Bimetallism

Croeseid bimetallic equivalence: 1 gold Croeseid of 8.1 grams was equivalent in value to 10 silver Croeseids of 10.8 grams.
Achaemenid bimetallic equivalence: 1 gold Daric was equivalent in value to 20 silver Sigloi. Under the Achaemenids the exchange rate in weight between gold and silver was 1 to 13.
1896 Republican poster warns against free silver.

Monetary standard in which the value of the monetary unit is defined as equivalent to certain quantities of two metals, typically gold and silver, creating a fixed rate of exchange between them.

- Bimetallism
Croeseid bimetallic equivalence: 1 gold Croeseid of 8.1 grams was equivalent in value to 10 silver Croeseids of 10.8 grams.

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Silver is extremely ductile, and can be drawn into a wire one atom wide.

Silver

Chemical element with the symbol Ag and atomic number 47.

Chemical element with the symbol Ag and atomic number 47.

Silver is extremely ductile, and can be drawn into a wire one atom wide.
Silver(I) sulfide
The three common silver halide precipitates: from left to right, silver iodide, silver bromide, and silver chloride.
Crystals of silver nitrate
Structure of the diamminesilver(I) complex, [Ag(NH3)2]+
Different colors of silver–copper–gold alloys
Silver vase, circa 2400 BC
Silver mining and processing in Kutná Hora, Bohemia, 1490s
16th-century fresco painting of Judas being paid thirty pieces of silver for his betrayal of Jesus
Acanthite sample from the Imider mine in Morocco
A 2004 American Silver Eagle bullion coin, minted in .999 fine silver.
Embossed silver sarcophagus of Saint Stanislaus in the Wawel Cathedral was created in main centers of the 17th century European silversmithery - Augsburg and Gdańsk
17th century silverware
A tray of South Asian sweets, with some pieces covered with shiny silver vark
Proto-Elamite kneeling bull holding a spouted vessel; 3100–2900 BC; 16.3 x 6.3 x 10.8 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
Ancient Egyptian figurine of Horus as falcon god with an Egyptian crown; circa 500 BC; silver and electrum; height: 26.9 cm; Staatliche Sammlung für Ägyptische Kunst (Munich, Germany)
Ancient Greek tetradrachm; 315–308 BC; diameter: 2.7 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ancient Greek gilded bowl; 2nd–1st century BC; height: 7.6 cm, dimeter: 14.8 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
Roman plate; 1st–2nd century AD; height: 0.1 cm, diameter: 12.7 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
Roman bust of Serapis; 2nd century; 15.6 x 9.5 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
Auricular basin with scenes from the story of Diana and Actaeon; 1613; length: 50 cm, height: 6 cm, width: 40 cm; Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
French Rococo tureen; 1749; height: 26.3 cm, width: 39 cm, depth: 24 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
French Rococo coffeepot; 1757; height: 29.5 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
French Neoclassical ewer; 1784–1785; height: 32.9 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
Neo-Rococo coffeepot; 1845; overall: 32 x 23.8 x 15.4 cm; Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, Ohio, USA)
French Art Nouveau dessert spoons; circa 1890; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (New York City)
Art Nouveau jardinière; circa 1905–1910; height: 22 cm, width: 47 cm, depth: 22.5 cm; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Hand mirror; 1906; height: 20.7 cm, weight: 88 g; Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
Mystery watch; ca. 1889; diameter: 5.4 cm, depth: 1.8 cm; Musée d'Horlogerie of Le Locle, (Switzerland)

Silver metal is used in many bullion coins, sometimes alongside gold: while it is more abundant than gold, it is much less abundant as a native metal.

World administrative levels

Monetary system

System by which a government provides money in a country's economy.

System by which a government provides money in a country's economy.

World administrative levels

A 20th-century variation was bimetallism, also called the "double standard", under which both gold and silver were legal tender.

Republican campaign poster of 1896 attacking free silver

Free silver

Major economic policy issue in the United States in the late 19th-century.

Major economic policy issue in the United States in the late 19th-century.

Republican campaign poster of 1896 attacking free silver
"The free silver highwayman at it again" in 1896
Cartoon from Puck showing a silverite farmer and a Democratic donkey whose wagon has been destroyed by the locomotive of sound money
1896 editorial cartoon equating the free silver movement with Frankenstein's monster.
Entitled, "A down-hill movement" by C.J. Taylor in 1896

Supporters of an important place for silver in a bimetallic money system making use of both silver and gold, called "Silverites", sought coinage of silver dollars at a fixed weight ratio of 16-to-1 against dollar coins made of gold.

Economist Edward Kellogg was an early advocate of fiat money.

People's Party (United States)

Left-wing agrarian populist late-19th-century political party in the United States.

