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Goldsmith Receipts tell interesting tale

By Neil Shafer

Well-known collector and researcher Ruth Hill had a marvelous collection that included a group of Goldsmith Receipts from England. They represented a special kind of emergency circulation during the later 18th century. This piece was from her collection, and it came with the following information.


“This is a receipt for a deposit with Francis Child Esqr & Co of 20 pounds to the account of William Thompson dated 15 Dec 1761. Earlier it had been customary for such deposits to be made in the King’s Mint for safe keeping; however, Charles I being in financial difficulties began drawing on these funds in the mint for his personal use. When the public became aware of what was going on, the deposits in the Mint ceased. Now merchants and others with surplus funds turned to the Goldsmiths and Pawnbrokers to deposit their funds for safe keeping. The receipts such as you see here circulated and were accepted by the public, which avoided the actual transfer of coins. In time, temptation became too great, and the unscrupulous goldsmiths issued receipts in excess of the specie they held, which led to more financial problems.”

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