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Credit-Money as the Philosopher's Stone: Alchemy and the Coinage Problem in Seventeenth-Century England

Credit-Money as the Philosopher's Stone: Alchemy and the Coinage Problem in Seventeenth-Century... Coinage in Seventeenth-Century England resulting in the conceptualization of a credit-money system. The Hartlib Circle in England, having already pursued alchemy, offered one of the earliest proposals for credit-money. While their particular proposition was not implemented, it helped define the pool of ideas available to later reformers. Eventually, once the Bank of England showed in 1694 how credit-money could function, there was a rapid falloff in the patronage of alchemists, and credit-money was elevated to the position of the best available system for money creation. Hence, at a minimum, alchemy and credit-money were linked both metaphorically and as strategies to address the same problem. I suggest, however, that the ties between alchemy and credit-money ran deeper and were more profound than has been thought previously. This is particularly true in the English context, for which I hope to show that just as alchemy served as an important theoretical and empirical framework for the development of the Scientific Revolution (Dobbs 1975; Westfall 1980; Henry 1990, 1997), so, too, did it serve as a conceptual and discursive system that helped frame the debate about the shortage of money and how to overcome that problem. Alchemy in the Seventeenth Century While http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Political Economy Duke University Press

Credit-Money as the Philosopher's Stone: Alchemy and the Coinage Problem in Seventeenth-Century England

History of Political Economy , Volume 35 (Suppl 1) – Jan 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0018-2702
eISSN
1527-1919
DOI
10.1215/00182702-35-Suppl_1-234
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Coinage in Seventeenth-Century England resulting in the conceptualization of a credit-money system. The Hartlib Circle in England, having already pursued alchemy, offered one of the earliest proposals for credit-money. While their particular proposition was not implemented, it helped define the pool of ideas available to later reformers. Eventually, once the Bank of England showed in 1694 how credit-money could function, there was a rapid falloff in the patronage of alchemists, and credit-money was elevated to the position of the best available system for money creation. Hence, at a minimum, alchemy and credit-money were linked both metaphorically and as strategies to address the same problem. I suggest, however, that the ties between alchemy and credit-money ran deeper and were more profound than has been thought previously. This is particularly true in the English context, for which I hope to show that just as alchemy served as an important theoretical and empirical framework for the development of the Scientific Revolution (Dobbs 1975; Westfall 1980; Henry 1990, 1997), so, too, did it serve as a conceptual and discursive system that helped frame the debate about the shortage of money and how to overcome that problem. Alchemy in the Seventeenth Century While

Journal

History of Political EconomyDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2003

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