Front Page Titles (by Subject) Unrestricted Currency by Tale. - Money and the Mechanism of Exchange
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Unrestricted Currency by Tale. - 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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Unrestricted Currency by Tale.
The simplest way for a state to manage its money might seem to be to revert to the primitive notion of a coin, and issue pieces of gold, silver, and copper, certified to be equal to units of weight, leaving all persons free to make contracts or sales in terms of any of these metals. These pieces of certified metal would then be so many commodities thrown into the markets and allowed to take their natural relative values.
Such appears to have been the system intended to be established by the French Revolutionary Government in terms of the abortive law of Thermidor, an III. Discs of ten grams each were to be struck in gold, silver, and copper, and then put in circulation, without any attempt to regulate their currency. If I understand his meaning correctly, M. Garnier has recently brought forward a somewhat similar scheme, proposing to make the gram of gold at nine-tenths the unit of value, and to coin pieces of one, two, five, eight, or ten grams concurrently with standard silver pieces, which are in France already multiples of the gram. M. Chevalier's proposed system of international money, partially at least, involves the same notion; for he considers that the principal currency should consist of decagrams of gold. But, as Mr. Bagehot has well remarked, there is no object whatever, as regards the greater mass of the population, in having coins simply related to the system of weights, because most people never need take any account of the weight at all. They need only know how many copper coins are equal to one silver coin, and how many silver to one gold coin. Now, if we carry out M. Chevalier's scheme consistently and fully, and make all the coins multiples of the gram, we shall oblige all people to be constantly working complex arithmetical sums. No one could give exactly correct change without calculating how many silver ten-gram pieces are, at the market price of silver, equal to one gold ten-gram piece. The necessity for calculation occasions needless loss of time and trouble, and a factitious gain is sure to accrue to the expert and unscrupulous at the expense of the poor and ignorant.
Owing to these obvious objections no government has ever, I believe, carried into practice a system of money of the kind described. Nevertheless, currencies approximating to it in nature have come to exist in many parts of the world by the intermixture of coinages of different states. There are many half-civilized nations which have no national coinage, but employ the coins which happen to reach them in the course of trade. On the West Coast of Africa the Spanish dollar is the best known coin, but Danish, French, or Dutch coins also circulate. In several of the South American states the currency is in a state of complete confusion, consisting of a mixture of American eagles, gold doubloons, silver dollars, English sovereigns, piastres, etc., together sometimes with several different issues of coinage of the South American states variously depreciated. Even in British possessions we find the same state of things. In the British West Indian Islands, American, Mexican, Spanish, and other dollars, circulate concurrently with English money; but it should be added that in most cases the Spanish dollar is treated as the standard of value, and other coins are quoted in terms of it.
In Eastern countries there is a similar intermixture of coinage. In Singapore the Indian rupee mingles with Spanish and Mexican dollars. Persia has a rude coinage of its own, so uncertain in weight that it has to be dealt in by the balance, but Russian, Turkish, and Austrian gold coins circulate by tale. Some of the best-regulated nations have allowed, or even promoted, the currency of various foreign coins. In Germany, French and English gold coins used to be accepted, according to a well-recognised tariff. The circulation of English, French, Spanish, Mexican, and other gold coins in the United States was legalized by an Act of June 28th, 1834, repealed by an Act of February 21st, 1857, which however allows certain foreign coins to be received at government offices.
In England we have for many generations enjoyed a very pure currency, so that we are unconscious of the inconveniences arising from a confusion of coins of different values. But in the early part of this century Spanish dollars were put into circulation for a time in England.
In former centuries the mixture of coinages was far more common than at present. No country had a currency free from strange coins. It is impossible to open an old book on commerce without finding long tables of coins which the merchant might expect to meet with; and the business of money-changing was a lucrative and common one.
It will be understood, that only so long as coins are known by the fresh sharp appearance of the impression to be of full weight, and are accepted according to tariff, does the system of currency by tale or number exist. The silver dollar, being a large coin, is subject to comparatively little abrasion, so that people learn to receive dollars of various species at certain well-established rates. Thus the dollar has practically been for several centuries the international money of the tropical countries. But so soon as coins bear evidence of wear or ill-treatment, they must be circulated by weight, and we revert to a more primitive system.
M. Feer-Herzog has described, as the system of parallel standards, that in which a state issues coin in two or more metals, and then allows them to circulate by tale at ratios varying according to the market values of the metals. He cites, as recent examples, the rixdaler in silver, employed as the internal money of Sweden in combination with the ducat in gold, serving as international money. The government of India, again, has on several occasions tried to introduce a parallel standard of gold alongside of the single silver legal tender now existing there. Gold mohurs have long been more or less in circulation in India, and are supposed to form at present about one-tenth part of the coinage. They are of exactly the same weight and fineness as the silver rupee, and are usually valued at from 15 to 15 2/3 rupees. It seems probable, however, that what M. Feer-Herzog calls the system of parallel standards will coincide according to circumstances, either with that which I have described as the system of unrestricted currency by tale, or that of a single legal tender, with an additional commercial money of varying value. The Indian currency must certainly be classed under the latter head. There cannot in fact be two different parallel standards used both at the same time; and though it is not uncommon for a state to coin moneys in two metals, and leave its subjects to pay in one or other at will, yet one of the two is generally recognized as the standard of value.