Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Weight of Currency. - Money and the Mechanism of Exchange
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
The Weight of Currency. - William Stanley Jevons, Money and the Mechanism of Exchange 
Money and the Mechanism of Exchange (New York: D. Appleton and Co. 1876).
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
The Weight of Currency.
Even the weight of metallic money would be a sufficient reason for the use of representative documents in large transactions. In proportion as the legal tender is more bulky and inconvenient to carry about, is this motive more powerful. Thus, when the state of Virginia employed tobacco as the medium of exchange in the eighteenth century, the tobacco was placed in stores, and receipts on paper were handed about. Paper money was issued in Russia under Catherine II. in 1768, on the ground that the copper money, then forming the legal tender, was inconvenient. So much were these assignats, or notes, preferred, that they at first circulated at a premium of ¼ per cent.
In the present state of commerce, even gold money would be far too heavy to form a convenient medium for making large payments. M. Chevalier states that it would require forty men to carry the gold equal in value to the Regent Diamond. The average daily transactions in the London Bankers' Clearing House amount to about twenty millions of pounds sterling, which if paid in gold coin would weigh about 157 tons, and would require nearly eighty horses for conveyance. If paid in silver the weight would be increased to more than 2500 tons. For the conveyance and custody of very moderate sums in coin or bullion, individuals, or even large banks, resort to the aid of the Bank of England, whose officials are experienced in the matter, and have all facilities.
I find that a Bank of England note weighs about 20½ grains (1 1/3 grams), whereas a single sovereign weighs about 123 grains, and the note may represent five, ten, fifty, a thousand, or ten thousand such sovereigns with slight differences in the printing. If we were obliged to handle a medium of exchange actually embodying value, it would, ere now, have been necessary to employ precious stones, or some metal much more rare and precious than gold. But the use of representative documents is becoming so general in the most advanced commercial countries, that the portability of metallic money is a question of very minor importance. Gold already acts in England only as change for notes, and the question will arise whether it will long be needed even for that purpose.