His Excellency Marquis de Moustier presiding

Were present :

For Austria : His Excellency Baron de Hock, privy councilor, member of the House of Lords.

For the Grand Duchy of Baden : Baron Schweizer, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the Grand Duchy at Paris; Dietz, privy councilor, commissioner general of the Grand Duchy to the Universal Exposition.

For Bavaria : Messrs. de Hermann, councilor of State; de Haindl, director of the mint.

For Belgium : MMr. Fortamps, senator, director of the Bank of Belgium; Stas, member of the Royal Academy, commissioner of coinage.

For Denmark : Count Moltke Hvitfeldt, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from Denmark at Paris.

For the United States : Mr. Samuel B. Ruggles, commissioner to the Universal Exposition.

For France : His Excellency Marquis de Moustier, minister for foreign affairs, President of the conference; MMr. de Parieu, vice-President of the council of state, member of the institute, vice-President of the conference, de Lavenay, President of the section of finance in the council of state; Herbet, minister plenipotentiary, director in the department of foreign affairs; Dutilleul, director in the department of finances.

For Great Britain : Mr. Thomas Graham, director of the royal mint; Mr. Rivers Wilson, attached to the treasury.

For Greece : Mr. Delyannis, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Paris.

For Italy : MMr. the Chevalier Artom, councilor of the legation of Italy at Paris; P. Giordono, inspector of the royal corps of mines, and commissioner to the Universal Exposition.

For the Netherlands : MMr. Vrolik, former minister of finance; Mees, President of the Netherlands Bank.

For Portugal : MMr. the Count d’Avila, peer of the realm, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of his Most Faithful Majesty at the court of Madrid, commissioner general to the Universal Exposition; the Viscount de Villa Major, peer of the realm, member of the jury for the Universal Exposition.

For Prussia : MMr. Meinecke, superior privy councilor of finance; Herzog, privy councilor of the department of commerce, commissioner to the Universal Exposition.

For Russia : Mr. de Jacobi, privy councilor, member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg.

For Sweden and Norway : MMr. Wallenberg, member of the first chamber of the Swedish Diet, director of the Bank of Stockholm; Broch, member of the Storthing of Norway, President of the central commission of Norway for the Universal Exposition.

For Switzerland : MMr. Kern, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Paris; Escher, director of the federal mint.

For Turkey : His Excellency Djemil Pacha, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary from the Sublime Porte.

For Württemberg : MMr. Baron de Soden, privy councilor of legation.

Mr. Clavery, rédacteur of department for foreign affairs, was charged with the functions of secretary, associated with Mr. Roux, attached to the vice-presidency of the council of state, as assistant secretary.

The international monetary conference met for the first time on Monday, 17th June, 1867, at half-past nine o’clock, at the hotel of the department of foreign affairs, under the presidency of his Excellency the minister for foreign affairs.

His Excellency the Marquis de Moustier expressed to Messrs, the delegates the regrets of his Excellency Mr. Rouher, who being obliged to preside at that very time in the imperial commission of the Universal Exposition, could not assist at this sitting.  He then opened the labors of the conference by pronouncing the following allocution :

«The approximations which the late commercial reforms have wrought between the economic interests of nations ought to result in causing to be appreciated more earnestly than in past time the advantages which would be derived from the unification of coinages.  To substitute instead of the variety of monetary types actually in use, metallic coins struck in accordance with uniform regulations, and placed beyond any variations of exchange, would, in effect, be to remove one of the most serious obstacles to the development of international relations.  Thus, when in 1865 the delegates of France, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland had succeeded in forming between those four, a real monetary union, the thought of a more extended association naturally presented itself to their intelligence; thence came the right of accession opened to other countries by a special clause in the convention of December 25, 1865; thence the wish put forth by the commissioners, that studies should be undertaken, in concert, among all civilized states on the question of uniformity of coinage.

«No period could be more favorable to the realization of this wish than that of the Universal Exposition; the government of the Emperor hastened to avail of it, and the acceptance which various governments have pleased to extend to these overtures, have shown that the importance of the problem to be solved was universally recognized.

«The dispositions thus manifested from the outset are so much the more precious, as it was impossible to dissemble the difficulties of the task which the members of the conference have to accomplish.  Those difficulties are of diverse nature, and to remove them it is important, beyond all, that each state, in view of the great interest it seeks to satisfy, should seek, without exclusive opinions, the best solution.

«The French government is, moreover, pleased, gentlemen, to recognize in the choice of yourselves, on the part of your government, a fresh pledge of the solicitude which, abroad as well as in France, is entertained upon the question submitted to the conference.  A study of such delicacy and so complex could not be confided to an assemblage which could present a more complete combination of knowledge required either in the conduct of great affairs, in the management of important financial institutions, or in technical operations.

«The sittings, therefore, of the international convention open under the happiest auspices, and we may look to the result with confidence.

«I could have desired,» added the minister of foreign affairs, in closing his remarks, «to have been able to participate with assiduity in your deliberations, but I have reason to fear, as also has the minister of state, that our many occupations will not permit us.

«In our absence Mr. de Parieu, vice-President of the council of state, will cheerfully direct the labors of the conference.  I need not, sirs, attest to you the pre-eminent competency of Mr. de Parieu; you are aware that he has made the monetary question the object of the profoundest study, and you are acquainted with the remarkable writings in which he has published the results of his researches.  The skilful direction which he has already given to the preliminary discussions of the convention of 1865 is the guarantee of a like ability in this new conference.»

Mr. de Parieu, expressing his thanks to the minister of foreign affairs, invoked the kind co-operation of the members of the conference to second him in the task which might be devolved upon him.

He then proposed to confide to a sub-committee the charge of preparing heads of inquiry, which would serve as the basis of deliberations.  The sub-committee might be composed of seven persons, and should represent the three groups into which the different states are divided, in a monetary point of view, as having respectively adopted the gold standard, the silver standard, or the two standards.

His Excellency Djemil Pacha suggesting that on the occasion of the last telegraphic conference, held at Paris, a sub-committee had been charged with preparing not merely heads of inquiry, but a complete plan for settlement, asked if it were not possible to proceed in that way on the present occasion.

Mr. Herbet remarked that at the time of the telegraphic conference all the states were represented by their diplomatic agents, assisted by special agents, principally heads of the administration of the telegraphs of their respective countries, and in some sort clothed with power to elucidate numerous questions of detail and the technical difficulties connected with the reform which it was proposed to accomplish.  The present commission is not composed of like elements, and the members who compose it are present by virtue of delegations which do not establish similar distinctions.  Mr. Herbet, moreover, approved the combination proposed by Mr. de Parieu, adding only that the conference could, if it should think proper, increase the number of members of the sub-committee, perhaps, to nine.

Mr. Fortamps also assented to the proposition under consideration, as the best way of settling without loss of time the programme of questions to be solved.

Baron de Hock and Mr. Kern expressed the opinion that it would be convenient to devolve on Mr. de Parieu and Mr. Herbet the duty of designating the members of the sub-committee, the number of which might, in case of need, be raised to nine.

On the motion of Mr. de Moustier, the formation of such sub-committee was directed.

The sitting being suspended for some minutes, was resumed, and Mr. de Parieu submitted to the conference the names which follow :

To represent the countries which have adopted the gold standard : Mr. Graham, delegate from England, and Mr. the Count d’Avila, delegate from Portugal.  To represent the countries which have the silver standard : the Baron de Hock, delegate from Austria, and Mr. Meinecke, delegate from Prussia.  To represent the countries of the double standards : Mr. de Jacobi, delegate from Russia, and Mr. de Parieu, delegate from France; finally, as the seventh member, Mr. Samuel B. Ruggles, delegate from the United States, and sole representative of the transatlantic countries.

The sub-committee, thus composed, would furnish all the guarantees of impartiality that were desirable.

Mr. de Jacobi observed that Russia has only one standard, that of silver.

Mr. de Parieu answered that this empire finds itself in this respect in the same situation as France.  For both countries there is a kind of pre-eminence of the silver standard; but gold is equally a legal tender as silver, and the two metals are received without distinction in payments.

The conference decided that the sub-committee should meet tomorrow at ten o’clock at the council of state, and shall lay before it as soon as possible the proposed heads of inquiry (questionnaire).

The sitting rose at eleven o’clock.





Mr. de Parieu presiding

The sitting opened at ten o’clock.  Present, the commissioners who attended at the first meeting, with exception of his Excellency Djemil Pacha and Mr. Vrolik, the latter being indisposed.  Mr. Feer-Herzog, member of the Swiss national council, takes his place among the delegates.  The President informed the conference of a communication from the ambassador of the Sublime Porte, who, not being able to attend the sitting, has designated Colonel Essad Bey, military attaché of the embassy, to attend the discussions of the conference until the arrival of Mihrau-Bey-Duz, member of the grand council of justice and director of the mint at Constantinople, special delegate of the Ottoman government.  Colonel Essad Bey was admitted to participate in the labors of the commission.

The minutes of the first sitting being read and adopted, the President addressed the delegates as follows :

«Gentlemen, you heard at your last sitting the words by which the Marquis de Moustier, minister for foreign affairs, President of this conference, expressed to you, with all the authority of his high position, his thanks and the desires of the French government for the success of the labors which you are willing to enter upon with us in search of the proper means of development of a monetary unification, happily undertaken in 1865, with the sympathetic concurrence of Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys.  You have been pleased to charge me with the preparation of a detailed programme for your labors, with the collaboration of six members of your conference, representing the more considerable states in the diverse groups among which the fundamental monetary systems of the world are distributed.  It was incumbent on us to set to work, regretting to be deprived of the assistance of so many eminent men who could not be placed on the sub-committee, but whose precious co-operation will not fail us here.

«The questionnaire (interrogatories) which we prepared for you yesterday, gentlemen, has been distributed to you, and I ask permission to present to you a few brief remarks on the spirit in which it has been drawn up, and on the nature of the questions which may in some sort arrange themselves side by side with those which it includes.

«The monetary systems in use among various nations certainly bear traces of accidental varieties traceable to chance and the former isolation of nations, but it is incontestable that some of these varieties are not altogether fortuitous, but have relation to the economic condition of the countries in which they have been carried into practice.

«In this condition, monetary unifications, long desired, can be realized in our days only in the proportion in which these economic conditions can be approximated, and under which the monetary systems are less widely distant from what I would wish to call their point of maturity.  To discern, on the one side, what relates to the circumstances which affect the economic history of nations, and on the other that which is fundamental in monetary science, is now our main endeavor; for if individuals and nations separate on what may rest on arbitrary will or caprice, they easily come together on a true and calm consideration of their situations.

«Notwithstanding this conviction, we have not been willing that all the doctrinal and scholastic questions which pertain to monetary science, a science still imperfect, should be textually laid down in the programme of your labors.  They may present themselves incidentally, and, to a certain extent, are tacitly included.  The questions we have the honor to submit to you all have a practical character, which we hope will meet your approval, as circumscribing difficulties and perhaps avoiding some idle problems.  Allow me, in consideration of the number and the delicacy of the questions which, notwithstanding our reserve, it has been our duty to lay before you, to briefly invoke in advance your patient co-operation.

«The task assigned to us is difficult, as the minister for foreign affairs so judiciously remarked, but in my opinion it is powerfully commended to our efforts.

«The Roman empire had imposed on the ancient world monetary unification.  We are assured that in the thirteenth century the religious and commercial ascendancy of Italy made the golden florin current throughout all Christendom.  Since that time the accidents of war have occasionally extended the range of certain monetary systems.  An age which, like ours, has already effected so much for the approximation of nations by the community of the material means of intercommunication, and of certain legislative institutions guaranteeing mutual interests, from the suppression of the droit d’aubaine down to international conventions for the execution of judgments and the extradition of parties charged with crime; from postal, telegraphic, and revenue conventions down to such as protect literary property; an age, the index of which, adopting the expression of one of the members of this conference at a former meeting, is the increasing recognition of the solidarity of the interests of all nations; an age which also honors and encourages the genius of peace, should it not require the peaceful discussion of the means of discharging, by the establishment of monetary unification, its debt to civilization ?  Permit me then, gentlemen, to count upon your indulgent aid, as you are assured of my devotion and my impartiality in pursuing this great task.  If it is not for us to accomplish it immediately, I doubt not we are called on to prepare what will be useful in the future.»

After this address, which was received with marks of unanimous assent, the questionnaire (or interrogatories), prepared by the sub-committee in the following terms, was read to the conference.


1.  By what means is it most easy to realize monetary unification; whether by the creation of a system altogether new, independent of existing systems – and in such case what should be the basis of such system – or, by the mutual co-ordination of existing systems, taking into account the scientific advantages of certain types, and the number of the populations which already have adopted them ?  In this case, what monetary system should be principally taken into consideration, reserving the changes of which it might be susceptible for making it perfect ?

2.  Is there a possibility of establishing at this time identities or partial coincidences of monetary types on a wide scale, on the basis and with the condition of the adoption of the silver standard exclusively ?

3.  Is there, on the contrary, a possibility of attaining this result on the basis and with the condition of the gold standard exclusively ?

4.  What of the like result in proceeding on the basis and with the condition of the adoption of the double standard, with the establishment of an identity of relations in all countries between the value of gold and the value of silver ?

5.  In case of a negative on the three preceding questions, would it be possible and beneficial to establish identities or partial coincidences of monetary types on an extended scale on the basis of silver coins, leaving each state at liberty to simultaneously regulate the standard of gold ?

6.  Would it be more possible and more beneficial to establish identities or partial coincidences of gold coins, leaving each state to regulate the standard of silver ?

7.  On the hypothesis of the affirmative solution of one of the two preceding questions, and following the distinctions which that alternative imports, would the advantage of internationality which coins of the metal taken as the common standard would require, be a sufficient guarantee for their being kept in circulation in each state, or would it be necessary beyond that to stipulate, either for a certain limit in the relation between the value of gold and that of silver, or for the case where the international coins would run the risk of being completely expelled from circulation in some of the contracting states ?

8.  Is it necessary to the success of monetary unification to constitute at this time a unity everywhere identical for metallic composition, weight, and denomination; and in that case, upon what basis ?

9.  Would it be of advantage, in case gold should be adopted as the international metal, that the types of that money, determined by the monetary convention of the 23d of December, 1865, to promote unification, and consequent reciprocity, should be completed by new types; for example, by coins of fifteen francs and of twenty-five francs ?  In this case what should be their dimensions ?

10.  Would there be an advantage, under certain hypotheses – for example, in case of the affirmative on questions three or six – to regulate by common obligations certain points relating to silver coins or base coin, either in regard to their composition and standard or their limits of admission in payments, or to the quota of issue of each ?

11.  Is it practicable to define precisely the means of control which could be established for securing exactness in the striking of the common types of international money ?

12.  Aside from immediate practical possibilities, the object of the preceding questions, could any ulterior solutions be attained by doctrinal decisions, and on grounds of principle, with a view to increase in the future the approximations already effected in the past two years in Europe, or that could be immediately realized in this monetary matter ?

The President calls for discussions of the totality of the questionnaire.  No one claiming the floor, the draught of the questionnaire was adopted, and the investigation of the first question was commenced.

Mr. Mees declared that if he could admit the immediate realization of the unification of coinage, he would give the preference to the first of the two alternatives.  In this case, in effect, the creation of a new system, avoiding all national susceptibilities, would seem to him the best way to attain the end.  But it does not seem possible to him that complete uniformity can be speedily obtained, and therefore he considers the second alternative as being alone of a nature to produce actual practical results.

The Count d’Avila did not hesitate, either, to place himself on the second alternative.  If the different states found themselves obliged by the establishment of a system altogether novel, to change simultaneously their monetary regulations, the difficulties of the attempt would be multiplied in such manner that they would become insurmountable.  In respect to the existing systems which should especially be taken under consideration, the Count d’Avila indicated the convention of December 23, 1865.  The points then essential for solution, and for the adoption of which the delegate from Portugal was ready to vote, were, 1st, one standard only; 2d, the gold standard; 3d, reduction of the pound sterling to twenty-five francs; 4th, reduction of the American dollar to five francs; 5th, the adoption of the gold coin of five francs as the monetary unit.

On these bases an agreement would be easy between France, England, and the United States, and would sooner or later rally also the other countries.  It would only be necessary that there should be identity of weight and of standard between the pieces – that the fineness of the English coin should be brought from 11-12ths to 9-10ths.  The last-named standard tends more and more to prevail as to gold; it has been adopted by Spain for coin of this metal and for the silver dollar, which is the basis of the Spanish system, but the coinage of which has ceased since the standard of other silver coinage has been lowered to .810.  In Portugal, where, as in England, coin was made 11-12ths fine, and where the mintage at this standard has been very restricted, the Count d’Avila thought the government would doubtless consent to a recoinage, the cost of which would be covered by the lowering of the standard.

What was more essential in the view of the delegate from Portugal was, that an agreement should take place between England, France and the United States.  This example would have a decisive effect.  In any event, if the commissioners from the different countries would indicate at this time in a summary manner, as he has himself done, their views on the project of arrangement, the Count d’Avila thought nothing could be more adapted to hasten, as well as to elucidate, the progress of the discussion.

Mr. Fortamps could have wished that the question of standard was first established.  It is an initiative point which it is convenient to settle at once, in order to base the deliberations on foundations as precise as possible.

Mr. Herbet remarked, that by reason even of the importance of this last question, there would be inconveniences in bringing it at once under discussion.  It would be of advantage if delegates from the same state could come preliminarily to an understanding among themselves, and ask, if needful, instructions from their governments.  The absence of the Spanish delegate, who is shortly looked for, is so much the more to be regretted, because Mr. Jose Polo would bring a large experience to bear on these subjects; at present, therefore, it might be well to confine ourselves to an exchange of general views on this point.

Mr. de Parieu explained that the first question bad been framed in such manner as to embrace an order of ideas much more extensive than the question of standard.  The alternatives therein presented are not pure hypotheses : the establishment of a new system having for unity the gram of gold; the generalization of the system having for basis the standard of silver, which, according to the Brussels committee, whose views have been communicated to the conference, should be five francs; unification by means of approximation between the systems in operation; all these doctrines have been supported in the newspapers or in special publications.

Baron de Hock shared in the opinion of Count d’Avila on the impossibility of bringing about the acceptance of an entirely new system, and completely breaking up inveterate habits.  In Germany we find in respect to this matter a striking example : there was a wish to introduce in the German states a coin which was not correspondent with any existing types.  Although it was the most rational, and accorded perfectly with the metric system, it could not find its way into calculations.  The gold crown only passed from the mint into the melting-pots of the goldsmiths.  It is, as expressed in the second sentence of the first question, by the mutual co-ordination of existing legislation, by taking into account the scientific advantages of certain types and the number of populations which have adopted them, that a solution may be found.  Among the systems actually in vigor, which is the one which would serve most advantageously as the basis of this approximation ?

It would be, said the commissioner from Austria, the convention of 23d December, 1865, provided it were to undergo certain modifications, and the new agreement should rest upon the principle of the gold standard exclusively.  This metal, which has spread in such considerable amounts through the European market during the last twenty years, would be the most convenient agent for a universal monetary circulation.

Mr. Feer-Herzog agreed with Baron de Hock on the fitness of adopting the second alternative proposed in the questions.

There is in France a school, important because of the scientific authority of its adepts, which admits no other monetary unity than metric unity in round numbers; and proposes to take for unit a weight of five grams of gold of 9/10ths fineness.

This theoretic solution would be wanting in one essential quality, that of practicability; at the time we have arrived at, we cannot invent a monetary unit which is not in relation with any type actually existing.

