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have so seldom acted together in any epoch, that the difficulties of establishing their ratio have been very great, nay, insurmountable. Mirabeau and Calonne in France, Morris and Hamilton in the United States, tell us how hard a task it was for their respective countries to solve the problem, and to what arbitrary measures it led in the last century. Schimmel undertook to write a history of the parity of gold and silver; but, owing to the great variety and disagreement in the available data, he had to write two entirely separate histories. Very radical differences in the ratio of gold to silver during the various historical epochs are to be found in the tables of Soetbeer and Köhler, as well as in those compiled by Arnold Luskin and Le Blanc. If gold has been very scarce, it was because it was not put in circulation, but remained locked up in public or private safes. When Charles V caused some gold and silver money to be coined, he never expected to establish bimetallism: the true money then was silver. Gold money was of secondary importance, and was rarely used. This is so true that from the XIIIth century until the XVIIIth the need of declaring or restricting the fluctuation of either money was not felt in practical life. One of the two forms of money was always more effective than the other. Inconveniences at times were met with on account of sudden changes in the value of the two metals, which caused the transformation of silver monometallism into that of gold, and vice versa. To avoid such inconveniences, some attempts were made, like those of Henry III, who sanctioned by law gold monometallism in his proclamation of November 13, 1577, or like the attempts of the city of Florence, which also tried monometallism in 1554, but in vain. Bimetallism has always resolved itself into silver monometallism whenever the price of gold as a commodity has become higher than the corresponding price of silver as money and as a commodity. On the other hand, there has been gold monometallism whenever the price of silver as a commodity has been greater than the gold as a commodity and as money.2


W. A. Shaw, The History of Currency, London, 1896. ? Consult Walras, Questions Economiques, Lausanne, 1893, p. 403.

In France, the country which has been proclaimed the fatherland of bimetallism, pure bimetallism has almost never existed. Disregarding the fact that,, legally, bimetallism has, since 1876, become monometallism “boiteu,” or limping monometallism, as they say, on account of the mass of coined silver in circulation, even when the coinage of both metals was free, that bimetallism always resulted in practical monometallism. Under the Consulate and the first Empire [1804-1814], that is to say, during the period immediately after the famous law of March, 1803, 52 millions of francs were coined in gold and 18 millions of francs in silver. But the disproportion in such coinage was greater under the Restoration: then for 1,217 millions of silver coinage only 442 millions of gold were coined; and under Louis Phillippe for 216 millions in gold 1,693 millions were coined in silver.2 This shows that bimetallism even if established by law, resolves itself completely or in part into monometallism, according to the commercial value of the two precious metals. The monetary standard and the value of the two metals have never been established by mere chance or caprice. It resulted naturally that about the year 1852 silver was at a premium over gold, and it was also a natural result that determined the premium of gold over silver after 1870. About 1866 France was preparing to change her monetary system to gold monometallism, and she did so to satisfy the needs of her commerce, while the political events hindered her in its accomplishment. The same needs impelled Germany to establish monometallism in 1873. When France adopted gold monometallism, the task was undertaken and completed by its merchants. It is not the demonetization of German silver that caused the depreciation of that metal. Silver after 1870 depreciated not only on account of the influence of increased production, but also because it proved to be a more inconvenient medium in international exchange than gold. In fact, international trade developed prodigiously after 1860. Since 1870 the economic market has tended to become more

1 Bamberger, le metal argent, Paris, 1893, p. 312.

? Romanelli, Legislazione, e coniazzione monetarie, Archivio di Statistica : Roma, 1877, Io, fasc. IV, p. 12.

and more international and universal. In monetary history each economic market has for its monetary standard some commodity greatly prized at a given time and in a given country, either for its practical or ornamental use. We have many illustrations of this point: Ireland had her codfish money, Virginia her tobacco money, etc.

Messadaglia, one of the greatest economists of Europe, demonstrates, in his History and Statistics of the Precious Metals, that the choice of the precious metals for coinage purposes has never been arbitrary or merely conventional. The very nature of things has determined the selection. This work, by far the best of the kind ever written, should be better known, although the great modesty of its author has prevented its being published except in a magazine.

