Coin Reconsidered: The Political Alchemy of Commodity Money

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Coin Reconsidered: The Political Alchemy of Commodity Money

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dc.contributor.author Desan, Christine
dc.date.accessioned 2010-02-21T17:16:30Z
dc.date.issued 2010
dc.identifier.citation Christine Desan, Coin Reconsidered: The Political Alchemy of Commodity Money, 11 Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Article 13 (2010). en_US
dc.identifier.issn 1565-1509 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:3685820
dc.description.abstract Medieval coin plays an essential role in the imagined history of money: it figures as the primal "commodity money" — a natural medium, spontaneously adopted by parties in exchange who converge upon a metal like silver to represent the value of other goods. As a natural medium with a price objectively established through trade, commodity money appears to offer an independent means of measure in the market. But as the history offered here reveals, medieval money was nothing like its imagined alternative. England’s early coin became a medium when the government began to spend and tax in that unit of account, took coin as a mode of payment, and allowed it to be transferred between people in the meantime. Individuals participated in the arrangement, paying for coin in exchange for the unique quality — liquidity — that set money apart from a commodity. That quality was orchestrated by the very channels that brought public and private together in the project of making a medium. In fact, insofar as the English equated money with the commodity it contained, they engineered instability into the heart of their medium. Depreciating coin — diluting its commodity content — offered a cure. It also confirmed that coin had never been the "commodity money" imagined in later accounts. Coin was, instead, a constitutional medium, one that related the government to its participants and thus helped to configure the world it appeared merely to measure. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Berkeley Electronic Press en_US
dc.relation.isversionof doi:10.2202/1565-3404.1245 en_US
dash.license OAP
dc.title Coin Reconsidered: The Political Alchemy of Commodity Money en_US
dc.type Journal Article en_US
dc.description.version Version of Record en_US
dc.relation.journal Theoretical Inquiries in Law en_US
dash.depositing.author Desan, Christine
dc.date.available 2010-02-21T17:16:30Z

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