Friday, June 6, 2008

The tally stick system worked really well for 726 years

Why do we have our current money system? Read on...

THE TALLY STICKS (1100-1854) King Henry the First produced sticks of polished wood, with notches cut along one edge to signify the denominations. The stick was then split full length so each piece still had a record of the notches.The King kept one half for proof against counterfeiting, and then spent the other half into the market place where it would continue to circulate as money.Because only Tally Sticks were accepted by Henry for payment of taxes, there was a built in demand for them, which gave people confidence to accept these as money.He could have used anything really, so long as the people agreed it had value, and his willingness to accept these sticks as legal tender made it easy for the people to agree. Money is only as valuable as peoples faith in it.

Posted by lvmreader @ 02:45 AM (825 views)
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2 thoughts on “The tally stick system worked really well for 726 years

  • We have good debate on this site. I am not sure I believe this, so I will be interested in comments proving it is bunkum.

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  • Cartimandua51 says:

    I’m not sure about the Henry 1 bit; tally sticks were used by stewards to check on agricultural labourers in the middle ages thus:
    Each Stick split down the middle. One half give to each labourer (remember they were normally illiterate), labourer goes and does a days work, comes back . Steward finds the other half of his stick (steward would have his own system for labelling John’s stick, Michael’s stick etc)
    puts the two together and makes a slash across both sticks.
    Repeat for the next five days. At the end of the week John has 6 slashes on his stick which match up precisely with those on the steward’s half stick, so he gets paid for 6 days work. Simple and difficult to forge – if John scives off one day, sure he can slash his stick, but there won’t be a matching one on the stewards!
    They were certainly used up till the 1800s; apparently in 1826 there were huge quantities of tally sticks in the Parliament buildings and it was suggested that they be given to the poor as firewood. The Civil Service , same then as now said “We have no mechanism for this” and it was decided to burn them. This was rather too effective – Parliament burned down as well!! So now we have the current mock-gothic horror, built right on the side of Thames so it couldn’t be surrounded by the mobs who were prone to attacking Parliament.
    And here endeth the history lesson – not much changes in 200 years.

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