The gold coin pictured here was a private issue by Christopher Bechtler. It reads: Carolina Gold; 140 G[rains]; 20 carats, August 1, 1834, The reverse reads: 5 Dollars, C. Bechtler, Rutherford[ton, NC]. More information about this coin can be found at this link.
Christopher Bechtler and his son, August, and later Christopher Bechtler, Jr., a nephew, were of German origin. They lived near Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Between 1831 and 1840, they minted over $ 2.2 million in coins, mainly from ore mined in the Carolinas. They have the honor of producing the first gold dollar made in the United States. “The government mint did not release the first regular series [of gold dollars] until 1849.”
As I noted in my article, “Hard Money in the Voluntaryist Tradition,” what they did was entirely voluntary: they received raw gold ore from local miners and prospectors and turned it into recognizable and standardized discs which people accepted and were willing to use in trade. They provided a desired service; they exercised their common law right; and they defrauded no one. There was no political law to stop them. In fact, during the Civil War, Bechtler gold coins were much preferred to Confederate paper money.
The silver token, which reads: “From The Land Of Feed And Tires; I Am One Ounce of Real Money; Value Me As You Please; 2001; .999 Fine Silver,” was made by SilverTowne Mint for Inman Tire Service and Inman Feed Mill. This silver round is only one of many barter pieces that have been produced to satisfy the demand for something tangible and real. The story behind their making may be found in my article, “Value Me As You Please.” A limited number of these pieces are available for sale. Please email for their current price and availability.
In contrast to our first two pictures, Bitcoin is a form of virtual money. Although Bitcoin cannot be classified as a true commodity money, it does have many features that voluntaryists applaud. As mentioned in the Bitcoin Primer, it cannot be forged, or double-spent; it cannot be controlled or inflated by any government; nor is it impeded by any political boundaries. It is a voluntary digital medium of exchange which is completely transparent to all interested parties. We consider bitcoin a hard digital currency because the algorithm for its creation is intrinsically tied to the maintenance of a transaction record that grows exponentially more permanent, but one which is accessible to anyone who understands how to read it.
As we noted on our “Support Us” page, you may consult the following for more information. The following hyperlinks will either take you directly to the article in question; or else to the pdf of the issue in which the article appears. Simply scroll through the issue till you find the article you want.
“Hard Money in the Voluntaryist Tradition”
“Private Money Firsts”
“Hard Money, Soft Money, and Government Money!”
“The Master Plan for Tightening the Noose”
“Trust Not in Princes”
“Value Me As You Please”
“Paper: No Substitute for Gold!”
“Fed Up with the Federal Reserve”
“Freedom to Choose Your Own Money”
“A Basic Primer on Using Gold & Silver”
“What Are We Using For Money?”
“A Comparison of Monies”
“WHAT HAS GOVERNMENT DONE TO OUR MONEY?” by Murray Rothbard, (First Printing January 1964).
“Christopher Bechtler” by William Stevenson
“How Would Money Be Produced In a Free Society?”
“The Charles Dupont Story”
“Lotte Hendlich and the German Hyperinflation, 1922-1923”
“The Money Really Was Gone!”
“Bail Out of the American Government”
The More They Print, The Less They’ll Have:
A Conversation About Continental Paper Money Circa 1776
By Kenneth Roberts
“Even if the rebels hadn’t tarred and feathered me,” he said, “I’d hate ’em for what they’ve done to money. They’ve started the most expensive thing there is – a war – without having enough money to begin with, and they think they can make all they need by just printing it. Well, Oliver: that ain’t the way it works. The more they print, the less they’ll have; and those that lose the most are the ones that have the least to lose – just the ones that think they’re going to get the most out of fighting a war. …
“If those eight-dollar bills of mine are only worth a dollar, and a forty-dollar bill is only worth what an eight-dollar bill used to be worth, we’d soon have to carry our money in a cart if we wanted to buy anything bigger than an awful little sheep. …
“Stop worrying about rebel money,” I said. “Unless every Loyalist is wrong, it’ll be no better than the paper it’s printed on in a few weeks’ time.”
“That’s all it’s worth now,” Buell said. “That’s all it’ll ever be worth, after a few more people find out what it’s worth, meaning nothing. My forty-dollar bills are just as good as Congress’ forty-dollar bills, neither me nor Congress having anything to make ’em good with, so I got just as much right to issue ’em as Congress has.”
[Kenneth Roberts, OLIVER WISWELL, Garden City: Doubleday and Company, 1940, pp. 219-220.]
