Middle English seigneurage, from Anglo-French seignurage right of the lord (especially to coin money), from seignur
First Known Use: 15th century
Charge over and above the expenses of coinage that is deducted from the bullion brought to a mint to be coined. From early times, coinage was the prerogative of kings, who prescribed the amount they were to receive as seigniorage. This was sometimes compensated for by replacing part of the gold or silver with base metal, resulting in debased coinage. In England all such charges were abolished in 1666. Because coins are now issued only as token money, they no longer need to possess a high intrinsic value, and low-standard silver or base-metal alloys are sufficient. The margin between the cost of producing a coin and its currency value is known as seigniorage.