Author Topic: Tokens and coins  (Read 2860 times)

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Offline Kushi

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Tokens and coins
« on: March 22, 2014, 11:10:06 PM »
Peter, I suppose what you mention above would best be discussed under a separate Topic.

"I like to use this series to argue that there is no sharp border between coins and tokens. The Canadian bank tokens are a further case to make this point. Surprisingly, many people find this somewhat difficult to digest."

I suppose I'm one of the persons that finds this difficult to digest. Coins are issued to facilitate trade by law by recognized national governments. Tokens are issued by private or public persons or companies/organizations. National governments my also issue tokens, but they are for local usage or for a specifiс populace. i.e. military, prisons, etc.

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2016, 08:04:06 PM »
National governments my also issue tokens, but they are for local usage or for a specifiс populace. i.e. military, prisons, etc.

Not necessarily.

The "bank tokens" issued in Britain and Ireland at the start of the 19th century were issued by a national authority with the intention that they should be used by the general public in general commerce. AFAIK they were not limited to certain institutions, users or goods purchased. The same is true of the Rigsbankstegn series in Denmark at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the Riksgäldskontorspolletter of the turn of the 19th century in Sweden. Both tegn and pollett are used on the coins to highlight the difference from mønt/mynt, which is a standard coin, and the British/Irish pieces have the words "Bank Token" on them.

You can add to that those non-official coins that circulate freely as if they were coins: Italian gettoni telefonici being perhaps one of the most widespread examples. In the early days of the reward points concept in British supermarkets, there was far less emphasis on making sure that the points were used by the cardholder rather than someone else. At Sainsbury's in the early 90s you got a £2,50 voucher every time you got to 250 points. The vouchers included some basic anti-forgery measures but had nothing to link them to you as the cardholder. They were therefore fully exchangeable and in practice circulated as £2.50 notes, especially among students.

In all of the above cases, there is a clear difference in the legal basis under which the pieces were issued compared to "proper" coins, but not much evidence of difference in how they were actually used and by whom. To borrow a label from the world of linguistics, Peter and I are "descriptivists" - in other words, we attribute more significance to the practical "facts on the ground" than to the legal theory behind coins and tokens.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2016, 11:04:49 PM »
Indeed! I could add a further example: the Canadian front view and side view tokens, marked tokens, issued by banks but in fact official coins whose production and management was outsourced by the government to private banks. On the other side of the fence are the Bleyensteinse duit tokens, in no way official money, yet widely accepted as such. I would argue that all tokens with a denomination and no restrictions on use have more in common with coins than with tokens.

Speaking of students, in my student days, a 5 gulden banknote was known as a "2 beer coupon" in student terminology. :)

Peter
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Offline FosseWay

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2016, 10:45:21 PM »

Speaking of students, in my student days, a 5 gulden banknote was known as a "2 beer coupon" in student terminology. :)


In a similar numismatic context, when I was a student 20p coins were often known as "washing tokens" because all the university's communal washing machines and driers took them.

Offline zeep

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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2016, 08:11:01 PM »
I just found the complete series of 8 boordgeld coins SMN Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland Amsterdam on http://www.oude-aandelen.nl/boordgeldsmn.html for only 40 euro (40 USD)

Offline EWC

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2016, 10:19:28 AM »
"I like to use this series to argue that there is no sharp border between coins and tokens. The Canadian bank tokens are a further case to make this point. Surprisingly, many people find this somewhat difficult to digest."

I suppose I'm one of the persons that finds this difficult to digest. Coins are issued to facilitate trade by law by recognized national governments. Tokens are issued by private or public persons or companies/organizations. National governments my also issue tokens, but they are for local usage or for a specifiс populace. i.e. military, prisons, etc.

I agree - but I judge its harder to digest than even that.  "Token" in Britain in the early 19th century also meant something completely different - a piece that had a seigniorage element of value.  That usage was propagated as a kind of political swindle by such as Lord Lauderdale, on the false assumption that British coinage had always been full bodied - ie worth its weight in metal.  That debate in turn has been disguised further in modern economics classes by completely redefining what Adam Smith actually meant by "the mercantile system".

The title of “descriptivist” is one I judge all should covert – but I judge also the bar should be set high for its award.

Did Tesco ever honour Sainsbury tokens?  If not I judge they are crucially and vitally different from national government coin, and indeed to argue otherwise would seem to me itself to fall pray to a kind of propaganda of "the mercantile system" sort.

Jonathan Swift argued that the landlord’s note of hand was superior to the state sanctioned Wood’s coinage.  As Prime minister, Gladstone called Swift’s arguments “witchery”.  In that sense, witchery is perhaps just as prevalent now as then.

