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this bill now with the lords does not happen to pass, there can never any silver be ever any more coined at the mint; and all the milled money will, in a very little time more, be destroyed."
Answ. The reason of so much money coined in queen Elizabeth's time, and afterwards, was not the lessening of your crown-pieces from 480 to 462 grains, and so proportionably all the rest of your money (which is that the author calls raising standard silver from 55. to 5s. 2d. the ounce) but from the over-balance of
your trade, bringing them in plenty of bullion, and keeping it here.
How standard silver (for if the author speaks of other silver, it is a fallacy) should be worth its own weight in standard silver at the mint, (i. e. 55. 2d. the ounce) and be worth more than its own weight in standard silver, (i. e. 5s. 4d. the ounce) in Lombard-street, is a paradox that nobody, I think, will be able to comprehend, till it be better explained. It is time to give off coining, if the value of standard silver be lessened by it; as really it is, if an ounce of coined standard silver will not exchange for an ounce of uncoined standard silver, unless you add 15 or 16 grains overplus to it: which is what the author would have taken upon his word, when he says,“ Silver is worth five shillings fourpence elsewhere."
Five shillings fourpence of money coined at the mint, the author must allow to be at least 495 grains. An ounce is but 480 grains. How then an ounce of uncoined standard silver can be worth five shillings fourpence, (i.e. how 480 grains of uncoined standard silver can be worth 495 grains of the same standard silver, coined into money) is unintelligible; unless the coinage of our mint lessens the value of standard silver.
SIR, “ Coin and interest are two things of so great moment to the public,and of so great concernment in trade, that they ought very accurately to be examined into, and very nicely weighed, upon any proposal of altera
tion to be made in them. I pretend not to have treated of them here as they deserve. That must be the work of an abler hand; I have said something on these subjects, because you required it. And, I hope, the readiness of my obedience will excuse to you the faults I have committed, and assure you that
“ Your most humble servant,
« JOHN LOCKE."
ON A PRINTED PAPER, ENTITLED,
For encouraging the coining Silver Money in England,
and after for keeping it here.
The author says, “ Silver yielding the proposed 2d. or 3d. more by the ounce, than it will do by being coined into money, there will be none coined into money; and matter of fact shows there is none.”
It would be hard to know what he means, when he says, “ silver yields 2d. or 3d. more by the ounce, than it will do by being coined into money:" but that he tells us in plain words at the bottom of the leaf, “ that an ounce of silver uncoined is of 2d. more value than after it is coined it will be;" which, I take the liberty to say, is so far from being true, that I affirm it is impossible to be so. For which I shall only give this short reason, viz. because the stamp neither does nor can take away any of the intrinsic value of the silver; and therefore an ounce of coined standard silver must necessarily be of equal value to an ounce of uncoined standard silver. For example, suppose a goldsmith has a round plate of standard silver, just of the shape, size, and weight of a coined crown-piece, which, for brevity's sake, we will suppose to be an ounce; this ounce of standard silver is certainly of equal value to any other ounce of unwrought standard silver in his shop; away he goes with his round piece of silver to the Tower, and has there the stamp set upon it; when he brings this numerical piece back again to his shop coined, can any one imagine that it is now 2d. less worth than it was when he carried it out smooth, a quarter of an hour before; or, that it is not still of equal value to any
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 55. 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 58. 4d. elsewhere.") The