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other ounce of unwrought standard silver in his shop? He that can say it is 2d. less worth than it was before it had the king's image and inscription on it, may as well say, that sixty grains of silver, brought from the Tower, are worth but fifty-eight grains of silver in Lombard-street.
But the author very warily limits this ill effect of coinage only to England; why it is in England, and not every where, would deserve a reason.
But let us grant it to be true, as our author affirms, that coined silver in England is one-thirtieth worse, or of less value, than uncoined; the natural consequence from this, if it be true, is, that it is very unfit that the mint should be employed in England, where it debases the silver one-thirtieth; for, if the stamp lessens the value of our silver this year, it will also do so the next, and so on to the end of the world, it always working the same way. Nor will the altering the denomination, as is proposed, at all help it.
But yet he thinks he has some proof for his proposition, because it is matter of fact that there is no money coined at the mint. This is the great grievance, and is one indeed, but for a different reason from what seems to inspire that paper.
The matter in short is this; England sending more consumable commodities to Spain than it receives from thence, the merchants, who manage their trade, bring back the overplus in bullion, which, at their return, they sell as a commodity. The chapmen, that give highest for this, are, as in all cases of buying and selling, those who can make most profit by it; and those are the returners of our money, by exchange, into those countries where our debts, any way contracted, make a need of it: for they getting 6, 8, 10, &c. per cent. according to the want and demand of money from England there, and according to the risk of the sea, buy up this bullion, as soon as it comes in, to send it to their correspondents in those parts, to make good their credit for the bills they have drawn on them, and so can give more for it than the mint-rate, i. e. more than equal weight of milled money for an equal weight
of standard bullion; they being able to make more profit of it by returns.
Suppose the balance of our trade with Holland were in all other commodities equal, but that in the last East India sale we bought of them of East India commodities to the value of a million, to be paid in a month; within a month a million must be returned into Holland: this presently raises the exchange, and the traders in exchange sell their bills at high rates; but the balance of trade being (as is supposed in the case) equal in all other commodities, this million can no way be repaid to their correspondents, on whom those bills were drawn, but by sending them money or bullion to reimburse them.
This is the true reason why the bullion brought from Spain is not carried to the mint to be coined, but bought by traders in foreign exchange, and exported by them, to supply the overplus of our expenses there, which are not paid for by our commodities. Nor will the proposed raising of our money, as it is called, whether we coin our money for the future one-thirtieth, or onetwentieth, or one-half lighter than now it is, bring one ounce more to the mint than now, whilst our affairs in this respect remain in the same posture. And I challenge the author to show that it will; for saying is but saying. Bullion can never come to the mint to be coined, whilst the over-balance of trade and foreign expenses are so great, that to satisfy them, not only the bullion your trade in some parts now yearly brings in, but also some of your formerly coined money is requisite, and must be sent out: but when a change in that brings in and lodges bullion here, (for now it seems it only passes through England) the increase of silver and gold staying in England will again bring it to the mint to be coined.
This makes it easily intelligible how comes it to pass that, when now at the mint they can give but 5s. 2d. per ounce for silver, they can give 5s. 4d. the ounce in Lombard-street, (which is what our author means when he says,
“ silver is now worth but 5s. 2d. the ounce at the mint, and is worth 5s. 4d. elsewhere.") The
reason whereof is plain, viz. Because the mint, giving weighty money for bullion, can give so much and no more for silver than it is coined at, which is 5s. 2d. the ounce, the public paying all the odds that is between coined and uncoined silver, which is the manufacture of coinage : but the banker, or returner of money, having use for silver beyond sea, where he can make his profit of it, by answering bills of exchange, which he sells dear, must either send our money
specie, or melt down our coin to transport, or else with it buy bullion.
The sending our money in specie, or melting it down, has some hazard, and therefore, if he could have bullion for 55. 20. per ounce, or a little dearer, it is like he would always rather choose to exchange corn for bullion, with some little loss, rather than run the risk of melting it down for exportation.
