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equal weight, purity and fineness, must be of equal Value, the ‘one to the‘ other: for the stamp on either of these metals, duly proportioned, neither adds to, nor takes from their intrinsic value.3 \ '
' 7- The prices of gold and silver as merchandise, must in all countries, like other commodities, fluctuate and vary ac~ cording to the'demand ; and no detriment can arise‘ therefrom, more than from ‘the Tise'andi‘allof any other merchandise. But if when coined, adue proportion of these metals, the one to the other, be_not established, the disproportion will be felt and proved ; and that metal wherein the excess in the proportion is allowed, will preferably be made use of, either in exportation, or in manufacture; as is the case now, in this kingdom, in regard to silver coin, and which, in ‘some measure, is the occasion of its scarcity.
For so long as|15 ounces and about one fifth of pure silver in‘ Great Britain, are ordained, and deemed, to be equal to 1 ounce of pure gold, whilst in neighboring states, as France and Holland, the proportion is fixed only 14 and a half ounces of pure silver, to one ounce of pure gold; it is very evident, that oursilver when coined, will always be the most acceptable merchandise,- by near five in the hundred, and consequently more liable to be taken away, or melted down, than before it received the impression at the mint. ' v
8. '62 shillings only, are ordained by law to be coined from 12 ounces of standard silver : now following the proportion abovementioned of 15; to 14%, no regard being ne~ cessary as to alloy, 65 shillings should be the quantity cut out of those 12 ounces.
9. No everlasting invariable fixation for coining, can be made from a medium of the market price of gold and silver, though that medium might with case be ascertained so as to hinder, either-coined gold or silver from becoming a merchandise: for whenever the price shall rise above that
3 There is an incidental value, which arises from the authority of the state, which is in .the nature of a credit or assurance of value given by the state, that either issues or authorises the issue of the coin. Edit. a
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medium, so as to give a profit; whatever is coined will be made a merchandise. This in the nature of things, must come from the general exchangings, circulation, and fluctuation in trade, and cannot be hindered; but assuredly the false proportions may be amended by the legislature, and settled as the proportion between gold and silver is in other nations} so as not to make, as now is the case, our coined silver 9. merchandise, so much to be preferred to the same silver uncoined. I
10. What has been said seems to be self-evident ; but the following calculations made on the present current price of silver and gold, may serve to prove beyond all doubt, that the proportion now fixed between gold and silver should be altered and fixed as in other countries.
By law, 62 shillings are to be coined out of one pound, or 12 ounces of standard silver. This is 62 pence an ounce. Melt these 62 shillings, and in a bar, this pound weight at market will fetch 68 pence an ounce, or 68 shillings the pound. The difference therefore between coined and uncoined silver in Great Britain is now 9 and two thirds per cent.
Out of a pound or 12 ounces of standard gold, 44 guineas and g are ordained to be coined. This is 3!. 17s. lOdq'; an ounce. Now the current market price of standard gold is 31. 19s. an ounce, which makes not quite 1,‘, per cent. difference between the coined and uncoined gold.
The state, out of duties imposed, pays for the charge of coining, as indeed it ought: for it is for public convenience, as already said, that coins are made. It is the current market price of gold and silver, that must govern the carry
ing it to the mint. It is absurd to think any one should i
send gold to be coined that should cost more than 31. 17s.
10d} an dunce, or silver more than 62 pence the ounce:
and, as absurd would it be, to pretend, that those prices only
shall be the constant invariable prices. It is contended that
there is not a proper proportion fixed in the value of one metal to another, and this requires alteration.
11. It may be urged, that should the legislature fix the proportionof silver to gold as in other countries, by
ordering 65 shillings instead of 62 to be cut out of a pound
' of standard silver; yet still there would be 4% per cent.
vdifference between coined and uncoined silver; whereas there is but about 13; per cent. difference in gold.
On this we shall observe that the course of trade, not to mention extraordinary accidents, will make one metal more in request at one time than another; and the legislature in no one particular country, can bias, or prescribe rules or
:laws to influence, such demand; which ever must depend
on the great chain of things, in which all the operations of this world are linked. ‘Freedom and security only are wanted in trade: nor does coin require more, if a just proportion in the metals be settled. '
12. To return to, gold: it is matter of surprise, that the division of the piece called a guinea, has not been made smaller than just one half as it now is; that is into quarters, thirds, and two thirds. Hereby the want of siiver coin might be greatly provided for; and those pieces, to
\ gether with the light silver coin, which can only now re-'
main with us, would sufliciently serve the uses in circulation.. '
In Portugal, where almost all their coin is gold, there are divisions of the moedas, or 27 shilling pieces, into tenths, sixths, quarters, thirds, halves, and two thirds. Of the moeda and one third, or 36 shilling piece, into eights, quarters, and halves.
