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The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 24, June 11, 2000, Article 8


Doug Owens writes:

"I enjoyed your recommendations, and will begin an effort to obtain the three books you mentioned. I wonder if you can recommend any books on the paper money of the colonial and revolutionary war era? Thanks."

Well, here are three favorites in that area:

McKay, George L, "Early American Currency", 1944. This short, 85-page, illustrated book is a great one-stop starting point for information on colonial currency and economics, and particularly on the printing of the bills. It was also produced as an ANS Monograph.

Brock, Leslie V., "The Currency of the American Colonies 1700-1764: A Study in Colonial Finance and Imperial Relations." Like Carothers, this work was written as a PhD thesis in economics (University of Michigan, 1941). It took me years to find my copy, but it's not necessarily a scarce book, just scarce in numismatic circles. My copy is a 1975 reprint in book form. Professor Brock has a web page at the University of Virginia with links to many online documents relating to Colonial money:

Scott, Kenneth, "Counterfeiting in Colonial America", Oxford University Press, 1957. I agree with the Preface that "This book might have been a dull and pedantic recital of counterfeiting in Colonial America. Instead, it is a lively combination of true detective and adventure stories told in terms of real people of the past ..."

One unfortunate real person was Willet Larabe, who was convicted in November 1751

"at the superior court of King's County, Rhode Island, for passing several counterfeit twenty shilling new tenor bills of New Hampshire. He was sentenced to stand in the pillory for half an hour, to have both ears cropped, to be branded with R on each cheek with a hot iron, to be imprisoned for one month, to pay double damages to the persons injured by his counterfeit bills and the costs of prosecution, and to forfeit the remainder of his estate, both real and personal, for the use of the colony." (p178).

And sent to bed without his supper, too, no doubt. So what was the penalty for selling overgraded coins?

While on the subject of favorite books, we should note the column by longtime NBS member and E-Sylum subscriber Brad Karoleff in the June 19th issue of COIN World. In addition to Carothers' book (and several others), he mentions one book on U.S. coinage that I regretted not including in last week's list: Don Taxay's "The U. S. Mint and Coinage", 1966. I like this one so much that last week I bought two copies on behalf of a local numismatic organization; the books will be given to local school and community libraries.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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