The franc itself had been compelled not to depart too far from the livre tournois in order to make itself acceptable, and, as the Baron de Hock has reminded us, the gold crown, containing ten grams of fine gold and weighing little more than eleven grams, has not been able to get into circulation in Germany because it is not adapted to the florin of Austria, nor the florin of Bavaria, nor the thaler of Prussia.  By the very force of things it is a foreign coin, the napoleon, which represents beyond all others the monetary circulation of gold in Germany.

In a word, added Mr. Feer-Herzog, when the unification of monetary systems is discussed, it is, above all, necessary to inquire whether existing legislations do not present the elements of equation and of approximation.  We must take into account the habitudes long ago formed of the great monetary reservoirs already created.

 Without doubt, the metric system, in its application to weights and measures, satisfies by its admirable co-ordinations the necessities of practical character, as well as the exigencies of theory; but to desire to impose it, coextensively, in all its rigor, in matters of coin, would be to encounter obstacles which mere considerations of practical utility would not have removed.

In the opinion of Mr. Feer-Herzog, the system of the monetary convention of December 23, 1865, would best assist the equations of the English sovereign and the American dollar, and it would be sufficient to add some improvements, especially in what concerns the standard.  Seventeen years ago the question was much discussed in Switzerland, and that country, which then had to choose between the diverse systems in application in the neighboring states, has only had to congratulate herself on having given the preference to that which is actually in force in the confederation.

Mr. de Jacobi adopted in full the order of ideas developed by Mr. Feer-Herzog.  He would have been glad that a relation should exist between coins and the systems of weights and measures, but, in the double view of science and practice, he saw no necessity for establishing such relations to the prejudice of other more important interests.  He could not, therefore, regard as serious the reproach cast on the gold coin of France, as having widened the breach in the French metric system, the integrity of which he acknowledged, and in favor of which he had categorically expressed himself on another occasion.  The creation of an entirely new coinage was so much the less opportune that he would not let the occasion pass without noticing the agreement, perhaps accidental, but in fact almost complete, which exists between the intrinsic value of the principal French coins and those of Russia, which he represents in this assembly.  Thus, the silver rouble coincides very nearly with four francs, the difference not being greater than the limit of the tolerance.  In the same way the demi-imperial has a value only fifteen kopeks higher than the twenty franc gold piece.

Mr. de Hermann replying to a remark of Mr. de Hock, observed that if the gold crown has not kept in circulation it has been because it was not legal coin and was not received in the public banks.

Mr. Stas would prefer the establishment of an entirely new monetary system, and that the conference assume as its mission to settle principles and not expedients in practice.  To follow the latter course would be to leave traces in snow not to engrave footprints in rock.  The one would not create anything durable; on the contrary, it would prepare difficulties; for the future monetary unification will only be reached by first laying down an immovable basis, and in that Mr. Stas, contrary to the views of Mr. Feer-Herzog, declares himself the partisan of the opinion of the economists, in the scientific point of view as well as in its application.  The creation of a system based on a unit of gold of five or ten grams would offer the immense advantage of having it more readily accepted by all nations, as it would avoid all national susceptibility.  Doubtless the adoption of the new unit would require the general reminting of all coinage, but this recoinage would bring with it a definitive system sanctioned by science.

The system of equations among the coins of different countries, in accordance with those of the convention of 1865, would also bring about the necessity of recoinage for the countries not parties to that convention.  But would this recoinage have the needed immutability ?  Mr. Stas did not think so, and added that in this respect he spoke disinterestedly, considering his position as a representative of one of the governments cosigners of the act of 1865; but be looked at the question from the stand-point of the interests of England and the United States.  From England is asked the equation of the pound sterling with twenty-five francs.  This coin of twenty-five francs, of itself, will offer certainly some advantages, but what inconveniences will not its divisions produce ?  The half would be twelve francs fifty centimes, a number already fractional, and therefore inconvenient, and this inconvenience will only increase with successive subdivisions.  As for the United States, the difference between the dollar and the five-franc piece renders the equation particularly difficult.

Mr. Stas added that, in his view, there does not really exist pieces of twenty francs, of ten francs, of five francs, seeing that no piece of twenty francs, for example, is exactly the one hundred and fifty-fifth part of a kilogram.  Mathematically speaking, the kilogram cannot be divided into one hundred and fifty-five equal portions.  With stronger reason, it cannot be, in the order of material facts.  That would not be with a metric unity of gold; and it is only by manufacturing from all coins a new monetary system that we can reasonably hope to arrive at the establishment of a common measure in the values of various countries.

The President asked Mr. Stas if he speaks in the name of the Belgian government, or if this is his own personal opinion only.

Mr. Fortamps declared that the opinion expressed by Mr. Stas is shared by the ministers of finance of Belgium, but the Belgian government would not refuse to acquiesce in other propositions which should be adopted by the conference.

Mr. Meinecke thought it of prime necessity to adopt as the base of the new system a system already recognized and reduced to practice.  He did not pretend to ask the sympathies of the conference in favor of the Prussian monetary system, for he thinks that the standard of gold in the countries which have adopted it cannot be replaced by the standard of silver in force in Prussia only.  Prussia, then, must renounce its standard if she wished to rally under a general monetary union.  However, Prussia is content with the silver standard; the monetary circulation of which it is the basis is excellent, and there is no urgent reason for introducing there a change so considerable as that which would result from the change of this standard.  On the other hand, the difficulty of adopting the gold standard is much greater for Prussia than for any other country.  Nevertheless, without having the thought of modifying at this time its monetary system, the Prussian government would not fail to take the matter into consideration if the labors of the conference should aim at establishing a basis for a general monetary arrangement.  She would study with care the best means to connect her with it, and when resolutions in this respect shall have been adopted, she would communicate them to her northern confederates, whose concurrence is indispensable, and also to the states of south Germany, her cosigners of the treaty of 1857.  Mr. Meinecke adds that with this reservation he would take part in the discussion, and would give his vote.

Mr. Feer-Herzog, replying to the remarks of Mr. Stas, said that the metric system would not probably claim scrupulous respect for its smallest parts.  The meter, which is the basis, has not, practically, that sure scientific quantity of length which constitutes its definition.  The terrestrial spheroid, according to one of the dimensions on which the meter is calculated, presents irregularities, and there could therefore not be found in the meter itself that mathematical perfection which Mr. Stas seeks for.  Nevertheless, the metric system offers great advantages, especially in the co-ordination of the different magnitudes which it includes, and which facilitate calculations.

It is certain that neither the twenty-franc piece nor the five-franc piece represent a fixed round number of grams, and in this point of view it would not be possible to give of them in grams a mathematical definition.  But there is nothing to hinder the definition of the Napoleon by indicating the round number (155) which a kilogram includes, or rather that it should be defined by the fractionary number of grams which represent its weight, neglecting the decimals beyond the thousandths decimals which practically are of no importance and have only an interest purely scientific.  It is not indispensable to the goodness of coin that it should be metrically proportioned.

It has been said it would be necessary to remint the English sovereign.  That is a point for discussion.  There is between the sovereign and the twenty-five franc piece a minimum difference of twenty centimes only.  But this difference is very little beyond the limit of the tolerance; the reminting of the sovereigns would therefore not be of absolute obligation, and it would be possible to keep in circulation the pieces now in use, provided only that the new ones should be coined with the minimum of reduction indicated.  Mr. Feer-Herzog adds that as for the objection raised by Mr. Stas in respect of the United States, he can reply, that according to a letter from Senator Sherman, which had been communicated to him by Mr. Ruggles, member of the conference, opinions are pronounced in America for lowering the dollar value.  That country is, therefore, ready, and the objection of Mr. Stas falls of itself.

In what regards the division of the sovereign, in case the value of that coin should be brought to twenty-five francs, it would not be necessary to have coins of twelve francs fifty cents.  The pound sterling would theoretically become to France a multiple of a new monetary unit which would be two francs fifty cents, a unit of which it would be the decuple, and consequently there would be no occasion to apprehend the numerous decimals which would follow the successive subdivision of the sovereign of twenty-five francs, as there would be on the hypothesis of the creation of coins of twelve francs fifty cents and of six francs twenty-five cents.

The Baron de Hock observed to Mr. Feer-Herzog that the meter is a unit, not merely scientific but also real; witness the meter kept at the department of justice; the monetary unit might be kept in the same way.  He was, besides, of the same opinion with Mr. Feer-Herzog in relation to the division of the pound sterling, and added, that in Austria it is the intention to make coins of twenty-five francs.  These coins will bear the name of ten florins, and as for their subdivisions the monetary commission at Vienna, presided over by Baron de Hock, has decided against a coin of twelve francs, fifty cents, and preferred that of ten francs, or four florins.  There is nothing to prevent England from doing likewise.  The objection of Mr. Stas, therefore, has not all the weight that he supposed it to have.

Mr. Broch was of opinion that monetary unification must be effected, not only in view of the convenience of travellers, but above all for the sake of commerce it would be proper to have an understanding in respect to the subdivisionary coins as well as of gold coin in the interest of the laboring classes.  It is essential that the coinage should everywhere offer subdivisions as equivalent as possible, so that the laborer who often has need of a fractional coin may not be the sufferer from variations which might exist in the diverse monetary systems respecting small change, and may be enabled to estimate correctly the real cost of his limited purchases.  It is therefore for identities on the whole monetary scale that Mr. Broch reserved his approval, and not for simple partial coincidences between gold coin.

He declared himself, moreover, for the system previously recognized by the convention of 1865, and thought the tie which connects the gold coinage and the metric system (155 Napoleons to the kilogram) was sufficient, without there being need to create a new system, as Mr. Stas wishes to do.  But it was to be remarked that the standard only of silver is in force in Sweden and Norway, and that, moreover, the commerce of those united kingdoms being principally with Germany, especially Hamburg, their adhesion to a monetary union would of necessity be subordinated to the preliminary adhesion of northern Germany.

The President, without contradicting the tendencies of Mr. Broch, must observe that they presuppose a preliminary reminting of all the gold and silver coinage actually in circulation in the states which would take part in the monetary union, while by a system of equations the reminting would not bear upon the fractional coins, but only on the large pieces, a distinction which Mr. Stas has not taken into account.

Mr. Graham, through Mr. Rivers Wilson, replying to the assertion of Mr. Feer-Herzog that sovereigns actually in circulation might be kept so because of the trifling difference which would separate them from the new twenty-five franc coins, said that, if it be true that the twenty centimes of difference are almost comprised within the limits of the tolerance, it is not the less true that the English government would make it a point of honor not to avail itself of these limits.  There would, therefore, be serious inconvenience in leaving in circulation sovereigns of twenty-five francs twenty cents.  In case of a new emission of sovereigns reduced to twenty-five francs, it would follow that the people, accustomed to divide by twenty, would call for the piece of twenty francs; thence the necessity for a second recoinage, and, in such case, the abandonment of the sovereign.  The immediate adoption of the French system would be preferable.

Mr. Feer-Herzog remarked, that if the sovereign be reduced to twenty-five francs, and be divided, we obtain the double of the present shilling and not the franc.  He added, that this double shilling exists in fact because it is the English florin, and consequently the reduction of the sovereign would not lead to its abandonment.

Mr. Ruggles said it would be as impossible to abolish the expression of the dollar in the United States as that of the sovereign in England, but that both might be retained in reducing their intrinsic values.  For the sovereign it would be a reduction of only twenty centimes; for the dollar, on the other hand, the reduction would be 3 ½ % on its value.  The United States were ready to make this sacrifice in view of monetary unification; such was the opinion of the American people, and after the next winter a general reminting of coin, however considerable, might commence.  But this reminting must be made now or never, for if we examine the gold coinages of the great commercial nations we find them rapidly increasing.  If this progression should continue the time would come when the reminting of the coinage of the United States would become practically impossible in view of the enormous cost of recoinage which would then be necessary.  The United States from 1793 to 1849 actually coined but eighty-five millions of dollars in gold; in 1850 and 1851 ninety-four millions; from 1851 to 1866, 665 millions.  During this last period of fifteen years France has coined about 955 millions of dollars in gold, and England 450 millions.  We thus see that two milliards of dollars in gold, or more than ten milliards of francs, have been thrown into the money market since the discovery of the mines of Australia and California.  This considerable mass of coin is increasing daily.  It is certainly possible that in the United States, in the fifteen years which are to follow, the coinage of gold may reach the amount of five (5) milliards of francs.  In view of such a future the American government would prefer to reduce its monetary unit at once.  For that purpose it needs only the passage of a law briefly declaring that «the weight of the gold dollar shall be hereafter 1.612 90 in place of 1.672 g.»  Those few words would serve to change the whole monetary system of the United States.  But the United States, in thus consenting to recoin its gold now in circulation, would expect that France, on her side, will consent to coin gold pieces of twenty-five francs, in which case monetary unification would at once assume a practical form.

The President expressed to Mr. Ruggles the satisfaction with which the conference had listened to sentiments so favorable to monetary unification as those he had uttered in the name of the United States; adding that, in regard to the wish expressed for the creation of a twenty-five franc piece in France, this wish had already found its place in the questionnaire, and would be thereafter discussed.

Mr. Herbet laid before the conference a communication which had been made to him personally by Mr. Graham relative to the coin of Canada, about which there would be a question of recoinage on the basis of the convention of 1865.  This was an important communication, and it would be of advantage if Mr. Graham would repeat it to the conference, which could take action upon it.

Mr. Graham replied that nothing had been decided upon in this respect, but as there was an identity of coin between Canada and the United States, if the latter should approximate to the French monetary system, Canada would, of necessity, follow the example.

Mr. Mees said that he could only consider the first question in a theoretic point of view, and that his vote could not bind his government, seeing that Holland would not, at least at present, be able to conform to any monetary system whatever while surrounded by three monetary systems so different as those which are based upon the franc, the thaler, and the sovereign.

The Count d’Avila resuming the question of the reminting of the English coin, discussed in succession by Mr. Stas, Feer-Herzog, and Mr. Graham, expressed the opinion that if the pound sterling were reduced to twenty-five francs, the reminting of the English sovereigns, far from being an expense to the treasury, would probably be profitable to it, as the new sovereign would be inferior in fineness to the old.  In fact, by reducing the fineness from 11/12 to 9/10, there would be a gain of more than 60 milligrams of pure gold for each sovereign.  Besides, the adoption of the pound sterling for twenty-five francs would be sufficient, because naturally the subdivisions of the one coin and the other would correspond with each other; for example, there would be natural equations between five francs and four shillings, fifty francs and two pounds sterling, &c.

No one asking to speak, the President proposed to take the vote on the first question, pointing out at the same time the necessity for agreeing preliminarily on the manner of voting, individually or by states.

Mr. Herbet remarked, that, in conformity with precedents, the vote could only be taken by states; the French government, in fact, on inviting foreign governments to take part in an international monetary conference, left them at full liberty as to the number of delegates who should represent them.  If the vote were per capita, some states would cast more votes, because their delegates might be more numerous.  That is a consequence which could not be admitted.  Without having precisely the character of a diplomatic assemblage, the present conference is, however, composed of members who have been furnished with preliminary instructions by their governments, and who should, in consequence, yield their individual opinions, so as to bring forward only those of the states they may represent, and it pertains to the first of the delegates of each state to utter its vote.

The mode of voting laid down by Mr. Herbet being accepted by the conference, the President put to vote the first paragraph of the first question :

«Is it more easy to realize monetary unification by the creation of an entirely new system, independent of existing systems, and in this case what should be the basis of this system ?»

The conference decided unanimously in the negative.

The President then put to vote the first part of the second paragraph of the same question :

«Is it, on the contrary, more easy to realize monetary unification by mutual co-ordination of existing systems, taking into account the scientific advantages of certain types, and of the numbers of the populations which have already adopted them ?»

The conference unanimously responded, yes.

The second part of the same paragraph thus framed was then put to vote :

«In this case what monetary system should be principally taken into consideration, reserving improvements of which it might be susceptible ?»

Upon a suggestion from Mr. Fortamps, it was understood that the vote to be given did not determine the question of standard.  The conference expressed itself unanimously in favor of the system of the monetary convention of 1865, annexed to this procès-verbal.  Messrs. de Hermann and Baron de Soden stated that all their votes were given subject to reserve in respect of anterior engagements of their respective states.

Mr. de Parieu stated that, in effect, the German states finding themselves mutually bound by the treaty of 1857, their reciprocal engagements do not permit them to act in severally, except as far as Austria is concerned, which has quite recently freed herself from the engagement.

The examination of the second question was remitted to the next meeting, which was fixed for tomorrow at 2 o’clock.

The sitting was closed at half past twelve.




Mr. de Parieu presiding

The sitting opened at 2 o’clock.  Present, the delegates who were present at the second sitting, as well as Mr. Vrolik, and excepting the Count de Moltke Hvitfeldt.

The minutes of the preceding sitting having been adopted, the President opened the discussion on the questions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, which are strictly connected together, and thus framed :

2.  Is it possible to constitute at this time identities or partial coincidences of monetary types, on an extensive scale, on the basis and with the condition of the adoption of the silver standard exclusively ?

3.  Is there, on the contrary, a possibility of attaining this result on the basis and with the condition of the adoption of the gold standard exclusively ?

4.  How much of like result in proceeding on the basis and with the condition of the adoption of the double standard and the establishment of an identity of relation, in all countries, between the value of gold and the value of silver ?

5.  In case of the negation of the three preceding questions, would it be possible and beneficial to establish identities or partial coincidences of monetary types on an extended scale, on the basis of silver coins, leaving each state at liberty simultaneously to regulate the gold standard ?

6.  Would it be possible and beneficial to establish identities or partial coincidences on the basis of gold coins, leaving each state at liberty to regulate the silver standard ?

7.  On the hypothesis of the affirmative solution of one of the two preceding questions, and observing the distinctions which the alternative imports, would the advantage of internationality, which coins of the metal assumed as the common standard would have, be a sufficient guarantee of their continuance in the circulation of each state, or would it be necessary beyond that to stipulate either for a certain limit in the relation between the value of gold and that of silver, or for the case where international coins would incur the risk of being completely expelled from circulation in some of the contracting states ?

Mr. Mees avowed himself, for each particular state, partisan of a single standard, and, although representing a state whose system rests on the standard of silver, he did not maintain that this standard would be that which it would be proper to adopt in preference to gold; but he could foresee serious inconvenience in all the nations of Europe adopting the same standard, for this would exclude entirely from European circulation one of the two metals, while Mr. Mees considered them both as beneficial to be retained.  It should not be forgotten that for trade with the extreme-east, silver is the metal always in use; Mr. Mees would, therefore, be inclined to vote in the negative on the questions 2, 3 and 4, because he does not admit either the standard of silver exclusively or the standard of gold exclusively, and he would only vote for the adoption of the two-fold standard in the event of the formation of a universal monetary union, an hypothesis whose epoch of realization cannot as yet be predetermined.

Mr. de Jacobi could not perceive any necessity for agreeing upon the adoption of one or the other standard.  It would be sufficient to stipulate that such and such coins should be received and accepted as legal coins, each State remaining, in other respects, free to strike other coin in accordance with convenience or the necessities of its internal transactions.

Mr. de Lavenay remarked that the difficulty was perhaps greater than Mr. de Jacobi seemed to suppose it.  The proposition just set forth would tend to nothing less than the establishment of the double standard in all countries.  How could it be admitted, in effect, that the government of a state which should have the silver standard, which, for example, could only strike legal coin in that metal, could consent to attribute that privileged character to foreign gold coins ?  How could their subjects, their public banks, be obliged to accept metallic specie which it shall have prohibited in its own issues, and of which it would seem to admit implicitly the fitness ?

In another point of view would not the same government have to apprehend a danger : that of bringing into the market of the country a foreign money which might drive out the national coin and thus give preference to a metal which it has deemed fit to discard from internal circulation in that State ?

