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fended; and will be glad when it is made plain, by whose hand soever it be.
This is what has made me publish these papers, without any derogation to Mr. Lowndes, or so much as a suspicion that he will take it amiss. I judge of him by myself
. For I shall think myself obliged to any one who shall show me, or the public, any material mistake in any thing I have here said, whereon any part of the question turns.
RAISING THE VALUE
M O N E Y.
Silver is the instrument and measure of commerce in all the civilized and trading parts of the world.
It is the instrument of commerce by its intrinsic value.
The intrinsic value of silver, considered as money, is that estimate which common consent has placed on it, whereby it is made equivalent to all other things, and consequently is the universal barter, or exchange, which men give and receive for other things they would purchase or part with for a valuable consideration : and thus, as the wise man tells us, money answers all things.
Silver is the measure of commerce by its quantity, which is the measure also of its intrinsic value. If one grain of silver has an intrinsic value in it, two grains of silver have double that intrinsic value, and three grains treble, and so on proportionably. This we have daily experience of in common buying and selling; for if one ounce of silver will buy, i. e. is of equal value to, one bushel of wheat, two ounces of silver will buy two bushels of the same wheat, i. e. have double the value.
Hence it is evident, that an equal quantity of silver is always of equal value to an equal quantity of silver.
This common sense, as well as the market, teaches us; for silver being all of the same nature and goodness, having all the same qualities, it is impossible but it should in the same quantity have the same value; for if a less quantity of any commodity be allowed to be equal in value to a greater quantity of the same sort of commodity, it must be for some good quality it has, which the other wants. But silver to silver has no such difference.
Here it will be asked, is not some silver finer than other!
I answer, one mass of mixed metal, not discerned by the eye to be any thing but silver, and therefore called silver, may have a less mixture of baser metal in it than another, and so in common speech is said to be finer silver; so ducatoons having a less mixture of copper in them than our English coin has, are said to be finer silver. But the truth is, the silver that is in each is equally fine, as will appear when the baser metal is separate from it; and it is of this pure or fine silver I must be understood, when I mention silver; not regarding the copper or lead which may chance to be mixed with it. For example: Take an ounce of silver, and one-fourth of an ounce of copper, and melt them together; one may say of the whole mass that it is not fine silver; but it is true there is an ounce of fine silver in it; and though this mass, weighing one ounce and a quarter, be not of equal value to one ounce and a quarter of fine silver, yet the ounce of fine silver in it is, when separate from the copper, of equal value to any other ounce of silver.
By this measure of commerce, viz. the quantity of silver, men measure the value of all other things. Thus to measure what the value of lead is to wheat, and
of either of them to a certain sort of linen cloth, the quantity of silver that each is valued at, or sells for, needs only be known; for if a yard of cloth be sold for half an ounce of silver, a bushel of wheat for one ounce, and a hundred weight of lead for two ounces; any one presently sees and says, that a bushel of wheat is double
, the value of a yard of that cloth, and but half the value of a hundred weight of lead.
Some are of opinion, that this measure of commerce, like all other measures, is arbitrary, and may at pleasure be varied, by putting more or fewer grains of silver in pieces of a known denomination, v. g. by making a penny or a shilling lighter or heavier in silver, in a country where these are known denominations of pieces of silver money. But they will be of another mind, when they consider, that silver is a measure of a nature quite different from all other. The yard or quart men measure by, may rest indifferently in the buyers' or sellers', or a third person's hands, it matters not whose it is. But it is not so in silver : it is the thing bargained for, as well as the measure of the bargain; and in commerce passes from the buyer to the seller, as being in such a quantity equivalent to the thing sold; and so it not only measures the value of the commodity it is applied to, but is given in exchange for it, as of equal value. But this it does, (as is visible) only by its quantity, and nothing else: for it must be remembered, that silver is the instrument as well as measure of commerce, and is given in exchange for the things traded for; and, every one desiring to get as much as he can of it, for any commodity he sells, it is by the quantity of silver he gets for it in exchange, and by nothing else, that he measures the value of the commodity he sells.
The coining of silver, or making money of it, is the ascertaining of its quantity by a public mark, the better to fit it for commerce.
In coined silver or money, there are these three things which are wanting in other silver. 1. Pieces of exactly the same weight and fineness. 2. A stamp set on those.
pieces by the public authority of that country. 3. A known denomination given to these pieces by the same authority
The stamp is a mark, and, as it were, a public voucher, that a piece of such denomination is of such a weight, and of such a fineness, i. e. has so much silver in it.
That precise weight and fineness, by law appropriated to the pieces of each denomination, is called the standard. Fine silver, is silver without the mixture of
Alloy is baser metal mixed with it.
The fineness of any metal appearing to be silver, and so called, is the proportion of silver in it, compared with what there is in it of baser metals.
The fineness of standard silver in England is eleven parts silver and one part copper, near; or, to speak more exactly, the proportion of silver to copper is as 111 to 9. Whatever piece, or mass, has in it, of baser metal, above the proportion of 9 to 111 is worse, or coarser than standard. Whatever mass of metal has a less proportion than 9 to 111, of baser metal in it, is better, or finer than standard.
Since silver is the thing sought for, and would better serve for the measure of commerce, if it were unmixed, it will possibly be asked, “ why any mixture of baser metal is allowed in money, and what use is there of such alloy, which serves to make the quantity of silver less known in the several coins of different countries ?”
Perhaps it would have been better for commerce in general, and more convenient for all their subjects, if the princes every where, or at least in this part of the world, would at first have agreed on the fineness of the standard to have been just one-twelfth alloy, in round numbers, without those minuter fractions which are to be found in the alloy of most of the coin of the several distinct dominions of this part of the world. Which broken proportion of baser metal to silver, in the stand