But this would scarce make him pay 2d. in the crown, which is almost three and a half per cent., if there were not something more in it than barely the risk of melting, or exportation; and that is the lightness of the greatest part of our current coin. For example, N. has given bills for thirty thousand pounds sterling in Flanders, and so has need of ten thousand weight of silver to be transported thither; he has thirty thousand pounds sterling by him in ready money, whereof five thousand pounds is weighty milled money; what shall hinder him then from throwing that into his meltingpot, and so reducing it to bullion to be transported ? But what shall he do for the other twenty-five thou
sand pounds, which, though he has by him, is yet clipv ped and light money, that is at least twenty per cent.
lighter than the standard ? If he transports or melts down this, there is so much clear loss to him; it is therefore more advantage to him to buy bullion at 5s. 4d. the ounce with that light money, than to transport or melt it down; wherein, though the seller of the bullion has less weight in silver than he parts with, yet he finds his account, as much as if he received it in weighty coin, whilst a clipped crown-piece, or shilling, passes as well in payment for any commodity here in Eng
land as a milled one. Thus our mint is kept from coining.
But this paper, For encouraging the coining, &c. would fain have the mill at work, though there be no grist to be had, unless you grind over again what is ground already, and pay toll for it a second time: a proposition fit only for the miller himself to make; for the meanest housewife in the country would laugh at it, as soon as proposed. However, the author pleases himself, and thinks he has a good argument to make it pass, viz. because the toll to be paid for it will not amount to three hundred and thirty thousand pounds, as is said in a late treatise about raising the value of money, p. 170; for, he says, that writer is mistaken in saying that “ 3s. and 6d. is allowed at the mint for the coinage of every pound troy,” whereas there is but sixteen-pence halfpenny there allowed for the same; which sixteenpence halfpenny being above one-third of 3s. 6d. it follows by his own computation, that the new coining our money will cost the nation above one hundred and ten thousand pounds; a small sum, in this our plenty of riches, to be laid out for the purchasing these following inconveniencies, without any the least advantage.
1. A loss to the king of one-thirtieth (if you coin your money 2d. per crown, one-twentieth, if you coin your money 3d. per crown lighter) of all his standing revenue.
2. A like loss of one-twentieth, or one-thirtieth, in all rents that are settled; for these have, during the term, the nature of rent-sec : but five per cent. loss in a man's income he thinks so little, it will not be perceived.
3. Trouble to merchants in their trade. These inconveniencies he is forced to allow. He might have said disorder to all people in their trade, though he says it will be but a little trouble to merchants, and without any real damage to trade. The author would have done well to have made out this, and a great many other assertions in that paper ; but saying is much easier, if that may pass for proof.
Indeed he has, by a short way, answered the book
above-mentioned, in the conclusion of his paper, in these words : “ And he that so grossly mistakes in so material points of what he would assert, it is plain is not free from mistakes.” It does not appear that he who published that book ever thought himself free from mistakes; but he that mistakes in two material points may be in the right in two others, and those will still need an answer. But one of these material points will, I think, by what is already said, appear not to be a mistake; and for any thing the author of the paper hath said, or can say, it will always be true, that an ounce of silver coined, or not coined is, and eternally will be, of equal value to any other ounce of silver. As to any other mistake concerning the rate of coinage, it is like he had his information from some disinterested person, whom he thought worthy of credit. And whether it be 3s. 6d., as he was told, or only sixteen-pence halfpenny per pound troy, as the paper says, whether the reader will believe the one or the other, or think it worth his more exact inquiry, this is certain, the kingdom ought not to be at that, or any other charge, where there is no advantage, as there will be none in this proposed coinage, but quite the contrary.
In his answer to
Object. 1. He says from Edw. III. “Silver has from time to time (as it grew in esteem) been by degrees raised in all mints.” If an ounce of silver now not exchanging or paying for what one-tenth of an ounce would have purchased in Edward the Third's time, and so being ten times less worth now than it was then, be growing in esteem, this author is in the right; else silver has not, since Edward the Third's reign, from time to time grown in esteem. Be that as it will, he assigns a wrong cause of raising of silver, as he calls it, in our mint. For if growing thus in request, i. e. by lessening its value, had been the reason of altering our money, this change of coin, or raising the denomination of silver in ours, and other mints, ought to have been greater by much, since Henry the Seventh's time, than it was between that and Edward the Third's; because the great change of the value of silver has been made by the plenty of it poured into this part of