Thus, in the opinion of Mr. de Lavenay, every country which, upon economic principles, should have adopted one standard only, could not accept the combination proposed.

Mr. de Jacobi.  Without being bound to stipulate for the employment of one and the same standard, governments might come to an understanding to coin pieces of equal value.  The approximations would not present great difficulties.  Thus the demi-imperial of gold varies little from the Napoleon of twenty francs, and if the Russian government should coin pieces of one rouble and one-fourth, it would obtain a piece equal to the five-franc piece of France, and at the same time preserve to itself the denomination of rouble.

Mr. de Lavenay admitted the facility with which these combinations could be attained between France and Russia, which have the double standard; but the case would not be similar between a country with the silver standard and a country with a gold standard, such, for example, as Prussia and England.

The President did not perfectly comprehend the practical bearing of the observations of Mr. de Jacobi.  In the opinion which prevailed at the drawing up of the questionnaire, and in which the members of the conference appeared to concur, the solution, now sought for, could only be found in one of the five combinations following the adoption by all the  states either of the gold standard or the silver standard, or the double standard, or, in fine, the standard of gold, with liberty to maintain for a time the standard of silver, and reciprocally.

Mr. Feer-Herzog indicated a certain connection between the remarks of Mr. Mees and those of Mr. de Jacobi.  They both think that the adoption of the same standard is not indispensable to the creation of a money which shall be universal.  Mr. Feer-Herzog was not of this opinion; for the specie, be it gold or be it silver, which should be intended for universal circulation, would become a simply commercial money, from the moment of their entry into a country where the monetary standard would be of a different metal.  This would fall back on the inconveniences which the conference should particularly apply itself to remove.

As for the fear expressed by Mr. Mees on the subject of the total disappearance of silver, in case of the adoption of the standard of gold exclusively, it did not seem to be founded on a thoroughly exact appreciation of the situation.  The world is divided in its monetary relation into two considerable and very distinct groups : on one side the western states, where gold tends more and more to prevail; on the other, the countries of the extreme east, where silver continues to predominate.  Commerce, which develops itself more and more between Europe and those far off countries, cannot fail to keep up on this side a considerable circulation of silver.  The adoption of a single standard in Europe and the United States would not, therefore, have the consequences which Mr. Mees supposes, and Mr. Feer-Herzog regards the standard of gold alone as the basis of a true monetary union.

The President could only connect himself, to a certain extent, with this manner of discovering whether the conference had come to an understanding about the complete unification of monetary types; but in default of a solution so completely satisfactory, we might arrive at a specification of coincidences more or less numerous between certain types, and to obtain this result, which would not be without value, unity of standard would not be necessary.  It would suffice that all the contracting states should have a common standard.

Mr. Baron de Hock would define somewhat further the object of the discussion, after having fixed the standard as being the prototype, the rule of weight, of fineness, and of the metal of the money of a country.  He recollected that the conference, in declaring at the last meeting in favor of the system of the convention of 1865, had already fixed the weight and fineness of the standard it intends to propose.  It now remained for it to determine upon the metal – shall it be gold or silver ?  Mr. de Hock would vote for the gold standard, and as for the double standard, it did not seem to him, in the same manner as to Mr. Herzog, susceptible of service in the formation of a monetary union.

The Count D’Avila supported the judicious consideration developed by Mr. de Lavenay.  He did not think that countries with the silver standard could have an understanding with countries having the gold standard for the establishment of equations of their monetary types.

Mr. de Hermann set forth the importance of looking at the question actually under discussion from the stand-point of view of the population of states which represent, on the one hand, the standard of gold or the double standard, and on the other, the standard of silver.

The President reminded the meeting, on this point, that if European states only were taken into account, if abstraction was made of Asia, the monetary circulation whereof could not be confounded with that of Europe, and whose population is besides compensated in a certain degree by the population of the American continent, the following results are obtained : One hundred and eighty millions of inhabitants in states which use the gold standard, or the double standard, against sixty millions in those which hold the silver standard.  The decision could not be doubtful.  The President having remarked that the United States were in the like situation with France.

Mr. Ruggles answered that this double standard did not practically exist, and that therefore the United States did not seem to him to be in position to be comprised among the countries having a double standard.

The original act of Congress, which was passed at a time when we were less enlightened than today, either by study or experience, sought to establish a double standard by giving to gold coin and silver coin equal legal currency in payments, whatever might be the amount of the debt.

In 1853, in view of the considerable change which had been experienced in the respective value of the two metals, and which was then in the way of increase, the double standard was practically abolished by the reduction of about seven per cent. in the weight of the fractional pieces of the silver dollar, and by the declaration that all the divisional coins which should subsequently be struck should be a legal tender only for the payment of debts not exceeding five dollars.  It is true that the silver dollar is still retained as lawful money for debts of any amount, but of a total silver coinage of 136,351,512 dollars, 4,366,340 only are in dollars, while $131,985,472 consist of subdivisions of the dollar.

Almost all the divisional pieces which had been coined before the passage of the law of 1853 have disappeared, in obedience to the fundamental and inexorable law of demand and supply, which sets at naught all attempts made to fix by legislation the relative values of the two metals.  The legislators and the people of the United States have sufficiently learned, if not by study, at least by experience, that the system of a double standard is not only a fallacy, but an impossibility, in assuming a fixed relation between the values of two different products, gold and silver.  The value of each of these depends upon the quantity produced, and this quantity is beyond the power of legislation.  A diminution of value is, and ever will be, the inevitable result of the increase of supply.

During the fifty-six years which immediately preceded the year 1850, the United States coined in gold $85,688,038, and in silver $75,322,969, which represents a supply of about 1.12 of gold to one dollar of silver.  From 1860 to 1866, inclusive, the coinage of gold has been $759,648,463, and of silver, $69,027,843, which represents about twelve dollars and fifty cents in gold to one dollar of silver.

Admonished by so great a change in the relative supply of the two metals, the United States now share, without reserve, the conviction, more and more extended through the civilized world, that it is impossible to establish a double standard, which must presuppose a fixed relation between the values of the two metals.

Mr. Fortamps recollected that in the conferences of 1865 he had already had occasion to declare that the Belgian government, after having been the partisan of the silver standard, considered, in view of the effects which took place in the monetary circulation of Europe, the standard of gold as the only one that ought to be adopted.  Mr. Fortamps renewed, today, that declaration.

Mr. Meinecke would not adopt either the second question, or the fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh questions.  He would vote for the third, that is, for the adoption of the gold standard exclusively; but must add that, for countries which, like Prussia, have the standard of silver exclusively, it would be necessary to prepare the change from one standard to the other by measures of transition.  What should they be ?  Mr. Meinecke, not being furnished with any instructions, does not choose to anticipate them.

The President took note of the very important declaration which has just been made by the delegate from Prussia.  He added that the eventual fitness of the adoption of measures of transition was provided for in the questionnaire.

Mr. Meinecke explained that he would fear that if the terms of questions five and six should be adopted without reserve, certain states could not keep up the double standard.  It would therefore be proper to restrict expressly to the period of transition the time during which the silver standard might be maintained simultaneously with the gold standard.

Mr. Wallenberg stated the situation and the views of Sweden.  Formerly that country had two standards, the ducat in gold, the rix thaler in silver.  The value of the ducat was precisely the equivalent of two rix thalers.  As for the rix thaler it was composed of 86 % fine silver, and corresponded with the rix thaler of Hamburg.  Nine and a quarter rix thalers weighed a pound of Cologne.  Each rix thaler was divided into 48 shillings, and the shilling into 12 runstycken.  In consequence of the general disturbances at the beginning of the century, gold and silver disappeared, and were replaced by notes of the state bank, having compulsory circulation.  When, in 1830, the state bank resumed payment in silver, it was wished to base the coin on the weights of the country; one law decided that silver should be coined at 75 % fineness, and that 25 rix thalers should weigh two pounds Swedish, it provided at the same time that the ducat should contain 80/82 of fine gold, and that 125 ducats should weigh one pound Swedish.  It resulted from the new law that the intrinsic value of the rix thaler became a little higher than before.

Formerly the pound of Cologne was equal to 9 1/4 rix thalers; it became only equal to 9 1/6 rix thalers.  This difference, although slight, was not the less prejudicial to Sweden, considering that it has never been observed in the trade with Germany and Denmark.  In this respect Mr. Wallenberg observed that England would take great interest in reducing the sovereign to 25 francs, as has been indicated to the conference, for the pound sterling is given in considerable quantities as the equivalent of 25 francs.  Returning to the legislation of Sweden, Mr. Wallenberg added that, from 1847 to 1854, it had been sought to introduce the metric system into the weights and measures of the kingdom, and that this had not been entirely successful in consequence of the resistance of the clerical order and of the agricultural interest; but the decimal system had been admitted, maintaining at the same time the ancient unities.  Thus, as to coins, a law of 1855 had decided that the rix thaler ryxmynt should be coined of 75 % fineness, should weigh 2 % of the Swedish pound, and should be divided into 200 ores.  At the end of eight years, 1863, this reform was accomplished.

In brief, there exist in Sweden two standards without fixed relative values : the rix thaler for domestic use and with neighboring countries, the ducat for international money.  Mr. Wallenberg expressed the opinion that monetary unifications could only be established on the basis of the gold standard exclusively, that metal offering the best qualities for circulation; the silver standard should not be preserved except during a time of transition in countries which have it at present, as Sweden has.  In the opinion of the Swedish delegate, the unit of international coinage should be a piece of gold of the value of 10 francs, at 9/10 fineness, giving 310 pieces per kilogram, and represented in its lowest subdivision by the thousandth part, that is to say, the centime.

Mr. de Jacobi would think proper to admit among the measures of transition to be adopted, that debtors might make their payments in one or the other metal without distinction, at the rate of the day.

The President replied that this would disavow the legal money, and would reduce the two coinages to the grade of commercial interchanges, which would not be tolerated by the population, especially in France, where they would never consent to receive money the value of which would vary every day.

Mr. Vrolik thought the solution of the difficulties which are the actual subject of discussion might be found in the examination of the sixth question.

The President proposed a vote on the third question, proposing the adoption of the silver standard exclusively.  The conference decided unanimously in the negative.

The discussion then opened on the third question relative to the adoption of the gold standard exclusively.

Mr. Feer-Herzog mentioned Mr. Meinecke’s vote on the second question as being particularly important.  Prussia was, in fact, the most important of the states that have the silver standard, and to vote for the adoption of an exclusive gold standard, as the delegate from that country had just done, was a declaration of very significant importance.  Mr. Wallenberg, of Sweden, had voted in the same way.  A great difficulty had thus disappeared, and now preferences can be openly declared for the exclusive gold standard.  The monetary system of Switzerland was necessarily subordinate to that of the larger neighboring states, particularly France; yet the minutes of the conference of 1865 showed that, even at that time, all the sympathies of the federal government were for the single gold standard.  A similar declaration was also made at the same time by Belgium and Italy.  The Swiss government had not altered its opinion since then, and it was now ready to renew the declaration, though bound by the convention of 1865.  Therefore it proposed to decide the third question affirmatively.  Mr. Feer-Herzog added, that in an assembly composed of well instructed men, like the members of this conference, he would not produce the customary arguments in favor of a gold standard, but would point out the absolute necessity of adopting the metal that constitutes the mass of the monetary reserve as the general standard.

Baron de Hock said he would vote with Mr. Feer-Herzog in the affirmative on question third.  The reason he gave for his opinion was that men of merit have written in favor of the double standard.  It was particularly asserted that the system would diminish the monetary crises, in tending to establish a sort of equilibrium between the two metals.  But it is the sum total of money in circulation that influences the value of things sold, and not the relative proportion of the metals.  If the amount in circulation increases, prices fall.  With the double standard it is like opium : it is a useful medicine in some cases, yet nobody would use it every day, because it would then become a poison.  The double standard might be very useful in financial crises, but it would be very inconvenient in general use, on account of the daily changes in the relative value of the two metals.  It exercises an evil influence on the Bourse, for the fall in stocks is always greater in countries where the double standard exists than in those where the single standard prevails.  While voting for the single gold standard, Mr. de Hock admits that in countries where a different system has hitherto prevailed, it might be necessary to continue the double standard, for a specified time, to be determined in advance.

The President remarked that Mr. Feer-Herzog’s and Baron de de Hock’s observations have been very pertinent to the question.  The situation of the states of the convention of 1865 is not now in question, but that of Prussia, Sweden and the Netherlands, that have the silver standard.  Their situation is delicate, and we must attend to them.  Should the transition period be of one or many years ?  If one year was fixed upon, and it was decided that debts should be paid at such a rate after that time, silver would fall, and gold rise exorbitantly; therefore a year would be too short.  Perhaps it would be better to leave each state, as Mr. Vrolik proposes, to decide upon the time when they thought proper to modify their monetary systems, and when they could do it without disturbance, that is, after gold had nearly driven silver out of circulation.

Mr. Meinecke thought it would be well to introduce a reserve in question third, in order to give the silver standard countries the chance of adopting the double standard temporarily, in case of an affirmative vote for the exclusive gold standard.

The President thought it essential to fix the measures of transition at once, if possible, and agreed with Mr. Meinecke that it is impossible to pass to the single gold standard without going through the double standard.  The same opinion was expressed by Lieutenant General Mansfield, on the subject of the monetary system in India, where the silver standard prevails, which should be supplied by the double standard till the exclusive gold standard could be reached.  Mr. de Parieu added, moreover, that the best way to substitute gold for silver in general circulation, would be to fix a certain relation between the two metals, which is the subject of question seven.

Mr. Mees proposed to substitute the word temporarily for simultaneously, in question six.

Mr. Meinecke said the words at this time, in question two, caused his reservations.

Mr. de Lavenay believed the general opinion of the conference to be already in favor of gold as the only standard.  Admitting this, the only remaining difficulty is the transitory measures, and question third might now be decided affirmatively, and adding, «saving arrangements necessary to carry it into effect.»

Mr. Broch thought gold ought to be the only standard, and that the free coinage of silver ought to be prohibited in countries where that standard prevails.  In some countries any person can take bar silver to the mint and have it coined at a small cost.  Individuals ought to be deprived of this right; the state alone should have the privilege of coinage, and ought to limit the quantity of coin issued to so much per head.  This provision ought to be made now for the five francs of the convention of 1865.  If such a precaution is not taken, and a sadden revolution rendered silver more abundant than gold in Europe, the same difficulties that now exist from the expulsion of silver would then happen inversely.  So, private individuals ought only to be allowed to coin their gold.

The President thought there was an agreement upon the question of a single standard – differences only existing in regard to the mode of transition; so, to conciliate divergent opinions, he proposed the fusion of questions three and six.

Mr. Mees, adhering to what he said at the first of the sitting, would not vote for the adoption of question three, nor for the proposed fusion.  He considered it inconvenient to adopt the gold standard everywhere, because it would reduce silver to change-money, and consequently gold would rise in value.  He thought it not desirable to choose between the two metals at present.  Moreover, Mr. Mees thought a monetary union not very certain to be adopted, and that the labor of the conference, to use a figure of Mr. de Parieu, «is only a seed sown, the germination of which cannot be foreseen.»

The President then proposed to decide question six in the affirmative, completing it by limiting the value between the two metals, as provided for in question seven.

Mr. de Jacobi thought the question of standard not sufficiently investigated.  Supposing two standards, how long would the fixed relative value between them exist ?  The proportion is essentially variable in theory, and there are perpetual changes in the reciprocal value of the two metals.

The President thought the result of the variations in value of the two metals, when both are circulating, will be to drive out the more precious metal, in a certain proportion, equivalent to the change in value.  Even when the relation is changed, theoretically speaking, monetary circulation is not so much affected as is supposed, on account of bank deposits and private savings.  There is always a certain quantity of specie in every small place, that only circulates among its inhabitants, and never gets out of a certain circle.  Great masses must be operated upon to find a profit in the exchange of metals, and the change of metals takes place slowly by successive movements.

For these reasons the general circulation is neither suddenly nor sensibly affected by changes in the relative value of metals, for France has always had much silver in circulation, even when that metal was largely exported.

Mr. de Jacobi thought if the gold standard alone were adopted, the silver in banks would be put into circulation, gold would take its place and rise in value.  He said there is scarcely any gold in Prussia, and he asked Mr. Meinecke if the Frederic price of gold is very variable in the Berlin market.

Mr. Meinecke said there are but few gold Frederics in circulation; none have been coined since 1831, except those much worn by use, and since 1857 none have been coined.  It has a fixed legal circulation, so that there is no profit in recoining it.

Mr. Vrolik thought the transition from one system to the other would be slow; that equations and identities would have to be created between the coins; and the right granted to each state to fix the current value of the coins, as is done with the Frederics.

Mr. Feer-Herzog said that would not be forming a monetary union, but would be maintaining what now exists in Germany in regard to the Napoleon.

Mr. Vrolik thought the Napoleon would be received in banks, and not have a legal circulation.

The President said that would be going back to the double system.  He then put question three to the vote.

Mr. de Lavenay repeated Mr. Meinecke’s observations tending to a fusion of numbers three and six.

Baron de Hock thought the privilege of preserving the double standard for an indefinite time should not be left to any state; question three ought to be settled at once, by fixing a period of transition, as was done with question two.

Mr. Artom proposed to add these words to question three, «with the reservation of transitory measures».

Mr. de Hermann insisted that each state shall have the right to adopt any transitory measures it thinks convenient.

Mr. de Hock thought the states should not have the choice of these measures.

Mr. de Hermann insisting upon his opinion, Count d’Avila proposed to add these words to question three : «Leaving each state the liberty of keeping the silver standard temporarily.»  As gold would drive out silver whenever they circulated together, this amendment should meet with no practical objection, and the temporary maintenance of the silver standard together with gold would not last long from the force of circumstances.

Mr. Kern would not continue the debate, but must insist on reading the instructions from his government : «If the question of the gold standard, which was rejected in the conference of 1855, is brought up, the delegates will vote as they were instructed in 1865 : that Switzerland prefers the gold standard, but will be governed by the other states signing the convention of 1865.»  He added, that he did not know what conclusion France will come to, which made his situation delicate; but he thought the gold system cannot be adopted immediately, a transition period is necessary, and therefore he thought it better to complete question three with these words, «with the reserve of transitory measures,» already proposed by Mr. Artom, than to adopt the less general proposition of Count Avila.

Count d’Avila said, if the conference adopts Mr. Kern’s proposal, he is disposed to second it.  He is not much interested in the transitory measures now discussed by the conference.  As a representative of a country with the exclusive gold standard, he will vote in favor of question three.

The amendment he proposed was to bring the states with a silver standard to an affirmative vote on question three.  In granting the silver standard for a certain time, a general understanding would be arrived at, and a great advance would be made in monetary unification by accepting gold coins at a legal rate.  For the silver standard countries that accepted the double standard would make gold the chief currency thereby, as is now the case in the states that accept the convention of 1865.  In fact, in those countries the double standard exists only nominally; silver coins have become the change-money, and the five-franc piece, the sole representative of the silver standard, has only a nominal existence.

The President preferred Count d’Avila’s proposal to Mr. Kern’s.  As transitory measures in silver standard countries are in question, we must not omit the most important of them, the provisional maintenance of the silver standard by the side of the gold standard.

Mr. Graham accepted Count d’Avila’s amendment, substituting the word transitorily for simultaneously, in the last part of question six, annexed to question three.

Messrs. Kern, de Hock and Artom supported Count d’Avila in this substitution of terms.

After remarking that question six is suppressed, the President put question three, thus modified, to the vote :

«On the contrary, is this result attainable on the basis and condition of adopting the exclusive gold standard, leaving each state the liberty to keep its silver standard temporarily ?»

The vote was unanimous in the affirmative, with the exception of the Netherlands.