For general information, see the Bitcoin Primer
For more information about Bitcoin, check out The Libertarian Introduction.
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“Although gold dust is precious, when it gets in your eyes, it obstructs your vision.”
What I learned from my grandfather was that if you can’t pay cash, you can’t afford it.
– Manisha Thakor, “Not a Borrower Be,” THE WALL ST. JOURNAL, June 17, 2019, page R2.
You can’t eat gold, but neither can you digest paper money, crypto-currency, or stock certificates.
– Suggested by Egon von Greyerz, June 20, 2019.
For a variety of reasons gold holds its intrinsic value better than anything else. It’s like a measuring rod. It no more restricts the money supply than the 12 inches in a foot restricts the size of a building you might wish to construct.
– Steve Forbes in an “Open Letter to Mark Zuckberg” June 25, 2019 on www.forbes.com
Gold and silver are pretty but I don’t care about them as elements or even about their intrinsic value as minerals. They have many qualities, but I care about them for what they represent – the possibility that people can be free and choose their own money, that they can have a standard of value separate from the standards that governments impose on them.
– Chris Powell of www.gata.org in A Moneychanger interview published June 19, 2019, p. 5.
“Credit expansion does not mean expansion of the real ‘factors of production;’ it merely means expansion of the money supply through credit markets.”
– Jorg Guido Hulsmann, MISES (2007), p. 781.
Another way of viewing the situation is to consider this: In a government system of money it takes no more of the factors of production (ink, paper, etc.) to produce a $100 bill than a $1 bill.
“It will always be impossible to keep a bank solvent by law. The law that specifies the maximum risk a bank may legally take with other people’s money turns out to be a law of minimum security. A good banker will not take a risk simply because the law says he may; he will use his own judgment. On the other hand, a reckless banker will find a way to do what his greed desires, no matter what the law is, even a legal way.”
– Garet Garret, A BUBBLE THAT BROKE THE WORLD (1932), p. 125 (conclusion to the chapter titled “The Gold Invention”).
Bitcoin, like paper money, has zero intrinsic value.
– Egon von Greyerz, www.goldswitzerland.com, January 12, 2017.
If precious metal coins are in circulation which are intrinsically worth their true value, the only kind of counterfeiting possible is with false, disguised metals. This has often been done, and was a major impetus to alchemy, and the manufacture of spurious gold and silver. But paper money invited counterfeiting by its very nature, since the essence of it is not its inherent substance but the authority on which it was issued. Paper money is a symbol. To counterfeit is therefore not to fabricate a substance but to impersonate the authority issuing it. Since anyone can print on pieces of paper, the authority must make the processes of manufacture of its paper money so intricate that they cannot be exactly reproduced.
– Robert Temple, THE GENIUS OF CHINA (1986), p. 118.
No legal tender law is ever needed to make men take good money; its only use is to make them take bad money.
– Stephen Byington.
Nothing comes from nothing. Fake money produces fake prosperity. Take away the fake money … and the fake prosperity goes “poof.”
– Bill Bonner in CASEY DAILY DISPATCH, July 15, 2017.
Paper money eventually reaches its intrinsic value – zero.
Referring to the U.S. government’s paper money: “Pieces of paper with dead criminals printed on it controlled by communist bureaucrats.”
– Jeff Berwick of THE DOLLAR VIGILANTE.
Paper ‘Money’ The Chinese invented paper “money” at the end of the eighth or beginning of the ninth century AD. Its original name was ‘flying money’ because it was so light and could blow out of one’s hand.
– Robert Temple, THE GENIUS OF CHINA (1986), p. 117.
The Money Was Really Gone!
When the bottom dropped out of the stock market, the wealthy were hit first. But it wasn’t long before the Depression came sweeping through our little town. “The banks went broke and closed their doors. It was hard to believe that the money we’d saved there was really gone.”
– Cecil Culp in WE HAD EVERYTHING BUT MONEY (Deb Mulvey, editor, Greendale: Reiman Publications, 1992, p. 14).
“Diluting the money supply with paper [and credit] is the moral equivalent of diluting the milk supply with water.”
– Henry Hazlitt, THE FREEMAN, January 1977, p. 44.
