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The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 47, November 12, 2000, Article 13


Edward A. Krivoniak writes:

"I've just finished re-reading "Of Time, Space, and Other Things" by Isaac Asimov and in it I found an essay entitled "Forget It" that contains information of interest to numismatists. The gist of the essay was that even though scientific advances are occurring at an ever increasing rate we should not give up hope of understanding them because previous information becomes outdated and ignored by new generations.

Within the essay he writes of obtaining an old book called "Pike's Arithmetic -- A New and Complete System of Arithmetic Composed for the Use of the Citizens of the United States" by Nicholas Pike, A.M. It was first published in 1785 and a Second Edition, Enlarged was published in 1797. It supposedly is a large book of 500 pages with no illustrations or diagrams.

The interesting thing about this book from a numismatic standpoint is that it discusses the "new" Federal money which came into being 11 years before the second edition. It gives the exact wording of the law and discusses it in detail. Also, since other forms of money were still in use, it lists the rules for converting one system into another. The partial listing in Dr. Asimov's article is as follows:

  • I. To reduce New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Virginia currency:
    • 1. To Federal Money
    • 2. To New York and North Carolina currency
    • 3. To Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland currency
    • 4. To South carolina and Georgia currency
    • 5. To English money
    • 6. To Irish money
    • 7. To Canada and Nova Scotia currency
    • 8. To Livres Tournois (French money)
    • 9. To Spanish milled dollars
  • II. To reduce Federal Money to New England and Virginia currency:
  • III. To reduce New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland currency:
    • 1. To New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Virginia currency
    • 2. To New York and ...

At this point Dr. Asimov gives up but he listed enough to make this extremely interesting to colonial numismatists and I would assume to scholars in general."

Wayne Homren, Editor

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