The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Bullionist Controversy

  • David Laidler
Reference work entry


‘Bullionist Controversy’ is the label conventionally attached to the series of debates about monetary theory and policy which took place in Britain over the years 1797–1821, when the specie convertibility of Bank of England notes was suspended. The protagonists in this controversy are usually classified into two camps – ‘bullionist’ supporters of specie convertibility who were critics of the Bank of England, and ‘anti-bullionist’ adherents of an opposing viewpoint. Such labels are useful as organizing devices, but it is dangerous to apply them rigidly. The bullionist controversy was a series of debates about a variety of issues, and those debates involved a shifting cast of participants, whose views sometimes changed as controversy continued.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bagehot, W. 1874. In Lombard street, a description of the money market, ed. Frank C. Genovese. Granston: Richard Irwin,1962.Google Scholar
  2. Boyd, W. 1800. Letter to the right honourable William Pitt on the influence of the stoppage of issue in specie at the Bank of England; On the prices of provisions, and other commodities. London.Google Scholar
  3. Cannan, E. (ed.). 1919. The paper pound of 1797–1821: The bullion report. London: P.S. King & Son. Second (1921) edition, reprinted by Augustus M. Kelley, New York, 1969.Google Scholar
  4. Cantillon, R. 1734. Essai sur la nature du commerce en général. Trans. and ed. Henry Higgs. London: Re-issued for the Royal Economic Society by Frank Cass & Co., 1959.Google Scholar
  5. Checkland, S. 1975. Adam Smith and the bankers. In Essays on Adam Smith, ed. A.S. Skinner and T. Wilson. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  6. Eagly, R.V. 1968. The Swedish and English bullionist controversies. In Events ideology and economic theory, ed. R.V. Eagly. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Fetter, F.W. 1955. The Irish pound 1797–1826. London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  8. Fetter, F.W. 1965. Development of British monetary orthodoxy 1797–1875. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Fisher, I. 1896. Appreciation and interest. AEA Publications 3(11): 331–442.Google Scholar
  10. Hollander, S. 1979. The economics of David Ricardo. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  11. Hume, D. 1752. Of money, of the balance of trade and of interest. In Political discourses. Edinburgh: Fleming.Subsequently incorporated in the 1758 edition of Essays, Moral Political and Literary London. Reprinted London: Oxford University Press, 1962.Google Scholar
  12. Marshall, A. 1887. Remedies for fluctuations of general prices. Contemporary Review March; reprinted as ch. 8 of Memorials of Alfred Marshall, ed. A.C. Pigou, London: Macmillan, 1925.Google Scholar
  13. Mints, L. 1945. A history of banking theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  14. Ricardo, D. 1809. Contributions to the Morning chronicle. Reprinted in, Works and correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. P. Sraffa, vol. III. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951.Google Scholar
  15. Ricardo, D. 1810–11. The high price of gold bullion, a proof of the depreciation of bank notes. Reprinted in Works …, ed. P. Sraffa, vol. III. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951.Google Scholar
  16. Ricardo, D. 1816. Proposals for an economical and secure currency, Reprinted in Works …, ed. P. Sraffa, vol. IV. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951.Google Scholar
  17. Smith, A. 1776. An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. London. Reprinted in two vols, ed. R.H. Campbell, A.S. Skinner and W.B. Todd, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976.Google Scholar
  18. Thornton, H. 1802. An enquiry into the nature and effects of the paper credit of Great Britain. London. Edited with an Introduction by F.A. von Hayek, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1939; reprinted, New York: Augustus Kelley, 1962.Google Scholar
  19. Viner, J. 1937. Studies in the theory of international trade. New York: Harper Bros.Google Scholar
  20. Wheatley, J. 1803. Remarks on currency and commerce. London: Cadell and Davies.Google Scholar
  21. Wicksell, K. 1898. Interest and prices. Trans. R.F. Kahn. London: Macmillan for the Royal Economic Society, 1936.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Laidler
    • 1
  1. 1.