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August 2006


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Frankie Anderson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Tue, 22 Aug 2006 10:29:08 -0400
text/plain (94 lines)
Hi Again.  Yes, deflation did occur.

There was a "minor panic" in 1853 and a more major panic in 1857; the 
earlier panic, in California (San Francisco), occasioned the failure of 
Adams Express Co. in the west by a run on their vault, which allowed 
Wells Fargo to take over express operations west of the Mississippi.  
The losses of Adams were not included in the balance sheet when the 
incorpation of 1854 was done; Mr. Adams paid the losses personally.

See http://www.adamsexpress.com/content/pdf/adams_history.pdf


Caleb Crain wrote:

> Thanks to everyone on the list who has helped out with the mystery of  
> the New York shilling. It turns out the currency and coinage in the  
> U.S. before the Civil War is a great big mess, and I'm not sure I've  
> got the answer. But the emerging consensus seems to be that the New  
> York shilling, or "York shilling," was worth about 12.5 U.S. cents  
> between the 1830s and 1850s, but that the actual coin referred to was  
> a Spanish (or Latin American) real. There were eight reales in a  
> Spanish dollar; thus the nickname for Spanish dollars, "pieces of  
> eight." (This would also explain the slang reference to a quarter as  
> "two bits," i.e., two reales, or two York shillings.) Frank Anderson  
> found a picture of a Spanish real that circulated in New York, in the  
> American Numismatic Society website: <http://www.numismatics.org/ 
> lookup.cgi?string=1969.222.4645>.
> The York shilling does not seem to have been equivalent to the  
> English shilling or to the Canadian shilling. For example, in William  
> Chambers's "Things as They Are in America" (1854), the Astor Hotel is  
> said to cost $2.50 a day, or "10s. English," so it looks like an  
> English shilling = 25. According to an 1834 guide for emigrants to  
> Canada <http://ist.uwaterloo.ca/~marj/genealogy/emigrants1834.html>,  
> 5 Canadian shillings = 8 York shillings = US$1 = 4s 6d English money.  
> (Of course, the exchange rate varied over time.)
> Just as there were twelve English pence in an English shilling, there  
> seem to have been twelve pence in a York shilling, making pence in  
> New York almost equivalent to U.S. cents (12 N.Y. pence = 12.5).  
> There's an example of calculating in York shillings and pence in  
> George G. Foster's "New York in Slices" (1848). A waiter tallies up  
> "Clamsoup sixpnce, rosebeef large, shilln, roastchikn eighteen, extra  
> bread three, butter sixpnce, pickle sixpnce, pudn sixpnce, cheese  
> three, claret two shilln," and arrives at the sum of "seven shilln."  
> By a little primitive algebra, this means that 3 shillings + 48 pence  
> = 7 shillings, and thus one York shilling is worth 12 pence. (Note  
> that the pence in question would not be equivalent to English pence,  
> which, like English shillings, would be roughly twice as valuable as  
> the New York version.)
> It seems hard to say for how long or how widely this meaning of a  
> York shilling (i.e., 12.5, in the form of a Spanish coin) obtained.  
> In the 1855 novel "The Modern Othello," a young Irish boy in a  
> morning of re-selling newspapers earns "50 cents, an one shillin' an'  
> two fips," which he later gives to his mother, saying, "There's the 6  
> shillin' an' the two fips mother." A "fip" seems to be a nickel; in  
> any case, by his math, a shilling is worth only 10. Perhaps the  
> value of a York shilling declined in the 1850s? Or maybe the novelist  
> simply wasn't much good at math. This is already more than I needed  
> to know about New York coinage, so I'll leave that mystery to other  
> investigators. Thanks again to all who sent me advice and clues.
> Caleb Crain
> Brooklyn, N.Y.
>>>>> [log in to unmask] 7/26/2006 3:30 PM >>>
>> Hi, all,
>> I wonder if any of you might be able to help me out with a
>> numismatical question, or to point me in the direction of the answer.
>> What was a "shilling" in New York City in the 1840s/1850s? I had
>> thought it was just a way of saying 12.5 cents, and didn't refer to
>> an actual coin, but I've found an account of someone having his
>> shilling engraved and framed (in the spirit that merchants today
>> sometimes display above their cash registers the first dollar they
>> ever took in). Any suggestions will be appreciated.
>> all best,
>> Caleb Crain
>> Brooklyn, NY
>> -- 
>> [log in to unmask]