Working Paper Series
The Bracteate as Economic Idea and Monetary Instrument
Abstract: Although the leaf-thin bracteates are the most fragile
coins in monetary history, they were the main coin type for almost two
centuries in large parts of medieval Europe. The usefulness of the
bracteates can be linked to the contemporary monetary taxation policy.
Medieval coins were frequently withdrawn by the coin issuer and re-minted,
where people had to pay an exchange fee. Bracteates had several favourable
characteristics for such a policy: 1) Low production costs; and 2) various
pictures could be displayed given their relatively large diameter, making
it easy to distinguish between valid and invalid types. The fragility was
not a big problem, since the bracteates would not circulate for a long
period. When monetization increased and it became more difficult to handle
re-coinage (around 1300), the bracteates lost their function as the
principal coin. However, for a further two centuries (1300–1500) they were
used as small change to larger denominations.
Keywords: Bracteates; Medieval coins; Re-coinage; Short-lived coinage system; Monetization; Monetary taxation policy; Small change; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: E31; E42; E52; N13; (follow links to similar papers)
26 pages, September 10, 2013
Before downloading any of the electronic versions below
you should read our statement on
for viewing Postscript files and the
Acrobat Reader for viewing and printing pdf files.
Full text versions of the paper:
Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Elisabeth Gustafsson ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson ()
or Helena Lundin ().
Design by Joachim Ekebom