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.
Sir Henry Yule C.B., K.C.S.I. and A. C. Burnell Hobson
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."
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