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be the common instrument of commerce and ex- C HA P. changes in Abyffinia; a fpecies of fhells in fome parts of the coaft of India; dried cod at Newfoundland; tobacco in Virginia; fugar in fome of our Weft India colonies; hides or dreffed leather in fome other countries; and there is at this day a village in Scotland where it is not uncommon, I am told, for a workman to carry nails instead of money to the baker's fhop or the ale house.

In all countries, however, men feem at last to } have been determined by irresistible reasons to give the preference, for this employment, to metals above every other commodity. Metals can not only be kept with as little lofs as any other commodity, fcarce any thing being lefs perishable than they are, but they can likewife, without any lofs, be divided into any number of parts, as by fufion thofe parts can easily be reunited again; a quality which no other equally durable commodities poffefs, and which more than any other quality renders them fit to be the inftruments of commerce and circulation. The man who wanted to buy falt, for example, and had nothing but cattle to give in exchange for it, muft have been obliged to buy falt to the value of a whole ox, or a whole fheep, at a time. He could feldom buy lefs than this, because what he was to give for it could feldom be divided without lofs; and if he had a mind to buy more, he muft, for the fame reafons, have been obliged to buy double or triple the quantity, the value, to wit, of two or three oxen, or


BOOK of two or three sheep. If, on the contrary, inftead of fheep or oxen, he had metals to give in exchange for it, he could eafily proportion the quantity of the metal to the precife quantity of the commodity which he had immediate occafion for.

Different metals have been made ufe of by different nations for this purpose. Iron was the common inftrument of commerce among the antient Spartans; copper among the antient Romans; and gold and filver among all rich and commercial nations.

Thofe metals feem originally to have been made ufe of for this purpofe in rude bars, without any ftamp or coinage. Thus we are told by Pliny, upon the authority of Timæus, an antient hiftorian, that, till the time of Servius Tullius, the Romans had no coined money, but made ufe of unftamped bars of copper, to purchafe whatever they had occafion for. These rude bars, therefore, performed at this time the `function of money.

The ufe of metals in this rude ftate was attended with two very confiderable inconveniencies; firft, with the trouble of weighing; and, fecondly, with that of affaying them. In the precious metals, where a fmall difference in the quantity makes a great difference in the value, even the business of weighing, with proper exactnefs, requires at least very accurate weights and fcales. The weighing of gold in particular is an

*Plin. Hift. Nat. lib. 33. cap. 3.


operation of fome nicety. In the coarfer metals, c
indeed, where a fmall error would be of little
confequence, lefs accuracy would, no doubt, be
neceffary. Yet we fhould find it exceffively 3
troublesome, if every time a poor man had oc-
cafion either to buy or fell a farthing's worth
of goods, he was obliged to weigh the farthing.
The operation of affaying is ftill more difficult,
ftill more tedious, and, unless a part of the
metal is fairly melted in the crucible, with
proper diffolvents, any conclufion that can be
drawn from it, is extremely uncertain. Before
the inftitution of coined money, however, unless
they went through this tedious and difficult
operation, people muft always have been liable
to the groffeft frauds and impofitions, and in-
ftead of a pound weight of pure filver, or pure
copper, might receive in exchange for their
goods, an adulterated compofition of the coarseft
and cheapest materials, which had, however,
in their outward appearance, been made to
resemble thofe metals. To prevent fuch abuses,
to facilitate exchanges, and thereby to en-
courage all forts of induftry and commerce, it
has been found neceffary, in all countries that
have made any confiderable advances towards
improvement, to affix a public stamp upon cer-
tain quantities of fuch particular metals, as were
in thofe countries commonly made ufe of to
purchafe goods. Hence the origin of coined
money, and of thofe public offices called mints;
inftitutions exactly of the fame nature with those
of the aulnagers and ftampmafters of woollen

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BOOK and linen cloth. All of them are equally meant


to ascertain, by means of a public ftamp, the quantity and uniform goodness of thofe different commodities when brought to market.

The firft public ftamps of this kind that were affixed to the current metals, feem in many cafes to have been intended to afcertain, what it was both moft difficult and most important to afcertain, the goodness or fineness of the metal, and to have refembled the fterling mark which is at prefent affixed to plate and bars of filver, or the Spanish mark which is fometimes affixed to ingots of gold, and which being ftruck only upon one fide of the piece, and not covering the whole furface, afcertains the fineness, but not the weight of the metal. Abraham weighs to Ephron the four hundred fhekels of filver which he had agreed to pay for the field of Machpelah. They are faid however to be the current money of the merchant, and yet are received by weight and not by tale, in the fame manner as ingots of gold and bars of filver are at prefent. The revenues of the antient Saxon kings of England are faid to have been paid, not in money but in kind, that is, in victuals and provisions of all forts. William the Conqueror introduced the cuftom of paying them in money. This money, however, was, for a long time, received at the exchequer, by weight and not by tale.

The inconveniency and difficulty of weighing thofe metals with exactness gave occafion to the inftitution of coins, of which the ftamp, covering entirely both fides of the piece and fometimes



the edges too, was fuppofed to afcertain not C H A P. only the fineness, but the weight of the metal. Such coins, therefore, were received by tale as at prefent, without the trouble of weighing.

The denominations of thofe coins feem originally to have expreffed the weight or quantity of metal contained in them. In the time of Servius Tullius, who firft coined money at Rome, the Roman As or Pondo contained a Roman pound of good copper. It was divided in the fame manner as our Troyes pound, into twelve ounces, each of which contained a real ounce of good copper. The English pound fterling in the time of Edward I. contained a pound, Tower weight, of filver of a known fineness. The Tower pound feems to have been fomething more than the Roman pound, and fomething less than the Troyes pound. This last was not introduced into the mint of England till the 18th of Henry VIII. The French livre contained in the time of Charlemagne a pound, Troyes weight, of filver of a known fineness. The fair of Troyes in Champaign was at that time frequented by all the nations of Europe, and the weights and measures of fo famous a market were generally known and efteemed. The Scots money pound contained, from the time of Alexander the Firft to that of Robert Bruce, a pound of filver of the fame weight and fineness with the English pound fterling. English, French, and Scots pennies too, contained all of them originally a real pennyweight of filver, the twentieth part of an ounce, and the

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