[Why do fractional reserve banks dominate the money market?] The answer is that the courts deciding these matters everywhere are state courts. Only if a single court possesses a territorial monopoly of jurisdiction is it possible that the dispute at hand [the legitimacy of creating fractional-reserves] could be settled once and for all. And that it has been uniformly settled in the way that it was, by permitting rather than prohibiting fractional reserve banking, follows from the interest of every court and judge qua state court and state judge. The owners and agents of the state recognize fully as much as the bankers the potentials of money counterfeiting as a source of income. In permitting bankers to issue fiduciary media (rather than prohibiting the practice as counterfeiting), banks are made existentially dependent upon the state. They can only operate because the state, due to its territorial monopoly of jurisdiction, shields them from counterfeiting suits; and the state does so only under the provision that banks will share with it in the extra revenue and credit derived from legalized counterfeiting. Hence, by permitting fractional reserve … banking the state actually creates the first and preliminary form of a joint-bank-state-counterfeiting cartel under its own ultimate control.
– Hans-Hermann Hoppe, et. al., Volume 1, Number 1 of THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS, p. 35.
“The best way to penetrate the mysteries of the modern monetary and banking system is to realize that the government and its central bank act precisely as would a Grand Counterfeiter.”
– Murray Rothbard, THE FREEMAN, Sept. 1995.
“How Governments Create Money”
How does this system of money creation work? A simplified but true explanation: The government needs ten billion dollars (aside from what it takes in from income taxes or from what it borrows). So the government then prints ten billion dollars of interest-bearing US government bonds. Next, it takes the bonds to the Federal Reserve. The Fed accepts the bonds, and then places ten billion dollars in a checking account. The US government then writes checks to the tune of ten billion dollars against their checking account. But where was that ten billion dollars before the Fed issued the money? The money didn’t exist. Can you believe that the money was created by the Fed “out of thin air?”
In other words, the Fed lends the US government the money – and the crowning irony is that the Fed then charges the government interest forever on the bonds that the US government sold to the Fed in the first place. And the debts build and build and the national debt grows ever-larger … [and] the government taxes us to pay for the interest on [its] ever-expanding national debt.
– Richard Russell, “The Best of Richard Russell,” July 1, 2008. www.dowtheoryletters.com.
The power [of coining money] itself is a frivolous one, of little or no utility; for the weighing and assaying of metals is a thing so easily done, and can be done by so many different persons, that there is certainly no necessity for it being done at all by a government. And it would undoubtedly have been far better if all coins – whether coined by governments or individuals – had all been made into pieces bearing simply the names of pounds, ounces, pennyweights, etc., and containing just the amounts of pure metal described by those weights. The coins would have then been regarded as only so much metal; and as having only the same value as the same amount of metal in any other form. Men would then have known exactly how much of certain metals they were buying, selling, and promising to pay. And all the jugglery, cheating, and robbery that governments have practised, and licensed individuals to practise – by coining pieces bearing the same names, but having different amounts of metal – would have been avoided. And all excuses for establishing monopolies of money, by prohibiting all other money than the coins, would also have been avoided.
– Lysander Spooner, A LETTER TO GROVER CLEVELAND, Sec. XXII (1886), p. 72.
The really true principle of coinage should be the creation of pieces of metal of a definite weight and fineness, with all the denominations having decimal relations with each other. Then buy and sell merchandise for so much weight of gold or so much weight of silver, and when payment is made, count the weight.
I. W. Sylvester
– Conclusion of a letter published in THE NEW YORK TIMES, Dec. 10, 1883, and reprinted in Murray Rothbard and I[siah] W. Sylvester, WHAT IS MONEY? 1884-1963, New York: Arno Press & The New York Times, 1972, p. 31.
Hardly ever do the advocates of free capitalism realize how utterly their ideal was frustrated at the moment the state assumed control of the monetary system. … Yet without it the ideal of the state-free economy collapses. A “free” capitalism with governmental responsibility for money and credit has lost its innocence. From that point on it is no longer a matter of principle but one of expediency how far one wishes or permits governmental interference to go. Money control is the supreme and most comprehensive of all governmental controls short of expropriation.
– Gustav Stolper, THIS AGE OF FABLE (1942), p. 59.
Property and trade are much older than states
– Benn Steil and Manuel Hinds, MONEY, MARKETS, AND SOVEREIGNTY (2009), p. 242
People [have] had different languages, different religions, different traditions of philosophy, different forms of economic organization, and different forms of government, but they did not have different money. We can only surmise as to why this was so. It was certainly not a “superstition,” “mania,” “obsession,” or “fetish.” The simplest reason is the same reason why the Japanese and Portuguese of the sixteenth century both carried swords made of steel: because it was the best thing for the job.
