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The E-Sylum:  Volume 4, Number 9, February 25, 2001, Article 5

CELEBRATE "SHROFF" TUESDAY BY THROWING BAD COINS AT  BANKERS 

   Michael E. Marotta writes: "Discussing the etymology of 
   "Shrove Tuesday" I discovered "shroff" in the Merriam 
   Webster Ninth Collegiate.  (It is also in the 6th and 10th. 
   Although it is in the New World  hardcover up through 
   1969, it is not in my paperback edition from 1979.) 
   Searching the ANS Library returned  no hits on this word. 
   What is most interesting is that actually testing money is 
   explicitly one of the services of the shroff. 

   I then found other references online that point to 
   variants such as serafine (xerafin), a word for Arabic 
   gold coins well known to American colonial merchants. 

   http://original.bibliomania.com/Reference/HobsonJobson/data/831.html 
   Sir Henry Yule C.B., K.C.S.I. and A. C. Burnell Hobson 
   Jobson: The Anglo-Indian Dictionary pages 831-832 

      SHROFF, s. A money-changer, a banker. Ar. sarraf, 
      sairafi, sairaf. The word is used by Europeans in China 
      as well as in India, and is there applied to the experts 
      who are employed by banks and mercantile firms to 
      check the quality of the dollars that pass into the houses. 

      "Shroffing schools are common in Canton, where teachers 
      of the art keep bad dollars for the purpose of exercising 
      their pupils; and several works on the subject have been 
      published there, with numerous illustrations of dollars 
      and other foreign coins, the methods of scooping out 
      silver and filling up with copper or lead, comparisons 
      between genuine and counterfeit dollars, the difference 
      between native and foreign milling, etc., etc." 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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