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Good Money Drives out Bad? The Theory of the Breaking Point 7. Gresham's Law Under Bimetallism Overvalued Money and the Institution of Legal Tender The Evidence of Hoards Macleod, writing infirst brought attention to the law that he named after Sir Thomas Gresham: No sooner had Essays competition law policy Elizabeth ascended the throne, than she turned her attention to the state of the currency, being moved thereto by the illustrious Gresham, who has the great merit of being as far as we can discover, the first who discerned the great fundamental law of the currency, that good and bad money cannot circulate together.
The fact had been repeatedly observed before, as we have seen, but no one, that we are aware, had discovered the necessary relation between the facts, before Sir Thomas Gresham. This passage errs in two points: Gresham was not the first to make explicit the idea we now know as "Gresham's Law," and the assertion that "good and bad money cannot circulate together" is a glaring error.
It is a far cry from Gresham's Law. That Macleod was careless about his statement of the law he named after Gresham serves as a warning that the ideas involved are more subtle than at first appears. We can begin this discussion of Gresham's law by outlining some of the highlights of its history.
Twenty centuries before Sir Thomas Gresham was born, the elegaic poet, Theognis, born in Megara near Athens, writing in the late 6th and early 5th century BC, wrote some lines suggesting Gresham's Law. Theognis has been described as "an eloquent and strongly biased witness of the struggle of the old aristocracy, for its traditional ideas and ideals which were partly adopted and partly destroyed by the rising lower classes.
In The Frogs he wrote: It was hardly a novel idea at that time. From BC onwards, the Spartans had occupied Decelea 6 north of Athens and cut off the supply of silver from the Laurium mines. In BC, confronted with a dire threat to the Athenian fleet and an empty treasury, the Athenians had recourse to melting the gold in some of the statues in the Acropolis to make emergency coins.
Eight statues of Nike, 7 the god of Victory, on the Acropolis had been clad with two talents of gold each, to be removed in case of emergency.
The gold was thus struck into coin. In the next year, copper coins were issued on the credit of the state as replacement for silver coinage, and it "is a modern inference that the emergency coinage was of copper plated by silver.
A new use of small coins gave Aristophanes an occasion to raise a laugh: When he goes home with his jury pay under his tongue, his daughter lines manages to get it away from him in a welcoming kiss!
Uelpides The Birds, swallows an obol by mistake. It was explicitly developed in Oresme's De Moneta. Written in the middle of the 14th century, this was the most important work on the theory of money before Bodin's and Grimaudet's writings in the s.
Nicholas Oresme was the Norman Bishop of Lisieux who made contributions to theology, mathematics and astronomy besides his work on money.
His De Moneta laid stress on the rights of the public with respect to currency and the great evils associated with debasement and devaluation, a courageous performance in view of the fact that it was written during the reign of John the Good who devalued eighty-six 13 times!
Oresme had a clear statement of what we call Gresham's Law. There is sufficient proof, however, that the idea was fairly well-known in the 14th century; its essence appeared in petitions addressed to the parliaments of Edward III and Richard II.
In the Renaissance, John Hales d. This rich work contains the following explicit statement of Gresham's Law:: Everything will go where it is most esteemed, and therefore our treasure went over in heapes.
Thomas Gresham 15 was born in London in and lived through the reigns of four monarchs not counting Queen Jane until He was the second son of Richard Gresham, who already had an important business and banking house in Milk Street and had the distinction of being Lord Mayor of London in Thomas was educated at Gonville Hall, Cambridge, apprenticed to his uncle Sir John Gresham, also a merchant, and admitted to membership in the Mercers' company in Upon his father's death, he inherited the business and transferred the bank to Lombard Street, then the heart of London's business world.
His immense ability was apparent early and in or he became royal agent or king's factor at Antwerp, 16 which he retained with few intervals under Edward the Saint, Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen until His initial task was to raise large sums of money for the king, and to maintain a rate of exchange favorable to English currency, keeping watch on the money market and pledging his own credit when it was necessary.JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources.
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