Rob

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2016, 01:31:22 PM »
Did Tesco ever honour Sainsbury tokens?  If not I judge they are crucially and vitally different from national government coin, and indeed to argue otherwise would seem to me itself to fall pray to a kind of propaganda of "the mercantile system" sort.

No, Tesco (and other supermarkets) did not honour Sainsbury tokens, and that is an important point as you say. But in practice (rather than legal fact) there isn't much difference between "money" that one supermarket will take and another won't, and "money" that one country will take and another won't. Not being able to spend Sainsbury tokens in Tesco is arguably a point on the same continuum that specifies that you can't spend sterling coins in France, the US, or wherever, or indeed that you can't spend theoretically valid coinage/notes because of unfamiliarity (I'm thinking of crowns in the UK, Scottish and NI notes in England, or old 2-kronor coins in Sweden).

Also, both supermarkets are entirely within their rights to refuse or accept payment in any form - both could refuse coin of the realm, Sainsbury's could refuse its own vouchers (I think) and Tesco could choose to accept Sainsbury's vouchers. Because a debt has not arisen, the legal tender laws are not relevant in this case.

Personally I do divide my numismatic items into coins and tokens, by how they were intended to be used. For me, a piece intended by its issuer to circulate generally as payment for whatever the parties to a transaction wish to exchange, is a coin. A piece intended as payment for a specific good or service and/or by a specific subset of the general cash-using public is a token. Who issued them is fairly irrelevant. Note the word "intended" - as I mention above, telephone tokens, supermarket vouchers and other objects have in practice circulated in coin-like ways, but that wasn't the intention of the issuer.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2016, 07:37:50 PM »
I don't think anyone has implicitly or explicitly denied the existence of tokens. The point of my argument is that the boundary is vague. Once more, there are quite a few shades of grey between black and white. See the examples given above.

I also think that who calls what coin or token is not very important. In practice, what circulates is what is trusted and accepted and there is no correlation between what is trusted/accepted and who issued it. There are circulating and non-circulating coins and tokens. That boundary is quite a bit sharper (though I can think of grey areas in this case also) and more important, as only circulating pieces have a money function.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline EWC

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2016, 08:47:48 AM »
I don't think anyone has implicitly or explicitly denied the existence of tokens. The point of my argument is that the boundary is vague. Once more, there are quite a few shades of grey between black and white. See the examples given above.

Certainly true –  I think no one disputes this

In practice, what circulates is what is trusted and accepted and there is no correlation between what is trusted/accepted and who issued it.

Seems to be a tautology – ‘what circulates – circulates’.  If so, it does not advance the discussion

On the other hand statement “there is no correlation between what is trusted/accepted and who issued it.” on its own is surely not correct.

Rob T

Offline EWC

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2016, 09:23:34 AM »
FosseWay:  my objection to your position primarily concerned this statement of yours about descriptivism

To borrow a label from the world of linguistics, Peter and I are "descriptivists" - in other words, we attribute more significance to the practical "facts on the ground" than to the legal theory behind coins and tokens.

Note that you contradict this claim exactly in your next reply by ignoring the practical "facts on the ground" and lodging instead counterfactual points exactly deriving from legal theory - here:

both supermarkets are entirely within their rights to refuse or accept payment in any form - both could refuse coin of the realm, Sainsbury's could refuse its own vouchers (I think) and Tesco could choose to accept Sainsbury's vouchers. Because a debt has not arisen, the legal tender laws are not relevant in this case.

You then give this definition of a coin

For me, a piece intended by its issuer to circulate generally as payment for whatever the parties to a transaction wish to exchange, is a coin.

Are you sure you mean this?  It follows that, if a lunatic, who believed himself  to be Napoleon Bonaparte, started to issue his own ‘20 franc pieces’ crudely made of yellow plasticine, insanely intending them to circulate, you would agree with him that they were coins, even if not a single one ever left his hands.

Your claim to descriptivism seems to be slipping ever further over the horizon

Rob T

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2016, 08:45:55 PM »
On legal tender, I was simply pointing out that whether a "coin" is a "coin" in practice has very little to do with legal tender because of the very limited circumstances in which legal tender applies - regardless of what is deemed to be legal tender. I don't see that it detracts from "descriptivism".

On my sentence: "For me, a piece intended by its issuer to circulate generally as payment for whatever the parties to a transaction wish to exchange, is a coin":

Quote from: EWC
It follows that, if a lunatic, who believed himself  to be Napoleon Bonaparte, started to issue his own ‘20 franc pieces’ crudely made of yellow plasticine, insanely intending them to circulate, you would agree with him that they were coins, even if not a single one ever left his hands.

