The riddle of why the Maria Theresa dollar issued by Vienna continued in circulation for over one and a half centuries in Africa and the Middle East has never been fully explained. Contrary to common belief, the popularity of this particular silver dollar did not depend on its intrinsic content. The Maria Theresa dollar complemented other monies so well that no authority could replace it with its own currency. The circuit of the coin functioned as a buffering interface between local markets, which collected products like coffee through fractional currencies, and the international market, in which the products were traded in terms of a standard currency like sterling. The complementary role of the Maria Theresa dollar resulted from a self-organising process by markets themselves in order to stabilise transactions.
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