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From the Edinburgh Review. It is well known that the proportion 1. Les Métaux precieux. Par M. Roswag which had existed between the production Paris : 1865.
of gold and of silver since the discovery of 2. Etat de la question de l'uniformité des the New World, has been largely disturbed
Poids et Mesures. Par M. Namuys. by the working of the auriferous deposits of Utrecht: 1865.
California and Australia. M. Soetbeer, a 8. Production der edlen Metälle. Von modest and intelligent economist of HamSOETBEER. Berlin: 1865.
burgh, has collected a multitude of curious 4. Revue Contemporaine. Articles on In- returns on this subject, from which we ex
ternational Coinage, by M. DE PARIEU : tract the two following statements :published in 1858, 1860, 1861, and 1865. In 1800, the value of the gold produced Paris.
stood to that of the silver in the proportion 5. Eighth Report of the International Asso- of 28 to 72 upon a total of 10,813,4001.
ciation for obtaining a uniform decimal In 1863, the value of the gold produced system of measures, weights, and coins. stood to that of the silver in the proportion London: 1865.
of 67 to 33 upon a total amounting to 6. Decimal Coinage. By FREDERIC HEN- 38,444,8131. London : 1866.
This new proportion, eminently favour7. Rapport adressé à s. M. l'Empereur able to the greater diffusion of gold, has
par M. le Ministre des Finances sur un existed from 1849 to the present time, with Projet de Loi relatif à la Convention Monés slight variations; and, in the last fifteen taire passée entre la France, la Belgique, years, the quantity of gold thrown into cirl'Italie et la Suisse. 14th Avril, 1866. culation amounts to 340 millions sterling
more than would have been produced under CHANGES have been effected since the the proportions of the previous metallurgical year 1860 in the monetary legislation of production. The effect of this great change several foreign countries, and especially of in the relative production of gold and silver the Western States of continental Europe, has certainly not been confined to a reduewhich deserve a more careful attention than tion in the price of gilding or in other applithey have yet received from British political cations of gold too manufactures. It has economists, who have for the last century also brought about a complete perturbation taken so prominent a part in the progress in the monetary system of those States of monetary science. These changes, which had made both metals a legal tender, which have been accompanied by a move including the United States, France, Spain, ment in public opinion, and by a vast deal &c. Gold having become more common of discussion on the altered condition of the than silver, has been substituted for that currency of the world, affect many impor- metal as the habitual instrument of exchange; tant interests in a manner which we shall and as, on the other hand, the East bas abnow endeavour to explain, with the aid of a sorbed all the silver thus set at liberty in careful examination of the works of foreign exchange for the silk, the tea, and the other writers on this subject, and of the debates Eastern commodities we import into Euwhich have taken place this very year in rope, the double standard has become in the parliamentary assemblies of France, fact purely nominal, and gold is now the Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland.
principal current money of all these counThe leading points we wish to explain tries. “But as silver is an indispensable part relate, first, to the internal legislative modi- of the monetary system to effect minor payfications of the currency in these countries, ments in small change, the circulating mewhich have resulted from the vast impor- dium has been rapidly deranged in the tations of Californian and Australian gold; countries in which the double standard still secondly, to certain international arrange- nominally exists. *
Great Britain, being ments which have been engrafted on these legislative measures, and have actually con
* One of the reasons, for which the French cling stituted in Europe what may be termed a rapid disappearance of silver and the enormous in
to the use of the double standard, in spite of the Münz verein, or monetary union, having creare of gold in their circulation, is that the silver France for its centre ; and lastly, to the standard is connected with the French decimal sysfeasibility of a more extended application representing in silver five grammes, and may be of the same principle to the great monetary u-ed for the purpose of weighing a letter
