Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER I.: of the increase in the present production of gold as compared with the past —the extended coinage of gold which has followed. - 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 I.: of the increase in the present production of gold as compared with the past —the extended coinage of gold which has followed. - 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 increase in the present production of gold as compared with the past —the extended coinage of gold which has followed.
At the commencement of the century, the quantity of gold yielded by the various countries, whose production flows to the general market of the civilised Western* or Christian States, was about 24,000 kilogrammes† of pure metal (about £3,312,000).
But to arrive at this quantity it is necessary to include the production of several countries which then had but little commercial intercourse with the principal nations of Christendom, as, for instance, the Island of Borneo, and several other localities in the Indian Archipelago. Confining himself to the production of the American continent, of Europe, and of Asiatic Russia, M. von Humboldt calculates that it then amounted to 15,800 kilogrammes,* (£2,180,400.) It is doubtful if the gold which the civilised Christian nations drew from other sources, and especially from Africa, added to this supply a weight of 2,000 kilogrammes (£276,000). We might thus estimate at 18,000 kilogrammes (£2,484,000) the amount of gold which, at the beginning of this century, arrived every year, to augment the metallic wealth of the nations of Christendom. It underwent very little increase until the working of the gold mines of the Oural, and afterwards of those of Siberia, contributed, with the aid of other secondary sources, to swell somewhat suddenly the supply to threefold the above amount. Thus matters stood at the commencement of 1848, when took place the discovery of the rich deposits of California, destined to be so soon followed by a similar event in Australia. At this moment we may estimate, in round numbers, the mass of gold furnished to the Christian States at 275,000 kilogrammes (£37,950,000), if not more. The increase, then, is at the rate of 1 to 15 in the course of forty years, and nearly in the proportion of 1 to 5 since 1848. In silver, on the contrary, there has been but little change. The production, at the beginning of the century, was 900,000 kilogrammes (£7,965,000; at present it is estimated slightly to exceed a million kilogrammes (£8,850,000).
The real revolution which has taken place in the supply of gold may be expressed in another way. The region which, until the discovery of the mines of Siberia, was the chief seat of production for the European nations, I mean the whole continent of America, has. since the first voyage of Columbus down to the discovery of the mines of California, that is to say, during the 356 years which intervened between 1492 and 1848, and inclusive of the gold extracted from silver ore as well as that from the gold mines, only produced 2,910,000 kilogrammes (£401,580,000) of pure metal. At this time the yield being nearly 300,000 kilogrammes (£41,400,000), the civilised world receives of this metal, in a single year, about the tenth part of the total which had been furnished by America from the first departure of Columbus down to 1848.
We might present under another form, perhaps still more striking, the productive power of the new auriferous deposits of California and Australia, by indicating the quantity of metal which a miner extracts in an average day's work. With regard to California, we have the Be-port of Dr. Trask, from which an extract has been given by M. Delesse, Inspector of Mines, in the Annales des Mines, third report of 1856 (5th series, vol. 9th, p. 649).* It is there seen that in 1854, by the labour of eight months, each miner produced a quantity of gold valued at 700 dollars (£140), or about 1,100 grammes of gold. At twenty-five days' work a month, which is certainly an over-estimate, it is an average daily extraction of 5½ grammes of gold, which, at the standard of French money is 19 francs (15s. 10d.) An intelligent officer of the French navy, who, on his return from the second campaign of the Kamtschatka, travelled in the interior of California in 1855, and applied himself to the collection of some exact information, M. Armand Coste, gives the sum of 15 francs as the minimum of what a man can, on the average, gain at the mines, an estimate at least equal to that which I have just quoted from Dr. Trask.
In Australia, the situation of the miner is not less favourable. Thus in 1854, in the district of Ballarat, one of the most productive in the colony of Victoria, which is itself the richest in gold, the ordinary wages of a miner, according to the Parliamentary Eeturn of 1856,* was 30 shillings a day. The sum of 15 shillings is indicated as the minimum in the same document; and these remunerations apply to the wages of a miner, which implies that the average produce of a day's work in gold is superior to the quantity of metal contained in 15 and 30 shillings, for, of course, the capitalist who pays the labourer must have his profit. Hence we shall not exaggerate if we adopt for Australia as for California the sum of 19 francs (15s. 10d.) as the ordinary earnings of the miner. Nineteen francs! In passing, let us remark, what a contrast with the gold-washer of the Rhine, whose day's work yields him gold dust of the value of 1 franc 50c. or 2 francs† (15d. or 20d.), and who still follows the occupation! If then the auriferous regions preserved indefinitely the same richness, the value of gold might fall until the sum of 19 of our present francs in gold (15s. 10d.) was only equal to the ordinary price of a day's labour in California and Australia, after the cost of subsistence and the rate of wages should have there found their permanent level. Now, we are justified in concluding that in California and Australia, the day's labour must gradually be assimilated to the rate which prevails in temperate climates, among the most prosperous nations of Christendom, and which in our day is about five francs (4s. 2d.)‡ It follows that the value of gold might fall till the weight of 5½ grammes of pure metal, representing at present 19 francs (15s. 10d.), might correspond only to the amount of well-being which can in our day be procured for the quantity of metal comprised in five francs. By this calculation the fall would in the end amount to three-fourths, —in other words, to procure the same amount of subsistence as at present, it would be requisite, all other things being equal, to give a quantity of gold greater in the proportion of about four to one. According to this we are still very far from the end of the crisis.
