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very different quantities of filver. In the pay. CHA P. ment of fuch a note, gold would appear to be more invariable in its value than filver. Gold would appear to measure the value of filver, and filver would not appear to measure the value of gold. If the custom of keeping accounts, and of expreffing promiffory notes and other obligations for money in this manner, fhould ever become general, gold, and not filver, would be confidered as the metal which was peculiarly the ftandard or measure of value.
In reality, during the continuance of any one regulated proportion between the respective values of the different metals in coin, the value of the most precious metal regulates the value of the whole coin. Twelve copper pence contain half a pound, avoirdupois, of copper, of not the best quality, which, before it is coined, is feldom worth seven-pence in filver. But as by the regulation twelve fuch pence are ordered to exchange for a fhilling, they are in the market confidered as worth a fhilling, and a fhilling can at any time be had for them. Even before the late reformation of the gold coin of Great Britain, the gold, that part of it at least which circulated in London and its neighbourhood, was in general lefs degraded below its ftandard weight than the greater part, of the filver. One and twenty worn and defaced fhillings, however, were confidered as equivalent to a guinea, which perhaps, indeed, was worn and defaced too, but feldom fo much fo. The late regulations have brought the gold coin as near perhaps to its ftandard weight as it is poffible to bring the cur
BOO K rent coin of any nation; and the order, to receive
no gold at the public offices but by weight, is likely to preferve it fo, as long as that order is enforced. The filver coin ftill continues in the fame worn and degraded ftate as before the reformation of the gold coin. In the market, however, one-and-twenty fhillings of this degraded filver coin are ftill confidered as worth a guinea of this excellent gold coin.
The reformation of the gold coin has evidently raised the value of the filver coin which can be exchanged for it.
In the English mint a pound weight of gold is coined into forty-four guineas and a half, which, at one-and-twenty fhillings the guinea, is equal to forty-fix pounds fourteen fhillings and fixpence. An ounce of fuch gold coin, therefore, is worth 37. 178. 10d. in filver. In England no duty or feignorage is paid upon the coinage, and he who carries a pound weight or an ounce weight of ftandard gold bullion to the mint, gets back a pound weight or an ounce weight of gold in coin, without any deduction. Three pounds feventeen fhillings and ten-pence halfpenny an ounce, therefore, is faid to be the mint price of gold in England, or the quantity of gold coin which the mint gives in return for ftandard gold bullion.
Before the reformation of the gold coin, the price of standard gold bullion in the market had for many years been upwards of 31. 188. fometimes 37. 198. and very frequently 41. an ounce; that fum, it is probable, in the worn and de
graded gold coin, feldom containing more than CHA P. an ounce of standard gold. Since the reforma
tion of the gold coin, the market price of standard gold bullion feldom exceeds 31. 178. 7d. an ounce. Before the reformation of the gold coin, the market price was always more or lefs above the mint price. Since that reformation, the market price has been conftantly below the mint price. But that market price is the fame whe ther it is paid in gold or in filver coin. The late reformation of the gold coin, therefore, has raised not only the value of the gold coin, but likewife that of the filver coin in proportion to gold bullion, and probably too in proportion to all other commodities; though the price of the greater part of other commodities being influ enced by fo many other caufes, the rife in the value either of gold or filver coin in proportion to them, may not be fo diftinct and fenfible.
In the English mint a pound weight of ftandard filver bullion is coined into fixty-two fhillings, containing, in the fame manner, a pound weight of standard filver. Five fhillings and two-pence an ounce, therefore, is faid to be the mint price of filver in England, or the quantity of filver coin which the mint gives in return for ftandard filver bullion. Before the reformation of the gold coin, the market price of ftandard filver bullion was, upon different occafions, five fhillings and four-pence, five fhillings and fivepence, five fhillings and fix-pence, five fhillings and seven-pence, and very often five fhillings and eight-pence an ounce. Five fhillings and seven
BOOK pence, however, feems to have been the most I. common price. Since the reformation of the gold coin, the market price of standard filver bullion has fallen occafionally to five fhillings and three-pence, five fhillings and four-pence, and five fhillings and five-pence an ounce, which laft price it has fcarce ever exceeded. Though the market price of filver bullion has fallen confiderably fince the reformation of the gold coin, it has not fallen fo low as the mint price.
In the proportion between the different metals in the English coin, as copper is rated very much above its real value, fo filver is rated fomewhat below it. In the market of Europe, in the French coin and in the Dutch coin, an ounce of fine gold exchanges for about fourteen ounces of fine filver. In the English coin, it exchanges for about fifteen ounces, that is, for more filver than it is worth according to the common eftimation of Europe. But as the price of copper in bars is not, even in England, raised by the high price of copper in English coin, fo the price of filver in bullion is not funk by the low rate of filver in English coin. Silver in bullion ftill preserves its proper proportion to gold; for the fame reafon that copper in bars preferves its proper proportion to filver.
Upon the reformation of the filver coin in the reign of William III. the price of filver bullion ftill continued to be fomewhat above the mint price. Mr. Locke imputed this high price to the permiffion of exporting filver bullion, and to the prohibition of exporting filver coin. This permiffion
permiffion of exporting, he faid, rendered the demand for filver bullion greater than the demand for filver coin. But the number of people who want filver coin for the common ufes of buying and felling at home, is furely much greater than that of those who want filver bullion either for the ufe of exportation or for any other ufe. There fubfifts at prefent a like permiffion of exporting gold bullion, and a like prohibition of exporting gold coin; and yet the price of gold bullion has fallen below the mint price. But in the English coin filver was then, in the fame manner as now, under-rated in proportion to gold; and the gold coin (which at that time too was not fuppofed to require any reformation) regulated then, as well as now, the real value of the whole coin. As the reformation of the filver coin did not then reduce the price of filver bullion to the mint price, it is not very probable that a like reformation will do fo now.
Were the filver coin brought back as near to its ftandard weight as the gold, a guinea, it is probable, would, according to the prefent proportion, exchange for more filver in coin than it would purchase in bullion. The filver containing its full ftandard weight, there would in this cafe be a profit in melting it down, in order, firft, to fell the bullion for gold coin, and afterwards to exchange this gold coin for filver coin to be melted down in the fame manner. Some alteration in the prefent proportion feems to be the only method of preventing this inconveniency.