or any othsystems of the world, and more particularly whole metrical system. This argument may have its to that of Great Britain, as one of the chief value in the mathematical or theoretical view of the producers, consumers, and distributers of subject, but it appears to us to be of no practical exempt by reason of her own gold and système de monnaies d'appoint en argent à paper currency from the inconvenience cours limité et avec une proportion d'alliage which has thus been felt elsewhere, may re- suffisante pour ne pas permettre de les exporter gard these circumstances with indifference. avec profit, a été depuis un demi-siècle pratique Yet there have been times when this coun- avec un grand succès en Angleterre, et étenda try too bas suffered from similar embarrass plus tard aux Etats Unis, au Portugal, à la ments, arising not from any excess in the Suisse, et à l'Italie.' (Rapport, Jc., p. 3.) production of gold, but from other causes affecting the price of silver, and the Acts of The States which have suffered from this Parliament of 1773 and 1816 successively disturbance of their monetary system, established our gold coinage as the sole caused by the excess of gold, have not, as standard of the currency, and reduced the yet, thought it expedient to adopt the encoinage of silver to its true character of tire principle of our own currency; they mere tokens or counters for change, to bor- have imitated it partially, but none of them row an expression used by Lord Liverpool has altogether abandoned the double standin the House of Lords in 1816. By the Act ard. The United States of America, by an 56 Geo. 3. c. 68, which regulated the new Act of Congress of 1853, reduced the weight silver coinage, the pound troy of silver was of the half-dollar in silver from 206+ grains coined into 66s. instead of 62s., and the to 192 grains, and that of the quarter-dollar difference of 48. retained as a seignorage from 1033 to 96. The Continental States (amounting to six per cent.); so that bullion of Europe, whose numeration is based upon must rise so much above the Mint price, be- the franc, found themselves in a position of fore coin could be brought on a par with it. * greater difficulty. For the United States, In other words, to prevent the silver being whose monetary unit is represented to be melted in case of rise of value, the silver for in gold and silver by the dollar (equal to which the gold sovereign may be exchanged rather more than one-fifth of the English would not in reality purchase the quantity pound), supplied the wants of the commuof gold contained in the sovereign; but the nity in small change by a somewhat depreciinconvenience which might have arisen from ated coinage of half-dollars and quarter: this debasement of the intrinsic value of the dollars, corresponding to our florins and shilling, was provided against by restricting shillings, whilst the dollar itself, the basis of to forty shillings the use of silver as a legal numeration and of value, remained unaltertender. The change in the proportion of ed. But in the countries in which the the production of the precious metals could monetary unit is extremely low in value, as only bave affected the monetary system of the French franc, less than our shilling, and Great Britain, if the price of silver in bars the Spanish real, of a still lower denominahad become equal to the price of our silver tion, it was impossible to issue an abundant coin; but the profit on silver in bars has supply of small silver coin, without some mod. never reached that which is artificially be- ification of the intrinsic value of the piece of stowed upon the silver coinage by the Act money on which the whole currency and of 1816. The nature and effect of this numeration of the country is based. This operation is described in the following terms difficulty seems at present to have prevented in the Report of the French Minister of Spain from taking any measures in this Finance to the Emperor :
importance, and the utility of applying coins to be the precious metals.
measures of weight is diminished by the fact that
direction ; and it has long been a subject of
hesitation and discussion in France, and in Ces Commissions ont appelé l'attention du the three countries adjacent to France, Gouvernement sur le procedé adopté par divers which, from political traditions or mercanEtats pour conserver l'argent en concurrence tile convenience, have adopted the French avec l'or, dans la circulation monétaire. Ce procédé consiste à établir, entre l'or et l'argent Italy and in Belgium under Napoleon I.,
monetary system, established in a part of considérable que celui qui est le résultat de leur and more recently introduced into the rest valeur commerciale ; l'argent ainsi rehaussé est of Italy and into Switzerland. émis sous la forme de monnaie d'appoint, dont le
Some writers in these countries have boldconcours est limité de manière à en pouvoir ly recommended the complete, or all but comremplacer, dans les grands payements, soit l'or, plete, adoption of the British system. M. soit les monnaies d'argent supérieures. Le de Parieu, a Vice-President of the French
Council d'Etat, defended this course with their own weight is liable to be diminished by detri. tion, and is therefore not strictly accurate.
great ability and firmness in several articles See Mr. Wellesley Pole's excellent speech, de published by the “Revue Contemporaine,' Hvered May 30, 1816, on the introduction of the sil between the years 1858 and 1865; and M. ver Coinage Bill. (Parliamentary Debates, xxxiv. Levasseur took nearly the same view in his p. 916.)
