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Is Paper Money Just Paper Money? Experimentation and Variation in the Paper Monies Issued by the American Colonies from 1690 to 1775

Research in Economic History

ISBN: 978-1-78635-276-7, eISBN: 978-1-78635-275-0

ISSN: 0363-3268

Publication date: 4 April 2016

Abstract

The British North American colonies were the first western economies to rely on legislature-issued paper monies as an important internal media of exchange. This system arose piecemeal. In the absence of banks and treasuries that exchanged paper monies at face value for specie monies on demand, colonial governments experimented with other ways to anchor their paper monies to real values in the economy. These mechanisms included tax-redemption, land-backed loans, sinking funds, interest-bearing notes, and legal tender laws. I assess and explain the structure and performance of these mechanisms. This was monetary experimentation on a grand scale.

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Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

Preliminary versions were presented at the Conference on “De-Teleologising History of Money and Its Theory,” Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Research – Project 22330102, University of Tokyo, February 14–16, 2012; Money, Power, and Print Colloquia, Halifax, Canada, June 14–16, 2012; the XVII World Economic History Congress, Kyoto, Japan, August 3–7, 2015; and the ASSA annual meetings, San Francisco, January 3, 2016. The author thanks the participants of these conferences, Akinobu Kuroda, Sumner La Croix, and Michele Greene for helpful comments. I gratefully acknowledged research assistance by James Celia and Lauren Huston, and editorial assistance by Tracy McQueen.

Citation

Grubb, F. (2016), "Is Paper Money Just Paper Money? Experimentation and Variation in the Paper Monies Issued by the American Colonies from 1690 to 1775", Research in Economic History (Research in Economic History, Vol. 32), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 147-224. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0363-326820160000032003

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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