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.
- Lysander Spooner, A LETTER TO GROVER CLEVLAND, Sec.XXII (1886).