What we have said above should be said concerning the commodities which served as media of exchange among primitive races. As these primitive economic markets broadened and came into contact with each other, the need was felt of a money recognized and accepted by other people. Ridgeway has demonstrated better than anyone else the slow selection of numerous monetary standards, continually decreasing in number but gradually becoming more universal. Monetary standards whose intrinsic value is greater always prevail. Even if Wolosky's assertion that “Nature produces metals, and the law fixes their value," holds true when applied to a particular country, it is fallacious when applied to international relations. In the commerce between two different countries the power of the law cannot cause the rise in value of coined metals, and when commerce becomes international and universal, the need of a recognized monetary standard becomes more pressing. The very economic evolution of the day, with the constant interchanging of the recognized standards of gold and silver, tends to establish permanently gold monometallism.

1 A. Messadaglia, La storia e la statistica dei metalli presiosi, Archivio di Statistica, Roma, 1881, p. 18.-When Messadaglia was writing, silver had not fallen to its present value, nor had the production of gold increased, a thing which happened in the following years. At that time the distribution of gold and silver was such as to show that both metals were necessary for coinage.

? W. Ridgeway, The Origin of Metallic Currency and Weight Standards, Cambridge and New York, 1892.

When Rome became the center of the world, gold more and more displaced silver in foreign traffic. The same thing happened during the great revival of learning, which was the most important event in the history of Europe: the international commerce of the Italian republics made them feel the necessity of a universal money. Florence was the first to adopt the gold standard; the other republics followed her example. In Holland, during the beginning of her commercial supremacy, great inconveniences were met with on account of the great variety of coins flowing into her market. They had to resort to the Plakkaats, which were official edicts, passed at certain intervals, by which the price of the various coins was fixed in gold weight. In one of these acts of 1606 we find the fixed ratio of more than one thousand different coins. We meet with a parallel case at the beginning of the wonderful development of England's commerce. It is, therefore, impossible to have gold and silver money at the same time, and accordingly England in 1816 decided upon gold as the sole standard. Edward Atkinson has treated the question better than anyone else, since he has brought to bear upon its study his wide learning and his valuable experience gained in fifty years spent in banking and commercial transactions. His predecessors treated the question only in a theoretical way, with the a priori theories of some eminent authors utterly lacking in experience and affected by the dogmas of a visionary study. Atkinson's experience enabled him to affirm, that if London has become the banking center of the world, and if she rules its entire commerce, it is due to the safety and stability of the only English money, the pound sterling, 113.0016 grains of pure gold. In fact, with silver money the English market could never have exercised over the European market an influence so absolute and overwhelming as it has done."

Mommsen, History of Rome, III, 495 (New York, 1888). · P. Villari, Niccolo Macchiavelli e i suoi tempi, Milano, 1894, Vol. I°, p. I^. 3 P. Villari, I. c. 4 E. Atkinson, 1. c.

• The same thing happened in Florence, when the true gold forin appeared, weighing 72 grains fine, from which standard it has never departed during all its existence. Cf. W. A. Shaw, History of Currency (1896), p. 302.

But it is a very important fact and should be noted, that neither in Rome, nor in the Italian republic, nor in Holland, nor in England, is the superiority of these economic markets determined by their gold standards. This is the result of the economic conditions of those markets, it is a manifestation of these conditions. In the XIVth century there was a lack of gold money in Florence. Silver money reappears with Cosimo I. Ricardo is correct: gold, as a sequence of the commercial competition, is distributed among the different countries of the world, and adjusts itself to that natural traffic which would take place if this metal did not exist. The Argentine Republic does not find herself in poor financial condition because she is wanting in gold, but rather her poor economic conditions have caused the outflow of gold.

Every country has the money that it deserves, and its economic circumstances will allow. Poor money is the manifestation of the poor economic conditions of a country. When Italy, after the crisis of 1887, had to pay several millions of debts to foreign countries, she could only pay them with commodities or with gold, which is accepted as a commodity for its intrinsic value. Accordingly, if the United States have a good wheat crop, they yearly pay with its exportation for the greater part of the European imports. But, if such a crop fails, gold has to flow out of the country. It is on this account, as we know, that the United States sometimes resort to a special kind of public loan in order to call back the gold from abroad. Resorting to such means, the United States have been able to keep their good money. On the other hand, other countries have adopted a measure entirely different, which ruined their money. When gold money had left them, instead of getting it back by means of a loan abroad,» they preferred to issue paper money, which was a loan extorted from all the citizens of the state. This happened in Italy. To restore the balance of trade, and to pay the debts contracted with foreign

1 E. Atkinson, 1. c.

? That can happen only when the economic equilibrium is a momentary phenomenon, as in the United States. But a country, economically a unit, may in vain recall its gold from abroad, for hardly has the gold returned when its outflow begins again, or it is obliged to remove it from circulation.

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