• Recherches sur la Question de l'Or,' which | Paris in the months of November and Dewere published in 1858, in opposition to the cember 1865, and led to a Convention bearguments of M. Michel . Chevalier, who tween the Four States, which is now before maintained, at that time, that in conformity us. The Commissioners of France, Belwith the French Law of An XI, gold should gium, Italy, and Switzerland agreed to cease to be in France a legal tender. adopt the standard already introduced by
Of the four States which bave adopted the Italian Mint in the coinage of silver the franc as the basis of their currency - small pieces ; and Switzerland engaged so and it may here be added that the Grand far to modify the system she bad adopted Duchy of Luxemburg has followed their ex- in 1860 as to withdraw from circulation in ample — Switzerland was the first to modify a few years the coins she had issued at in practice the intrinsic value of the silver 18ths. These conditions having since coins in use. This innovation was made by been ratified by the respective legislatures the Federal Law on the 31st January, 1860, of the four contracting States, the uniform and as Switzerland had only adopted the result of the monetary arrangements of these French system in 1850, the novelty of the countries may be stated in the following experiment seemed to embolden her to terms : complete it. Her immediate object was, They retain the double standard of gold however, to prevent her small silver coinage and silver, represented by gold coins of 20 from flowing out of the country, and for francs, 10 francs, and 5 francs, of the forthis purpose she imitated the example of the mer weight and value, and likewise by the United States of America; but as she could silver five-franc piece of
180gths of fine not preserve her unity of value in the sil- ness. verfranc, as the Americans had done in their They depreciate or lower the silver coins dollar, the Swiss Government took the five- of 2 francs, 1 franc, 50 cents., and 20 cents., franc piece as the standard silver coin, and to be struck hereafter to 130ths instead of resolved that the smaller coins of two francs, gths of fineness. one franc, and fifty centimes, should be Waiving the difference in the denominastruck below the standard ; thus, while the tion and the value of the coins affected, five-franc piece continued to be struck of and the substitution of a lowering by alloy 1987ths of fineness, the minor coinage was instead of a lowering by weight, this system reduced to **ths.
is identical in principle with that of the Italy adopted the same course as Switzer- United States; and it secures to the conland by the Law of the 24th August, 1862, tracting States the maintenance of a perbut she did not proceed so far in the depre- manent supply of small silver coin, even if ciation of the standard of small coin; she gold were hereafter to become more abunreduced it only to 80867ths, or about the in- dant in relation to silver than it is at prestrinsic value of our shillings minted under ent. These are in fact the same advantages the regulations of 1816, and of the half-dol- we have ourselves derived from the British lars and quarter-dollars now struck in the Act of Parliament of 1816 ; but in the counUnited States.
tries associated by this Convention, these France hesitated at first to follow the ex- advantages are combined with the retention ample of her neighbours, but by the law of of the double standard, on the basis of the the 25th May, 1864, she too adopted the proportion of 1 to 154, which was adopted principle of the Italian coinage, and reduced by the French Law of the 7th Germinal
, her standard to baths, but only for the An XI, as the legal relation of gold to silsmall pieces of fifty centimes and twenty ver. centimes.
The most important innovation introBelgium was still more undecided, al- duced by the Monetary Convention, which though M. Nothomb had advised her, as was signed in Paris on the 23rd December, early as the year 1861, to follow the exam- 1865, by the representatives of France, Belple of Switzerland, and had even pointed gium, Switzerland, and Italy, * is the prinout, with singular perspicacity, that this ciple of establishing a legal and official sysmeasure would lay the foundation of a com- tem of monetary union upon mutual concesmon monetary system between France, sions in the currency of four countries in Belgium, Switzerland, and perhaps Italy which the metallic circulation had previousThe Belgian Government, however, took ly been imperfectly assimilated. the highly judicious step of proposing that a monetary conference should be held be- * The Commissioners were M. de Parieu and M. tween the States whose currency is based Pelouze for France; M. Fortamps and M. Kreglin. on the franc. This conference was held in / Italy; MM. Kern and Feer Hergez for Switzerland. TOURTH SERIES.
