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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 12, March 21, 2010, Article 16

THE EARLIEST PAPER MONEY ISSUED DURING A SIEGE

François Velde if the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Research Department submitted this note on the earliest paper money issued during a siege. -Editor

I'm replying belatedly to the claim made in the February 21 issue:

The siege of the city of Leyden, in modern day Netherlands, is believed to be the first instance wherein paper money of necessity was used. Although Leyden boasts a wide variety of metallic siege coins from the 1570s, it was here that the first paper siege notes were issued. These "notes" are not notes at all but are, more properly, considered coins. [...] These cardboard "notes" became the first paper money to appear in the Western world. Prior to this only the Chinese used paper money.

There is at least one earlier instance of paper money issued during a siege, almost a century before the Leyden example.

The town of Alhama de Granada, in southern Spain, was taken by the Christians in 1482; sometime between 1483 and 1485 the Muslims besieged it, and the commander, the count of Tendilla, issued paper money in different denominations with a promise to redeem the notes after the siege, a promise he apparently kept. The story is told by a contemporary, Fernando del Pulgar who was secretary of the Catholic King Ferdinand.

This incident is referenced on 220 of The Big Problem of Small Change, the book François authored in 2002 with Thomas J. Sargent. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: TERM FOR PAPER PRESSED INTO COIN FORM SOUGHT (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n08a14.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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