Money, Barter, Bills of Exchange, and Credit.
Money Show me the money. Money needs little definition and is of course the best method of exchange. In most
transactions in colonial Carolina the units of exchange were the colonial pound (£) of England
(Pounds.shillings.pence) as well as various colony dollars or Spanish reales. In 1704 a proclamation from
Britain rated the Spanish dollar as six shillings but in the early 1700’s it was usually exchanged for eight.
Several forms of money circulated in the colonies over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,
such as silver and gold, commodity money (cm) and paper currency (pm). Specie is gold or silver minted into
coins and is a special form of commodity money since it can have a range of weights, a range of purity, and a
range of valuation. Tobacco, pork and corn and later tobacco warehouse receipts, also were used as money in
colonial Virginia and Carolina.
Money example one: 1720 Vessel Movill Trade, a man of war, sold by Capt. Othniel Davis, former commander privateer, sale price
200 pound sterling GB, sold to Capt. Roger Kenyon, his former quarter Master. Home port Bath, Deed Book of Bath County Vol I.
entry record 442. (GB is Great Britain)
Money example two: 1720 Vessel Elizabeth & Martha, a sloop, Seller John Baptist Ashe, Gentleman of Bath County, sold ¼ interests
in vessel for 40 pound cm NC to Capt. Othniel Davis, Colonel Maurice Moore, & James Robbins, marriner. Home Port Bath, Deed
book of Bath County Vol I, entry records 593 and 861. (cm NC is North Carolina commodity money).
Def. Barter - an exchange of goods and services for other goods and services.
Barter was a common method of colonial goods exchange given chronic shortage of silver coins due to
“bullionism” England’s mercantilist economic theory of the day. Mercantilism theory said keep silver and gold
in the mother country and devise trade laws for colonies to primarily ship raw goods. Bartering met needs and
wants of colonial merchant buyer and seller, as well as merchant- to-consumer transactions. Not too many
examples of service bartering exist, most examples are commodities bartering. (Gill, See Grimes book at local
library include table of commodities ratings legislated in 1715, also consider example of Governor Cary’s
bartering of commodities and services with Bath shipwright to build sloop at Harding’s landing. Also see Mattie
Parker’s 1957 booklet “Money Problems of Early Tar heels" mentions commodity ratings but doesn’t give
examples other than saying “in 1731 the market value of deer-skins was about the same as their legal
proclaimed value, while pitch and tar had fallen to one-fourth the proclaimed rated value.” On commodity
barter, Parker also says p. 5 (but no citation) that Governor Gabriel Johnston complained that colonists paid
quit rents “in the worst and most bulky kind of their Produce, such as Butter, Cheese, Feathers, Tallow, Tar,
Pitch Indian Corn,” and that the expense of collecting would amount to more than value of articles received.
Barter examples: Missionary William Gordon in 1709 (p.86) states Bath has 12 houses, and further describes
Bath as….
A center of trade, the only town in the province, a better inlet for shipping, surrounded by savannas, useful for
stock and cattle. On provincial commerce: there is no money, uses commodities to buy and pay. Staples for
trade included corn, pork, pitch and tar.
Pork barter prices at 45 shillings/barrel per 250 lb. weight. Pitch at 25s/bl and tar 12 s/bl. Corn 20s/bl.
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