– Nathan Lewis, GOLD: THE FINAL STANDARD (2017), pp. 16, 22, 230.
“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”
– Attributed to Milton Friedman
One might as well say that Ben Bernanke is the John Law of the 21st Century.
– Marc Faber in “The Matterhorn Interview,” September 1, 2013
Every activity of government, from courts to Congress, from sanitation workers to senators, from generals to attorney generals, from presidents to policemen, depends on stolen money.
– Carl Watner, paraphrasing Theodore Lowi at p. 24 of I MUST SPEAK OUT.
Monetary debasement brings about cultural debasement, and ultimately personal debasement.
– Attributed to Guido Hulsmann by Jeff Deist, “The Free Lunch Is Over,” in THE AUSTRIAN, July-August 2016, p. 7.
Without the institution of private property, the information conveyed by prices simply does not exist.
– Hans-Hermann Hoppe, “Socialism: A Property or Knowledge Problem?” 9 THE REVIEW OF AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS (1996), p. 145.
Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.
– Helen Gurley Brown
History demonstrates that gradual mismanagement and ultimate corruption of all fiat currencies is inevitable. The only unknown is in whose lifetime.
– Kenneth R. Ferguson, CONFISCATION (2018), p. 106.
Bastiat, in his dialogue, What Is Money, asks: “What harm is there in looking at money as the sign of wealth? … And he answers, The inconvenience is this – it leads to the idea that we have only to increase the sign, in order to increase the things signified; … . We should go still further. Just as in money we see the sign of wealth, we see also in paper money the sign of money; and thence conclude that there is a very easy and simple method of procuring for everybody the pleasures of fortune.”
Charles Holt Carroll (1799-1890) then adds, “There is no end to the confusion which springs from the heresy that money is not wealth, but the sign of wealth.”
[Originally published in 1871, and excerpted from Charles Holt Carroll, ORGANIZATION OF DEBT INTO CURRENCY AND OTHER PAPERS, New York: D. Van Nostrand Company, 1964, p. 380.]
WHAT IS SEEN AND WHAT IS NOT SEEN
From Chapter 9: “Credit”
By Frederic Bastiat
In all times, but more especially of late years, attempts have been made to extend wealth by the extension of credit. …
The first thing done is to confuse cash with produce, then paper money with cash; and from these two confusions it is pretended that a reality can be drawn.
It is absolutely necessary in this question to forget money, coin, bills, and the other instruments by means of which productions pass from hand to hand; our business is with the productions themselves, which are the real objects of the loan; for when a farmer borrows fifty francs to buy a plough, it is not, in reality, the fifty francs which are lent to him, but the plough: and when a merchant borrows 20,000 francs to purchase a house, it is not the 20,000 francs which he owes, but the house. Money only appears for the sake of facilitating the arrangements between the parties.
Peter may not be disposed to lend his plough, but James may be willing to lend his money. What does William do in this case? He borrows money of James, and with this money he buys the plough of Peter.
But, in point of fact, no one borrows money for the sake of the money itself; money is only the medium by which to obtain possession of productions. Now, it is impossible in any country to transmit from one person to another more productions than that country contains.
Whatever may be the amount of cash and of paper which is in circulation, the whole of the borrowers cannot receive more ploughs, houses, tools, and supplies of raw material, than the lenders altogether can furnish; … .
[First published July 1850, freely translated but a similar version can be found in his SELECTED ESSAYS ON POLITICAL ECONOMY, New York: D. Van Nostrand Company, 1964, p. 35-36, or online at bastiat.org/en/twisatwins.html#SECTION_G010.]
“Financial wealth is measured by what one can acquire with money, not by the quantity of money itself.”
– Louis E. Carabini, INCLINED TO LIBERTY (2008), p. 40.
“To fully understand gold, you need to know that gold is money, and everything that is referred to as money is actually just debt.
“If you understand that gold is money and you keep it in a safe or a vault, you need to evaluate the risk/reward relationship of taking your money — gold — out of the vault and investing it by giving the proceeds to someone else.
“For that to make sense, you should be convinced that by liquidating your gold and investing it, you will eventually get more ounces of gold back than the ounces you invested. Unless that is the case, at a reasonable level of risk, you might as well leave the gold in the vault.” This is what is meant by our statement: “Money should be measured in terms of purchasing power rather than currency.”
– Nick Barisheff, founder of the Bullion Management Group (BMGBULLION.COM), “100% Gold Portfolio,” August 18, 2020.