Mr. Vrolik, invited by the President, explained that he voted against it because the modification goes beyond question six, where the word transitory is not found in the first draught.

This expression seemed to him to imply a time fixed in advance, and beyond which the silver standard is to give place to the gold standard.  He would have voted with the other members of the conference if each state had been left the judge of the time it should keep the double standard.  If the states joining Holland come to a mutual understanding, then Holland will be forced to imitate their example.

The President proposed to continue the discussion of question seven, questions four, five, and six having been solved negatively by the adoption of the affirmative on question three.

At the suggestion of Baron de Hock, the conference decided to meet next day, Friday, at ten a.m., for the continuation of the debate.

The sitting adjourned at half past five.




Mr. de Parieu presiding

The sitting opened at ten o’clock.  Present, the delegates of the preceding sitting and Count Moltke Hvitfeldt, with the exception of Baron Schweizer.

Count Moltke said he voted with the majority on questions two and three, which were decided during his absence, with this reserve, however, that he does not pretend to oppose the monetary system of Denmark to that of the neighboring countries with which it has most business.

Baron de Hock asked permission to state why he voted for Count d’Avila’s amendment on the wording of question three, to which he objected at the last sitting.

As decidedly in favor of the adoption of the exclusive gold standard, he would not have hesitated to vote for question three as originally drawn up; but modifying it by Mr. d’Avila’s amendment, and then putting it to vote, forced him either to accept a form he did not approve of, or to vote against the gold standard; therefore he did not hesitate to vote in the affirmative.  He laid aside personal preference, so as to put no obstacle to the acceptance of the principle of the exclusive gold standard by states having the silver standard, and determined to regulate the transitory measures for its abolition, as Mr. Meinecke and Mr. de Hermann say they will.  Mr. de Hock moreover thought that if the new wording of article three is defective, the practical consequences will be lessened by special conventions between the states.  Stipulations of a nature to limit the action of each government in regard to transitory measures might be introduced, and in discussing question seven the too general meaning of the amendment to question three might be restricted.

The President said the decision at the last sitting would be no impediment to certain transitory measures suggested by the conference, such as fixing a minimum limit to the relations between gold and silver, which is the subject of question seven.

Viscount Villa-Maïor thought, before examining this question, it would be better to begin by determining what present coin could be adopted as a general unity of the monetary system, and he thought it would be very well for the delegates of each state to draw up a plan of equations between their present coins and the monetary unity they would like to see adopted.  These equations might serve as a basis for the proposed unification.  Portugal would willingly adopt the five-franc piece as a unity, as it already has the reis at the foundation of its monetary system, and if its minuteness renders it defective, it has the advantage of representing with tolerable precision the thousandth part of the five-franc piece.  Therefore, he thought some preliminary discussion of question eight should be entertained.

The President recalled the incidental decision of the conference in favor of reducing the dollar to five francs, and the sovereign to twenty-five francs.  The question did not concern the florin and dollar countries, and therefore Mr. Villa-Maïor’s proposal would suit them.  The conference could do nothing better than to agree unanimously upon the adoption of a single monetary unity, and Mr. de Parieu believed no better piece than five francs, or one of its multiples, could be selected.

Mr. Wallenberg mentioned in the preceding sitting that the gold piece of ten francs seemed to present peculiar advantages.  Divide it by 1,000 and you have the centime, which is an excellent small monetary subdivision, while the five-franc piece divided by 100 gives five centimes, a too great fraction for small payments.  In large transactions the ten-franc piece forms a good medium coin, a unity neither too high nor too low.

The President liked Mr. Wallenberg’s opinion; in fact, the piece of ten francs, taken as a monetary unity, would be very convenient for France, as in accounts it would only be necessary to change the comma to express new unities.  Formerly the ten-franc piece had a universal circulation under the name of ducat, a piece that was nearly of the same value.  It was also the smallest gold piece till the five-franc piece was coined to supply the place of the silver five-franc piece, which was driven out of circulation.

Mr. Meinecke would not discuss the question; he thought the principal coins ought to be brought together by simple equations, each state remaining free to adopt the unity it pleases, provided its coins are easily changed to coins of other states.  The principal unities would thus be assimilated, and therefore he was not authorized to pronounce in favor of fixing a monetary unity.

The President agreed with Mr. Meinecke that the coins should be easily exchanged; but there must also be a common denomination for them, and the smallest that could be conveniently adopted for gold seems to be the five-franc piece.

Mr. Meinecke suggested a smaller unity, two francs fifty centimes, for instance.

Mr. de Jacobi preferred five francs, because it has whole numbers for multiples, as 10, 15, 20, 25, &c., whereas the unity of 2.50 would require fractional multiples.

Mr. Herbet remarked that the unity of 2.50 in gold would be inconvenient to coin; and he instanced the 1.25 pieces that were issued at one time in Turkey, and found too soft and too small.

Mr. Stas thought the remarks about monetary unity would come in better with the discussion of question eight, and added that the 2.50 unity suggested by Mr. Meinecke would have the disadvantage of creating too many gold coins, and it would be difficult to tell them apart.

Mr. Kern agreed with Mr. Stas, and the conference determined to postpone it till question eight is discussed.

The President then read question seven :

In case of an affirmative vote on one of the two preceding questions, would the internationality of the common standard coins be a sufficient guarantee of their circulation in each state; or would it be necessary to stipulate a certain limit in the relative value of gold and silver, or make provision for the case where the international metal might be expelled from circulation in any of the contracting states ?

The President remarked that this question regards the organization of the transitory situation of the states that have not the gold standard.  Its principal aim is to harmonize the transition measures without affecting the decision of the conference in favor of the gold standard.  It is necessary to make a correct estimate of the relations between gold and silver, and if the rate of gold in Prussia and Holland were known exactly, mediums of exchange could be established that would gradually introduce gold, and expel silver from circulation, in the countries where it has served as a standard, without a financial convulsion.

Mr. Mees said, in Holland, if the rate of exchange continues the same as it has been for the few last years, the florin would be worth 2 francs 13 or 14 centimes, and the Napoleon 9 florins 35, or 1/3.  But it is hard to say how long the present rate of exchange will be kept up.  In late years the value of gold has been sustained by its great demand in France, and the proportionate expulsion of silver.  At present there is no more silver in France, and gold has taken its place in circulation.  The same want of gold is not felt now, and its value may diminish, particularly if it continues to be produced in considerable quantities.  In such a case silver would rise; and knowing this, a state like Holland, that wishes to keep its silver circulation, would find some difficulty in fixing a definite relation between the two metals.  Nevertheless, in the border provinces, the Napoleon might be rated at 9 1/3 florins, and 4 thalers at 15 francs or 7 florins of Holland, this last being equivalent to the florin of south Germany, though it has a value less than seven-thousandths.  This par equality between the two florins in the Netherlands is caused by the large exportation of silver to India, the silver diminishing so fast it is necessary to coin it continually.

Mr. Mees added that if the gold standard were generally adopted and became the principal agent of general circulation, the difficulty in fixing a rate between the two metals would no longer exist, because, so far from diminishing in value, gold would rise, and then there would be no danger in an approximate rate.

The President.  It would be useful for the conference to examine these questions of relations between the two metals; for, if a preferred currency were given to one of them in a country, it would not only affect the circulation in that state but in the adjacent countries.  There are great differences in Europe between these relations in countries where the double standard exists and where these relations are fixed.  Thus in Russia the relation is 1 to 15, he believes.

Mr. de Jacobi said the relation in Russia is 1 to 15.45; it was 1 to 15 when the half-imperial was worth exactly five rubles, but it was fixed at 15.45 after the half-imperial rose to five rubles and 15 kopecs.  He asked if the gold coins are to be reckoned according to their intrinsic value.

The President said the fineness must be balanced against fineness, and adds that in Russia the relation between gold and silver is 1 to 15.45; in Spain from 1 to 15.48; in France 1 to 15.50; and in the United States about 1 to 16.  Gold is the principal currency in this country.

Mr. Fortamps remarked that if the Napoleon were rated 9 1/3 florins, as Mr. Mees mentions, it would produce an infinitesimal fraction.  In the old Netherlands the florin was worth 2.1164 francs; since its reduction in Holland it is worth 2.10 francs, and reckoning from the value of this florin, the Napoleon would be reduced to 19 francs 60 centimes, thus losing 40 centimes.  Under such circumstances gold would never circulate in Holland.  What Mr. Mees says about the par of Holland and German florins, despite their difference in value, is true commercially but not theoretically.  Now, for international coins, we must consider their intrinsic value, and not the laws of exchange.

The President thought that the valuation of the Napoleon at 9 1/3 florins, making the relation 15.19, is small, and that the minimum ought to be between 15.25 and 15.30.  The particular position of Holland ought to be considered on account of its East India colonies.

Mr. Mees said, in Mr. Léon’s work, published in 1860, the relation is less than he proposed; it is 15.17.  The kilogram of gold being worth at that time 3.460 francs, and the kilogram of silver 228 francs, we find the relation is 1 to 15.175.

Mr. Feer-Herzog thought that is a mistake.  The lowest relation was in 1859; it was then 15.21.  At London, in 1860, it was 15.27, and by present quotations in Paris it is 15.46.

Mr. Mees answered the relation in 1859 was an average for the whole year, and therefore Mr. Léon’s figures are right.

Mr. Fortamps thought it well to arrive at a minimum relation.  That proposed by Mr. de Parieu, 15.25, is too low.  It ought to be fixed at 15.45, so that a gold circulation could be established in the silver standard states.  Moreover, the gold standard countries would never consent to fix the rate of silver coins, as they would thereby suffer a loss without compensation.

Baron de Hock thought that in discussing question seven we ought to fix upon something permanent.  If the convention enters into the discussion of transitory measures he thought it would be best to leave them to be settled by special conventions hereafter; no inconvenience could result from that in monetary unification, for it is evident that the silver standard countries could not establish relations between the two metals so as to exclude gold from circulation without contradicting the vote given by the conference in favor of gold.  Therefore he thought the establishment of these relations ought to be left to special conventions, and then each state could act as it thought best.

The President said the sub-committee proposed question seven in anticipation of the adoption of the double standard, leaving each state to continue it as long as it pleased.  The conference went still further in its vote on question three, by deciding that the double standard should be transient, and ought to cease at a certain time, fixed in advance.  Consequently, a greater sanction is necessary to introduce gold into circulation in those states, and the opinion adopted by the conference ought to be consecrated in its consequences as in its principle.  It should be declared that the relations between gold and silver ought not to be fixed below a certain minimum, to be determined by the conference.  Special conventions could do it, but would not the situation of the countries concluding those treaties be better if they could rely upon a decision of the conference ?  To take Holland, for example, it would be easier to induce its plenipotentiaries to give up the proposed relation of 15.19 offered by Mr. Mees, if the conference had previously decided that the minimum relation should be 15.25 or 15.30.

Mr. Feer-Herzog thought the question put erroneously, and that there is antagonism between the establishment of a system of equations and the fixing of a relation.  For instance, four thalers being worth fifteen francs, if, with the fictitious gold thaler (3.75 francs), the old silver thaler, which is somewhat less, is allowed to circulate, the relation will be between the weight of gold in the fifteen-franc piece and the weight of silver in the thaler.

Mr. Artom thought a relation between gold and silver may be established in two ways, namely, by equation and tarification, but he thought it easier to proceed by equation.

Mr. de Lavenay asked if the question of relation between the two metals is not more properly an internal than an international question.  It would be international if two universal moneys were to be created, one of gold and the other of silver.  In that case a relation would have to be established.  But gold has been selected as the international coin, and silver will be a temporary legal currency in the states with a silver standard and a double standard.  In that case all international negotiations would be transacted in gold, and whether dollars, Napoleons, sovereigns, or four-thaler pieces are received, payments will always be made in the terms and provisions of the convention.  Therefore it does not seem necessary to stipulate a relation between gold and silver; for if one state establishes a bad tarification, gold will not come there, and it will keep the more inconvenient circulation of silver much longer, and the individual interest of the state would incline it to receive gold, but there would be no international interest.

The President replied that an international money ought to have the qualities required for a serious circulation; it must circulate in the country; the advantage of internationality does not guarantee it.

Mr. de Parieu, referring to Mr. Feer-Herzog’s observation on equations of gold and silver coins, said it is not necessary to have a fixed relation, for, in the example quoted, four thalers equaling fifteen francs, the equation embraces the idea of the existence of a relation of 15.30.  It would be the same in the states of south Germany if seven florins were equal to four thalers or fifteen francs.  But it would not be so with Holland, where the florin is not so easily equalized, and for which a relation would have to be established.

Mr. Feer-Herzog did not mean what Mr. de Parieu thinks.  He meant that in giving a legal circulation to the fifteen-franc piece at four thalers, the two-thaler gold and silver pieces, the one of 3.754, the other 3.71, must have the same value in the interior, and then the equation would be established between the gold and silver coins, although the treaty only established the equation between gold coins.

The President.  If an agreement were made with Prussia that fifteen francs should be worth four thalers, it would be introducing the international standard, and its silver thaler would not be altered, as it would be rated at 15.30.  The circulation of gold would no longer be prohibited, and no doubt would become of great importance.  So in Bavaria, if the fifteen-franc gold piece circulated there for seven florins, it would be the same as fixing a relation.

Mr. de Lavenay thought it is not of international interest to fix a minimum of relation between the two metals.  What would be the use of it ?  It would only be introducing gold in circulation in the silver standard states.  But if a legal circulation is given to gold in those states, that metal will assume the ascendancy, and silver will have to circulate at its market value.

On such conditions, those states would soon discover that the best way to bring gold into circulation would be to treat it more favorably.  As gold is more portable and convenient for money, it is the interest of nations to encourage its circulation both at home and abroad.

The President doubted if it is the interest of every state to encourage the circulation of gold within its limits.  Holland, for instance, though its standard is different from that of its neighbors, audits currency is different from all its neighbors, yet has a flourishing commerce, and its prosperity may continue a long time yet.

Mr. de Jacobi thought with Mr. de Lavenay that the best way to get a money for general circulation, is to leave each state to settle the relation between the two metals.  There would certainly be great differences at first, but particular tariffs would soon give way to a general tariff.

The President said it is not necessary to have a complete tariff now, but only to fix a minimum for the relation.

Mr. Stas observed that different meanings are given to the word equation in this debate, and he thought that in voting affirmatively on question three, in which the conference has decided to fix the relation at 1 to 15 1/2, that relation ought to serve as a basis for equations.

The President said the affirmative vote on question three did not carry with it the idea of equation between gold and silver coins, but only between the different gold coins, and then the vote was only on partial coincidences, and not on equations.  It has moreover been decided that the double standard was necessary for silver standard countries as a medium of transition to reach the gold standard.  Now as the relation between the two metals is different in different countries, and as gold comes in more readily when the coefficient of silver is higher, ought not a minimum to be fixed if gold is wished to be introduced ?  It would be vain to decide upon an international money without fixing a relation for it with the silver money in states where the double standard was transitory.  There must be some system in circulation of coin to make it permanent.  The Holland ducat, so useful in traveling, only disappeared because it had no fixed relation with silver in any country, and so its existence was ephemeral.  This must not be the case with the new international money.

Mr. de Haindl thought the greatest difficulty for states having the double standard, or that are to have it temporarily, would be to find the exact proportion between gold and silver during the period of transition.  Steps would have to be taken for one metal to drive out the other, but care should be taken not to cause a crisis by driving out silver too suddenly.  These steps can be taken only at the moment of operation, so that no limited minimum could now be fixed.  If the relation is 15.19 in Holland, as Mr. Mees says it is, it is 15.58 in Germany at present.  So each state must be left to fix that relation, which would offer no danger, as its object would be to draw gold into circulation and join the monetary union proposed by the conference as soon as silver disappeared from circulation.

Mr. Broch agreed with Mr. de Parieu that a limited minimum is necessary for the transition period.  Without such a provision, gold could not be introduced into a country that had fixed a limit too low.  Thus there may be a doubt about the equation of fifteen francs to four thalers, permitting gold to enter Prussia, as four thalers would have an intrinsic value below three pieces of five francs each.

The President observed that within the limits of states, sentiments wholly apart from economy often have an influence on opinions in money matters.  A reform of this kind encounters certain ideas of routine against it, certain exaggerated fears of any innovation, a singular love for certain coins.  Therefore the conference should endeavor to establish rules to realize, as far as possible, the desires it has expressed in favor of the gold standard.

Mr. Meinecke said that as question seven is in respect to transient measures, which he cannot discuss, he and his colleague must refrain from voting.

Mr. Vrolik, though he agreed with Mr. de Parieu, thought with Mr. de Lavenay, that it is better in practice to leave each state to fix its own relations.  An average in exchange would soon be established between the two metals by the force of circumstances alone.

In Holland, the Napoleon would be received at 9 florins 35, which, as Mr. Fortamps observes, would give a relation of 15.19.  Germany, as well as Holland, could receive the 15-franc pieces at 4 thalers, or 7 Bavarian florins.  The 15-franc piece would then have a great circulation; it would be the connecting point between the German and French monetary systems.  On the contrary, if a limited minimum relation of 15.25 or 15.30 were admitted, as Mr. de Parieu proposes, it would be creating difficulties to a monetary unity, it is therefore better to fix nothing.

Baron de Hock, with Messrs. de Lavenay, Meinecke, de Haindl, Mees, and Vrolik, thought article seven might be passed over.  Though he agreed with Mr. de Parieu in having some principle for transitory measures, he thought it difficult to fix a limited minimum relation between the two metals for the States with the silver standard.  In his opinion, that would depend entirely upon their value at the time of the international conventions.  In fact, if it is remarked that gold has continued to decrease in value for the last dozen years; that during the next two years it rose; we may ask if it will continue to rise, or will fall again ?

This would cause serious discussion.  Some men think gold will continue to rise, because its extraction is daily becoming more expensive, and because of its great dispersion by its introduction into the monetary system of India.  Among others, Mr. Soetbeer, of Hamburg, whose writings have given him a name in Germany, thinks gold has an abnormal circulation now, and that it must fall in future.

In presence of such different opinions it is difficult to fix a limited minimum of relation that would satisfy the aims of the conference.  Perhaps it is better to adhere to a certain generality, and for that reason Mr. de Hock proposed this substitute for article seven :

«The advantage of internationality which coins would acquire from the metal adopted as a common standard would not be a sufficient guarantee for keeping them in circulation in each state, but it would be necessary to stipulate also, in countries that have had the silver standard up to this time, as well as in those of the double standard, that the relation between the value of gold and silver should not be established at a rate too low to permit the serious introduction of gold.»

The President said he would willingly adopt Mr. de Hock’s proposal for countries of a silver standard, but he doubted if it would suit countries with the double standard.  The last have long had a legal relation between gold and silver, and it would be difficult to suppose they would modify their metallic relations on adopting the gold standard, so as to drive gold out of circulation.

What Mr. de Hock’s amendment contains, referring to countries of a double standard, might then be rescinded without inconvenience.  The present debate is not on a minimum relation but upon Mr. de Hock’s general proposal, that can be voted for affirmatively by the members of the conference who have not contrary instructions from their governments, without settling the question of a minimum.

Mr. Herbet remarked that the question will come up in the special conventions, and can then be decided by the delegates that are qualified to do so.

On invitation of the President, Mr. Fortamps said, in his private opinion, a minimum relation less than 15.40 ought not to be adopted.

The President is disposed to put Baron de Hock’s proposition to vote.

Mr. Ruggles asks that the vote be postponed till the next sitting, because he does not clearly see the effect of the amendment.

The President proposed to put the question to vote, and remarked that those members not prepared for the proposition, as Mr. Ruggles, who seems, however, to be alone, can withhold their vote at present and give their adhesion or refusal some other time.

