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of Trade, which might in this Appendix appear like a repetition, have been omitted.
"I always resolved not to enter into any particular deduction from laws relating to coin, or into any minutiae as to accurate nicety in weights. My intention was, and still is, no more than to endeavour to show, as briefly as possible, that what relates to coin is not of such a complex, abstruse nature as it is generally made, and that no more than common justice with common sense is required in all regulations concerning it.
"Perhaps more weighty concerns may have prevented government doing more in regard to coin, than ordering quarter-guineas to be made, which till this reign had not been done.
"But, as I now judge by the late act relating to gold coin, that the legislature is roused, possibly they may consider still more of that, as well as of silver coin.
"Should these reflections prove of any public utility, my end will be answered."
1. Coins are pieces of metal on which an impression is struck, which impression is understood by the legislature to ascertain the weight and intrinsic value, or worth, of each piece.
2. The real value of coins depends not on a piece being called a guinea, a crown, or a shilling; but the true worth of any particular piece of gold or silver is what such piece contains of fine or pure gold or silver.
3. Silver and copper being mixed with gold, and copper with silver, are generally understood to render those metals more durable when circulating in coins; yet air and moisture evidently affect copper, whether by itself or mixed with other metal; whereas pure gold and silver are much less affected or corroded thereby.
4. The quantity of silver and copper so mixed by way of alloy is fixed by the legislature. When melted with pure metal, or added or extracted to make a lawful proportion, both gold and silver are brought to what is called standard. This alloy of silver and copper is never reckoned of any value. The standard, once fixed, should ever be invariable; since any alteration would be followed by great confusion and detriment to the state.
5. It is for public convenience and for facilitating the bartering between mankind for their respective wants, that coins were invented and made; for, were there no coins, gold and silver might be made or left pure; and what we now call a guinea's worth of any thing might be cut off from gold, and a crown's worth from silver, and might serve, though not so commodiously as coin.
6. Hence it is evident, that, in whatever shape, form, or quality these metals are, they are brought to be the most common measure between man and man, serving to barter against or exchange for all kinds of commodities; and consequently are no more than an universal accepted merchandise; for gold and silver in bullion, that is to say, in an uncoined mass, and gold or silver in coin, being of 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.*
7. The prices of gold and silver, as merchandise,
* 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 authorizes the issue of the coin.— W. T. P.
must in all countries, like other commodities, fluctuate and vary according to the demand, and no detriment can arise therefrom more than from the rise and fall of any other merchandise. But if, when coined, a due 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 one ounce of pure gold, whilst in neighbouring states, as France and Holland, the proportion is fixed only 14i ounces of pure silver to one ounce of pure gold, it is very evident, that our silver 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 .
8. Sixty-two shillings only are ordained by law to be coined from 12 ounces of standard silver. Now, following the proportion above mentioned of 151 to 14i, no regard being necessary 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 ease be ascertained, so as to hinder either coined gold or silver from becoming a merchandise; for, whenever the price shall rise above that 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 exchanging, 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 a merchandise, so much to be preferred io the same silver uncoined.
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 nine and two thirds per cent.
Out of a pound or 12 ounces of standard gold, 44 guineas and a half are ordained to be coined. This is £3. 17s. 10J-d. an ounce. Now the current market price of standard gold is £3. 19s. an ounce, which makes not quite one and a half 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 carrying it to the mint. It is absurd to think, that any one should carry gold to be coined that should cost more than .£3. 17s. 10£</. an ounce, 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 proportion of 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 four and two thirds per cent difference between coined and uncoined silver; whereas there is but about one and a half 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 silver coin might be greatly provided for, and those pieces, together with the light silver coin, which can only now remain with us, would sufficiently 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 twothirds; of the moeda and one-third, or 36 shilling piece, into eighths, 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