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The Latin Monetary Union
(Euro's grandma)

In 1865 Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Greece created  The Latin Monetary Union.
The gold and silver coins of these countries had same weight, diameter and precious metal content and could freely circulate within the other State members just like it will be with the
Euro on January 1, 2002. The coins had the following characteristics:
 

Lira, Franc, Drachma, Peseta, Leu.......  weight  % of precious metal  ASW / AGW
0.5  2.5000 g.  0.835 silver  0.671 oz
 1  5.0000 g.  0.835 silver   0.1342 oz 
 2 10.0000 g.   0.835 silver  0.2685 oz
 5 25.0000 g.  0.900 silver  0.7234 oz
 10  3.2258 g.  0.900 gold  0.0933 oz
 20  6.4516 g.  0.900 gold  0.1867 oz
50   16.1290 g.  0.900 gold  0.4667 oz
100  32.2580 g.  0.900 gold  0.9334 oz


            France, 5 Francs                     Belgium, 5 Francs                        Italy, 5 Lire

After a while many other countries started minting their coins following the above standards, although not all of them formally joined the Union: Spain, Romania, Austria, Bulgaria, Venezuela, Serbia, Montenegro, S. Marino and the Papal State.
This system based on silver and gold (called bimetallism) created a fixed exchange rate also with countries whose monetary unit was based on different standards but nevertheless bound to
gold (gold standard). The exchange rate between different currencies corresponded to the
exchange rate of the two gold standards. For example, the British pound was equal to 7.322 g. gold while the monetary unit of the Latin Monetary Union was equal to 0.29032 g of gold, so one GBP corresponded to 25.22 Lire, Francs, Pesetas, Balboas....while the exchange rate with a US dollar was equal to 5.18.
The gold standard system came to an end with World War I, while gold as international money remained until 1971, when Nixon put an end to the dollar convertibility.
 

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Bibliography: Cronaca Numismatica n. 97, May 1998
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 2, p. 216 voice "Bimetallism"
World Coins, Krause publications, 2000 ed.