Mr. Kern thought the debate has been long enough to give every member of the conference sufficient time to form an opinion, and says, he is not disposed to go further than Baron de Hock.  When such important and diverse interests are at stake, long reflection is necessary before a positive decision can be rendered.  Baron de Hock’s proposition is less binding in its general terms than if it was made out in figures, as Mr. de Parieu’s primitive idea was.  It is a happy compromise of diverging opinions tending to the same end, and differing only in comprehensiveness.  The vote, then, should not be deferred, as no better solution could be reached in all probability.  For the good of the conference the vote ought to take place immediately.

Mr. Ruggles excused himself from voting because he does not understand the question.  The United States would not consent to accept any fixed relation between gold and silver.  The double standard is abolished when this relation no longer exists.

The President reminded Mr. Ruggles that the double standard still exists in the United States, and of course the relation between silver and gold, which is 1 to 16.

Mr. Ruggles answered that though the double standard still exists legislatively in the United States, it is virtually abolished in practice, and hence the United States has the gold standard alone.

The President.  Reasoning in that way, as France coins a less number of five-franc pieces than America does dollars, we might say, like Mr. Ruggles, that France has the gold standard alone, and that is what nobody would assert.

Mr. de Jacobi remarked that the United States cannot be considered as having the single gold standard any more than France, unless a new law is passed to prohibit the coinage of silver dollars.

Mr. Fortamps regretted that the vote is not to fix a limited minimum of tariff, and says no country with the gold standard can be forced to admit a tariff of silver coins of other countries where the silver standard is preserved.

Mr. de Hock’s proposal was put to vote and adopted unanimously, except by Prussia, the member from that country declaring that he cannot vote, and the member from the United States deferring his vote.

Mr. de Hock’s proposition having been adopted, question seven was expunged, and would not be voted on.

The discussion of article eight was deferred till the next meeting, fixed for Saturday, at ten o’clock.

The sitting adjourned at half past twelve o’clock, noon.




Prince Napoléon (Jérôme) presiding

Present, the delegates that attended the last meeting, and Mr. Delyannis, with the exception of Mr. Mees, who went to Amsterdam on urgent business, and could no longer take part in the labors of the conference, to his great regret.

In consequence of a report presented to the Emperor by the minister of foreign affairs, published in the Moniteur of the 26th June, his Majesty entrusted the presidency of the commission to his Highness Prince Napoleon, who opened the sitting with these words :

«Gentlemen : Appointed by the Emperor to preside over the International Conference for the unification of moneys, I have gladly accepted the mission.  It is not becoming for me to say why I have received this appointment; the reason is kindly given in the report of the minister of foreign affairs.  But I assure you it would be a vain presumption in me to think that I could bring much knowledge or furnish much information upon the subject in question, to an assembly of men so eminent as yourselves.

«I feel my incompetence, particularly after the wise direction that my friend and colleague Mr. de Parieu has given to your labors; and I hope he will aid me with his counsel and advice.  I am aware of the difficulty I shall have in interpreting our good intentions by practical results; and the reading of the minutes of your sittings has proved to me how much you are moved by the spirit of conciliation so necessary to arrive at a monetary unity, which is the desire of all, and the great and many difficulties of all kinds that we shall have to encounter in our labors.  But the greater the difficulties, so much greater the glory for the governments here represented.  You all know the intelligence of public opinion in the present age, how prompt and exacting it is in its ardor; and we must endeavor to gratify it without disguising the obstacles we shall have to surmount.

«I beg you, therefore, gentlemen, to keep constantly before your eyes the object we are pursuing.  Let us remember that the public expects a result from our conference, and let us show why many former committees and conferences were unsuccessful.  Let us so act that our assembly may not result in a fine report alone, or a good argument in favor of the unity of moneys; but let it end in a useful result.

«Let us continue our labors so well begun.  I think this is the proper order for our deliberations : We will continue the discussion of the numbered questions; when that is done I will state what I think the best way, in a general or particular manner, for each state to «hasten the period of germination for the seeds you have sown,» as Mr. de Parieu has justly and eloquently expressed it.

«I bring you all that I can, which is an energetic good will and a strong desire to effect a monetary unity.  Allow me, gentlemen, to rely upon your kind assistance.»

Mr. de Parieu replied to this speech of his Imperial Highness, for himself and the conference, in the following terms :

«Monseigneur : It is a great gratification to me to be the interpreter of the conference, by expressing the sentiments we all feel at the honor conferred upon this assembly by the presidency of your Imperial Highness.  Permit us to hope that this honor will carry strength with it.  Your financial knowledge, and the experience derived from your extensive travels, will serve to guide you in the direction of our arduous deliberations.

«Your Imperial Highness approves of the progress we have already made, and that approbation is of value to us all, and to me especially.

«Allow me to congratulate you, Monseigneur, on the sympathy which you have just expressed for progressive ideas.  The pursuit of useful innovations, over obstacles and through necessary delays, is a school of patience and justice; and it is also a career of honor worth entering, and in which we will march together at your side.»

After this response of Mr. de Parieu, in which all the members of the conference concurred, Count d’Avila submitted two propositions to his colleagues :

1st.  The conference will express its profound gratitude to the Emperor for the honor he has conferred by appointing his Imperial Highness Prince Napoleon to preside over it.  The address will be presented to the Emperor by a deputation from the conference, or, if there is no objection, by the entire conference.

2d.  The conference will give a vote of thanks to Mr. de Parieu, its vice-President, for the able and impartial manner in which he presided over their former sittings.

These propositions received the approval of the entire conference, and the first, relating to his Imperial Highness, was sent to the vice-President for transmission.

His Imperial Highness then handed a letter from his Excellency Djemil Pacha to the conference, excusing himself for not attending, on account of the Sultan’s arrival.

The minutes of the third and fourth sittings were read and adopted.

Mr. Delyannis regretted that he could not attend the last meeting.  He said that he can vote on principal questions, but not on subordinate ones, as his government has adopted the system of the convention of 1865.  Not being authorized to vote up to this time, he thinks it his duty to make reservations upon some points settled by the conference.

His Imperial Highness opened the discussion for question eight :

«Is it necessary for the success of monetary unity, to constitute a unity at present, identical everywhere in metallic composition, weight, and denomination; and, in this case, what bases are to be assigned to it ?

«Or is it sufficient to constitute common types, having a common denominator of medium amount, as multiples of five-francs for the gold coins ?»

Mr. Rivers Wilson read the following declaration :

«Before recommencing the discussion of the list of questions, the English delegates deem it their duty to the government they represent, to the members of the conference, and particularly to the government of the Emperor, by whose invitation they are present, and to prevent any misunderstanding, to indicate their delicate and exceptional situation.  They are convinced of the necessity of this declaration from the serious and practical turn the discussion has borne to this time, and particularly from the high signification that must attach in public opinion to the presidency of his Imperial Highness Prince Napoleon, and to the labors that must result from it.

«The English government was obliged to accept the cordial invitation from the government of the Emperor to participate in this conference, because a refusal would have shown a want of courtesy, and would have made it liable to accusations of prejudices upon this very important question.

«Indeed, the English nation is in a position much more independent upon this question than most continental nations.

«So long as public opinion has not decided in favor of a change of the present system, which offers no serious inconveniences, either in wholesale or retail trade, and until it shall be incontestably demonstrated that a new system offers advantages sufficiently commanding to justify the abandonment of that which is approved by experience and rooted in the habits of the people, the English government could not believe it to be its duty to take the initiative in assimilating its coinage with those of the countries of the continent.

«But the English government will be always ready to aid any attempt to enlighten and guide public opinion in the appreciation of the question, and facilitate the discussion of the means by which such an assimilation, so advantageous in theory, may be effected.

«Thus, while consenting to be represented in this conference, the English government has found it necessary to place the most careful restrictions upon its delegates; their part is simply to listen to the different arguments, to study the situation as developed in discussion, and to report to their government.  Thus far they have found no difficulty in voting in favor of all the propositions adopted by the conference, because their principles agreed with the system now in force in England.  But they cannot vote for any question tending to bind their government, or express any opinion to induce the belief, that Great Britain would adopt the convention of 1865.»

Mr. Herbet informs the conference that the reserves just mentioned by Mr. Rivers Wilson are found in Lord Stanley’s dispatch to the French ambassador in London, announcing participation of England in the monetary conference.

His Imperial Highness expressed the opinion that the labors of the conference are essentially theoretical; that practical results must be effected in future international conventions, and therefore the English delegates need not fear to express their opinion on any question, since it cannot bind their government, any more than the opinions of other members.

Mr. Meinecke thought it not to be necessary for the success of monetary unification to form a unity identical in weight and denomination, nor to constitute common types; a unity of metallic composition is sufficient, with the conversion of the coins of the union, that may vary in the different states, by simple equation.

For instance, let France take its 20-franc piece, and Austria its 10-florin piece for union money; then the 20-franc piece would pass in Austria for 8 florins, and the 10-florin piece in France for 25 francs.

Each state might be left to subdivide its union money as it pleased, according to the needs and customs of its people.  For example, Austria might coin 5-florin pieces, equivalent to 12 1/2 francs, that France would not be obliged to receive in its public banks, yet this small change ought to be of the same metallic composition as the larger principal coins.

Mr. Meinecke thinks that crowns coined by the treaty of 1857, and gold coins by the convention of 1865, of the standard of nine-tenths fineness, would be the best form for this currency.  But he cannot say what union money would be best suited for Prussia.  What he has said is only intended as a principle.  For these reasons he can only approve of the part of question eight that concerns the unity of metallic composition, which he would like to see fixed at nine-tenths fineness.  He would vote against the other parts of that question, and could not vote at all on question nine.

His Imperial Highness pointed out the importance of the question of fineness, to which Mr. Meinecke alludes, and thought it not expressed with sufficient precision in the list.

Mr. de Lavenay thought the first part of the question definite enough, but he thought these words should be added to the latter part : «having a common denominator and a similar fineness.»

Mr. de Hermann said Bavaria is bound by the monetary convention of 1857, and cannot accept a currency not received by the Zollverein.

Baron Schweizer said the same of the grand duchy of Baden.

Count d’Avila thought the principal object of the conference is to prepare for the future, and he had always believed that the convention of 1865 was the best for that purpose; but we should find out the best means to hasten the result.  For this purpose it would be well to adopt the gold coins as international money, leaving each state the right to coin its silver in its own way.  The gold piece of 8 francs should be adopted as the basis of a monetary unity.  The result of this adoption would be to substitute gold for silver in countries where the last is the standard, as in France, where gold is the actual standard, though legislation establishes the double standard.

Though he is not authorized to decide this question, he thinks he can safely say that Portugal would not object to lessen the fineness of its coins from 916 to 900 thousandths, but England would have to set the example.  The effect of this would be slight in Portugal, as sovereigns form the chief gold currency there, and the Portuguese gold coins being few, their recoinage would not cost much, particularly as the diminution would offer a compensation.

Count d’Avila added that he was not aware of the difficulties in a change of system for the English currency, but in theory it does not explain the reserve of the delegates from Great Britain.  In theory it would be necessary to change the sovereign, as the United States intend to change their dollar, and in case England followed the example of the United States, Portugal would naturally come in next, particularly as the pound sterling is a legal tender there.

His Imperial Highness thought that all the members of the conference should agree first upon the fineness of the international coins, and afterwards discuss the monetary unity on the concordance of coins among themselves.  For, even if the sovereign were reduced to 25 francs, the English piece would not be equivalent to the French, on account of the difference in alloy.

Count d’Avila observed that the question has already been discussed in another assembly, where it was thought that England would agree to an equation between the sovereign and the 25-franc piece.  The fineness of nine-tenths, the most common in Europe, ought to be adopted; but England must modify the alloy of the sovereign, or at least allow it to circulate for a time as 25 francs, without altering its fineness.

Mr. de Lavenay thought the question of fineness of minor importance to England, as the sovereign might contain just as much gold as the French 25-franc piece.  The weight would not be the same, as the quantity of copper would be different for the same amount of gold, as nine-tenths to eleven-twelfths.

The chief obstacle would be the intrinsic value of the piece, as that would be reduced, and it might cause a commotion among the people.  But if England, inspired by the ideas thrown out by Mr. Ruggles on behalf of the United States, would consent to this recoinage, it would have the same interest in nine-tenths as in eleven-twelfths, with difference of weight and alloy.  Why, then, should not nine-tenths be adopted ?  Unity of fineness has in fact an international value, for if all coins were of the same fineness nothing would be easier than to ascertain their intrinsic value.  The two different pieces would be equal in weight as well as in fineness, thus furnishing a test of value in everybody’s reach.  If, on the contrary, unity of alloy is rejected, their weight would be dissimilar and the test destroyed.  Therefore, a gold coin having the same fineness and denominator should be adopted, and the second paragraph of article eight could be modified to suit it.

Mr. de Lavenay apprehended that the English delegates exaggerate the powers of the other commissioners.  The business of the conference is to find out the best way, in theory, to provide for a monetary unity, but no member binds his government by his acts.  As the English delegates are in the same position, they should not refuse to enlighten the conference with their experience, but should give their opinions freely in the debate on succeeding questions.

Baron de Soden, of Württemberg, agreed with the representative of Bavaria and the North Confederation, and felt the necessity of a change in the monetary system of Württemberg and south Germany.  For that reason the proposal of France for a conference to assimilate the different monetary systems was gladly accepted in Württemberg.  But, as the Monetary and Customs Union bind Germany together by reciprocal duties, the decisions of this conference ought to leave the German states at full liberty to act in concert.  Their unanimous agreement to adopt the gold standard led us to hope there will be no difficulty in the adoption of an international currency when the question of an international treaty comes up in the convention.

With these reservations Baron de Soden approved of the declarations made by the delegates from Prussia and Bavaria.

Baron de Hock thought that when the conference adopted the French monetary system as a centre for the proposed unification, it thereby settled the fineness at nine-tenths, and therefore there was no occasion for a new discussion of that point.  He thought, with Mr. de Lavenay, that the question of unity of fineness is of great importance.  In fact, without identity of fineness monetary unification is impossible, because identity of value cannot then be ascertained by weight; and as it is impossible to coin pieces of exactly the same weight and alloy, which gave rise to limits of tolerance, how can one know when these limits of tolerance are exceeded ?

Mr. Feer-Herzog disagreed with Baron de Hock in thinking that the adoption of the French system implies an adoption of its alloy.  The system was merely suggested as a basis of unification, with the modifications the conference might choose to introduce; but, personally, he thought nine-tenths the best alloy.  He said the convention of 1865 is too often called up in discussion; nothing in that is binding on us.  The duty of this conference is more extensive; it not only has to study the international merits of the convention of 1865, but has to fix a basis for monetary unification.  The frequent mention of that convention has misled the English delegates and induced them to declare they could not vote for its adoption by Great Britain.  The resolutions of this conference do not adopt the convention of 1865, they only seek through its proceedings a better solution of the monetary question.  With this understanding the delegates can express their personal opinions without speaking for their governments, and it is to be regretted that Mr. Meinecke has shown so much reserve in speaking of the mark of Cologne and Stuttgart in this discussion of a monetary unity.

Count d’Avila remarked that he did not mean that fineness was a secondary consideration, as Mr. de Lavenay supposes; he merely meant that France and England might agree in bringing the sovereign down in value to the 25-franc piece without altering its fineness.  The simple question is whether England would give the sovereign a legal circulation at 25 francs with its actual alloy, or reduce it to nine-tenths by melting.  Contrary to Mr. Feer-Herzog, he thought the convention of 1865 ought to be adopted as a practical basis in discussion.  He did not propose its complete adoption, but only in reference to gold coins, without alluding to silver or copper currency.

Mr. de Parieu thought that the question of fineness, though important, may be considered as secondary; the chief point is identity of fineness in the coins.  The banks could distinguish the differences of fineness in case of necessity, and a sufficient medium of control might be arrived at to ascertain the value of coins in circulation without resort to single weight.  If the English pound sterling contained the same quantity of fine gold as the French 25-franc gold piece, an understanding could be easily arrived at.  The superior fineness of the sovereign is rather in its favor; for, if reduced to nine-tenths fine, the additional copper alloy would increase its weight, and thus compensate for its loss in gold.  But the chief difficulty might be the modification of contracts and the conversion of debts if the sovereign were thus reduced.

According to Baron de Hock the question had been already settled by adopting the first question.  Though this is not exactly the fact, yet the question is predecided by admitting the advantages of the money of the convention of 1865, in a metric and decimal point of view, for the alloy of nine-tenths offers this decimal character by itself.  The members of the conference are therefore almost agreed upon question eight, particularly if these words were expunged from the second part, «for instance, by multiples of 5 francs», that decide beforehand the common denominator of the international coins.

All the delegates are of opinion that a common denominator ought to be fixed upon for all gold coins of certain importance.  In neglecting this last condition, we might say that denominator exists already; thus a common denominator of one-tenth is found for the sovereign, rated at 25 francs 20 centimes, and the Napoleon.  But we do not want such a small denominator for the reciprocal conversion of monetary values.  That of 2 francs 50 centimes, proposed by Mr. Meinecke, is even too small; for the comparison between the pieces of 10 francs, 12 francs 50 centimes, and 7 francs 50 centimes, would be very difficult.

In the material fabrication of these gold coins there should be a minimum difference of 5 francs, so as to make an apparent distinction in the form of these pieces.  Such was Mr. Pelouze’s opinion.  He thought the coinage of a 25-franc piece very practicable, because it would differ greatly in size from the Napoleon of 20 francs.

In a scientific point of view, the delegates might therefore negative the first paragraph of question eight, and affirm the second paragraph modified by Mr. de Lavenay’s proposition, in discussing the utility of common types «for the weight and fineness of the gold coin».

Mr. Escher considered the question of similar fineness for the international coins as of great importance.  Without this unity it would be very difficult to ascertain the true value of the pieces.  It is their weight that gives the measure of their value.  We must, therefore, have a unity of fineness, and the best for that is nine-tenths, on account of its decimal character.  In a metrical point of view it would have been better if the convention of 1865 had adopted the fineness of eight-tenths instead 835 ‰ for the small coins.

Mr. Stas hoped that his single vote for an entire new system at the beginning of the conference, as offering the best chances for a monetary unity, will not influence his present observations on question eight.  He thought with Baron de Hock that the adoption of the first question implies an adoption of the French system, and that it is indispensable for its monetary types.  Unity of fineness must be admitted, because the real value of a piece is most conveniently ascertained by weighing it.  Nobody has a true test always about him to ascertain whether his money is of a fineness within the limits of tolerance.  The fineness of all coins must therefore be similar, and they must be of the metrical system.

The fineness of nine-tenths has this quality, and its prevalence in France, Italy, Germany and the United States recommends it to those countries that have preserved the fineness of 11/12, like England and Portugal.

After the question of fineness comes the common denominator, as 5 francs.  The multiples of 5 francs would be 10, 15, 20, 25 francs, the correlative coinage of which would be very difficult.  For instance, in the present pieces of 5,10, and 20 francs, the diameters are 17, 19, and 21 millimeters.  Now, if a 15-franc piece is coined, its diameter must be between 19 and 21 millimeters; and there would be but one millimeter difference between the pieces.  It would be very easy to mistake these coins, particularly when we see 10 and 20 franc pieces, so often mistaken.  Why, then, make a piece between them in size ?

Mr. Stas did not hesitate to say, that in presence of so many practical difficulties, besides the inconvenience of a system with so many gold coins, it would be necessary to raise the common denominator from 5 to 10 francs, and supply the 5-franc gold piece, which is so inconvenient it is often refused in Belgium, by an alloyed silver piece of the same value.

