Front Page Titles (by Subject) Reflections on Coin in General - A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on Money
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Reflections on Coin in General - 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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THE BOOKSELLER TO THE READER.
WHEN these Reflections were given me, I was directed, whenever published, to print,
As a Dedication.}To the Right Honorable George Grenville, one of His Majesty’s most Honorable Privy Council. &c. &c. &c. are these Reflections most humbly inscribed.
As a Preface.}Principles founded in Truth will ever be just; therefore any Rise or Fall in the Market Price of Gold and Silver cannot change such Principles.
And by way of Introduction.}As at the Beginning of a Reign, a new Coinage may be thought of, it has made me resolve to present these Reflections to the Public; whose Weal and Prosperity the Author ardently wishes, as doth kind Reader,
Your humble and devoted Servant,
REFLECTIONS ON COIN in GENERAL, &c.
1. COINS are Pieces of Metal on which an Impression is struck; which Impression is understood by the Legislature to ascertain the Weight, and the intrinsick Value, or Worth of each Piece.
2. The real Value of Coins, depends not on a Piece being called a Guinea, a Crown, 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. Copper being mixed with Gold and Silver is, 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 or Silver are much less affected thereby, or corroded.
4. Leaving the Durability to be as it may, certain it is, that Copper is mixed in Gold and Silver Coin, and called Alloy. The quantity of Copper so mixed is fixed by the Legislature. When melted with the 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 Copper is never reckoned of any Value. The Standard once fixed, should be ever invariable; since any Alteration would be followed by infinite Confusion, which must be hurtful in a State.
5. It is for publick 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 of Gold, and a Crown’s-worth from Silver, and serve, tho’ not so commodiously as Coin.
6. Hence it is 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; as serving to barter against, or exchange for, all kinds of Commodities; and consequently are no more than an universal accepted Merchandize: for Gold or 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, or takes from, their intrinsick Value.
7. The Prices of Gold and Silver as Merchandize, 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 Merchandize. 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 ? 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 14½ 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 Merchandize 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. 62 Shillings only are ordained by Law to be coined from 12 Ounces of Standard Silver: now following the Proportion abovementioned of 15? to 14½ (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 with ease might be ascertained) so as to hinder either coined Gold or Silver from becoming a Merchandize: for whenever the Price shall rise above that Medium so as to give a Profit, whatever is coined will be made a Merchandize. 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 a Merchandize so much to be preferred to 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 Difference therefore between coined and uncoined Silver in Great-Britain is now 9? per Cent.
Out of a Pound of 12 Ounces of Standard Gold 44 Guineas and ½ are ordained to be coined. This is 3l. 17s. 10d½ an Ounce. Now the current Market Price of Standard Gold is 3l. 19s. an Ounce, which makes not quite 1½ per Cent difference between the coined and uncoined Gold.
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 would there be 4? per Cent difference between coined and uncoined Silver, whereas there is but about 1½ 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 biass or prescribe Rules or Laws to influence such Request, which ever must depend on the great chain of Things, in which are linked all the Operations of this World. Freedom and protection are alone wanted in Trade: nor does Coin require more, if only a just Proportion in the Metals be settled. The rest, Mankind as their Interest and Understanding prompt them, will ever do.
12. To return to Gold; it is Matter of Surprize, 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. In Portugal, where almost all their Coin is Gold, there are Divisions of the Moedas, or 27 Shilling Pieces into Tenths, Eighths, Quarters, and Halves. Of the Moeda and one Third or 36 Shilling Piece into Eighths, Quarters, and Halves. Hereby the want of Silver Coin, might be greatly provided for, and those Pieces, together with the light Silver Coin, which now only can remain with us, would sufficiently serve the Uses in Circulation.
13. That to the Lightness of the Silver Coin now remaining in Great Britain, we owe what we have, any Person with Weights and Scales, may prove, as upwards 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.
14. All the Art of Man can never hinder a constant Exportation and Importation of Gold and Silver, to make up for the divers 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 at Market, it would sell for a price that will make it worth while to melt it down or to export it, it must, and will, be made Use of as a Merchandize, as it really is, and the same will hold as to Gold.
15. That the Welfare of any State depends on its keeping all its Gold and Silver, either in Bullion or in Coin, is a very narrow Principle; all the Republicks 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 Merchandize, as Lead and Tin; and consequently should have 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; which it would be absurd to imagine ever can 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, 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 enacting 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 to 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 much will be useful as will serve to make up small Parts in Exchanges between Man and Man, and no more.
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 weighing Metal in Coin or Bullion, is a Gain of what is most precious in Life, which is Time. And we may venture to call it Assistant towards an Augmentation of People; inasmuch as those who would be employed in telling and weighing, gain that time for other Purposes. Gold and Silver in themselves, either in Bullion or Coin neither serve to clothe or feed Mankind; nor can Paper. 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 the Gold and Silver in Bullion or Coin exported be returned in the Course of Trade in some other Merchandize; neither Paper would be used, or the Metals exported. It is the Produce of the Land, through the happy situation of this Island, joined to the Industry of its Inhabitants, that those much adored Metals, Gold and Silver, have been procured: and so long as the Sea does not overflow the Land, and Industry continues, so long will not those Metals be wanting. And Paper in the general Chain of Credit and Commerce, is as valuable as they are; since the Issuers or Coiners of that Paper have some Equivalent to answer for what the Paper is valued at: nor more can any Metal or Coin do, than finds its Value.
Moreover, as incontestable Advantages of Paper, we must add, that the Charge of coining or making it, is by no Means proportionate to that of coining of Metals: nor is it subject to waste by long Use, or impaired by Adulteration, Sweating, Fileing, or other roguish Arts as Coins may.
21. We shall by way of Note conclude, by observing, that whenever Gold, Silver, or Copper-Coin may be worn too light, the Publick Purse should repair, or restore, what it may have suffered by constant Use; nay, if by the Wisdom and Vigilance of the Legislature, the abovementioned roguish Arts cannot be hindered, it seems prudent that the Publick should make it good; since the very Creation and Existence of Coin is for the Utility of the Community in General.
an INQUIRY into theValue of the Ancient Greek and Roman MONEY.
By MATTHEW RAPER, Esq. F.R.S.
“Philosophical Transactions,” Vol. LXI.,