Collectors and financial historians are familiar with the maxim that
“bad money drives out good money,” an economic principle often
referred to as Gresham’s Law.
The concept is actually more lengthy, but the principle is this:
“When a government overvalues one type of money and undervalues
another, the undervalued money will leave the country or disappear
from circulation into hoards, while the overvalued money will flood
Sir Thomas Gresham, the financial agent of the English crown in the
Netherlands, the founder of the Royal Exchange and of Gresham College,
London, is credited with putting into words the financial truism
bearing his name.
Gresham — whose principle explains the existence of numismatic
collectibles like Civil War tokens and the Holey dollar — also makes a
brief numismatic appearance, on a 1844 silver medal for the opening of
the Royal Exchange.
An Extremely Fine example of the medal realized £432 ($668 U.S.) during a Sept. 23
auction by A.H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd.
The price reflects the 20 percent buyer’s fee.
The medal was issued to celebrate the new building for the Royal
Exchange, a center of commerce in London. The current structure,
completed in 1844, is the third built on the original site proposed by
Gresham. The exchange was rebuilt twice, once following the Great
London Fire in 1666 and again after another fire in 1838.
William Wyon designed the medal, which shows Gresham on the obverse,
paired with the statue of Queen Victoria before the new façade of the
Royal Exchange on the reverse.
The medal measures 74 millimeters in diameter and is cataloged as
Eimer-1390 by Christopher Eimer in British Commemorative Medals and
How important was the reopening of the Royal Exchange? According to
Eimer, this medal was one of more than 20 issued to commemorate the
opening of the Exchange. The building was a major work by architect
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