Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. II.: Of the Matter of Money. - A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on Money
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CHAP. II.: Of the Matter of Money. - John Ramsay McCulloch, A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on Money 
A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on Money from the Originals of Vaughan, Cotton, Petty, Lowndes, Newton, Prior, Harris, and Others, with a Preface, Notes, and Index (London: Printed for the Political Economy Club, 1856).
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Of the Matter of Money.
OF all things whereof Money could be made, there was nothing so fit as Metalls, as Copper, Silver, but above all, Gold; for they are first useful, which doth give them a value, then they are not over common, which doth increase it; they may be divided into as little parts as you will, and then returned into a greater mass: they are susceptible of any form, mark or impression to be made and fit to conceive it; they are of an exceeding long indurance against the Injuries of time or accident, they are hardly subject to any natural corruption, especially Gold, of the continuitie and incorruptableness whereof the Alchimists, who have most vexed that body, do write wonders; so as one affirmeth, That it is harder to destroy Gold than to make it; and they have sundry other properties accomodating them for the matter of Money; as the world hath by a general consent, and from all times received them for that purpose, especially Gold and Silver, of which chiefly I mean to treat: It is true that many particular Countries, have antiently, and do at this day use other things in stead of Money: (as to instance in some of the modern) in Æthiopia they use certain stones of Salt in stead of Money; in Guinney, Shells; in New Spain, Cacao, Coco in Peru, one of which is a fruit, the other an herb: but in all these Countries you shall find that there is a certain value set upon Gold and Silver, by which chiefly the value of all other things is raised, and that these other things do but serve as base Money doth in sundry Countries of Europe, where it is current in certain limits, by the Law or Custom of the Place; but yet they cannot be without Gold and Silver Money, unless they will barr themselves from all commerce with other Nations: And to that purpose the Invention of Licurgus was admirable, who desiring to lock up his Citizens from all commerce with other nations, did upon great penalties banish all Gold and Silver out of the City; and as long as that Prohibition was observed, the manners and Customs of the City were preserved entire from the mixture of other Nations: but when their ambition and voluptuousness had entangled them in the Commerce of other Nations, then did Gold and Silver grow into use in despite of all Laws, by this universal value given unto Gold and Silver. I shall convince* hereafter an important and a popular Error, by which many are perswaded, that Princes can give what value they list to Gold and Silver, by enhansing and letting fall their Coins, when as in truth Gold and Silver will retain the same proportion towards other things, which are valued by them, which the general consent of other Nations doth give unto them, if there be a Trade and Commerce with other Nations: By which intercourse it comes to pass, that if the price of Gold and Silver be raised, the price of all Commodities is raised according to the raising of Gold and Silver; so as let any particular Prince or State raise the price of Gold and Silver as they list, yet they will still hold the same proportion towards other things valued by them, which the general consent of other Nations neer about them doth give unto them: and this universal value of Gold and Silver, the mint, even in money, do call Intrinsical, and the local value they call Extrinsical, as depending upon impression of the mark and ordinance of the State. Now Money is said to have an Intrinsical value so much as there is Gold & Silver in it in fineness & weight, which is computed in France (and was antiently likewise the Computation in England.) first for Gold, it is divided into 24 parts, which are called Carrats, and so when they say, the Gold is 23 Carrats fine, then it is understood there is a 24th part base, which is Allay mingled with Gold; or if they say, it is 22 Carrats fine, then there is a 12th part of Allay: or if they say 22 Carrats and one quarter fine, then there is so much Allay as there wants to make up 24 parts.
Silver is divided into 12 Deniers, and every Denier into 24 grains; as if it be said, that Silver is jj Deniers and 12 grains fine, then there is 12 grains of allay, which is a 24th part; or if it be said to be jj Deniers and 6 grains fine, there is then so much allay as it wants in the fineness to make it 12 deniers: But with us in England, ever since the time of Edward the third, the Computation hath been dividing the Gold into 24 carrats, and every carrat into a 4 grains, and every grain into so many parts as there is occasion offered to divide it; as for Example, The antient Standard of the sterling* Gold was 23 Carrats, 3 grains, and one half of fine, and half a grain of Allay, which is the 192nd part; and the Silver is divided in England into 12 Ounces; every Ounce into 20 Pence, every Penny into 24 grains; as for Example, The old sterling standard is jj Ounces fine, and two Penny weight, then there remains eighteen Penny weight of Allay and, if there were jj Ounces two Penny weight, and 6 grains fine, then there would remain 17 Penny weight, and 10 grains of Allay: and again, when mention is made of a Pound of Silver fine, and Gold fine, the meaning is so much Gold or Silver pure, is a pound weight, besides the Allay which is mingled with it, but a pound of Gold or Silver wrought, is but just a pound weight as it is wrought either in Money or in Plate. The Alley being mingled with it according to the ordinance of the State, for the practise is now, almost in all States, to set a price upon Silver and Gold, according to the weight and fineness, above which price Gold-Smiths or others who trade in those metals wrought in Money, may not sell them; which price is in certain proportion underneath the value which is given to the same metals wrought in Money; the over-value allowed to the Money, being so much advantage given to the State in recompence of the charge of Coynage, and in Acknowledgment of the Soveraignty, which hath with it likewise this necessary use, that it makes the Money so much the less valuable to him that either would transport it into forrein parts, or melt it, and consequently retaineth the Money so much the better within its proper limits and natural form.
[* ]Make evident
[* ]Much controversy has taken place in regard to the origin of this term. The better opinion seems to be that it is derived from the Easterlings, or foreigners so called (most probably Jews and Italians), employed at an early period, or between 1080 and 1160, in regulating the coinage of the kingdom. Ruding, 3rd ed. v. I. p. 7: but see, also, Hearne’s Discourses, vols. I. and II; Menage Dictionnaire Etymologique, voce Sterlin; Clarke’s Connexion of the Roman, Saxon, and English Coins, p. 80, &c.