Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Size of Coins. - Money and the Mechanism of Exchange
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The Size of Coins. - 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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The Size of Coins.
There appear to be pretty well defined limits of size within which we should confine ourselves in the striking of money. Coins must not be so small that they can be easily lost, or can with difficulty be picked up. The rule seems to be that the coin should cover the whole area of contact between the points of the thumb and first finger; and though, of course, this area will differ with men, women, and children, we should err rather in excess than defect. On this ground I should condemn the English threepenny silver piece as too small, and, on the same ground, the Swedish ten-öre piece, the American one-dollar gold piece, the former Papal one-scudo piece, must be pronounced inconveniently small. The French five-franc gold piece of the later type, the English fourpenny piece, the Canadian five-cent piece, or the new silver piece of twenty pfennigs, now being introduced into the German Empire, must be considered the smallest coins to be tolerated. The thickness of the coins, however, must be taken into account as well as the diameter. The moneys issued from the United States mint are thicker than usual, and though this tends to give some of the coins a clumsy appearance, yet they seen to me all the more convenient to use. The French have gone to the opposite extreme, the five-franc gold piece being very thin, and having a diameter of nearly seventeen millimetres, while the American dollar, which is more valuable, has a diameter of little more than thirteen millimetres. The maximum size of coins has probably been determined chiefly with regard to the practical difficulty of coining. The largest coin which has been very widely circulated is perhaps the Maria Theresa dollar, measuring 1.6 inches, or 41 millimetres, in diameter; the other most common species of dollar are somewhat smaller, such as the Spanish dollar of 1858, measuring 37 millimetres; the American dollar, 1846, the Spanish dollar, 1870, the Mexican dollar, 1872, measuring from 37 to 38 millimetres. The average diameter of the dollars which I have examined is 38½ millimetres, or almost exactly an inch and a half. In their larger gold coins, the Americans maintain unusual thickness. Thus the double eagle, though in value equal to more than four pounds, has a diameter of only 34 millimetres, or 1 1/3 inch. The beautiful four-ducat piece of Austria has a larger diameter than the double eagle, though it contains less than half the quantity of fine gold.