Gresham's law facts for kids
Gresham's law is commonly written: "Bad money drives out good."
If people want one thing ("good" money) more than the other ("bad" money), they will always offer the bad money in trade before the good money. Over time, the good money will be kept in pocket, and only the bad money will be found in the market. The law is named after Sir Thomas Gresham (1519-1579). Gresham founded the Royal Exchange in 1565.
Silver coins were widely circulated in Canada (until 1968) and in the United States (until 1964 for dimes (ten cents) and quarters and 1970 for half dollars). However, these countries made their coins cheaper to make by switching to cheaper metals. The silver coins disappeared from circulation as people kept them for the value of their metal. The new coins had value as coins, but less value as metal.
The same process happens now with the copper content of coins such as the pre-1997 Canadian penny (one cent), the pre-1982 United States penny and the pre-1992 UK copper pennies and two pence. This also occurred even with coins made of less expensive metals such as steel in India.
Images for kids
An unwrapped roll of twenty Walking Liberty half dollars (left), which contain 90% silver. In an example of Gresham's law, these coins were quickly hoarded by the public after the Coinage Act of 1965 debased half dollars to contain only 40% silver, and then were debased entirely in 1971 to base cupronickel (right).
Gresham's law Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.