Token Money - Encyclopedia




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TOKEN MONEY, the term employed originally to describe the counters or "tokens" issued by traders to meet the lack of small change. It has now been appropriated by economists and officials to denote the smaller currency that circulates at a nominal value higher than its cost. It is contrasted with "standard" money, and is limited in its amount by state authority. Its power of discharging debts is also limited: in England, e.g., silver is legal tender only up to 40s., copper to 12 pence. Various substances have been utilized for the manufacture of token coinage - silver at a lower degree of fineness, copper in different alloys, and nickel. The French term monnaie divisionnaire has much the same meaning; so has the German Scheidemiinze. A currency, restricted in amount, but with full legal tender power - such as the Indian rupees and the French 5-franc pieces - is midway between token and standard money. Representative money also bears some analogy to token coinage. (See MONEY and SEIGNIORAGE.) (C. F. B.)

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