Good Money
Good Money

Good Money

Birmingham Button Makers, the Royal Mint, and the Beginnings of Modern Coinage, 1775–1821


368 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Paperback

Paperback, $25.95 (US $25.95) (CA $28.95)

Publication Date: October 2011

ISBN 9781598130430

Price: $25.95


A fascinating story of the important yet virtually unknown episode in the history of money, this history chronicles the British manufacturers’ challenge to the Crown’s monopoly on coinage. In the 1780s, when the Industrial Revolution was gathering momentum, the Royal Mint failed to produce enough small-denomination coinage for factory owners to pay their workers. As the currency shortage threatened to derail industrial progress, manufacturers began to mint custom-made coins, called “tradesman’s tokens,” which served as the nation’s most popular currency for wages and retail sales until 1821, when the Crown outlawed all moneys except its own. This book not only examines the crucial role of private coinage in fueling Great Britain’s Industrial Revolution, but also sheds light on contemporary private-sector alternatives to government-issued money, such as digital monies, cash cards, electronic funds transfer, and—outside of the United States—spontaneous “dollarization.”


“George Selgin demonstrates a remarkable breadth and depth of scholarship in this multi-discipline work. I heartedly recommend it.” —Charles A. E. Goodhart, Norman Sosnow Professor of Banking and Finance, London School of Economics

“Good Money is a pleasure to read, and offers economic and historical scholarship of the highest quality.” —Tyler Cowen, Director of the James Buchanan Center, George Mason University

“Selgin reveals much about the dynamic of the British economy in this period and the fractious relationship between private enterprise and the apparatus of the state.” —Economic History Review

Author Biography

George Selgin is a research fellow at the Independent Institute and a professor of economics at the University of Georgia. He has contributed to numerous journals, including the Economic Journal, the Economic History Review, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He is also the coeditor of Econ Journal Watch and the author of Bank Deregulation and Monetary Order, Less Than Zero: The Case for a Falling Price Level in a Growing Economy, and The Theory of Free Banking. He lives in Athens, Georgia.

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