VOL. III. 38.
ceedings of the Monetary Conference, silver.' The design of the Conference, and which have been printed in Belgium in the more especially of its President, M. de Paappendix to the Bill brought in to give ef- rieu, who was, we believe, the author of the fect to the terms of the Convention of the draft which was adopted after sundry 230 December, show that the Commissioners amendments, was to establish this unity of of the four States adopted with eagerness coinage in essentials, leaving to each State and enthusiasm a plan designed to extend as much liberty and independence in the the circulation of the gold and silver coin- detail of the coinage as were not incompatage of their respective nations over the ible with the general scope of the project. whole territory of the Four States, on equal The four contracting States did not go terms, without reference to the Mint in so far as to make it compulsory on their rewhich they were struck, or the effigy they spective subjects or citizens to receive gold bore. Their intention wąs that from Ant- and silver coins minted abroad. But the werp to Brindisi travellers should pay their treasuries of the four States bound themway in the same coin, without any of the selves to receive these monies, without disrisk or inconvenience of national exchanges, tinction, in payment of the public dues; and and that this coin should have precisely the although they are not yet made strictly lesame value over this wide extent of Euro gal tenders between man and man in each pean territory, whether it bore the effigy of of the countries respectively, it is hoped and free Helvetia, the head of Victor Emman- anticipated that use and public convenienee uel or of Napoleon III., or of the two suc- will speedily remove all difficulty on this cessive Kings of Belgium.
score. Indeed, practically the gold napoM. Michel Chevalier, a well-known leon and the silver five-franc piece, wherever French economist, whose name can never struck, have long been received, indiscrimibe mentioned on this side of the Channel nately, in the ordinary transactions of life, without respect, as he was one of the chief throughout the countries where the decimal promoters of the French Commercial Treaty, monetary system of France prevails, and proposed to the Commission on weights
, even in Spain and a great part of Germany. measures, and coin, which sat in London in The amount of small coin of the depre1862, a monetary alliance between Great ciated standard to be struck by each State Britain and France, in the shape of gold is fixed by the Convention at six francs per coinage, bearing on one side the effigy of head of the population; and as we have in Queen Victoria, and on the obverse that the last fifty years struck about 16,000,0001. of Napoleon III. In making this suggestion, in shillings, for the use of the United KingM. Chevalier renounced the predilection he dom and a portion of our own colonies, the had previously expressed in favour of an proportion of six francs per head is not imexclusive silver standard, on the ground moderate. that the recent discoveries of gold had made No change has been introduced in the legisthe value of that metal subject to far more lative provisions respecting the lower coindepreciation and fluctuation than silver, and age, which consists in France and Italy of that permanence of value is a condition of an alloy of copper, and of nickel in Belthe first importance to the standard of cur- gium and Switzerland. rency.
