Potin.-- This is one of the names given by French numismatists to base silver. The writers of that nation have adopted both this denomination and that of billon, either indiscriminately, or in their endeavor to discover the difference between the nature of the alloys which form the materials thus qualified. Potin is a composition of copper, tin and lead, of which some of the money of the ancients was fabricated. "Its name" (says Millin) "is derived from the mixture of metals employed in the manufacture of pots." -- Savot denies that there is any silver in potin; an opinion not coincided in by Rinckens, who agrees in sentiment with Savot. -- Bimard asserts, that, "besides copper, lead, and a little tin, there enters into the components of that potin, of which medals were coined, about one-fifth of silver." In which case there is but little distinction between potin and billon, the latter containing a slight portion of silver.
"These discussions respecting the real meaning of modern appellations" (as M. Hennin justly observes) "lead to no result of any importance. It is sufficient to know that silver was subjected to various degrees of adulteration, in different countries and at different epochas; and this species of ancient coinage is designated by the names of potin or of billon, always bearing in mind that the denomination of potin is more generally applied to Imperial Greek, and that of billon to Roman money."