Category Archives: SignsofInflation

An Area of Limited Inflation: The United States

Early Federal America In 1792, the young United States of America defined its standard unit of value as a dollar worth 24.057 g of pure silver. Theoretically convertible banknotes were issued by about 1,600 local state-chartered banks. Gold was only sporadically minted. Its unit of value was called the eagle, worth ten silver dollars. Usually, half eagle coins…
Read more

Times of Hyperinflation

Hyperinflation Coins always had a degree of intrinsic value. With paper banknotes, this constraint disappeared. These virtually free-of-costs monetary signs that could bear any officially decided value led to the decoupling of intrinsic and nominal values. The temptation for many modern states to exploit this opportunity proved too great to be resisted. As a result,…
Read more

Scattered Inflations

Italy The lira was the official currency of Italy from its unification in 1861 until 2002, when it was physically replaced by the euro banknotes and coins. The term itself, like the English word pound or the French word livre, had previously designated a unit of weight. It was defined as 4.5 g of pure silver and 0.290322…
Read more

France: From the Franc to the Euro

From Napoleon to the Latin Monetary Union From 1803 until 1914, France kept a stable monetary system based on convertibility into gold and silver. That system led to the Latin Monetary Union in 1865, with France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Greece. 20 franc (Napoleon I), 1813. Gold, 6.43 g. Genoa (ANS 1966.164.465, bequest of A.…
Read more

France: Inflation and Revolution

Coins of the Revolution The French monetary system under the monarchy, like most of the European systems of that period and their Roman predecessor, distinguished both units of account and physical coins. As such, monetary reforms could simply modify the face value of existing coins without necessarily withdrawing them from circulation. Until the Revolution, the…
Read more

Rome: A Thousand Years of Monetary History

From Republic to Empire Starting in the late 4th century B.C., the Roman Republic based a bronze (aesin Latin) coinage upon the weight standard of the Roman pound, which was about 323 metric grams. The heavy base unit, the as, initially weighed one Roman pound, while fractional coins were minted at proportional weights. The Roman monetary…
Read more

The Matter of Inflation

Metallic Objects We are used to considering money as a stamped object, whether minted or printed, where often a number displayed on the object indicates its exchange value. This has not always been the case. Throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, various metal objects assumed privileged roles as mediums of value and exchange based…
Read more

What Is Inflation?

Money Money, as a medium of exchange, progressively replaced self-sufficiency and barter. Money provides a common scale against which all kinds of goods may be measured. Money is typically a storable object or unit of account. Money may be privately weighed or officially stamped. Money may have intrinsic value and/or be an accepted unit of…
Read more