Coins & bullion since 1973
___________________________________________________________

1-800-869-5115

We educate first-time investors.
Expert professional guidance for safe haven investors.

Celebrating our 20th year on the World Wide Web!USAGOLD Coins

USAGOLD Menu BAR



Uses and Abuses of Gresham's Law
in the History of Money

by Robert Mundell
Nobel Prize for Economics, 1999

11. The Evidence from Hoards

The study of hoards is one of the most interesting if recent applications of Gresham's Law. Ever since coinage was created, coins have been collected and sometimes buried as hoards, which resurface for the enlightenment and controversy of later generations of archaeologists, numismatists, historians and economists. Sometimes the finds have been merely spectacular(62) whereas otherwise -- like the great discovery of electrum coins in the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus -- they have yielded priceless historical information.

Hoards found in the ground have typically been those that have been buried in the past with the intention, but not the realization, of future recovery. Three questions deserve to be asked: (1) Why are hoards created in the first place? (2) Why are they buried? (3) What determines their composition? We can answer these questions in turn.

(1). Collections of coins may exist for a number of reasons, including numismatic interests; Augustus Caesar, for example, was an avid collector. Nevertheless, the main function of hoards is as a store of value, a form of saving, which reflects a desire to preserve wealth for future use. Moreover, hoards are typically a form of liquid wealth, ready cash that is available for use in contingencies. Hoarding always reflects a desire to sacrifice current consumption for the prospect of future consumption.

(2) Hoards are buried because of a real or imagined threat to security. The best proof is that hoarding intensity -- measured by the frequency of hoards found -- increases during civil wars. In Roman history, for example, hoards increased dramatically during the Second Punic War, c. 218-206 BC, and then again during the Social War, the Civil War and the Spartacus revolt, c. 90-71 BC, and once again during the Civil Wars, c. 50-31 BC. A similar pattern existed in Britain where hoarding frequency soared during its Civil War period c. AD 1625-49. It is probable that this pattern will be confirmed in similar cases.

(3) The composition of hoards is determined partly by Gresham's Law. Assume that the money supply of a country consists of both overvalued and undervalued coins. Let us now suppose that hoarding intensity increases. By Gresham's Law it is the undervalued coins that will disappear and the overvalued coins will remain.(64) The profit motive will ensure that the best coins end up in hoards.

An effective application of Gresham's Law to the study of hoards was made by Sture Bolin in a pioneering work on the Roman monetary system.(65) Drawing on work spanning more than two decades, Bolin published in 1958 a comprehensive study of 150 coin hoards from the period AD 69 to approximately AD 250, found in widely separated parts of the Roman Empire and containing over 82,000 denarii from the Republic and Empire up to the year 193. It is of course well known that the denarii was progressively debased over this period, and this fact should have affected the proportion of old to new (depreciated) coins in the collections. Among his striking findings was the vast number of coins from the Republic in the hoards collected in Germany, the Balkans and Britain, confirming what Gresham's Law would predict, that the outer parts of the empire preferred the relatively undervalued denarii.(66)

The composition of hoards sometimes offers clues about circulation. Other things equal, a large preponderance of coins as, say, the reign of Hadrian or Vespasian would suggest a large production. On the other hand, a low frequency of a ruler's coins does not necessarily imply low production; if it were overvalued, it would not be a suitable candidate for hoards. The worst coins circulate, the best coins end up in hoards.

Given the frequency of hoards discovered, which number in the thousands, empirical analysis can be brought to bear, yielding rigorous statistical inferences that can be used to test the presence of absence of Gresham's Law.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Return to the The Gilded Opinion Index Page

(11)

 

 

USAGOLD sider, what we have to offer

Great prices. Quick delivery. All the time.
Contemporary gold and silver bullion coins
Bullion-related historic gold coins
U.S. $20 gold pieces

Order Desk
1-800-869-5115
Extension #100
6am to 5pm USMT weekdays.

Prefer e-mail to get started?
orderdesk@usagold.com


Reputation Matters!
Few can match our golden credentials

Zero complaints
Unblemished
stars client review record
(All reviews verified by BBB)

bbb
A+ Rating
Click for details
includes client reviews

Gold coins & bullion since 1973
Better Business Bureau accredited since 1991
American Numismatic Association since 1975
Industry Council for Tangible Assets since 1985
Website in continuous operation since 1997
__________________________________________

Recipient of BBB Gold Star Certificate

for zero complaints 2003 to 2015
(Program suspended 2016)
_________________________________________

What separates us from the competition


News & Views
Forecasts, Commentary & Analysis
on the Economy and Precious Metals


––OCTOBER, 2017––

Gold is up this year not just in dollars but in every major currency

Plus, How professional investors radically altered the gold market, and much more.

We invite you to sign-up for our free monthly newsletter with appreciation to our current and prospective clientele.

Immediate access to this month's edition.


Thinking about what to include in your precious metals portfolio?

We can help! We invite you to put our many years experience in the gold business to work for you. Helping you to assemble a portfolio designed for the times and your particular objectives is what we do. And we've been doing it for over 40 years with everyone from the small to the high net worth investor.

ORDER DESK
By e-mail or phone.


Contact information immediately above.
We welcome your inquiry.


video

Current Special Offers
Stuff our clients love


Our specials feature unusual and hard-to-find historic gold coins that trade at bullion-related prices.

These limited offers often sell-out quickly. For more information on our current offer, please call the Order Desk or visit this link at your earliest convenience.

Add a little scarcity and history to your precious metals portfolio.



OPEN ACCESS FILE

WHY GOLD, WHY NOW


For those seeking a deeper understanding of gold's role in the modern investment portfolio

brsov
A sovereign tale of gold's
historic undervaluation

Oil, gold and a hoard of British sovereigns
stashed in an old piano

swans
BlackSwans YellowGold
The standard reference on how gold performs during periods of deflation, chronic disinflation, runaway stagflation and hyperinflation

compass
Gold Chartography 101
The case for gold ownership in ten charts
you will never see on CNBC

decisions

How would you invest money you didn't need for ten years?
"Perhaps we spend too much energy trying to foretell the future, and too little trying
to be resilient whatever happens."

______________________________

mkMichael J. Kosares, the author of these articles, has more than 40 years experience in the gold business. He is the founder and executive director of USAGOLD (both the website and gold brokerage service), the author of three books on the gold market, and the editor of "News & Views, Forecasts, Commentary & Analysis on the Economy and Precious Metals," the firm's client letter. He has written numerous magazine and internet essays and is well-known for his ongoing commentary on the gold market and its economic, political and financial underpinnings.

ABC

"I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who."

– Rudyard Kipling –

Book Order Form (US)





Tuesday October 24
website support: sitemaster@usagold.com / general mail: admin@usagold.com
Site Map - Risk Disclosure - Privacy Policy - Shipping Policy - Terms of Use
© 1997-2017 USAGOLD All Rights Reserved
Mailing Address - P.O. Box 460009, Denver, CO USA 80246-0009
1-800-869-5115