He thought Austria was wrong to make a 10-florin and 4-florin piece, of 25 and 10 francs, because 10 has to be divided by 4, which makes a system essentially defective in a scientific point of view.  On the whole, he was for unity of fineness, and thought it ought to be nine-tenths, with the lowest types of 10 and 20 francs.  The 5-franc piece should be alloyed with silver, so as to make it more convenient in size, and no 15 or 25 franc pieces should be struck, because they are not scientific, and their practical utility is uncertain.

Mr. de Haindl, as director of a mint, protested against Baron de de Hock’s interpretation of the limits of tolerance.  Certain tolerances are agreed upon, not to lessen pieces in weight and fineness, as Baron de Hock says, but solely on account of the impossibility of giving the exact weight and fineness that the coins ought to have.  The tolerances above and below ought to compensate for the general wear on all coins.

Mr. de Jacobi remarked that the question of tolerance explains itself.  He thought a common fineness and tolerance should be adopted in coining the pieces.  He said the second paragraph of question eight is not properly worded, and the labors of the conference will be vain, unless identity of weight and fineness is inserted in the first line.

His Imperial Highness, in answer to Mr. de Jacobi and other members, proposed to substitute the following phrase for the paragraph in question :

«Is it necessary to constitute common types for the weight and fineness of gold coin ?»

This new formula is open to debate.

Baron de Hock preferred the original form; as the last mingles two distinct questions, namely, of weight and fineness.  It is probable that all the members of the conference will vote for identity of fineness, and few for correlative identity in weight; for, with this double identity of weight and fineness, identical coins are produced, and there would be no need to establish partial coincidences between the coins of different countries, as mentioned in the first question.

Baron de Hock favored common types with identity of fineness, but opposed identity of weights, as that would cause identity of coins.  Mr. de Parieu’s wording, where the two elements are distinct, is therefore preferable.

As to common types, it would be best to let each state make its own gold coins as it chose, provided it had one gold piece in common with the others.  The same distinction might be made in these coins as in the union coins and territorial money of the convention of 1865.

Baron de Hock concluded by referring to Mr. de Haindl’s remarks, certainly caused by a misunderstanding, as he regarded the question of tolerance precisely in the same light as his honorable colleague.

Mr. Meinecke did not think it necessary to adopt an identical coin, but that a distinct concordant coin would be sufficient.  It would be best to divide the question as proposed by his Imperial Highness, as he would vote for identity of fineness, even at nine-tenths but against identity of weight.  He did not know if the 4-thaler piece, so often mentioned in this discussion, could be struck in Prussia.

Mr. de Jacobi thought that the adoption of coins of different weight and fineness, but equal in value, would remove present difficulties, and the money would be carried inland.

On the contrary, would not identity of fineness without identity of weight force each state to recoin all foreign money that comes in, as is the case at present ?  Therefore identity of weight and fineness ought to be adopted.

Mr. Vrolik thought weight and fineness go together and ought not to be separated, so there is no cause to divide the question put by his Imperial Highness.  What ought to be the common denominator of the common types, the 5 or 10 franc piece ?  Mr. Vrolik preferred the 5-franc piece, because he believed in the necessity of the 15-franc piece for Prussia, south Germany and Holland, which would certainly circulate extensively in central Europe.  As Mr. Stas says, this 15-franc piece might be mistaken sometimes for the 10 or 20 franc piece, but to reach a monetary uniformity we must overlook some difficulties.

His Imperial Highness thought the difficulty of fabrication not insurmountable, and the difference of 5 francs could easily be perceived.  So thought Mr. Pelouze.  The 15-franc piece might, therefore, be coined.

Mr. Ruggles considered unity of fineness as essential.  He will vote for the question as put by his Imperial Highness because the United States desire unification of fineness and weight.

Mr. Artom was of opinion that, as the conference is agreed upon identity of fineness, that part of the question might be voted on separately.

Mr. de Lavenay said, by identity of weight is meant correlative weight, and the adoption of the question as proposed does not force the adoption of identical coins.  A piece of 15 francs and one of 10 francs, both of nine-tenths, have correlative weights.  Identity of weight is the present question.

His Imperial Highness said there can be no international money without identity of fineness and weight.  There is no necessity, then, to modify the first paragraph of article 8 as it now reads, namely :

«Is it necessary to constitute common types in weight and fineness for gold coins ?»

Mr. Wallenberg thought that as the conference has agreed on identity of title, that part of the question ought to be put to vote.  He asked that the standard be fixed at nine-tenths, as Sweden has agreed, after many essays, that it is the best.  These experiments were made when the metrical system was first attempted to be introduced, and which failed on account of the opposition of the clergy and country people.

His Imperial Highness thought it best not to fix a fineness at present, till the vote becomes unanimous.

Mr. de Parieu said there is no absolute necessity for agreement of weights and fineness.  For instance, an assimilation might be effected between the French monetary system and the English, if the sovereign were reduced to 25 francs, and it would not be necessary to reduce the fineness for that purpose.  It would be a great advance without identity of weight and fineness.

On the other hand, there might be types of a common denominator without identity; for example, if the English should reduce their sovereign to 25 francs without our striking any coins of that value.

His Imperial Highness said that would not be an international coin.

Mr. de Parieu replied that international money does not mean identical coins, but coins easily changed.  Thus, the simple relation of 20 francs and 25 francs would constitute a sort of international community of a certain utility.

Mr. Stas was of opinion that, with equal value, weight is inseparable from fineness.

Mr. de Jacobi agreed with Mr. de Parieu.  He thought unity will remain ideal in certain states, but that is of no importance; it is sufficient for coins to have simple relations.

Baron de Hock, who advocated common coins, admitted identity of fineness and identity of weight in coins of the same value.  He would also like to see identity of diameter in these equal value coins.  Yet to decide this more easily, he thought the two parts of the question should be voted on separately.  One of the two might be decided unanimously.

His Imperial Highness proposed Mr. de Parieu’s reading in two forms :

«Should there be types with a common denominator for the weight and fineness in gold coins ?»

Or this : «Should there be types with a common denominator for weight in gold coins of identical fineness ?»

Mr. Kern seconded Mr. de Parieu’s motion for the term denominator, which may be theoretical, without obligation of coinage.

Several members expressed their preference for Mr. de Parieu’s second reading, and his Imperial Highness put it to the vote.  It was unanimously adopted.

His Imperial Highness also proposed to vote on the question of international fineness, and suggests nine-tenths, which was unanimously adopted.

Mr. Graham said he voted for nine-tenths only in case of an eventual recoinage.

His Imperial Highness then put the question of a common denominator, but at the request of several members, the discussion was put off till the next sitting, which was fixed for Friday, 28th June, at 9 o’clock a.m.  The sitting closed at a quarter to one o’clock.




Prince Napoléon (Jérôme) presiding


His Imperial Highness announced that Señor José Polo, the representative of Spain in the conference, had to attend the Cortes in Madrid, and the Spanish government had appointed Count Nava de Tajo, sub-director in the department of foreign affairs, to take his place.

Count Nava de Tajo immediately took his place among the members of the conference.

The minutes of the fifth sitting were read and adopted.

His Imperial Highness remarked that the conference adopted the first paragraph of question eight at the last meeting, under this form :

«Should there be types with a common denominator for weight in gold coins of identical fineness ?»

The conference also adopted the fineness of nine-tenths.

Now it remains to fix a common denominator, as expressed in paragraph second of question eight, in these terms;

«What should be the common denominator ?  Must it be 5 francs ?»

The debate being opened, Mr. de Lavenay advocated the advantages of the 5-franc piece as a common denominator.  With its multiples it coincides with many other coins; it nearly corresponds to the dollar and the sovereign; and it exists in the convention of 1865.  The United States are ready to adopt it, and cannot make use of a higher unit without modifying their entire system.

In some countries, as in Belgium, as Mr. Stas remarks, if the mould or die of 5 francs is thought to be too small for convenient coinage and ready circulation, those states might be dispensed from coining it.

His Imperial Highness said, Mr. Leone Levi declared at the conference instituted by the committee of weight, measures and coins at the Universal Exposition, over which he presided yesterday, that the 10-franc piece, divisible into 100 pence, would be preferred in England.

Mr. Wilson, speaking for Mr. Graham, says, in his private opinion, the 10-franc piece would have the advantage over 5 francs by giving a higher unity, which would be desirable for England in offering a more simple relation with the ordinary system of the franc.

Count d’Avila would vote for 5 francs as a denominator, and agreed with Mr. de Lavenay that certain states may not be obliged to coin it, but they must receive it.

Mr. Stas insisted that the 5-franc gold piece is too small for convenient coinage, and that it must be enlarged by silver alloy.

Mr. Dutilleul said that in France the 5-franc gold piece is even yet a coin met only in cities, and but very little in the country.

Count d’Avila adduced the example of Portugal, Spain, and the United States, where there is no complaint of the milreis, the 20 real, and the one dollar piece, all which approximate the 5 francs of the monetary union of 1865.

Mr. Wallenberg repeated what he said on a former occasion in regard to the adoption of the denominator of the 10-franc piece, which agrees perfectly with the decimal system, whereas the 5-franc gold piece neither agrees with the decimal system nor with the system of the franc; 5 francs divided by 100 leaves the 5-centime piece entirely too small, while the 10-franc piece divided by 1,000 gives the centime, forming a good subdivision to the last degree of the monetary scale.  He said it should be decided that all the states should coin the 10-franc piece, but be left at liberty to coin whatever other pieces they might choose.  The United States might coin 2-dollar pieces; that would be much more convenient than the 1-dollar piece.

Mr. Herbet did not agree with Mr. Stas in thinking the Belgians so much opposed to the 5-franc gold piece.

Baron de Hock favored the 5-franc common denominator, as the lowest possible to be convenient.

Mr. Vrolik also preferred it, as it will allow the coinage of 15-franc pieces, and will suit the silver standard countries that have the thaler and florin.

Mr. Meinecke could not say at present what gold coin would be best suited to Prussia and the German states, if they hereafter decide to change the silver for the gold standard; nor could he say that they would readily adopt any coin easily convertible into French gold pieces, as it might be against the interests and opinions of the people.  They might adopt the crown of the convention of 1857, nine of which contain 310 francs in gold.

Mr. Meinecke gave these reasons for not voting on the question of a denominator.

Mr. de Jacobi approved of adopting the 5-franc piece as a denominator, but inquired why a 5-franc platinum piece could not be coined with a weight of 5 grams, or 1,000 francs, per kilogram.  This was suggested by Mr. Stas’s remarks.

His Imperial Highness replied that the platinum would have to be purchased from Russia, in the first place, and moreover that the experiments that have already been tried have failed.  In any event, the platinum piece would be considered as billon, and the conference is not concerned with that particular kind of coinage.

Mr. de Jacobi replied that platinum could be coined now under more favorable circumstances than formerly, considering the improved treatment of that metal, thanks to the labors of Messrs. Henri, Saint Clair Deville, and Debray.  He adds that Russia is not the only country where that metal has been found; it has been discovered in considerable quantities in various parts of South America.

Mr. Feer-Herzog was surprised at Mr. Stas’s objections to the 5-franc gold piece; it passes readily in Switzerland, it represents the piastre of many countries, which was the universal currency for a long time, and when brought into America by the Spaniards gave rise to the dollar.

Mr. de Jacobi’s suggestion could not be adopted, as it would be dangerous to introduce a new metal, and platinum is too hard to take the place of gold and silver for money.

Mr. de Jacobi replies that from his own experiments and others platinum is easily coined, and is predestined by its nature to become the universal metal for money, when it shall be found in sufficient abundance.

Mr. Ruggles said the gold dollar, notwithstanding its dimensions, is well liked in the United States.

His Imperial Highness proposed to put to vote the second paragraph of the new question, eight, by adding to 5 francs the words «or its multiples», so as to allow Sweden to vote in the affirmative.

Mr. Artom thought the reduction too great, as there should be but one common denominator.

Mr. Graham remarked that if 5 francs is adopted as a denominator, all accounts in England must be kept in dollars.

Mr. de Parieu thought the denominator should be certain; he proposed to vote on 5 francs as a denominator, leaving out «or its multiples», because a single figure is best for a denominator.

His Imperial Highness put the question to vote, and it was adopted by 13 to 2.  England and Sweden voted no, Prussia, Bavaria, the grand duchy of Baden, Württemberg and Belgium did not vote.

The ninth question was next opened for discussion :

«In case gold is adopted as the international metal, would it be expedient for the types of the coins determined by the monetary convention of the 23d December, 1865, for the sake of unification and reciprocity, to be completed by new types; for instance, by pieces of 15 and 25 francs ?  In this case, what should be their dimensions ?»

On motion of his Imperial Highness, the second part of the question was left out, because details, such as the dimensions of the coins, would be more properly discussed when the governments shall agree upon executive measures.

Baron de Hock thought we should first agree upon common coins, that is, money that would be a legal tender in all the states.

Mr. de Parieu replied that, laying aside the question of legal tender, the proposal of common types has been accepted by the fact of the adoption of the affirmative on the preceding question.  With a common denominator, it is evident there will be pieces and common types, practically, if not from absolute necessity.  The interest, then, in question nine is reduced to technical explanations on the coinage of 15 and 25 francs solicited by the directors of mints, and the discussion of obstacles to the decimal system.

Viscount Villa-Maïor thought it sufficient to admit 5, 10, 20, and 25 franc pieces.

Mr. Ruggles particularly insisted upon the interest felt by the United States in obtaining the consent of France to coin pieces of 25 francs, thereby revising the convention of 1865.  The American half-eagle and the English sovereign would readily circulate side by side with the French 25-franc piece, on conditions of perfect equality.

Copies of his written argument, presenting the considerations in favor of the measure, were distributed among the members.  This document, containing many statistics, is annexed to the present minutes (Annex A).

His Imperial Highness informed Mr. Ruggles that France does not object to his proposition; but the convention of 1865 being in force, the French government must have an understanding with its associates, but that the revision of that diplomatic act, on the point in question, would undoubtedly meet with no difficulty.

Mr. Artom thought the Italian government would not object to receive the 25-franc pieces, provided it was not required to coin them.

Mr. Broch wanted the types of the universal coins to be as few as possible.  He thought the states should not be required to coin, or even to receive, the 5 and 15 franc pieces.  One is too small, and hard to preserve of exact weight, as Mr. Stas remarks; the other is useless, as it would only suit Germany, where they are disposed to coin the marc, twenty of which would equal 25 francs.

Baron de Soden remarked that the 15-franc piece would suit the south German states.

As the differences of opinion seem to be confined to the 15-franc piece, his Imperial Highness proposed to vote first on the adoption of the 25-franc piece.

Mr. de Hermann, taking up Baron de Hock’s proposition, insisted that the conference first vote to know whether only one coin is to have legal currency in all the contracting states.

Baron de Hock said, in fact, the conference has not yet declared that the coins of one state should be received by all the others.  Without such reciprocal reception there would be no monetary community.  After the committee has decided this general question, Mr. de Hermann’s might be next examined, namely : «Whether this acceptance is to apply to all the coins of the monetary system, or only to some of them ?»

Mr. de Parieu, in reply to Baron de Hock, put this question : «Are the 5-franc gold coins to be received in the public banks of the states that are bound by the monetary convention ?»

Mr. Stas proposed to substitute the words legal circulation, for received in the public banks.  He said, as the convention of 1865 only contained this last stipulation, the Bank of France, without giving reasons, refused to receive 155,000 francs in Belgian gold.  If it feared a surfeit of that kind of money, it might rest quietly, as only 4,800,000 francs in gold have been coined in Belgium since the convention.

Mr. Feer-Herzog said it is true the contracting states only obliged the public banks to receive the union money in 1865, because they did not wish to force their citizens to accept foreign money; but it was officially declared at that time by the board of directors of the public funds, that when the public banks in France received the union money their example would be followed by all the other large credit establishments.

Mr. de Parieu feared it might cause some trouble in remote localities if the union currency were now made a legal tender among private individuals, instead of only being receivable in public banks.  Tax collectors might readily recognize the different dies of the gold pieces with the denominator of 5 francs; but individuals would be puzzled by the foreign effigies on the coins imposed upon them.

Mr. de Lavenay thought that inconvenience might result if small change, with intrinsic value below the nominal, were forced into circulation; but we are now speaking of coins of a real value equal to their legal value.

Mr. Rivers Wilson had doubts about the words «legal circulation»; he asked what would be the result of a limitation to the amount receivable in payment, as in the case of silver small change ?

His Imperial Highness said the question was not about coins with a limited circulation; he approved of the words «legal circulation», because they mean that the international money must not be refused, and the people will then accept it willingly.

He proposed this new wording : «Shall the gold coins with the common denominator of 5 francs have legal circulation in the states that are mutually bound by the monetary convention ?»

On Mr. Stas’s proposition, the word «coins» was substituted in place of the words «the coins», as being more restrictive, and expressing certain coins.

The question thus put was adopted unanimously.

The delegates from England, Prussia, Württemberg and the grand duchy of Baden did not vote.

His Imperial Highness recalled the discussion of the 25-franc piece.

Mr. Ruggles wished it to be well understood that the United States particularly desire the adoption of the 25-franc piece as a type.

Mr. Graham thought there should not be so many different pieces.  The introduction of the 15 and 25-franc pieces into the French system would be a defect; it would be better to stop at the 20-franc piece.  He inquired if France really intended to coin 25-franc pieces.

His Imperial Highness replied that certainly, if France consulted only its own convenience, she would see no necessity for issuing this new coin; but to facilitate the work of unification, the object of the labors of the conference, it would make the concession requested by the United States.  It also appeared that the coinage of the 25-franc piece would equally accommodate both England and Austria.

Count Nava de Tajo said that the coin would also accommodate Spain.

Mr. Stas agreed with Mr. Graham in believing if a new system is not to be adopted we ought to adopt the French system, without change, and not multiply subdivisions.

His Imperial Highness thought the bases of the convention of 1865 ought to be enlarged, in order to affect assimilations that it has not yet offered the means of realizing.

Mr. Stas thought the bases of the convention of 1865 were too large already, and that the 5-franc piece ought not to remain in it.

Mr. de Jacobi said if experience shows the 5-franc piece to be too small for convenient circulation, it will soon disappear.

The question on the 25-franc piece being put to vote it was unanimously adopted.  Prussia, the grand duchy of Baden and Württemberg abstained from voting.

His Imperial Highness then proposed the opening of debate on the 15-franc piece.

Mr. Vrolik insisted on the admission of the 15-franc piece in the universal monetary circulation.

Mr. de Parieu seconded the motion, because he thought it would prove acceptable to many densely populated states.

Baron de Soden answered for Württemberg in accepting Mr. Vrolik’s proposition.

Baron de Hock thought there was no present necessity for adopting the 15-franc piece, because Holland has not yet come into the monetary union, and the coin in his opinion would be of no use in the German states.

Mr. Vrolik replied, that without speaking for his government, he indicated the 15-franc piece as a means of inducing a certain number of states to join the monetary union.

Mr. de Parieu did not see why Austria objected to the 15-franc piece when it was demanded by Holland, and suited south Germany.  The Austrian commission of April last adopted the 10 and 25-franc pieces.  By adding a 15-franc piece to the 10-franc piece, Austria would have the two elements composing the piece of 25 francs in gold.

Mr. Artom demanded that, in any event, it be laid down that the states should be bound to accept the 25-franc piece, but not to coin it.

Mr. Meinecke regretted that he could not vote on this question any more than he could on the other; but to come to a decision it will be necessary to know what Prussia wants.  Now there is no fixed opinion in that country, but a monetary uniformity is certainly desired.  All he can do is to vote for the gold standard, but in minor questions he can take no part.  He has no idea of their effect, for he does not know when or how Prussia will pass from the silver to the gold standard.  It could not be done now without producing a monetary crisis in Prussia, which is not in the same situation as France in that particular.  The latter would not have so many sacrifices to make as the former in the transition to the proposed monetary unification.

