Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Double Standard. - Money and the Mechanism of Exchange
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The Double Standard. - William Stanley Jevons, Money and the Mechanism of Exchange 
Money and the Mechanism of Exchange (New York: D. Appleton and Co. 1876).
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The Double Standard.
The single silver standard having been practically abandoned as regards the currencies of Europe, the battle has more recently waged between the partizans of the double standard, represented in the currencies of France and the Monetary Convention of Western Europe, and those who uphold a gold standard combined with subsidiary coinages of silver and small money, somewhat in the manner of the English system. The advantages of the double standard have been most ably advocated by MM. Wolowski, Courcelle-Seneuil, Seyd, Léon, Prince-Smith, and others, while MM. Chevalier, De Parieu, Hendriks, Frère Orban, Levasseur, Feer-Herzog, and Juglar, have been some of the leading upholders of the gold standard. The literature of the subject is very extensive and, to most readers, dreary in the extreme, but I will try to give a tolerably concise statement of the principal arguments.
In the first place, I have no doubt whatever that M. Wolowski is theoretically quite correct in what he says about the compensatory action of the double standard system. English writers seem completely to have misunderstood the question, asserting that the system exposes us to the extreme fluctuations of both metals. No doubt, when gold and silver are both legal tenders to unlimited amounts, there will be a tendency to pay in that metal which is overrated in the legal ratio of 15½ to 1. Only when the price of standard silver is exactly 5s. 0 13/16d. per ounce is it a matter of indifference in France whether a debt be paid in gold or silver, and this exact price has only been quoted a few times in the London market in the last thirty years. Accordingly, it has been urged that the double standard is not really a double one, but only an alternative gold and silver standard. When silver is lower in price than 5s. 0 13/16d. per ounce, silver becomes the standard; when silver rises above this price, gold takes its place as the real measure of value.
So far the English economists are no doubt correct; but, in the first place, it does not follow that the prices of commodities follow the extreme fluctuations of value of both metals, as many writers have inconsiderately declared. Prices only depend upon the course of the metal which happens to have sunk in value below the legal ratio of 15½ to 1. Now, if in the accompanying figure we represent by the line A the variation of the value of gold as estimated in terms of some third commodity, say copper, and by the line B the corresponding variations of the value of silver; then, superposing these curves, the line C would be the curve expressing the extreme fluctuations of both metals. Now the standard of value always follows the metal which falls in value; hence the curve D really shows the course of variation of the standard of value. This line undergoes more frequent undulations than either of the curves of gold or silver, but the fluctuations do not proceed to so great an extent, a point of much greater importance.