Cover image for Sterling, a history of a currency
Title:
Sterling, a history of a currency
Author:
Mayhew, N. J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Wiley, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
xiv, 290 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780471385356
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library HG935 .M39 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

"Like an underground stream which rarely comes to the surface but which nevertheless irrigates the countryside through which it flows, sterling runs through British history, from the Conquest up to the present day."

With this passage, Nicholas Mayhew begins his fascinating look at one of the world's most storied, influential currencies. Sterling: The History of a Currency is both an absorbing account of the global impact of currency throughout the second millennium and an entertaining primer in financial history and theory.

Mayhew traces the path of sterling from its genesis around 1080, during the rule of William the Conqueror, through latter-day struggles to hold its own amidst the global retreat from precious metals standards and the still-developing Euro. Tales of laborers and merchants interweave with those of knights and kings to reveal the social fabric of European society in 1500. Passages from Adam Smith's 1776 classic The Wealth of Nations outline early but fundamental principles of banking. The dramatic increase in the early nineteenth-century supply of sterling, accompanied by its equally dramatic fall in value, is explored, and the evolution of money from silver and gold through paper, plastic, and electronic impulses is contrasted with social movements that have changed our need for, and relationship with, money.

"Sterling, like the English landscape, has evolved over the centuries, reflecting and sometimes leading to changes in the nation's history, and also generating a sense of unchanging stability of fundamental importance to the national psyche."

The history of sterling is nothing less than the history of England and the world. Sterling tells that story with all the vividness and drama which its topic so richly deserves.

This profound book also travels far into the heart of mankind's physical and emotional relationship to currency. Whether you are a student of finance, history, psychology, or sociology, Sterling will leave you with a new appreciation for the central role a currency plays in the development of a nation'and the almost human qualities that currency often assumes as it ages, sometimes gracefully and sometimes fitfully, over the years and centuries.

Through the prism of one of the world's venerated currencies . . . A fascinating portrait of world history

War . . . peace . . . prosperity . . . famine . . . throughout each of these historical phenomena, the common denominator is mankind'and money. Sterling: The History of a Currency traces the incredible history of England and the world over the past centuries through the ebb and flow of its chief currency, the pound sterling.

From the eleventh-century Domesday Book, with its surprisingly accurate accounting of the population and wealth of England, to the final days of the twentieth century, Sterling describes how England and its omnipresent standard of currency first ruled the globe, then struggled to find a place in an expanding, increasingly complex environment. Detailed photographs strikingly illustrate the lineage of English money over the past century while historical references, quotes, facts, and tales vividly portray the centuries-long partnership of England and sterling in the formation of a culture.

More than a simple recitation of economic facts and figures, Sterling represents a vibrant, lifelike portrait of the people and events that make up one of history's great nations'and the currency that was instrumental in its formation. As workers and farmers toiled to acquire it, merchants and landowners struggled to amass it, and kings and financiers conspired to control it, sterling wrote its own tale. It is a tale of money, power, and life itself, and one that bears scrutiny as we begin our new century.


Author Notes

Nicholas Mayhew is a curator in the Heberden Coin Room at the Ashmolean Museum and a Fellow of St. Cross College, Oxford.


Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vii
Introductionp. ix
1 English Money from the Domesday Book to Henry VIIIp. 1
2 Inflation: 1515 to 1650p. 39
3 Goldsmiths, Locke, and the Birth of the Bankp. 77
4 The Age of Daniel Defoe and Adam Smithp. 103
5 From Pitt to Peel: 1797 to 1847p. 132
6 The Golden Age of Sterling: 1851 to 1914p. 169
7 From Sarajevo to Bretton Woods: 1914 to 1944p. 198
8 Sterling Since the Warp. 231
Appendix The Price Indexp. 257
Glossaryp. 261
Further Readingp. 273
Indexp. 279

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