Front Page Titles (by Subject) Single Legal Tender System. - Money and the Mechanism of Exchange
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Single Legal Tender System. - 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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Single Legal Tender System.
The system of currency naturally adopted by the first coiners of money was that of a single legal tender. Coins of one kind of metal, or even a single series of coins of uniform weight, were at first thought sufficient. Iron in small bars was the single legal tender in Lacedæmon, and possibly in some other early states. Aes was undoubtedly the legal tender among the Romans for a length of time. In China the sole measure of value and legal tender to the present day consists of brass cash or sapeks, strung together in lots of a thousand each. In England silver was the only metal coined from the time of Egbert to that of Edward III., with the doubtful exception of a very few small pieces of gold. Silver was the sole legal tender and measure of value, and few coins except silver pennies were issued. In Russia and Sweden, during part of last century, copper was the sole legal tender.
A single metal currency has the great advantages of simplicity and certainty. Every one knows exactly what he is to pay or receive, and when the coins are of one size or of a few sizes, simply related to each other, like the early English coins, no one is subject to loss by errors of calculation. But there is the obvious disadvantage that, according as the metal chosen is cheap or dear, large or small transactions will be troublesome to effect. To pay a few hundred pounds in Swedish copper plates, or Chinese strings of cash, a cart would be required for conveyance, and the counting of cash is almost impracticable. A silver coinage again does not admit of coins sufficiently small for minor transactions. It is difficult to understand how retail trade was carried on when the silver penny weighed 22½ grains, and the precious metals were far more precious than at present. The penny was, indeed, cut up into halfpence and farthings, i.e. four-things; but even the farthing must have been equal in purchasing power to our threepenny or fourpenny piece. The mass of the currency appears to have consisted of silver pennies.
Accordingly it is found that, if a government issue coins only of a single metal, the people will introduce and circulate coins of other metals for their own convenience. In Anglo-Saxon tines gold byzants from Byzantium were used in England, and the gold coins of Florence, thence called florins, were much esteemed both here and in other parts of Europe. In later centuries, too, in the absence of a legitimate copper coinage, tradesmen's tokens came into general circulation.