Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. IX.: Of the relative Scarcity of Gold and Silver. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAP. IX.: Of the relative Scarcity of Gold and Silver. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 2.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Of the relative Scarcity of Gold and Silver.
BESIDES the positive plenty and scarcity of gold and silver, there is still a relative abundance and a relative scarcity of one of these metals compared to the other.
The avaricious hoard up their gold and silver, for as they do not care to spend, they are fond of signs that are not subject to decay. They prefer gold to silver, because as they are always afraid of losing, they can best conceal that which takes up the least room. Gold therefore disappears when there is plenty of silver, by reason that every one has some to conceal; it appears again when silver is scarce, because they are obliged to draw it from its confinement.
It is then a rule: that gold is common when silver is scarce, and gold is scarce when silver is common. This lets us see the difference between their relative and their real abundance and scarcity: of which I shall presently speak more at large.