Front Page Titles (by Subject) Billon Coin. - Money and the Mechanism of Exchange
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Billon 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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Pennies and twopenny pieces, if now made of standard silver, like the Maundy money, would be too small and light for use, weighing respectively 7¼ and 14½ grains. Even the threepenny pieces, now so abundant in England, and weighing 21.8 grain each, are inconveniently small. In England, for a very long time, no silver has been coined of less fineness than the old standard of 925 parts in 1000. In many continental countries the smaller currency has been made of a very low alloy of silver and copper, called billon. Such coins were at one time current, to a certain extent, in France, the metal containing only one part of silver in five of alloy, but they have long been recalled. In Norway the small currency now consists partly of half-skilling and one-skilling pieces in copper, the skilling being nearly equal in value to an English halfpenny, but principally of two, three, and four-skilling pieces, composed of billon, containing, according to an analysis performed for me at the Owens' College chemical laboratory, one part of silver and three of copper. These billon pieces are very convenient in size, and, being for the most part newly issued, are clean and neat. Billon is still being coined in Austria.
It is in the states now forming the German empire that billon coins have been most extensively used, especially in pieces of three, four, and six kreutzers, the so-called scheidemünze now being recalled. This consists of silver alloyed with three, four, or more times its weight of copper. Before such base silver is passed through the coining press, it is usual to dissolve the copper from the surface of the blank pieces of metal, so as to produce a film of pure white silver upon the surface. This operation, called colouring, gives a fine bright appearance to the coins when new, and they are easily put into circulation. But after a little time the silver film is worn off, and the coins assume a very patchy aspect. Billon coinage seems to have, too, an extraordinary power of accumulating a layer of dirt of a very disagreeable character, with which all travellers in Germany in past years must be well acquainted. Moreover, it offers great facilities to the counterfeiter, and for several sufficient reasons cannot be recommended for adoption.