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Money and the Mechanism of Exchange; Jevons, William Stanley
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Chapter VII. Coins

The primitive mode of circulating the metals, indeed, was simply that of buying and selling them against other commodities, the weights or portions being made rudely estimated. Some of the earliest specimens of money consist of the aes rude, or rough, shapeless lumps of native copper employed as money by the ancient Etruscans. In the Museum of the Archiginnasio at Bologna may be seen the skeleton of an Etruscan, half embedded in earth, with the piece of rough copper yet within the grasp of the bony hand, placed there to meet the demands of Charon. Pliny, moreover, tells us that, before the time of Servius Tullius, copper was circulated in the rude state. Afterwards copper, brass, or iron were, it is probable, employed in the form of small bars or spikes, and the name of the Greek unit of value, drachma, is supposed to have been derived from the fact that six of these metal spikes could be grasped in the hand, each piece being called an obolus. Such is supposed to have been the first system of money which was passed purely by tale, or number of pieces.

Chapter IX. Systems of Metallic Money

Aristotle, in his Politics (Book I., chap. ix), gives an interesting account of his view of the origin of money, and distinctly tells us that the metals were first passed simply by weight or size, and Pliny makes a similar assertion. That it was so, we may infer from the remarkable fact that, even when no use was made of it, the custom of bringing a pair of scales survived as a legal formality in the sale of slaves at Rome.