exchange
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What is a Coin? - William Stanley Jevons, Money and the Mechanism of Exchange 
Money and the Mechanism of Exchange (New York: D. Appleton and Co. 1876).
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What is a Coin?
Although, in rings, grains, or stamped ingots, we have an approximation to what we call coin, it is plain that we must do something more to make convenient money. The stamp must be so impressed as to certify, not only the fineness and the original weight, but also the absence of any subsequent alteration. To coin metal, as we now understand the art, is to form it into flat pieces of a circular, oval, square, hexagonal, octagonal, or other regular outline, and then to impress designs from engraved dies upon both sides, and sometimes upon the edges. Not only is it very costly and difficult to counterfeit coins well executed in this manner, but the integrity of the design assures us that no owner of the coin has tampered with it. Even the amount of ordinary wear and tear, which the coin has suffered, may be rudely inferred from the sharpness or partial effacement of the designs, and the roundness of the edges. "Pieces of money," says M. Chevalier, "are ingots of which the weight and the fineness are certified." There is nothing in this definition to distinguish coins from Sycee silver, or from the ordinary stamped bars and ingots of bullion. I should prefer, therefore, to say, coins are ingots of which the weight and fineness are certified by the integrity of designs impressed upon the surfaces of the metal.