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Publication Date

2004

Abstract

Britain forbade her 18th-century American colonies to set up mints, and sent no supplies of her own coins. In consequence, the colonies were without any official money. Account books of the period reveal how traders fared in this unusual situation. They show that the lack of money was a severe handicap that hindered and distorted trade, but that the colonists to some extent overcame it with the aid of ingenious ledger entries. These culminated in payment by credit transfers in the books of third parties. Such transactions lead to a discussion of the nature of money.

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