But though the double standard has given place to the single gold standard, silver coins are used in the circulating media of all countries. Gold is coined at the mints freely and in unlimited amounts and is the only coin endowed with complete legal tender quality, while silver is coined in limited amounts and is used chiefly in the smaller or subsidiary coins. When France and the other countries of the Latin Union abandoned bimetallism the silver five-franc pieces remained in circulation and were not deprived of their full legal tender quality. Despite the subsequent fall in the price of silver bullion these silver pieces have continued to circulate on a parity with gold. Until recently the old silver thaler of Germany was full legal tender. But in 1900, when the amount of smaller silver coins was increased from 10 to 15 marks per capita, provision was made for coining the thalers into these smaller coins, and in 1907 the thaler was deprived of its legal tender quality. The standard silver dollars of the United States, though no longer coined, are legal tender at their face value in payment of all debts, public and private, and circulate at par with gold. Countries which are theoretically on the single gold standard, but which retain silver coins with full legal tender power, are said to have a "limping standard," because the silver coins, though of less value intrinsically than the gold coins, limp along on an equality with gold by being coupled with it. They remain at a parity with gold because of their limited quantity, their full legal tender power, and their acceptance in payment of public dues.

Because of its high value, gold is not adapted to coinage into the small pieces needed for hand-to-hand money. For the smaller coins, ranging from ten cents to a dollar, silver is most suitable. Nickel and copper are used for coins of still smaller denominations. Various methods have been adopted in different countries to regulate the quantity of subsidiary silver. In Germany it is now limited to 15 marks per capita and in France to 7 francs. In the United States and in Great Britain no limit is set. Generally when no limit is fixed the government buys bullion and coins silver coins in such amounts as experience shows to be needed from time to time.