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Front Page Titles (by Subject) Methods of Counting Coins. - Money and the Mechanism of Exchange

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Subject Area: Economics
Topic: Money and Banking

## Methods of Counting Coins. - William Stanley Jevons, Money and the Mechanism of Exchange [1875]

##### Edition used:

Money and the Mechanism of Exchange (New York: D. Appleton and Co. 1876).

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### Methods of Counting Coins.

To count large quantities of coin by tale, piece after piece, is not only a tedious operation, but very uncertain as regards accuracy. Several methods have been devised to facilitate the operation. In mints, the Bank of England, and other establishments, where vast quantities of coin are treated, counting boards are used. Similar boards have, indeed, been used from time immemorial in some parts of India by money-changers and tradesmen. These consist of simple flat trays, with several hundred depressions regularly arranged, and of such a size that one coin will exactly fit into each depression. Handfuls of uniform coins are thrown on to the board, and shaken over it, until most of the holes are filled; the remaining holes are then filled up one after another by hand. The number contained upon the board is then known with infallible accuracy, and at the same time it is very easy to examine the coins, and detect any counterfeit, defective, or foreign pieces. By the use of such boards, bags of equal numbers of any coinage are readily made up with great certainty.

In English banks it is requisite to count out considerable sums in gold coin with rapidity for the payment of cheques over the counter, or to verify the number of sovereigns paid in on deposit. For this purpose balances are employed, with weights prepared so as to be equivalent to 5, 10, 20, 30, 50, 100, 200, and 300 sovereigns. Any sum which is a multiple of five sovereigns can thus be rapidly, and almost infallibly, weighed out in a few seconds, provided that the coins are not too old and worn. An error of a sovereign is sometimes possible in a large sum, on account of deficiency of weight. In the case of half-sovereigns, this process is seldom to be depended upon, owing to the very considerable lightness of the coins. This uncertainty in weighing is one of several serious inconveniences which arise from the defective state of our gold coinage.

Half sovereigns, however, and in fact all coins which are approximately equal to each other on the average, can be rapidly counted on the balance by the ingenious method of duplication. Any convenient number, for instance, fifty coins, being counted into one scale, an equal number may be made to balance them, without counting, in the other scale. The two equal lots being united, one hundred more coins may be made to counterbalance them, and by a second union we get two hundred coins. We may repeat this duplication, if the balance will bear the weight, and afterwards, using one lot of coins as the fixed weight, may go on counting out lot after lot equal to it in weight and number.

When neither balance nor counting board is available, coins may be counted out into little piles of ten, fifteen, or twenty. Placing these piles alongside each other on a flat board, it is easy to detect any inequality of height by the unassisted eye, or by a straight edge laid along the top. A mistake in counting will thus be generally made manifest.