Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II.: of the meaning of the word standard.— the metal-standard is that from which is derived the monetary unit.—the two ideas standard and monetary unit imply each the other. - On the Probable Fall in the Value of Gold: The Commercial and Social Consequences which may ensue, and the Measures which it invites
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CHAPTER II.: of the meaning of the word standard.— the metal-standard is that from which is derived the monetary unit.—the two ideas standard and monetary unit imply each the other. - Michel Chevalier, On the Probable Fall in the Value of Gold: The Commercial and Social Consequences which may ensue, and the Measures which it invites 
On the Probable Fall in the Value of Gold: The Commercial and Social Consequences which may ensue, and the Measures which it invites. Translated from the French, with preface, by Richard Cobden, Esq. (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1859).
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of the meaning of the word standard.— the metal-standard is that from which is derived the monetary unit.—the two ideas standard and monetary unit imply each the other.
In the preceding chapter the reader may have remarked the expression the matter, or the substance of which money is made. Nevertheless, in most countries, it is not of one material that money is made; hut pieces of gold and silver circulate together indiscriminately. Yet it must not from that be assumed that the two metals, gold and silver, figure in the monetary system with the same prerogatives. We are about to call attention to a word of which it is important to fix the meaning,—I mean the term, standard.
On this Subject it is necessary to guard ourselves against a certain confusion of language. Some persons apply the name of monetary standard to pieces of a metal to indicate that they cannot be refused in payment. That is not the way in which the word standard will be employed in the course of this work, nor is it its legitimate meaning. When it is the privilege of a metal that the coins of which it is made cannot be refused in payment, it is because it is endowed with the attribute of legal tender, which is very different from that of the standard.
When it is said that such or such a metal is the standard, it means that the monetary unit is a certain weight, settled once for all, of this metal, which is, however, quite reconcileable with a state of things where coins of another metal might be equally a legal tender. Thus in France, at the present time, gold is a legal tender, although silver alone is the standard, and constitutes the sole monetary unit.
In a word, standard and monetary unit are terms allied in the closest manner to each other, and they are synonymous the one with the other, as far as the materials of which a thing is made can be confounded with the thing itself. Beyond that the word standard has but a vague meaning, and its indecisiveness may give rise to all sorts of errors and misunderstandings. Let it be added that, in questions of money, mistakes, when sanctioned by government, resolve themselves of necessity into injuries, falling on this or that legitimate interest,—into injustice and iniquity more or less disastrous in its consequences.
The most rigorously exact meaning, perhaps, of the word standard would be to say that it is the monetary unit, the latter itself being defined by the three following conditions: the metal of which it is composed, its weight, and its fineness. It is in this sense that we shall sometimes use it in the course of the following pages; but more frequently it is to the metal itself, constituting the monetary unit, that, for brevity of language, we shall assign the attribute of the standard. The circumstances themselves, under which we shall introduce the expression standard, will render any double meaning impossible.
From the intimate and almost indissoluble connection that exists between the idea of the standard and the monetary unit, spring consequences not unimportant. If, for example, we observe the legislation of a particular State, where, too, the government is fully alive to the conditions essential to a sound system of currency, in other words, is convinced of the necessity of having one standard, and not two;* and if, in the tendency of the laws thus brought under our notice, we find the institution of a monetary unit expressly designed in such terms as these,— such a weight of such a metal, of such a fineness, constitutes this unit, doubt is no longer possible, it is not even permitted; the metal in question is alone invested with the legal attribute of the standard.
This last observation may to some persons seem like a truism, which it is superfluous and almost childish to utter, so completely is it in accordance with proof. Yet it will be seen, by-and-bye, that it is not so needless as it appears, for it has escaped the notice of certain persons in the controversy which is now going on respecting the monetary system of France.
[*]This point will be established in Chap. IV. of the present Section.