The parties to the Convention of the The negotiators of the Convention of the 23rd December agreed to leave it open to 230 December took a still broader view of any other State to join the Union on the the principles of monetary union. Their same terms. No express addition has yet object was that the gold and silver coinage been made to it; but the Pontifical Governof the four countries should be identically ment promulgated an Edict on the 16th the same in weight, size, and value, though June, 1866, by which it virtually adopts the each country should issue money stamped system of the Monetary Union, with the with its own distinctive emblems, and even exception that the Pope reserves the right though the name of the coin should not in of striking and issuing certain coins, which all cases be the same, inasmuch as the Ital- are not included in the terms of the Conians prefer to retain the familiar appellation vention, viz., a piece of 2 lire and fifty of lira for that which the other three na- cents., which does not exist in France, and tions call a franc. The first Article of the a piece of 25 cents., which is substituted Convention is expressed in the following at Rome for the piece of 20 cents. adopted terms: - Belgium, France, Italy, and by the Union. This Pontifical Edict has, Switzerland constitute a Union in relation however, the merit of laying down with preto the weight, standard, dimensions, and cision, in its first Article, the fundamental value of their coined money of gold and doctrine of the value of the franc in gold, on which the whole superstructure of the thaler, the Austrian florin, and the South Convention rests. It states, * The new mon- German florin, are represented by the foletary unit of the Pontifical States is found- lowing equations : ed on the value of 5 grammes of silver and 4 Prussian thalers = 6 Austrian florins = 7 0.32258 of gold, both at a standard of %% oths, S. German florins. and it takes the name of the Lira Pontifi- The French Convention with Belgium, cia.? It is not improbable that some of the Italy, and Switzerland, which has just been States, contiguous to the countries already more fully described, is another important included in this Convention, will gradually addition to the principle of uniformity, adopt the same system, and this without the since it has linked together 68,000,000 of intervention of the causes which, under the souls, by the use of the same coinage, exFirst French Empire, extended the mone- tending from Brest to Constanz, and from tary system of France far beyond the pres- Antwerp to Tarentum, under the terms of ent boundaries of that country; for many the Convention of the 23rd December, pubof the territories which were then annexed lished in England by M. Hendriks, in the to France by the conquests of Napoleon, pamphlet cited at the head of this article. have never entirely lost, or discarded, the The same principle has, to a certain extent, use of the French monetary system; and been acted upon by the British Governthe sense of mutual convenience in personal ment in the proclamations of February 3, intercourse and in commercial transactions 1866, giving to sovereigns minted in Ausmight easily revive it.
tralia legal currency in this country. The Having thus shown in what manner result of all these changes has been to dimin68,000,000 of the inhabitants of the conti- ish the innumerable variations of money, nent of Europe have solved the difficulty of which previously existed in the world; to reducing their monetary circulation to a reduce them to five or six leading denomicommon standard, by this remarkable Con- nations; and to render the public more senvention, which subjects their respective sible of the advantages and convenience gold and silver coinage to certain fixed and which would arise from a further introducuniform rules, and even determines the rela- tion of the principle of a uniform coinage, tive proportion of their issues of small coin, or of a coinage which could be converted we shall now proceed to consider the scheme and interchanged by the application of of a more extended union, which has been fixed and uniform principles. These views mooted by several writers, and discussed in have been ably expressed upon a recent the French press, as one of the ulterior re- occasion by M. Louvet, a member of the sults of the Convention of the 23rd Decem- French legislative body, in a report drawn ber. It is certain that some progress has up by him on June 13, 1866. The tendency been made, since the commencement of the of modern civilisation, with its lines of railpresent century, in drawing nearer together way extending over and across the frontiers the monetary systems of the world. Several of many States, and its lines of telegraph States which still retain their own distinct bringing into direct communication coununit of value, and which have not adopted tries lying at the opposite extremities of the French metrical system, have neverthe- Europe, and even of the globe, is to create less proceeded so far as to divide their dol- great common interests, irrespective of nalars, florins, drachmas, &c. on the decimal tional and local differences. And it is ob. scale, which is a step in the right direction, vious that all the operations of trade, and and a great convenience in calculation. the exchange of money, would be greatly This has been done in Sweden, Turkey, faciliated by the reduction of the represenPortugal, Austria, Greece, the Netherlands, tatives of weight, quantity, and value to a and Spain, - countries including 211,000,- common form, or by the adoption of some 000 of inhabitants. To these Mexico' may principles which would make the conversion be added since the French occupation; and the relation of the rupee of India to the * The necessity of establishing a common tariff English sovereign also affords facilities for for the transmission of telegraphic despatches
through different countries, has not been without decimal arithmetic. The monetary Conven- effect upon the question of international coinage tion which was concluded in 1857, between and numeration. Thus the Telegraphic Convention Austria and the German States, brought between France and almost all the States of Conti under one system 70,000,000 of inhabitants, pental Europe, adopts the franc as the monetary whose coins and units of value are distinct, The 30th Article of this treaty adds that the tariff of but have been rendered mutually converti- messages between any two points in the dominions ble by a simple process: thus the three of the contracting States, is to be so adjusted, that leading coins of Germany, the Prussian always to be some multiple of the half-franc.