No it doesn't, because you ignore the second half of what I wrote (in bold above). Your lunatic has to persuade other people to agree to use his creations as money in order to meet my definition, not simply to make them and declare them to be coins. And if they are used generally as money within the society concerned, and are not notably limited to use by certain people, in certain establishments or for certain goods/services, then yes, they have a strong claim to be called coins.

I find your comment about my claim to descriptivism going over the horizon inexplicable. If anything, the reductio ad absurdum example you suggest actually makes my suggestion look ridiculously over-descriptive, rather than the opposite. The opposite of descriptivism is prescriptivism - namely that something is only right if The Established Authority on whatever it is says it is, and conversely that it continues to be right so long as that Authority says so, regardless of the practical facts on the ground. A classic case was the way the medieval Church clung to the theory of terracentricity way after its sell-by date, while at the same time insisting somewhat forcefully that any other explanation of the cosmos was wrong by dint of not conforming to the prevailing idée fixe.

Offline EWC

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2016, 09:34:25 AM »
Your lunatic has to persuade other people to agree to use his creations as money in order to meet my definition, not simply to make them and declare them to be coins. And if they are used generally as money within the society concerned, and are not notably limited to use by certain people, in certain establishments or for certain goods/services, then yes, they have a strong claim to be called coins.

Thanks – but this is not what you previously wrote.  It seems  that our differences encompass not just the meaning of the word “coin” and “token” but also the meaning of the word “whatever”.  In those circumstances communication is no longer working - readers must make up their own minds.

I find your comment about my claim to descriptivism going over the horizon inexplicable. If anything, the reductio ad absurdum example you suggest actually makes my suggestion look ridiculously over-descriptive, rather than the opposite. The opposite of descriptivism is prescriptivism - namely that something is only right if The Established Authority on whatever it is says it is, and conversely that it continues to be right so long as that Authority says so, regardless of the practical facts on the ground.

In these circumstances, I judge a real descriptivist ought to roll his sleeves up, forget the isms,  and actually do some describing.  The battle to get  English citizens fair payment in legal tender coin got traction with the first truck in 1465, and thenceforward in twenty more acts, concerning various trades, up to the general prohibition of 1831.  These laws ran hand in hand with the growing democratisation of national life, the universal Truck Act of 1831 being intimately associated with Great Reform Act of 1832.  The Wages Act of 1986 merely updated the notion of money, to include legal tender coin and notes, postal orders issued by the State controlled post office, or bank deposits in a context where all banks are centrally licensed and controlled.  Your can argue against this system of course - apparently that you think democracy itself is a form of authoritarianism. But I cannot see how you can do so and at the same time call yourself a descriptivist .

 
A classic case was the way the medieval Church clung to the theory of terracentricity way after its sell-by date, while at the same time insisting somewhat forcefully that any other explanation of the cosmos was wrong by dint of not conforming to the prevailing idée fixe.

We can discuss this in a new thread if you wish.  But a descriptivist would want to tell us exactly when and where his suggestion applies. As I understand it you wrongly describe the specific arguments Cardinal Bellarmine put against Galileo.  Bellamine did not support an alternative explanation of the cosmos – rather he rejected any fixed view of empirical objective reality.  Bellarmne’s arguments were resurrected in the 1970’s by people following the lead of Maynard Keynes.  (Keynes himself led the attack, on Newton). 

In my view an ongoing corruption of our understanding of money is running hand in hand with a corruption of rationality itself, so I would be delighted to delve into those matters too.  But it will be tough going if we cannot even agree on the meaning of the word “whatever”.

Rob

Offline andyg

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2016, 10:23:55 PM »
This one is called Obscurum per Obscurius.
always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....

Offline EWC

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2016, 09:17:42 AM »
This one is called Obscurum per Obscurius.

Am happy to try help out, but this comment falls well short of a “descriptivist” ideal  too. 

What part of the thread do you find unnecessarily obscure, and why?

Rob

Online Figleaf

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Re: Tokens and coins
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2016, 10:40:55 AM »
I lost track of where you want to go also. None of this is about words. My point is that the boundary between coins and tokens is not sharp, which you seem to have conceded by absence of comment. FosseWay's point is that it's a perfectly normal thing to say, which you may or may not agree with and andyg's point is that he's not getting what you want to achieve.

Since everyone seems to have said what they wanted to say and the subject is not exactly of life and death importance, I suggest we let it rest here.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.