Mr. Kern came to the conference intending to vote personally and without committing his government for all propositions that would contribute to the formation of a monetary union more extensive than that of 1865, but resting always upon the same basis.  He did not speak for his government.  Without regard to preference to the country he represents, in a spirit of conciliation, he voted for the 25-franc piece because the delegates from Austria and the United States made this concession, and he believed England would do the same.  But he was surprised to hear the delegate from Great Britain say the 25-franc piece did not appear to him to be useful.

Mr. Kern did not see the convenience of adopting the 15-franc piece so long as the states particularly interested, and especially Prussia, have not pronounced in its favor.

Mr. Rivers Wilson, speaking for Mr. Graham, said the delegate from Great Britain placed himself in a purely theoretical point of view when speaking of the acceptability of the 25-franc piece.  It would be rather injurious than useful to the general economy of the French system, but it would not be so in a monetary union between England and France.

His Imperial Highness sincerely regretted this disagreement.  If the discussion of the members is theoretical, it is only in the sense that it does not bind their governments, as if they had plenary powers; but this conference is not here for speculative studies; its aims are definite and practical, to which it is the duty of all its members to direct their efforts.

Mr. Rivers Wilson replied that England could not but appreciate the intention with which it has been proposed to introduce the 25-franc piece.

Mr. de Parieu remarked that the words by reason of reciprocity were designedly inserted in question nine, now under discussion.  They are always understood, and with this reserve Mr. de Parieu saw no inconvenience in coining and circulating 15-franc pieces.  To repeat the lively remark of his Imperial Highness in respect to the 25-franc piece, it would be an invitation to the states that think they are not yet prepared to decide.

Mr. de Haindl, while confessing that the 15-franc piece would suit the German states, remarked that there would be a difference between it and the 7-florin or 4-thaler piece of 1 ¼ % in favor of the former.  It would therefore be necessary to increase the value of the thaler or florin, which is their present monetary unity.  That, perhaps, explains the hesitation of the German states.

Baron de Soden said that while favoring the 15-franc piece, he did not forget that the treaty of 1857 still binds Württemberg and the states that have signed it, with the exception of Austria.

Mr. de Parieu observed there is no other gold piece but the 15-franc piece that can bring Prussia, south Germany and Holland into the monetary union.  Now what ought the conference to propose ?  It ought to prepare a common ground and point out all possible communications between the existing systems.

Count d’Avila approved of this, and said the conference ought to decide at once, either for or against the admission of the 15-franc piece, so that the decision might serve hereafter as a point of departure in further governmental resolutions.

Mr. Kern, for reasons already given, thought the states interested ought to wait for more precise declarations than have been given.

Mr. Artom, not wanting to see the 15-franc piece positively rejected, proposed to decide by vote if the question should not be reserved.

His Imperial Highness consulted the delegates to know if any state wished to exclude the 15-franc gold piece from the monetary union.

The conference replied negatively to the question, with the exception of Sweden and Norway.

His Imperial Highness then put the question : «Shall the 15-franc piece be mentioned in question nine, or shall it be reserved ?»

Seven states voted for the mention, seven against it, and six did not vote.

Those in favor were : France, Spain, the United States, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal and Russia.

Those against were : Austria, the Grand Duchy of Baden, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

These states did not vote : Bavaria, Belgium, Great Britain, Prussia, Turkey and Württemberg.

Question ten, in relation to silver or alloyed coins, was next read.  The conference decided that the question could not be settled then.

The proposal of Baron de Hock and Mr. de Jacobi, relative to the principle involved in question eleven, concerning the control to be exercised in the coinage of the common types of the international money, was approved by a unanimous vote.  As to measures of verification and control, they will be specified in the arrangements between the states, and the negotiators may refer to the conventions of 1857 and 1865.

Mr. de Parieu, observing that the Baron de Hock had prepared a note upon the question, it was voted that the note be annexed to the minutes (Annex B).

The Vice-President of the conference said the twelfth question was proposed in case the delegates did not agree on any of the principles laid down in the first part of the list.  As this did not happen, and the question of a standard was unanimously agreed upon, the conference decided that the twelfth question be suppressed.

On motion of his Imperial Highness, the conference adjourned till Tuesday, the 2d of July, in order to come to an understanding upon the best means to realize the desires of the conference.

The sitting closed at half past twelve, noon.




ANNEXE A : Note, or written argument, presented by Mr. Ruggles, delegate from the United States of America, at the sixth sitting, on the 28th of June, 1867


The delegate from the United States of America proposes that France shall issue a 25-franc gold piece.

If it be objected that such a piece, not containing an even number of grams, would impair the symmetry of the metric system, it need only be stated that France has not, and never has had, a gold coin containing an even number of grams.  The relation in value between silver and gold having been fixed by law at 15 ½ to 1, it became impossible to establish a decimal relation between the two metals; or, in other words, between the number of francs which represent only silver, and the number of grams in the coins of gold.  This legal relation of 15 ½ to 1 is itself fractional, and must be doubled and carried to 31/2 to make even numbers.

The franc is simply a monetary word, which expresses 5 grams of silver nine-tenths fine.  It is the French monetary unity.  Gold having a value of fifteen and a half times greater than silver, it requires 15 ½ francs each of five grams of silver (say 5 x 15 ½ = 77 ½ grams) to buy 5 grams of gold, or 155 grams of silver to buy 10 grams of gold.  As 31 is the smallest even number of this relation, 31 is the smallest number of francs which can be represented by a piece of gold having an even weight of grams.  No enlightened government would consent to confine its gold coinage to pieces of 31 francs and its multiples.  We therefore perceive that France has made complete abstraction of metrical weight in its gold coins, not one of which weighs an even number of grams.

The gold piece of

5 francs weighs

1.6129 grams

The proposed 25-franc piece would weigh 8 grams .0645, and, in fact, would more nearly approach an even metrical weight than any French gold piece now existing.

This relation of 15 1/2 to 1 is practically prescribed by the French law, which enacts that 155 (5 x 31) pieces of 20 francs, being 3,100 francs, shall weigh 1,000 grams, or one kilogram; but the same ratio would exist between 124 (4 x 31) gold pieces of 25 francs, which would also contain 3,100 francs, and would also weigh one kilogram.

The United States have never attempted to fix a decimal weight for their gold coins, although they were among the first to adopt a decimal monetary system.  The present gold dollar weighs 25.8 grains troy, which is about equal to 1.671 milligrams, and exceeds the metrical weight of the French 5-franc piece about 58 ½ milligrams.

A gram of gold nine-tenths fine is equivalent in round numbers to 30 pence English, or 60 cents of the United States.  Consequently, 58 ½ milligrams taken from the dollar would reduce it about 3 ½ cents, or 292 ½ milligrams taken from the half eagle of 5 dollars would reduce it 17 ½ cents, being about 3 ½ %.

It is needless to expatiate on the comparative merits of a decimal, a duodecimal, or a binary system, for the reason that the decimal system has become a fixed fact in a large portion of the civilized world, rendering any change practically impossible.  In like manner the unification of the coinage of the world has become a question of a nature more practical than scientific in character, chiefly falling within the domain of commerce and finance.

The «international committee on uniform weights and measures and coins», charged with the preliminary study of the question, took into consideration not only what is theoretically and abstractly possible, but what is commercially and financially practicable.  The subsequent duty of fixing a common coin as the monetary unit required an international conference, composed of representatives duly accredited, from the various nations, and vested with diplomatic powers.

If the labors of the international committee were to prepare the subject for a diplomatic conference, it might well state that so large a reduction as 3 ½ % in the gold coin of the United States would seriously affect existing contracts, and that such a change would only be sanctioned by the government and the people of the United States in order to assure to mankind the greater and more important benefit of a common currency throughout the globe.  As the expense of recoinage would be considerable, and will increase in proportion to the production of gold in the United States, the change must be made immediately if made at all.  It should be remembered that the population of the United States, now near 40 millions, will probably exceed 100 millions at the close of the present century, in the short space of thirty-four years.

Long before that time the annual product of gold and silver in the United States will be greatly facilitated and increased by the completion of the Pacific railroad across the continent, and now in rapid progress, which will open outlets to both of the oceans for our widespread metallic interior, now so difficult of access.  Its annual product, now nearly 100 millions of dollars, may eventually reach 300 or 400 millions.  The money of the world must be unified now or never.

It is fortunate that the gold sovereign of Great Britain, around which the prejudices of the English people naturally cluster, only requires to be reduced to the value of 25 francs, a diminution of 64 milligrams in weight of fine gold, being a reduction in value of only 2 pence English, or 4 cents of the United States.  In truth, the reduction to be made by Great Britain is less than one-fourth of that required from the United States.

The great and inevitable injury that must result from undue delay in unification in an epoch like the present, when the product and coinage of gold is so rapidly increasing, will more clearly appear from the following gold statistics of the three largest coining nations.

I.  The United States of America, in the fifty-seven years from 1792 to 1849 next preceding the great discoveries of gold in California, coined in gold only $85,588,038; being in francs, at five to the dollar : 427,940,190

From June 30, 1849, to June 30, 1851, the two first years of the auriferous era, the issue was $94,596,230; or in francs : 472,981,150

In the fifteen succeeding years, ending June 30, 1866, it was $665,352,323; or in francs : 3,326,761,615

Total in dollars, $845,836,591; or in francs : 4,227,682,955

(Of this amount, $146,923,622 was stamped in bars.)

II.  The present gold coinage of Great Britain dates from 1816, the year of its reform.  From 1816 to 1851, thirty-five years, there was coined in gold £96,021,151; being in dollars, at five to the pound, $480,105,755; in francs : 2,400,528,775

In the fifteen years from 1851 to 1866, £91,047,139; being in dollars $455,233,695; or in francs : 2,276,178,475

Total dollars, $935,341,450; or in francs : 4,676,707,250

III.  In the fifty-eight years from 1793 to 1851, inclusive, France coined in gold $324,492,516; or in francs : 1,622,462,580 (Of this amount only $107,605,088, or 538,024,440 francs, was coined by Napoleon I.)

During the fifteen years from 1851 to 1866 there was coined, by Napoleon III, $987,728,298; or in francs : 4,938,641,490

Total coinage of gold by France, $1,312,220,814; or in francs : 6,561,104,070

Summary for the three Nations.

Before 1851, by the United States : $180,184,268

by Great Britain : 480,105,755

by France : 324,492,516

From 1851 to 1866, by the United States : 665,352,323

by Great Britain : 455,225,695

by France : 987,728,298

Total gold coinage of the three nations : 3,093,098,855

or 15,465,494,275 francs.

If we add to this enormous sum the gold coinage of Prussia, Russia, Austria, and other important countries of Europe, we can judge of the importance of a monetary unification that would give the same circulation, the same character, and the same value to this entire mass, and of the sums which would be saved, now needlessly expended in recoinage, brokerage, and exchange.

Of the gold of these three nations, we see that France furnishes 1,312,220,814 dollars which would not require recoinage; while a considerable portion of the residue ($1,780,878,041), furnished by Great Britain and the United States, would need to be recoined to unify the money of the civilized world.  From the latter amount we must deduct :

1st.  What has been already recoined by France, deducting the French gold recoined by Great Britain or the United States.

2d.  What has been lost or used in the arts.

3d.  Coins so much worn as to be reduced to the weight of the number of francs they should represent.  This last reservation will apply almost exclusively to the coins of Great Britain, many of which have worn off the one per cent. of the required reduction, while very few of the coins of the United States have lost their excess of three and a half per cent.

It is, moreover, to be considered that the United States and Great Britain may continue to add, for many successive periods of fifteen years, the gold to be produced in America and Australia, which will, probably, fall little short for each period of $655,352,323 for the United States, and $455,235,695 for Great Britain, the amounts respectively coined during the fifteen years just elapsed.  We will not dwell upon what cannot be forgotten, the possibility of a still more enormous product that would result from the more extensive developments and discoveries in the vast auriferous interior of the United States, a field as yet only partially explored.

Without going too far in measuring the gigantic monetary future in reserve for the world, we simply say that the work of unification cannot begin too soon.

It is by no fault of France, but her good fortune, that the burden and inconvenience of the recoinage and the modification of contracts will be almost exclusively borne by the United States and Great Britain, while France, with her six milliards of gold in circulation, will share without cost in the general advantage and the honor of having unified the money of the world.

It is under these circumstances that it is asked, in the name of the United States, that France, in a spirit of wise liberality, will effectually contribute, as she easily may, to the great work of practical unification by adding the 25-franc gold piece to her present coins.

Such a coin will circulate side by side everywhere and in perfect equality with the half-eagle of the United States and the sovereign of Great Britain.

The three gold coins, types of the three great commercial nations, fraternally united and differing only in emblems, will go hand in hand around the globe, freely circulating through both the hemispheres without recoinage, brokerage, or other impediment.  This opportune concession of France to the spirit of unity will complete the work of civilization she has so much at heart, and will inaugurate that new monetary era, the lofty object of the international conference and the noblest aim of a concourse of nations, as yet without a parallel in the history of the world.




ANNEX B : Baron de Hock’s observation on the means of control

Eleventh question.

It is necessary to fix the following principles :

1st.  The money shall be coined of its full standard and weight, without abatement for coinage or any remedy; in no case must there be connected any particular interest, in view of any profit, with the fabrication of money.

2d.  The kilogram shall be established as a weight for the common coins, the weights used by the mints must be made after a common normal weight.

3d.  Common methods of assay and equal limits of tolerance for standard and weight of the common coins must be agreed upon.

4th.  Coins of the same value must have the same diameter; they shall bear the date of the year when they were coined.

5th.  When many pieces coined in the same year are found to be defective, by a process to be agreed upon, the government in default shall call in all the pieces issued in that year.

6th.  An understanding shall be had as to the method of withdrawing from circulation all clipped coins, those diminished in weight beyond the limits of tolerance, or those on which the inscriptions have become illegible.

7th.  It shall be held as a principle that each state shall punish violations of the monetary laws of the other states, as well as infractions of their own laws, and on this principle a monetary cartel shall be agreed upon.





Prince Napoleon presiding

The sitting opened at half past eight.  Present, the delegates that attended the preceding meeting and Mr. Fortamps, with the exception of Mr. Delyannis.  The minutes of the sixth sitting were adopted.

Mr. Dutilleul regretted that the conference decided at its last meeting in favor of the legal currency of gold coins of five francs in the states uniting in a monetary convention.  He preferred to declare those coins receivable in the public banks, and wished this opinion of his to be inserted in the minutes of the present sitting.

Mr. de Jacobi asked an explanation of the words cartel monétaire, used in Baron de Hock’s seventh observation, inserted at the end of the sixth report.

Mr. de Parieu replied that it was an arrangement between states to punish counterfeiters.  He added, that in France the penal code furnished all the arms necessary to reach counterfeiters.

Chevalier Artom observed that all conventions of extradition contain provisions applicable to counterfeiters.

His Imperial Highness then stated that the conference had reached the theoretical terminus of its deliberations.  The business now is to analyze and specify the results of its labors, and then to come to an understanding about the means of arriving at a practical solution.

His Imperial Highness proposed to entrust to the vice-President of the conference the care of embracing in an abridged report the facts and decisions stated in the minutes.

In regard to the means of arriving at a practical solution, they might be comprised in the three following propositions, which his Imperial Highness would submit to the conference :

1st.  Ought the states to agree upon a general arrangement ?

2d.  Ought the countries that wish to make separate arrangements confer with the states of the convention of 1865 ?

3d.  In any event, what must be done to arrive at a practical result ?  Has the time arrived for laying the question before the different governments ?

Baron de Hock wished an understanding between special conventions and the states of the convention of 1865, and not by separate and isolated legislative measures.

Chevalier Artom thought that, even in a theoretic point of view, a decision should at once be made by the conference in favor of Mr. de Hock’s proposition.

Count d’Avila, while agreeing to the general mode of proceeding proposed, did not see the necessity of a special arrangement in what concerns, for instance, Spain and the United States, both having adopted the fineness of nine-tenths, for all they would have to do would be to bring their coins to the weight of the 5-franc piece or its multiples.  After doing that it would be enough for them to accede to the convention of 1865.

Baron de Hock insisted upon the necessity of special arrangements as he proposed.  It was not only necessary to agree upon the fineness and weight to constitute a monetary unity, the entire process, from the metallic composition to the means of control, should harmonize, and the monetary regulations in the states of the union should give assurances of stability.

Mr. Fortamps agreed with Mr. de Hock.  When one state gives legal currency to the coins of another state, it is essential that the fineness, weight, tolerance, control, &c., should be similar on both sides.  Under this implied reserve the right of accession was inscribed in the convention of 1865.

Mr. Herbet said the reserve had already been used.  The Papal States and Greece have declared themselves ready to accede to the convention of 1865.  The request was considered by the French government and submitted to the three other cosigning governments.

Mr. Feer-Herzog thought that accession to the treaty of 1865 ought to be the subject of a formal convention to assure identity of fabrication.

Count d’Avila agreed with MMr. de Hock, Fortamps and Feer-Herzog on the necessity of assuring the identity of fabrication in all coins received in the states of the proposed union; and he thought that, as soon as these conditions were complied with and were recognized by the states that signed the convention of 1865, they should have the right of accession to the convention without any new action on the subject.  It should be well understood that the arrangement will only relate to gold pieces as a universal coin.

Mr. de Jacobi thought that the arrangement of 1865 does not expressly stipulate the adoption of gold as a standard, as voted unanimously by the conference.  Certain states should unite on this principle at first, and then the contracting states of 1865 could more easily join them.  Other countries might come in afterwards.

His Imperial Highness replied it was not so easy for the French government to take the lead in the selection of a standard as Mr. de Jacobi thought.  The adoption of the gold standard, exclusively, would require a modification of the French law, and, of course, the subject would have to be laid before the legislature.  The double standard had many staunch advocates in France, who would certainly oppose the withdrawal of silver from circulation.  At least it would be very useful for the government to rely on diplomatic arrangements, already concluded, showing that the principle of the single standard is admitted both in theory and practice by many other states, when the subject is laid before the legislature.  It is a simple subject for domestic consideration.

Mr. de Parieu thought the interest of the states alone would be sufficient to bring about a diplomatic arrangement.  It may not be necessary for the conference to decide this question absolutely.  In fact, the countries that think proper to revise their interior legislation at once, introducing the principles adopted by the conference, would not hesitate to solicit an accession that would insure the benefits of internationality to their new coins.

The Papal States and Greece have acted in this manner; the pontifical government, in particular, that had placed the monetary regulations of the Roman States in harmony with the convention of 1865, with some differences as to what concerned the admission of a division of 2 francs 50 centimes, soon renounced the last provision in order to accede to the convention in question.

Mr. Kern thought that despite the favorable dispositions shown by many countries, a general understanding upon the application of the principles admitted must take place slowly, by successive accessions to the states that composed the monetary union of 1865.

Mr. Ruggles seconded Baron de Hock’s motion, so far as his instructions would allow.  He said that on the 27th of May last, when Mr. Berthemy, the French minister in Washington, invited the government of the United States to participate in the present conference, he declared that its object was to exchange views and discuss principles, but added this important clause, «to seek for a basis for further negotiations».  By reason of that communication, Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, empowered him (Mr. Ruggles) «to represent the government of the United States in the proposed conference to the extent and in the spirit of the letter of the French minister above mentioned».

Neither in terms nor spirit does that letter limit the labors of the conference to the discussion of abstract principles; on the contrary, it plainly declares the principal object of the conference to be «to seek for a basis for further negotiations».

