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History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies
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This is a collection of essays written by Roy Davies (e-mail [email protected])
on various themes using information mainly from:
Davies, Glyn. A History of money from ancient times to the present
day. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1994. 696 pages.
ISBN 0 7083 1246 2 (hardback) reprinted November 1995.
ISBN 0 7083 1351 5 (paperback) rev. ed., 1996. 716 pages
The paperback version is
Click on the picture for a larger image
of the cover of the book (47K),
showing various forms of money
used at various times in different places.
Comments from reviews
via the University of Wales Press server.
of Contents of A History of Money
Metatheory of Money
- Keynesianism and monetarism have many precursors. Why does a monetary
theory enjoy a vogue then give way to an opposing theory which in turn
is displaced by a theory similar to its predecessor? There is a perpetual
conflict between the interests of debtors, who seek to enlarge the quantity
of money and creditors, who seek to maintain or increase the value of money
by limiting its supply. Military expenditure and population pressures affect
this conflict of interest. Furthermore money is fungible by nature and
always attracts substitutes.
of Money and of Banking
- The use of money evolved out of deeply rooted customs as is shown by
the study of primitive forms of money, e.g. cattle, cowrie shells, whales
teeth and manillas (ornamental jewellery). The clumsiness of barter was
merely one factor in the development of money, and not the most important
one. Banking was invented before coins and reached a high level of sophistication
in the Egypt of the Ptolomies. Military conquests, such as those of Alexander
the Great, spread the use of coins which became the most convenient means
and Financial History
- From blood money payments in primitive societies to the military-industrial
complex of the present day developments in warfare and finance have, unfortunately,
been closely connected. Even the word to pay comes from a Latin
word meaning to pacify. This essay covers conflicts from the wars
between Ancient Greece and Persia to World War II. Warfare played an important
part in the spread of the use of coinage and the invention of the national
debt, while the adoption of paper money in the West was both a cause of
the American Revolution and a means of financing it.
Significance of Celtic Coinage
- The Celts on the Continent and in parts of Britain produced large numbers
of coins before the Roman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon invasions put an end
to minting in Britain almost completely for nearly two hundred years and
in Wales production
of coins did not become common until after the English conquest.
Vikings and Money in England
- Paying through the nose! The impact of Danegeld - history's best-known
protection racket! In an age when a penny was a substantial sum
of money literally millions of silver pennies were minted in England to
buy off the Viking invaders. (This essay comes via the server of the Viking
Network for Schools, which also carries an essay on Viking
Coinage in Norway by Thor-Egil Paulsen).
in North American History
- The British colonies in North America were chronically short of coins
and were forced to use various substitutes including wampum, like the native
inhabitants, and tobacco. The enthusiastic adoption of paper money and
its suppression by the British was a factor in provoking the American revolution,
which was financed by hyperinflation. Ever since independence banking has
been the subject of political controversy and although the US emerged from
the two World Wars as the dominant superpower the US financial system may
be in relative decline.
and European Monetary Union
- Why is Britain sceptical? The pound Sterling has a very different history
from continental currencies. Other European countries have more experience
with currency unions, e.g. the Latin Monetary Union of 1861-1920, the Scandinavian
Monetary Union which lasted until 1924, and the Zollverein of 1834 which
led to political union between the German states. Furthermore the history
of the pound sterling goes back 1,300 years whereas most European currencies
date back only to the end of the Second World War since that conflict led
to the destruction and reform of their previous currencies. Consequently
a change of currency would arouse more suspicion in Britain than on the
and Government Control of the Money Supply
- When coins were the predominant form of payment governments controlled
minting. The development of modern banking and paper money broke the government
monopoly of money creation and fostered the growth of democracy. Will the
advent of electronic money have a similar significance?
World Money and Debt in the Twentieth Century
- The pressure of a rapidly expanding world population on finite resources
is a virtually silent explosion as far as monetarist literature is concerned.
The task of enabling millions of the world's poorest men and women to earn
a decent living for themselves is the greatest problem facing mankind.
Reanchoring the runaway currencies of many Third World countries is a prerequisite
for successful development.
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Roy Davies - Last updated 23 April 1996.
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