bad money drives out good

Commonly known as Gresham’s Law, after Sir Thomas Gresham (c 1519–79), founder of the Royal Exchange. Gresham saw the economic need to restore the purity of the coinage, though there is no evidence that he actually used this expression. Quot. 1902 states that the principle, not the proverb, is mentioned in Gresham’s letter to the Queen. (1858 H. D. MACLEOD Elements of Political Economy 477 He [Gresham] was the first to perceive that a bad and debased currency is the cause of the disappearance of the good money.)

1902 New English Dictionary VI. 116 Gresham’s law, the principle, involved in Sir Thomas Gresham’s letter to Q. Elizabeth in 1558, that ‘bad money drives out good’.

1933 A. HUXLEY Letter 18 Nov. (1969) 438 Gresham’s Law holds good in every field..and bad politics tends to drive out good politics just as bad money drives out good money.

1982 R. NISBET Prejudices 178 Genuine scholars receive grants too, but this misses the crucial point, which is that bad money drives out good, and that only a few years of such handouts to putterers will be enough to convince the American people that Everyman is a humanist.

2002 Times 212 June 5 In potatoes as in currency, Gresham’s law applies: bad drives out good. The new new, in potatoes, is old.


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