I am far from saying that the fall will not, long before it reaches that point, encounter obstacles which will arrest it. Assuredly it may so happen in the very nature of things, and for example, in the conditions of production. It is a subject on which I will shortly offer some further facts. But, at least, it seems to me quite incontestable that there remains a great margin of depreciation.
As regards the force, nay the violence, with which the new gold is diffusing itself through the monetary system of the civilized world, and particularly that of France, here are some facts which speak in a significant manner:—
During the government of Napoleon I., the coinage of gold amounted to 527 million francs (£21,080,000), or an average of 48 millions per annum (£1,812,000).* Under Louis XVIII., it was a smaller proportion, amounting to a total of 389 million francs (£15,560,000), or an average of 39 millions per annum (£1,560,000). Under Charles X., a great decline is observable; for the whole reign the gold coinage amounted to only 52 million francs (£2,080,000). During the seventeen years of Louis Philippe's reign, gold was only coined to the amount of 215 million francs (£8,600,000), or 12½ millions annually (£500,000). The ascending reaction began to manifest itself in 1848, for, in the general distress caused by the revolution of that year, many persons carried their gold plate to the Mint to be converted into money; but the influence of the new mines is not perceptible till after 1850. During the period of eight years, ending the 31st December 1857, the gold coined at the Paris Mint amounted to 2 milliards 750 million francs (£110,000,000), or an average of 343 millions (£13,720,000) yearly.* During the period of forty-five years, comprised between the 7th Germinal, year 11, and the 1st January, 1848, it had only been 1 milliard 186 millions (£47,440,000), or 22,300,000 francs (£892,000) per annum. The greatest amount coined in one year was in 1857, when it reached 572,561,-225 francs (£22,902,449); and then we have for 1856 the sum of 508,281,995 francs (£20,331,279). In no other country does the coinage of gold attain these proportions, or anything like them. In England, where, properly speaking, gold alone constitutes the currency, the period of the last seven years, for which we have returns from January 1st, 1850, to the 31st December, 1856, presents only a total of £45,749,868 sterling, or an annual average of £6,535,605 sterling. This is a considerable increase upon the British coinage in the previous years; for, during the septennial period immediately preceding, the total of gold coined amounted to only £28,539,711 sterling, or a yearly average of £4,077,101; but the increase is far less than in France.
[*]The word Western is here used in contradistinction to the extreme East, which consists of remote Asia, and especially of India and the Empires of China and Japan.
[†]I prefer using kilogrammes of fine gold rather than francs in the statement of accounts. Fewer figures will be required, and they will be more easily compared with one another. The kilogramme of gold, by the terms of the law 7 Germinal, year 11, is equal to 3,444 francs 44 cents (£138).
[*]Essay on New Spain, Vol. 3, p. 456; edition of 1827.
[*]See page 80 of the Report of M. Trask.
[*]Report of the Commission appointed by the governor of the province of Victoria to report on the state of the mines. This report is comprised in the Blue Book, entitled—Further Papers relative to the Discovery of Gold in, Australia. February, 1856.
[†]According to a curious memoir by the engineer of mines, Daubrée, which goes back for a few years, the washing of the auriferous sands of the Rhine is a branch of industry which still subsists, although for a long time it has only been carried on upon a small scale. The production amounts yearly to from 12 to 15 kilogrammes (£1,600 to £2,000).
[‡]The hypothesis here indicated, according to which the price of a day's work, in Australia and California, should finally fall to a sum representing in food and other enjoyments that which is procurable among civilized people in temperate regions for the sum of five francs in our day, seems reasonable. California and Australia are healthy countries, where the European race can labour, and where food ought to be, if it is not already, at a moderate price, either from the abundant production of the soil, or from the facilities for importation by sea. Doubtless, if the number of hands remained as insufficient as at present, the wages of manual labour would remain very high; but we know with what facility emigrants can be transported to the most remote regions, and new and more economical means of conveyance are now being organised between Europe and Australia, as well as between the eastern shores of America and California.
[*]The coining of gold was only continued for eleven years of this reign. It did not commence till after the promulgation of the law of 7 Germinal, year 11.
[*]It may Dot be useless to know from year to year the progress of the coinage of gold in France during this period. It is as follows —
1858, during the first six months, £9,483,250.