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graded gold coin, seldom containing more an C HAP. an ounce of standard gold. Since the refonation of the gold coin, the market price of findard gold bullion feldom exceeds 37. 178. 7dan Before the reformation of the gold cin, the market price was always more or less abve the mint price. Since that reformation, the mrket price has been conftantly below the mat price. But that market price is the fame wlether it is paid in gold or in filver coin. Tle late reformation of the gold coin, therefore, hs raifed 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 influenced by fo many other caufes, the rise 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 standard 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 standard filver bullion was, upon different occafions, five fhillings and four-pence, five fhillings and fivepence, five fhillings and fix-pence, five fhillings and feven-pence, and very often five fhillings and eight-pence an ounce. Five fhillings and fevenpence,
BOOK pene, however, feems to have been the most I. comon price. Since the reformation of the
gol coin, the market price of standard filver bulon has fallen occafionally to five fhillings and three-pence, five fhillings and four-pence, an five fhillings and five-pence an ounce, which laf price it has scarce 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 ir the English coin, as copper is rated very much above its real value, fo filver is rated fomevhat 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 estimation 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 still preserves its proper proportion to gold; for the fame reafon that copper in bars preserves 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 said, 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 uses 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 supposed 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 standard 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.
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The inconveniency perhaps would be lefs if filver was rated in the coin as much above its proper proportion to gold as it is at prefent rated below it; provided it was at the same time enacted that filver fhould not be a legal tender for more than the change of a guinea; in the fame manner as copper is not a legal tender for more than the change of a fhilling. No creditor could in this cafe be cheated in confequence of the high valuation of filver in coin; as no creditor can at present be cheated in confequence of the high valuation of copper. The bankers only would fuffer by this regulation. When a run comes upon them they fometimes endeavour to gain time by paying in fixpences, and they would be precluded by this regulation from this difcreditable method of evading immediate payment, They would be obliged in confequence to keep at all times in their coffers a greater quantity of cafh than at prefent; and though this might no doubt be a confiderable inconveniency to them, it would at the fame time be a confiderable fecurity to their creditors.
Three pounds feventeen fhillings and tenpence halfpenny (the mint price of gold) certainly does not contain, even in our prefent excellent gold coin, more than an ounce of ftandard gold, and it may be thought, therefore, fhould not purchase more ftandard bullion. But gold in coin is more convenient than gold in bullion, and though, in England, the coinage is free, yet the gold which is carried in bullion to the mint, can feldom be returned in coin to the
owner till after a delay of feveral weeks. In the CHA P. prefent hurry of the mint, it could not be returned till after a delay of several months. This delay is equivalent to a small duty, and renders gold in coin fomewhat more valuable than an equal quantity of gold in bullion. If in the English coin filver was rated according to its proper proportion to gold, the price of filver bullion would probably fall below the mint price even without any reformation of the filver coin; the value even of the present worn and defaced filver coin being regulated by the value of the excellent gold coin for which it can be changed.
A fmall feignorage or duty upon the coinage of both gold and filver would probably increase ftill more the fuperiority of thofe metals in coin above an equal quantity of either of them in bullion. The coinage would in this cafe increase the value of the metal coined in proportion to the extent of this fmall duty; for the fame reafon that the fashion increases the value of plate in proportion to the price of that fashion. The fuperiority of coin above bullion would prevent the melting down of the coin, and would discourage its exportation. If upon any public exigency it fhould become neceffary to export the coin, the greater part of it would foon return again of its own accord. Abroad it could fell only for its weight in bullion. At home it would buy more than that weight. There would be a profit, therefore, in bringing it home again. In France a feignorage of about eight per cent. is impofed