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Excerpt From Chapter 2 B

French-Regime coins, Currency and Counters


La Nouvelle France [New France] was the French colony that encompassed northeastern North America, from Newfoundland to the Great Lakes region. European colonization began in the early 1600s. Acadia, Newfoundland and Hudson's Bay were detached from the colony in 1713. The remaining regions continued to operate within France's imperial framework until New France's conquest and dismemberment in 1758 - 1763. That administrative context determined what money circulated and the legislative policies affecting currency and exchange until the 1760s.

Numismatic accounts of currency in New France, published before the 1970s, had a governmental perspective, based on legislation and on the correspondence between royal officials in the colony and their superiors in France. Thus, we have an ample account of monetary problems, as perceived by the king's officers; the laws they passed to deal with the apprehended difficulties; and other administrative measures pertaining to currency. Looking back from an era with a well-informed and highly-intrusive government, the government records seemed to be sufficient evidence for reconstructing the history of circulating currency in Nouvelle France. Adam Shortt's two-volume Documents Relating to Canada Currency, Exchange and Finance during the French Regime (1925 - 1926) and his subsequent collection of documents for Nova Scotia under French and British rule provided researchers with published sources and these collections became essential reference works. Reliance on government records, however, assumed that royal officials had a comprehensive and accurate knowledge of circulating currency and took it for granted that laws passed by the metropolitan and colonial governments achieved their authors' intentions. A wider range of evidence demonstrated the weakness of these assumptions.

It was not just the documentary evidence that laws reflected administrators' momentary enthusiasms and that legislation was not enforced with rigour or consistency during the French Regime that undermined these assumptions. It was the physical evidence provided by archaeology and by shipwrecks, which disclosed how fallible administrators were in ascertaining what was going on and in effectively influencing monetary practices in New France. Glib assertions that the colonists were strangers to copper and base currency collapsed in the face of plentiful evidence that copper doubles and liards, as well as brass dardennes, were the everyday money of colonists. Archaeologists also revealed that Spanish-American silver was nearly as important to exchange in the French colonies as it was to transactions in the British possessions. Smuggling between empires, which resident officials understated, helped introduce Spanish colonial silver. This silver currency supplemented the small supply of French metropolitan coins of noble metals. One area for which there is little physical evidence is that of private paper currency. Merchants used letters of exchange and obtained credit certificates from the crown and fur-trade monopoly; private individuals issued personal "bons" allowing creditors to draw set amounts from those owing money to the issuer. Few examples of these private instruments have survived. By comparison, government card money from 1685 onward is well documented and examples of eighteenth-century issues are numerous. By its' novelty and notoriety, card money remains a popular subject for publications about this era. This portion of the bibliography begins with accounts of the paper currency, counters (jetons) and copper and silver coinage in circulation in Old-Regime France, of which the North American colony was an offshoot.

Journnal des monnoyes contenant les empreintes valeur fabrications reformations et décris des differentes especes de France tant d'or et argent que de billon : augmentatione et le diminutions des especes et des matieres d'or et d'argent : commencent en 1640. - Paris : S.n., late 1720s (?). - 243 leaves, ill. - original ink manuscript containing edicts on French coinage, this work is broken down into several parts subtitled as follows : Instruction sur la maniere de faire des essayer desde matieres d'or, d'argent et billon; Observation sur la maniere de Compter; Evaluation d'aloy ou titres au equels sont les differented especes - UNIQUE, see Kolbe sale - Dec. 6, 1997

<<Card money of Canada>>. - CA :Vol. 1, no. 2 (Oct, 1872). - p. 53 - 54. - report from "Herriot's Travels", an early but very cursory treatment of the subject

<<Canadian trade and commerce in the seventeenth century>>. - CA : Vol. 1, no. 3 (Jan. 1873). - p. 130 - 132. - report from "Memoirs of North America", superficial treatment of mercantile practices and primitive currency in French Canada

<<Card money and French coins in Canada, in 1716>>. - CA :Vol. 3, no. 2 (Oct. 1874). - p. 64 - 65. - mostly consists of the text of two letters: May 12, 1716 and Sept. 6, 1717 regarding the withdrawal of card money, since superceded by Adams Shortt's text "Documents Relating to Currency, Exchange and Finance During the French Regime"

<<Reviews>>. - CA : Vol. 5, no. 4 (April 1877). - p. 194 - 196. - review of Charles Anthon's article "The 'Gloriam Regni" in the ANJ, Jan. 1877 wherein Anthon presents proof that these coins from 1670 were meant also for circulation in Canada

<<Playing-card currency of the French Regime in Canada and later currency of the French Regime in Canada>>. - CNJ : Vol. 4, no. 3 (March 1959). - p. 72 - 73, ill. - illustrations of four notes of different denominations

Extrait des edits, declarations, et arrêts du conseil concernant les monnoyes de France, a commencer en l'année 1640 : avec empreintes de toutes les espèces d'or & d'argent & les augmentations ou diminutions ordonnées sur iceles depuis 1689 jusqu'en 1731. - [Paris] : A. Amiens; Chez la veuve de Jean-Baptiste Morgan, imprimeur de Roy. - 1731. - 22 leaves, 47 woodcut ill.

"Gloriam Regni" : or silver Louis of 15 sols, and of 5 sols, struck for circulation in French America. - AJN : Vol. 11, no. 3 (Jan. 1877). - p. 49 - ?, ill. - also offprinted by the author in 1877

Forgotten coins of the North American colonies : a modern survey of early English and Irish counterfeit coppers circulating in the Americas : including a report on the recent site inspections of the Machin Mills Mint, and a study of the Buste Enfantin coinage of Louis XV circulating in colonial America. - Lodi, New Jersey : Woodcliff Publishing , 1990. - 91 p., 10 pl. -- an important survey discussing the manufacture and circulation of counterfeit coins in the British North American colonies particularly in the late 18th and early 19th century - an important reference for the serious student of the Canadian 'blacksmith' token series

Forgotten coins of the North American colonies : a modern survey of early English and Irish counterfeit coppers circulating in the Americas : including a report on the recent site inspections of the Machin Mills Mint, and a study of the Buste Enfantin coinage of Louis XV circulating in colonial America. - Iola, Wisconsin : Krause Publications, 1992. - 91 p., 10 pl. - reprint of the 1990 edition

Traité de monnoies et de la jurisdiction de la cour des monnoies en forme de dictionnaire qui contient l'histoire des monnoies [...] : les monnoies de France [...] : les monnoies de Comte Réelles & courantes de l'asie de l'afrique &, de l'amerique : les monnoies et les changes [...] : des tables de la valeur [...] depuis 1258 jusqu'en 1726; les anciens généraux des monnoies [...] : tome premier & second. - Paris, France : Chez Guillyn, 1764. - two volumes, (4) xvi, 695, (1); (4) xxiv, 34, (2), 710, (2) p., folding tables

Étude et recherches historiques sur les monnaies de France. - Paris : , 1853. - 2 vols.,? p.

<<Find of Louis d'or on the coast of Cape Breton>>. - CA : (Jan. 1902). - p. 38 - 40. - notice of the recovery of French gold coins dated 1726 - 1729 from a shipwreck off the coast of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

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