⇑ 64 Page 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 ⇓
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Maybe this problem could be solved with some tokens serving as intermediaries. But what would keep enterprising individuals from simply producing the tokens? The tokens needed to be linked strongly to the value of goods against which they could be exchanged. In other words, it should not be cheaper or easier to produce the tokens than to produce the corresponding goods. The Babylonian Code of Hammurabi already referred to unminted gold as value intermediary around 1750 BC.4 Coins appeared around 700 BC.5 The value of these exchange tokens – which we can now refer to as money – was guaranteed by the scarcity of their base material. Paper money was invented under the Chinese Sung dynasty in 1024 AD and continued by the Mongol regime of the Yuan dynasty.6 Its value was supposedly guaranteed by a powerful state but still succumbed periodically to issuing excesses and forgery.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Germany did not become a unified nation until the nineteenth century. Before that time, it consisted of a loose federation of more or less autonomous kingdoms, duchies, and counties, all subject to the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of Germany. Many of these states minted their own coins, some in similar, some in different currencies. But even two coins of the same denomination could differ in value, depending on where they were minted.7 The value of coins varied over the years because the metal was debased or the size was clipped.8 Germany did not introduce paper money until the late nineteenth century. Doing business in cash was a challenge for the seventeenth-century peasant. Even if he actually owned sufficient money, it was often in mixed currencies and denominations. It took expertise to determine the exchange value of a purse’s content,9 and carrying a large sum could be a back-breaking task.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The nominal currency in seventeenth-century Stühlingen was the florin (fl.), originally a gold coin minted in Florence from 1252 to 1533 as the fiorino d’oro (little flower of gold), named after the prominently embossed lily flower on its reverse. The florin was produced in sufficient numbers to function as a leading currency all over Europe. Subsequently, it was copied in many countries in order to support market economies. In Germany the best known of these copies was the Rhenish florin, or florin of Four Electors of the Rhine (Gulden), minted from 1354 on.10 Unfortunately, Florentine bankers previously had also introduced a silver florin, or fiorino grosso, in 1237.11 A gold fiorino originally was worth 20 silver fiorini. This silver fiorino eventually became the florin of account, or affiorino.12 Many account books recorded moneys in florins, independent of the currencies and coins in which the business was transacted. In fact, the florin proper is not even listed among the popular, historic coins used in Stühlingen.13
4Harper, “The Code of Hammurabi.”
5Kagan, “The Dates of the Earliest Coins.”
6Chen, Chang, and Chen, “The Sung and Ming Paper Monies.”
7Döring, “Handbuch der Münz-, Wechsel-, Mass- und Gewichtskunde“,14–38.
8Shaw, “The History of Currency”, 103–5.
9Grierson, “The Monetary Pattern.”
10Munro, “Money and Coinage,”
13Häusler, “Stühlingen: Vergangenheit und Gegenwart,” 252.