Fortunately, this end has been attained.  The conference has sought out and discovered the desired basis, not a vague, changeable, and uncertain one, but the basis of a fixed and fundamental system, the principal points of which are these :

First, a single standard of gold; second, coins of equal weights; third, coins of equal fineness; fourth, coins divided according to the decimal system; fifth, 5 francs as the unit.

The propagation of a system thus defined would practically complete the labors of the conference.  The details of application could not be attended to at present; they should be regulated by some subsequent conference, or by the different states separately.

Mr. Wallenberg wished to mention a remarkable fact.  By a ukase of the 11th November, 1865, the Russian government introduced a monetary system in Finland almost identical with that of the franc, the difference not exceeding the limits of toleration.  Now, if the Russian government would extend these provisions to the other provinces of the empire, an important assimilation would be realized.

He added that, in his opinion, a general understanding should be had only on gold coins, upon the basis of the convention of 1865.  Each state would be free to coin its silver change as it pleased.

Mr. de Parieu proposed this paragraph, which he thought would be acceptable to all the delegates :

«The conference expresses the hope that the measures taken by the governments of the different states to modify their monetary system, in conformity with the basis laid down by the conference, may end in diplomatic conventions.»

The paragraph was unanimously adopted.

His Imperial Highness suggested the fixing of a time for the different governments to make known their decisions upon the resolutions voted for by their delegates, and the ultimate steps to be taken.

Mr. Kern thought it should be put off till the end of the year, or till November, so as not to hurry the governments in their decisions.  After the expiration of that term, there might be no occasion to call the whole conference together; the French government could invite the states that should express a desire to enter into negotiations immediately to send delegates to a new conference.

Chevalier Artom and Mr. Wallenberg proposed a delay of three months.

Mr. Ruggles said the government of the United States could not give a positive answer till the subject had been submitted to Congress, which would not meet before the 1st of December next; he therefore proposed to fix the term for the 15th of May, 1868.

Mr. Meinecke would report to the Prussian government as soon as the labors of the conference were closed; but he was sure the answer could not be positive unless sufficient time was granted, because his government could not decide the question without consulting the North German Confederates and the governments that signed the convention of 1857.

Mr. de Hermann assented, as far as Bavaria was concerned.

Mr. Vrolik wished the term to be more than three months, and added that Holland could not decide till it learned the intention of the German states.

Count d’Avila said it was well to avoid every act that would embarrass the free action of the governments.  Let the French government communicate the resolutions voted by the conference to the different states, request a prompt answer, collect the answers, and then call a new conference, if necessary, that was the best thing to be done.

Mr. Kern agreed to it, adding that the French government might agree beforehand about that convocation with the other states that signed the convention of 1865.

Mr. de Jacobi was of the opinion that the states that have signed that act ought to form but one group in agreement, so as to give but a single answer.

His Imperial Highness saw no objection to accepting Count d’Avila’s proposition, and concurred in the remarks of Mr. Kern and Mr. de Jacobi, but he still thought it well to fix a certain delay.

Mr. Herbet proposed to fix upon the longest delay, with the right to anticipate it in diplomatic language, by adding, «within six months, or sooner if possible».

MMr. Fortamps and Wallenberg insisted that the delay should not be too long.  It was not necessary to present the question to the legislatures of the different countries before the governments made known their intentions.  As often happens, the negotiation could take place, then the diplomatic act in consequence could be submitted to the legislative assemblies, according to the constitutional forms of each state.

His Imperial Highness asked the English delegates what time they would require.

Mr. Rivers Wilson replied that the longer the time given the greater chance for a satisfactory answer from his government.  He feared that by hurrying the decision of the English government no good would be effected.  He proposed the 1st of June.  Mr. Rivers Wilson added, that, on the whole, he could not promise a final decision for England at any fixed time.  If the British government was disposed to adopt any measures, it would probably limit them to an inquiry to be made by a committee of the House of Commons, or by a royal commission.

Mr. Ruggles earnestly urged the adoption of the 15th of May, 1868.

Mr. Herbet thought if a state desired to treat upon the enlarged basis of the convention of 1865, before the expiration of the delay voted by the conference, no opposition should be made to its entering into immediate negotiations with one of the states signing the diplomatic act.

After discussion of the time to be fixed, his Imperial Highness put to vote this proposition of Mr. de Parieu :

«As soon as answers shall be received from the different states to the communication officially made to them of the labors of the conference by the French government, that government, in accordance with the answers that may be received, will call a new conference, if necessary.

«It is desirable that answers should be received before the 15th of February next.»

The first paragraph of the proposition was unanimously adopted.  The vote on the second was as follows : the following voted for the 15th of February, 1868 :

The Grand Duchy of Baden, Bavaria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, (adding «or sooner if possible»), Prussia, Russia, (or sooner if possible), Switzerland, Turkey, Württemberg.

The following voted for the 1st of October, 1867 :

Austria, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Norway.

The United States voted for the 15th May, 1868; Great Britain, for the 1st June, 1868.

France and Spain did not vote.  Count Nava de Tajo said he did not vote because he was not instructed by his government, but he was sure that Spain would act with the majority.

The conference having decided all the questions it was called upon to discuss, his Imperial Highness thanked the delegates for their enlightened assistance.

It was then agreed that the conference should once more assemble to adopt the minutes of the present sitting, and to hear the reading of the report that Mr. de Parieu had been kind enough to prepare.

The sitting closed at 11 o’clock.




Prince Napoleon presiding

The sitting opened at 1 o’clock.  Present, the delegates that attended the last meeting, and Mr. Delyannis, with the exception of Messrs. Kern, Vrolik, Viscount Villa-Maïor, Meinecke and Graham.

His Excellency Mihran-Bey-Duz, member of the grand council of justice, director of the mint of Constantinople, delegate from the Ottoman government, whose arrival in France was delayed, and who had been temporarily represented by Colonel Essad-Bey, took his place among the members of the conference.

The minutes of the seventh sitting having been adopted, on invitation from his Imperial Highness, Mr. de Parieu read the following report, which he had been instructed to prepare at the last sitting :

Monseigneur and gentlemen : In the month of December last, when the French government communicated the international convention of the 23d December, 1865, to the states here represented, and called their attention to the grand idea of monetary uniformity, those communications were at first received with a certain hesitation in some particulars.  We have been, perhaps, too long accustomed to consign many generous ideas, sustained only by common sense, to the region of dreams, leaving them to be buried by prejudice and the blind consideration of the immutability of existing facts.  We all know that every enterprise of general interest requires a spirit of unity in its aims and principal means of accomplishment.

There were many points in the monetary question so difficult that they caused divisions in the doctrines and the views of the past.

The idea of monetary uniformity long languished in the aspirations of poets and economists.  The members of the convention of the 23d of December, 1865, encouraged by the success of their labors, warmly welcomed the practical idea of their extension; and on witnessing the success of the monetary union concluded between France, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy, notwithstanding the false situation caused by the forced circulation of paper in one of the states, it was hard for the government that had presided over the conference of 1865 to refrain from asking the support of the world for a more extended monetary uniformity.

The minister of foreign affairs has told you how much the imperial government was pleased at the eagerness of all the sovereign states of Europe, and of the government at Washington, in sending delegates to the conference proposed to them.  In giving to the assembly a President whose great name, exalted position, manifest impartiality, and decided sympathy for monetary uniformity, have given our discussions a brilliancy and importance that we could not expect from our own resources, it has complimented you more highly than could be done by words, and has thanked you all, men distinguished for diplomatic merits, economical science, or technical experience in the monetary art, for the earnest welcome you have given to the ideas you were called together to examine.

What was the precise object of your conference, the nature of the questions it was to expound ?

This, gentlemen, was the first object of your reflections, and upon it the success of your meeting depended.  The government of the Emperor might prepare the studies, but it could not fix the terms.

Monetary science is vast; many of its problems are debated by philosophers.  Not one could be avoided; appeals were to be made to reality, the only solvent of such problems, and the one of particular importance in the subject now before us for consideration.

At the trade conference of 1864, in Frankfort, it was truly said, «monetary questions are more practical than all others».

The chief question for examination was the monetary standard.

On this subject you are aware that the world is divided between three different systems, the gold standard, the silver standard, and the double standard.  It was indispensable to know which of these forms would furnish the most desirable and permanent basis for a monetary unity.

Governed by these considerations, you have agreed upon a series of questions as the basis of your labors, on the report of a committee of seven members, in the formation of which all the systems had been equitably represented.

This questionnaire, to adopt a neologism of our administrative language, you unanimously adopted in the following terms :

«1st.  What is the best way to realize monetary unity : by the creation of an entirely new system independent of existing systems, and in that case what should be the basis of that system; or, by the combination of present systems, taking into consideration the scientific advantages of certain types, and the number of nations that have already adopted them ?  In the latter case what monetary system ought to be chiefly considered, with the reserve of any improvement that might be made in it ?

«2d.  Can identities or partial assimilations of monetary types be now constituted on a large scale by adopting the silver standard exclusively ?

«3d.  On the other hand, can that result be reached by adopting a gold standard exclusively ?

«4th.  Could a similar result be attained by adopting the double standard and fixing in all the nations the relative value of gold and silver ?

«5th.  In case of a negative response to the preceding questions, is it possible or expedient to establish identity or partial assimilation of monetary types on a large scale with a silver standard, leaving each state the liberty of preserving ifs gold standard ?

«6th.  Is it possible and useful to establish identity or partial assimilation of monetary types on a gold basis, leaving each state the liberty of preserving its silver standard ?

«7th.  In case of affirming one of the two preceding questions, would the internationality of the coin adopted as a common standard be a sufficient assurance of its continued circulation in each state; or would it be necessary to stipulate a certain limit in the relation between the value of gold and silver, or to provide for the case in which international coins would run the risk of being expelled from circulation in any of the contracting states ?

«8th.  For the success of monetary unity is it necessary to constitute an identical unity of metallic composition everywhere with similarity of weight and denomination, and what basis is to be adopted; or is it enough to constitute common types of a common denominator as high as multiples of 5 francs for gold ?

«9th.  In case gold is adopted as an international metal, would it be useful for the types of that coin adopted by the monetary convention of the 23d of December, 1865, to be completed by new types of 15 and 25 francs for the sake of unity and in the spirit of reciprocity ?  In this case, what should be their dimensions ?

«10th.  In case of affirmative to questions three or six, would it be useful to regulate silver or copper coins by common obligations as to their composition or standard, their limit in payment, or the amount of their issue ?

«11th.  Would it be proper to fix certain means of control to insure the exact coinage of the common types of the international money ?

«12th.  Besides the immediate practical possibilities already discussed, would further discussions of general principles be desirable to spread over Europe the assimilations already effected or hereafter to be realized in respect to money ?»

Although no idea of exclusion has entered into this questionnaire, it is remarkable that its discussion during five sittings has suggested no serious addition; on the contrary, the 10th and 11th questions you have put on, although the principle of measures of control has been judged indispensable to the success of the monetary conventions, and the 12th question was left undecided.

The decisions of the conference, as a whole, have been regulated by the dominant desire that any future monetary legislation shall result, as far as practicable, in diplomatic conventions between different states, to secure them against their own inconstancy.  It is the evident interest of the states to secure the political advantages of the assimilation of their monetary types by the reciprocal circulation of their coins.

You did not think the reciprocal circulation in public banks, as resolved upon in 1865, completely answered the aspirations for a monetary uniformity; and, contrary to some reserves found in your minutes, you thought legal currency ought to be considered the last word in the tendencies to unity.

The nine first questions of your sittings are comprised in three formulas too abstract to be discussed, and I will reduce them to their simplest form of expression.

The whole world agreeing upon the benefits to be derived from monetary unity, but the difficulties and delays of effecting it being very apparent, the question is, how can it be effected ?  By the creation of a new monetary system established a priori, or by strict adhesion to existing systems, or simply by bending them, so to speak, and perfecting them hereafter ?

Such was the triple problem proposed for your solution,

All of your states, except Belgium, have agreed not to propose a new system, lest such an undertaking might indefinitely delay the desired monetary assimilation.

A new system would have probably been founded upon the adoption of a decimal gold piece of a certain weight as a unity.  You do not say that such a regularity could be attained without difficulty, however beautiful it might be in theory, and without disturbing inveterate habits found in the attachment to the silver franc, almost a copy of the old French livre tournois.

Instead of seeking a system new in all its parts, you have preferred to adopt that of the monetary convention signed at Paris on the 23d of December, 1865, and which being now adopted by Rome and Athens, seems by a fortunate coincidence to reunite the greater portion of the countries in which at the close of ancient history, civilization by various modes had marked out the perimeter of its first empire.

The close union of this system, in its silver coins, with the metrical weights, whether the coins be considered as a distinct standard or as small change, and the 72,000,000 of people that use it and are attached to it, have made you regard it as a centre of assimilation around which the efforts of other nations might cluster with probabilities of success.  But you did not look upon the system as fixed and perfect.

You rightly thought it capable of contraction or extension; that, though the unit was called a franc here, a lira there, and a drachma elsewhere, still a greater latitude was possible, particularly in regard to the unit value.

Most of the civilized nations have a monetary unity above a franc in value.  The piastre, the thaler, the ruble and the dollar, four pieces similar in origin and name, are nearly the quadruple or quintuple of the unit adopted in the convention of 1865.

If the German and Dutch florins and the Spanish crowns differ less from the franc, on the other hand the wealthy British civilization places its monetary unit much higher in value.

Though the small Roman state has converted its scudo, similar to the piastre and dollar, into francs, we can hardly hope that larger and more populous states will immediately adopt all the monetary unities we have reported in the convention of the 23d of December, 1865.  You have, therefore, thought proper to suggest a single unit as a common denominator, borrowed from the system of the convention, around which the other unities should circulate.

If silver had been adopted for the unitary basis, all other systems might have been assimilated to the franc as a common denominator.  But could the silver franc have been the pivot of equations, commensurabilities and coincidences desired in the monetary systems we would like to make universal for the benefit of exchange, trade, travel, financial, statistical and scientific operations ?  To a certain extent, this was the chief question for your deliberations.

Here the laws that brought the precious metals into contact with the wealth of communities, and which have twice given a monetary system to the universe, came into consideration.  The rule of these laws was broken by the great historic catastrophe that separated ancient from modern civilization by an intermediate period of poverty and barbarism, but now strikingly reproduced after a lapse of nearly eighteen centuries.

In the time of Augustus, when gold had gained the ascendancy in money circulation, the Roman poet exclaimed :

Æra dabant olim; melius nunc omen in auro est, victaque concedit prisca moneta novae.

From the middle ages to our day, the revolution that Ovid mentions incompletely, for he omits silver, has lain quiet, till it breaks out now with renewed strength and peculiar mineralogical, industrial and commercial circumstances.  No new invasion of barbarism can reverse its course in Europe, where silver first took the place of iron and copper, and where silver is now displaced by gold.

In most of the civilized nations of Europe and America the latter metal has become the principal instrument of circulation, because its portability and density particularly recommend it as the material for monetary unity.  When the convention of the 23d September, 1865, closed, three of the associate states wished gold to be the choice of the convention.  Even in the last century, a learned man of Germany, where so many grand ideas originate, declared that gold was destined to become the bond of the monetary systems of the universe.

By a most singular coincidence, when only two out of twenty states had gold for a standard, your conference decided upon it for the standard, with silver as a transitory companion; and this was done because the double standard was necessary in certain states that were used to it, or where silver was the exclusive standard.

This valuable unanimity on a question so important, tending to perfect the monetary system of the convention of 1865, will certainly influence public opinion, and certain men in the interior of states who may have retained any doubt on the question.

In thus adopting gold as a basis for the desired union, it was only in a common denominator above the franc that it was possible to realize the useful equations and frequent coincidences in the systems to be brought together; for, in gold coins, the very minute differences could not be distinguished with precision by the process of coinage, and already the mere distance of five francs may be sometimes difficult to express sufficiently in the external form of the monetary disks.

The weight of five francs in gold of nine-tenths fineness, the standard which was unanimously approved, and also one of the conditions of the convention of 1865, then appeared to be the proper denominator for the basis of the desired assimilation between the monetary systems of the twenty states represented.

You are aware that the coins of the union of 1865 are already grouped around this denominator.

For example, it was shown how near the type of 25 francs came to the pound sterling, the half-eagle of 5 dollars, and a piece adopted by the Vienna conference to represent the value of ten florins.  This type of 25 francs, especially recommended in the conference by the representatives of Austria and of the United States, has been unanimously accepted by the states that voted in the discussion of question nine, but on optional conditions.

Your opinions were more divided, in fact equally, in regard to the utility of recommending at present a gold piece of 15 francs, the approximate equation of 7 florins of the Netherlands and South Germany, and of 4 thalers of North Germany.  But, without recommending this type, as you did that of 25 francs, you nevertheless agreed that, if circumstances rendered it proper, it would be open to no serious objection in itself, unless it might be in the delicacy of the process for coining it distinctly.

The eventual extension of the types of gold coins would necessitate, a fortiori, for the states that desired it, correlative latitude in the forms of their silver coins, the internationality of which is of less importance.

Such, gentlemen, are the simple but instructive and plain bases that you have thought proper to accept as a sort of siege to the citadel of monetary diversity, the fall of which you would like to behold, or, at least, to gradually destroy its walls, for the benefit of the daily increasing commerce and exchanges of every description among the different members of the human family.

The desire of not detaining you longer, gentlemen, after a session of three weeks, is my apology for the imperfection of this hastily written digest, which is made in the hope that some decision may be reached by the middle of February, 1868, or at least some instructive steps taken by the governments that have sent you to this conference.

If the germs of our collective, enlightened and benevolent aspirations, freed from the unpleasant compensations that sometimes attend the most seductive reforms, in which we are all animated by the true spirit of civilization and modern progress, shall come to fructify around you, I hope, gentlemen, you will pleasurably recall the honorable memories of the part you have taken in these delicate scientific discussions, with the satisfaction of their joint pursuit, under a presidency so memorable, and with a facility and harmony as perfect as that of delegates from a single nation in its ordinary deliberations.

E. de Parieu, Vice-President of the International Monetary Conference.

After the interchange of a few observations, the terms of Mr. de Parieu’s report were unanimously approved by the conference.

Baron de Hock then pronounced the following address :

Monseigneur : In the name of the foreign members of the conference, I have the honor to present to you their most sincere homage for the wisdom, the profound knowledge of the cause, the assiduity and the energy with which you have been pleased to direct our labors, and to thank you most respectfully for the kindness and indulgence of your highness in accepting our observations and our counsel.

Allow us also, Monseigneur, to express our thanks to the honorable Mr. de Parieu, who presided over our first conferences, and who has since aided your highness with so much intelligence and circumspection.  We reverence him as one of the authors of the convention of the 23d December, 1865, which is destined to become the basis of universal monetary unification, and as an eloquent and profound writer, whose essays have played a part so important in the propagation of the noble and luminous idea that has been the subject of our discussion, and who by his remarkable report of today has become the protagoniste of our conference.

I am also instructed to thank Messrs. Clavery and Roux, the secretaries of the conference, for the perspicacity and precision with which they have recorded our speeches in the minutes.

Your Highness may be assured that the hours we have passed under your illustrious presidency will forever be precious memories for us all.

We venture to request you, Monseigneur, to be the interpreter of our most devoted thanks to his Majesty the Emperor, whose name presides over all that accomplishes greatness in France.

Prince Napoleon, having expressed his personal thanks, and those of the board, for the sentiments uttered by Baron de Hock, said he would take pleasure in being interpreter for the commission with the Emperor, who has always taken a lively interest in its labors.

Finally, his Imperial Highness advised all the delegates, in pressing terms, to exercise all their influence, when they returned to their respective nations, to carry the decisions they have adopted into some practical result.

The minutes were then approved, and his Imperial Highness pronounced the close of the labors of the conference.





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