Left-wing agrarian populist late-19th-century political party in the United States.

Economist Edward Kellogg was an early advocate of fiat money.
Charles W. Macune, one of the leaders of the Farmers' Alliance
People's Party candidate nominating convention held at Columbus, Nebraska, July 15, 1890
1892 People's Party campaign poster promoting James Weaver for President of the United States
1892 electoral vote results
In 1896, the 36-year-old William Jennings Bryan was the chosen candidate resulting from the fusion of the Democrats and the People's Party.
People's Party campaign poster from 1904 touting the candidacy of Thomas E. Watson

Other Populist-endorsed measures included bimetallism, a graduated income tax, direct election of Senators, a shorter workweek, and the establishment of a postal savings system.

Two golden 20 kr coins from the Scandinavian Monetary Union, which was based on a gold standard. The coin to the left is Swedish and the one on the right is Danish.

Gold standard

Monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is based on a fixed quantity of gold.

Monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is based on a fixed quantity of gold.

Two golden 20 kr coins from the Scandinavian Monetary Union, which was based on a gold standard. The coin to the left is Swedish and the one on the right is Danish.
Gold certificates were used as paper currency in the United States from 1882 to 1933. These certificates were freely convertible into gold coins.
The British gold sovereign or £1 coin was the preeminent circulating gold coin during the classical gold standard period.
Huge quantities of $20 double eagles were minted as a result of the California gold rush.
The US dollar was said to be on a limping standard due to huge quantities of Morgan silver dollars continuing to circulate at par with gold dollars despite their silver value being less.
William McKinley ran for president on the basis of the gold standard.
Ending the gold standard and economic recovery during the Great Depression.
Gold prices (US dollars per troy ounce) from 1914, in nominal US dollars and inflation adjusted US dollars.

Historically, the silver standard and bimetallism have been more common than the gold standard.

Cowry shells being used as money by an Arab trader.

Currency

Standardization of money in any form, in use or circulation as a medium of exchange, for example banknotes and coins.

Standardization of money in any form, in use or circulation as a medium of exchange, for example banknotes and coins.

Cowry shells being used as money by an Arab trader.
The world's oldest coin, created in the ancient Kingdom of Lydia.
Song dynasty Jiaozi, the world's earliest paper money
Name of currency units by country, in Portuguese
Strength of currencies relative to USD as of April 2016
Currencies exchange logo

The parallel use of both metals is called bimetallism, and the attempt to create a bimetallic standard where both gold and silver backed currency remained in circulation occupied the efforts of inflationists.

The Spanish silver dollar created a global silver standard from the 16th to 19th centuries.

Silver standard

Monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is a fixed weight of silver.

Monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is a fixed weight of silver.

The Spanish silver dollar created a global silver standard from the 16th to 19th centuries.

This began a long series of attempts for America to create a bimetallic standard for the US dollar, which would continue until the 1920s.

Overview of contractual states (red) and associated states (other colours) between 1866 and 1914.

Latin Monetary Union

19th-century system that unified several European currencies into a single currency that could be used in all member states when most national currencies were still made out of gold and silver.

19th-century system that unified several European currencies into a single currency that could be used in all member states when most national currencies were still made out of gold and silver.

Overview of contractual states (red) and associated states (other colours) between 1866 and 1914.
Belgum, 20 gold francs (90%)

They agreed to a combined gold and silver standard (bimetalism) with a gold-to-silver ratio of 15.5 to 1 as established in the French Franc.

Portrait of Lord Ashburton by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1842

Alexander Baring, 1st Baron Ashburton

British politician and financier, and a member of the Baring family.

British politician and financier, and a member of the Baring family.

Portrait of Lord Ashburton by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1842

After the Panic of 1847, Baring headed an external bimetallist movement hoping to prevent the undue restriction of the currency.

Under an 1853 act, depositors could no longer have their metal struck into half dollars.

Coinage Act of 1873

General revision of laws relating to the Mint of the United States.

General revision of laws relating to the Mint of the United States.

Under an 1853 act, depositors could no longer have their metal struck into half dollars.
John Jay Knox, photographed by Mathew Brady
Senator John Sherman shepherded the bill through Congress.
The standard silver dollar was abolished by the Coinage Act of 1873.
Medal (by Chief Engraver William Barber) struck for the 1873 Assay Commission. The casket on the reverse honors Philadelphia Mint Assayer Jacob Eckfeldt, who had recently died.
The Trade dollar, intended for use in the Far East, became controversial when circulated in the U.S.
The gold standard triumphant: a caricature from Puck magazine, 1900.
The arrows by the date of this half dollar show that it is one made after the Coinage Act increased its weight to 12.5 grams.

Having a currency defined in terms of two different metals is called bimetallism.