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MoneyWhence It Came, Where It Went$
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John Kenneth Galbraith

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691171661

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691171661.001.0001

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Of Coins and Treasure

Of Coins and Treasure

(p.8) Chapter 2 Of Coins and Treasure

John Kenneth Galbraith

James K. Galbraith

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the history of coins made of precious metals such as gold, silver, and copper. Some 4,000 years ago, there had been agreement on the use of silver, copper, or gold for purposes of exchange. Metal was made into coins of predetermined weight, an innovation attributed by Herodotus to the kings of Lydia, presumably in the latter part of the eighth century BC. The chapter considers how coinage after the Lydians evolved into a major art form. It also examines how the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the ensuing conquest and development of Spanish America affected the European continent. Finally, it looks at the ways that the American treasure enhanced profits, stimulated commerce and industry, and enlarged the opportunity of all who saw money as a way of making money, with a focus on the rise of banks as a means of regulating and limiting abuse of currency.

Keywords:   coins, precious metals, silver, copper, gold, Christopher Columbus, Europe, commerce, money, banks

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