13. That to the lightness of the silver coin now remaining in Great Britain, we owe all the silver coin we now have, any person with weights and scales, may prove; as up wards of 70 shillings coined in the reign of ’ king William, or dextrously counterfeited by false coiners, will scarce weigh 12 ounces, or a pound troy. I
14. All the art of man can never hinder a constant exportation and importation of gold and silver, to make up for the different calls and balances that may happen in trade: for were silver to be coined as above, 65 shillings out of a
pound troy weight of standard silver ; if those 65 shillings "
would sell at a price that makes it worth while to melt or
export them, they must and will be considered and used as a merchandise: and the same will hold as to gold.
Though the proportion of about 14% of pure silver, to one of pure gold, in neighboring states be now fixed, in regard to their coin, and it is submitted such proportion should be attended to in‘ this kingdom, yet that proportion may be subject to alteration: for this plain reason, that should the silver mines produce a quantity of that metal so
‘as to make it greatly abound more in proportion than it
now does, and the gold mines produce no more than now they do, more silver must be requisite to purchase gold.
15. That the welfare of any state depends on its keeping all its gold and silver, either in bullion or in coin, is avery narrow principle ; all the republics we know of, wisely think otherwise. It is an utter impossibility; nor should it ever be aimed at; for gold and silver are as ‘clearly a merchandise, as lead and tin ; and consequently should have a perfect freedom and liberty,‘ coined and uncoined, to go and to come, pass and repass, from one country to another, in the general circulation and fluctuation of commerce, which will ever carry a general balance with it: for we should as soon give our lead, our tin, or any other product of our land or industry to those who want them, without an equivalent in some shape or other, as we should gold or silver ;v which it would be absurd to imagine can ever be done by our nation, or by any nation upon earth.
16. From Spain and Portugal come the greatest part of gold and silver: and the Spanish court very wisely permits the exportation of it on paying a duty, as in Great Britain lead and tin do, when exported; whereas heretofore, and as it still continues in Portugal, penal laws were enacted against the sending it out of the country. Surely princes by enact
4 As a general principle this is unquestionably true; but it must be general, or every nation with whom commerce is extensively carried on, must alike adopt it, or the principle immediately assumes an exccptionable character ; and nations liable to be elfected by it must provide means to counteract the effects of a sudden drain of the usual circulating medium, because the absence of a great quantity of the medium alters the price of exchange, or relative exchange of current money for necessary labor, and subsistence; and depre‘ciates other property.‘ "
ing such laws, could not think they had it in their power to decree and establish, that their subjects, or themselves, should not give an equivalent for what was furnished to them .'
17. It is not our intention to descend into, or to discuss minutely,particular notions or systems, such as “ That silver, and not gold should be the standard money or coin,”
“ That copper is an unfit material for money.”
And “ That paper circulating as, and called artificial money. is detrimental.”_
Yet as these doctrines seem to proceed from considering bullion, and money, or coin, in a different light from what we apprehend and have laid down, we will observe.
18. That it matters, not whether silver or gold be called standard money; but it seems most rational, that the most scarce, and precious metal, should be the unit or standard.
19. That as to copper, it is as fit for money or a counter, as gold and silver; provided it be coined of a proper weight and fineness: and just so niuch will be useful, as will serve to make up small parts in exchanges between man and man.
20. That as to paper money, it is far from being detrimental; on the contrary, it is highly profitable, as its quick passing between mankind, instead of telling over, or weigh~ ing metal in coin, or bullion, is a gain of what is most precious in life, which is time. And there is nothing clearer than that those who must be concerned in counting and
weighing, being at liberty to employ themselves on other. :
purposes, are an addition of hands in the community.
The idea of the too great extension of credit, by the circulation of paper for money, is evidently as erroneous, as the doctrine of the non-exportation of gold and silver in bullion or coin: for were it not certain, that paper could command the equivalent of its agreed-for value; or that gold and silver in bullion or coin exported, would be re
, turned in the course of trade in some other merchandise;
neither paper would be used, or the metals exported. It is by means of the produce of the land, and the happy situation of this island, joined to the industry of its inhabitants, that