La Nouvelle France [New France] was the French colony that encompassed
northeastern North America, from Newfoundland to the Great Lakes region. European
colonization began in the early 1600s. Acadia, Newfoundland and Hudson's Bay were
detached from the colony in 1713. The remaining regions continued to operate within
France's imperial framework until New France's conquest and dismemberment in 1758
- 1763. That administrative context determined what money circulated and the legislative
policies affecting currency and exchange until the 1760s.
Numismatic accounts of currency in New France, published before
the 1970s, had a governmental perspective, based on legislation and on the correspondence
between royal officials in the colony and their superiors in France. Thus, we
have an ample account of monetary problems, as perceived by the king's officers;
the laws they passed to deal with the apprehended difficulties; and other administrative
measures pertaining to currency. Looking back from an era with a well-informed
and highly-intrusive government, the government records seemed to be sufficient
evidence for reconstructing the history of circulating currency in Nouvelle France.
Adam Shortt's two-volume Documents Relating to Canada Currency, Exchange and Finance
during the French Regime (1925 - 1926) and his subsequent collection of documents
for Nova Scotia under French and British rule provided researchers with published
sources and these collections became essential reference works. Reliance on government
records, however, assumed that royal officials had a comprehensive and accurate
knowledge of circulating currency and took it for granted that laws passed by
the metropolitan and colonial governments achieved their authors' intentions.
A wider range of evidence demonstrated the weakness of these assumptions.
It was not just the documentary evidence that laws reflected administrators'
momentary enthusiasms and that legislation was not enforced with rigour or consistency
during the French Regime that undermined these assumptions. It was the physical
evidence provided by archaeology and by shipwrecks, which disclosed how fallible
administrators were in ascertaining what was going on and in effectively influencing
monetary practices in New France. Glib assertions that the colonists were strangers
to copper and base currency collapsed in the face of plentiful evidence that copper
doubles and liards, as well as brass dardennes, were the everyday money of colonists.
Archaeologists also revealed that Spanish-American silver was nearly as important
to exchange in the French colonies as it was to transactions in the British possessions.
Smuggling between empires, which resident officials understated, helped introduce
Spanish colonial silver. This silver currency supplemented the small supply of
French metropolitan coins of noble metals. One area for which there is little
physical evidence is that of private paper currency. Merchants used letters of
exchange and obtained credit certificates from the crown and fur-trade monopoly;
private individuals issued personal "bons" allowing creditors to draw
set amounts from those owing money to the issuer. Few examples of these private
instruments have survived. By comparison, government card money from 1685 onward
is well documented and examples of eighteenth-century issues are numerous. By
its' novelty and notoriety, card money remains a popular subject for publications
about this era. This portion of the bibliography begins with accounts of the paper
currency, counters (jetons) and copper and silver coinage in circulation in Old-Regime
France, of which the North American colony was an offshoot.
Journnal des monnoyes contenant les empreintes valeur fabrications reformations
et décris des differentes especes de France tant d'or et argent que de
billon : augmentatione et le diminutions des especes et des matieres d'or et d'argent
: commencent en 1640. - Paris : S.n., late 1720s (?). - 243 leaves, ill. - original
ink manuscript containing edicts on French coinage, this work is broken down into
several parts subtitled as follows : Instruction sur la maniere de faire des essayer
desde matieres d'or, d'argent et billon; Observation sur la maniere de Compter;
Evaluation d'aloy ou titres au equels sont les differented especes - UNIQUE, see
Kolbe sale - Dec. 6, 1997
<<Card money of Canada>>. - CA :Vol. 1, no. 2 (Oct,
1872). - p. 53 - 54. - report from "Herriot's Travels", an early
but very cursory treatment of the subject
<<Canadian trade and commerce in the seventeenth century>>.
- CA : Vol. 1, no. 3 (Jan. 1873). - p. 130 - 132. - report from "Memoirs
of North America", superficial treatment of mercantile practices and primitive
currency in French Canada
<<Card money and French coins in Canada, in 1716>>.
- CA :Vol. 3, no. 2 (Oct. 1874). - p. 64 - 65. - mostly consists of the text
of two letters: May 12, 1716 and Sept. 6, 1717 regarding the withdrawal of card
money, since superceded by Adams Shortt's text "Documents Relating to Currency,
Exchange and Finance During the French Regime"
<<Reviews>>. - CA : Vol. 5, no. 4 (April 1877). -
p. 194 - 196. - review of Charles Anthon's article "The 'Gloriam Regni"
in the ANJ, Jan. 1877 wherein Anthon presents proof that these coins from 1670
were meant also for circulation in Canada
<<Playing-card currency of the French Regime in Canada and
later currency of the French Regime in Canada>>. - CNJ : Vol. 4, no. 3 (March
1959). - p. 72 - 73, ill. - illustrations of four notes of different denominations
Extrait des edits, declarations, et arrêts du conseil concernant les monnoyes
de France, a commencer en l'année 1640 : avec empreintes de toutes les
espèces d'or & d'argent & les augmentations ou diminutions ordonnées
sur iceles depuis 1689 jusqu'en 1731. - [Paris] : A. Amiens; Chez la veuve de
Jean-Baptiste Morgan, imprimeur de Roy. - 1731. - 22 leaves, 47 woodcut ill.
"Gloriam Regni" : or silver Louis of 15 sols, and of 5 sols, struck
for circulation in French America. - AJN : Vol. 11, no. 3 (Jan. 1877). - p. 49
- ?, ill. - also offprinted by the author in 1877
ANTON, WILLIAM T., Jr. ; KESSE, BRUCE
Forgotten coins of the North American colonies : a modern survey of early English
and Irish counterfeit coppers circulating in the Americas : including a report
on the recent site inspections of the Machin Mills Mint, and a study of the Buste
Enfantin coinage of Louis XV circulating in colonial America. - Lodi, New Jersey
: Woodcliff Publishing , 1990. - 91 p., 10 pl. -- an important survey discussing
the manufacture and circulation of counterfeit coins in the British North American
colonies particularly in the late 18th and early 19th century - an important reference
for the serious student of the Canadian 'blacksmith' token series
Forgotten coins of the North American colonies : a modern survey
of early English and Irish counterfeit coppers circulating in the Americas : including
a report on the recent site inspections of the Machin Mills Mint, and a study
of the Buste Enfantin coinage of Louis XV circulating in colonial America. - Iola,
Wisconsin : Krause Publications, 1992. - 91 p., 10 pl. - reprint of the 1990
BAZINGHEN, (FRANCOIS-ANDRÉ), ABOT
Traité de monnoies et de la jurisdiction de la cour des monnoies en forme
de dictionnaire qui contient l'histoire des monnoies [...] : les monnoies de France
[...] : les monnoies de Comte Réelles & courantes de l'asie de l'afrique
&, de l'amerique : les monnoies et les changes [...] : des tables de la valeur
[...] depuis 1258 jusqu'en 1726; les anciens généraux des monnoies
[...] : tome premier & second. - Paris, France : Chez Guillyn, 1764. - two
volumes, (4) xvi, 695, (1); (4) xxiv, 34, (2), 710, (2) p., folding tables
Étude et recherches historiques sur les monnaies de France. - Paris : ,
1853. - 2 vols.,? p.
BISSETT, CHARLES P.
<<Find of Louis d'or on the coast of Cape Breton>>. - CA : (Jan. 1902).
- p. 38 - 40. - notice of the recovery of French gold coins dated 1726 - 1729
from a shipwreck off the coast of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia