Mr. Magnin presided


After an adjournment of six weeks the members of the Monetary Conference resembled on the 30th June 1881, at 2 p.m., at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

There were present :

For Austria-Hungary :

Count von Kuefstein, Councillor of the Imperial and Royal Embassy at Paris, Member of the House of Lords.

Chevalier Antony von Niebauer, Councillor at the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Finance.

For Belgium :

Mr. Pirmez, Member of the House of Representatives, formerly Minister of the Interior.  Mr. Garnier-Heldewier, Councillor of the Belgian Legation at Paris.

For Denmark :

Count von Knuth, Secretary of the Danish Legation of Paris.

For Germany :

Baron von Thielmann, Councillor of the Imperial Embassy at Paris.  Mr. Schraut, Government Privy Councillor, and Reporting Councillor at the Office of the Imperial Treasury.

For Great Britain :

Mr. Fremantle, C.B., Deputy Master of the Mint.

For British India :

Sir Louis Mallet, C.B., Under Secretary of State for India.  Lord Reay, Peer of Scotland.

For Greece :

Mr. Brailas-Armeni, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Greece at Paris.

For Italy :

Mr. Seismit-Doda, formerly Minister of Finance, Deputy of the Italian Parliament.  Count Carlo Rusconi, formerly Minister of Foreign Affairs.

For the Netherlands :

Mr. Pierson, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Amsterdam, Member of the Board of Directors of the Netherlands Bank.

For Portugal :

Mr. Navarro d’Andrade, Chargé d’Affaires of Portugal.

For Russia :

Count Mouravieff, First Secretary of the Russian Embassy.

For Sweden :

Dr. Hans Ludwig Forssell, formerly Minister of Finance, President of the Chamber of Finance.

For Norway :

Dr. Ole Jacob Broch, formerly Minister of Marine and Posts, Professor at the University of Christiana.

For Switzerland :

Mr. Lardy, Chargé d’Affaires of the Swiss Confederation at Paris.  Mr. Burckhardt-Bischoff, of Basle.

For the United States of America :

Mr. Evarts, formerly Secretary of State of the United States.  Mr. Thurman, ex-Senator.  Mr. Howe, ex-Senator.  Mr. Dana Horton, formerly Delegate to the International Monetary Conference of 1878.

For France :

Mr. J. Magnin, Senator, Minister of Finance, President of the Conference.  Mr. Denormandie, Senator, Governor of the Bank of France.  Mr. Cernuschi.

In declaring the session opened, the President desired to welcome the members of the Conference, and to congratulate himself once more on the honour they had done him by calling on him to direct their labours.

The minutes of the Session of the 19th May 1881 were read.

In the course of the reading Mr. Dana Horton asked for various corrections in the proceedings of former Sessions.

Subject to these amendments the minutes of the last Session were approved.

The President read a letter which he had received from Mr. Vrolik, and in which the Vice-President of the Conference, now unwell, expressed his regret at being unable to attend the first meeting of the new series.

Mr. Moritz Levy, whose place at the Conference was to-day occupied by Count Knuth, Secretary of the Danish Legation at Paris, also excused himself, being detained at Copenhagen by private business.  The letter which he had written containing interesting information on the monetary question would be annexed to the minutes. (See Appendix A).

The President likewise informed the Conference that he had been officially apprised of the appointment of M. Navarro d’Andrade, Chargé d’Affaires of Portugal at Paris, in the place of Count San Miguel, summoned to Lisbon on public business, and of the appointment of Count Mouravieff in the place of Mr. de Thoerner, whose state of health did not allow him to return to Paris.  Mr. Moret y Prendergast had also excused himself owing to the health of a member of his family.

The President, whose duties as Minister of Finance would frequently call him to the Chambers, where the Budget of 1882 was now being discussed, feared he could not take part as much as he should wish in the labours of the Conference, and asked whether it would not be expedient to proceed, in the absence of Mr. Vrolik, to the nomination of a second Vice-President.  This appointment would take place at the next Session, in case only that he learned that the chief delegate of the Netherlands was unfortunately prevented from attending the future meetings of the Conference.

This proposition was adopted.

Mr. Lardy, Delegate of Switzerland, apologized for Mr. Kern, who had been summoned to Switzerland by his Government, and was unable to return in time for the first meetings of the new Session.

Mr. Fremantle, Delegate of Great Britain, also conveyed to the Conference the regret of Sir Alexander Galt, whom the affairs of the Dominion had recalled to Canada.

Mr. Seismit-Doda, Delegate of Italy, informed the Conference of the impending arrival of Mr. Luzzatti, but doubted whether Mr. Simonelli’s new functions of Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce would allow of his soon returning to France.

Mr. Dana Horton laid on the table of the meeting three documents, the presentation of which he had announced at previous Sessions, also a note on the simultaneous circulation of the two metals in France (see Appendix B), and a table of the monetary circulation (See Appendix C).  It was agreed that these documents should be added at the close of the journal.

Mr. Broch, Delegate of Norway, presented to the Conference two notes, one on the industrial use of the precious metals in Norway, the other on the monetary situation of Norway after the substitution of the gold for the silver standard in that kingdom.  (See Appendix D).

Mr. Cernuschi, Delegate of France, submitted a table of the coinage of silver on the account of the Treasury in France since 1874.  It was agreed that this table should be published at the end of the present Minutes.  (See Appendix E).

Mr. Pirmez, Delegate of Belgium, laid on the table a reply to Mr. Cernuschi’s questions respecting the coinage of silver money since 1874.  (See Appendix F).

Count Küfstein, Delegate of Austria-Hungary, announced that he should present, as soon as they had been translated, the replies given by the Government to the request for information made by the Conference.  (See Appendix G).  He offered, moreover, on behalf of his Government, for the library of the Conference, all that had appeared of the annual of the Central Statistical Commission Return from 1865 to 1879, as well as the Statistical Bulletin of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy from 1867 to 1876.

The President begged the delegate of Austria-Hungary to transmit to Vienna the expression of the thanks of the Conference for the gift of these two valuable collections.

Mr. Pierson, Delegate of the Netherlands, presented the letter written to the Minister of Finance at the Hague by the Netherlands Bank on being consulted on the monetary question.  This letter would be annexed to the minutes.  (See Appendix H).

The President asked the Conference to fix the order of its labours.  The programme marked out by the delegates comprised two very distinct parts, the general discussion and the discussion of the Questionnaire.  In the course of the previous sessions, the first part of the programme had been the object of serious and exhaustive debates, the entire substance of which was given in the minutes recently published.  The second part of that programme remained to be entered upon.  But after a separation which had lasted nearly six weeks, and particularly after the Governments had been informed concerning the labours of the Conference, and had been enabled to examine and form an opinion upon them, would it not be well to adjourn for a day or two, in order that, in private conversations, the delegates might exchange views and settle their course.  Was the conference of opinion that it must enter immediately upon the discussion of the Questionnaire, or would it prefer to adjourn to an early day.

Mr. Denormandie, who expressed himself as coinciding in the reasons which the President had urged, supported the motion for adjournment.  The next meeting might be fixed for Saturday.

The President put this proposition to the vote, and it was adopted.

Owing to his being obliged to attend the discussion of the Budget on Saturday, the President expressed a wish that the next meeting of the Conference should be fixed for 12.30 p.m.

This proposition was adopted.  The session concluded at 3.30 p.m.



Appendix A : Letter of Mr. Moritz Levy, Delegate of Denmark, to the French Minister of Finance, President of the Monetary Conference

Copenhagen, 27 June 1881.


Being prevented by private business from having the honour to participate as Delegate of Denmark in the resumption of the labours of the Monetary Conference, I take the liberty to address you this letter for the purpose of submitting to you my views of what, in my opinion, could be done to give a satisfactory solution to the important question which is now the subject of the deliberations of the Conference, and especially to avert the difficulties which, as is asserted in well-informed quarters, there is reason to fear may arise from the present situation.

At the same time I must beg of you, Sir, to consider this communication as the expression of my personal opinion only, and as in no way committing the Danish Government.

Permit me at once to confess that I have not been able, in any view of the matter, to perseuade myself of the advantages of bimetallism.  I am as convinced to-day that the Scandinavian countries pursued a wise monetary policy in adopting the single gold standard in 1872, as I was at the time when I was occupied in labouring for the realisation of that reform.

Among the disadvantages of bimetallism I may be allowed to point out, in particular, the following :

I.  The relative value of gold and silver being subject to variations, like that of every other product, the fixing by law of a constant and unchangeable relation between the two metals would, after a limited time, entail the result that banks of issue would only be able to redeem their notes in silver, and that this last-named metal would become the real medium of international payments, unless, indeed, the value of silver had been fixed too low.

It is certain that the people of the different civilised countries prefer gold to silver, and reject the latter; this has been shown by the experience of France and the United States of America.  The result will be, beyond all doubt, that the banks of issue, not being allowed to refuse silver, will become the reservoirs for the accumulation of that metal, so that in the course of time the banks will hold nothing but silver for the redemption of their notes and for the settlement of international transactions.

II.  The commercial value of silver in relation to gold has, during the three years last past, been nearly as 1 to 18; now, if the ratio between these two values be fixed by law the proportion of 1 to 15 ½, and if this ratio be adopted by several great countries, the commercial value of silver will necessarily rise at once.  It follows that the production of this metal will be stimulated and might even attain such proportions that the total money-mass would be increased very much beyond the natural requirements.

The consequence would be a general rise in the price of all the necessaries of life, such as took place after the discovery of the auriferous deposits of California and Australia.

A like state of things would work to the injury of all those who live upon fixed incomes, and, what I consider still more important, would change the conditions of living in the case of the millions of workpeople who earn their bread by daily wages.

Experience has sufficiently proved that only after conflicts and struggles do wages reach the level of a rise in the price of articles absolutely required for subsistence.

If, therefore, I do not believe that there is any occasion for a country having a monetary system based upon the gold standard to exchange the same for one based upon bimetallism, nevertheless I am not prepared to deny that the present situation, produced as it has been by various causes, may lead to difficulties if the circumstances which brought it about continue to exert an influence during any considerable time.

So far as concerns silver, it must be admitted that the fall in its price does constitute an obstacle to the development of commercial relations between many countries of Europe and the countries of Eastern Asia, whose monetary system is based upon silver; and that the falling value of this metal exerts a most hurtful influence as respects the large amount of European capital employed in Asia.

Further, a prolonged depression in the price of silver would lead to another difficulty in all those countries having a limited or unlimited circulation of the white metal, viz., that coins would be, of itself, a temptation to counterfeiting.  Even without debasing the alloy or reducing the weight of the coins, such fraudulent manufacture would be remunerative, provided it were carried on upon a sufficiently great scale.

If it be true, as it appears, that there is too much available silver upon the market, the contrary seems to be the case with gold.  The existing stock, together with the annual yield, is hardly large enough to allow of Europe submitting longer to so heavy an exportation of this metal as has been witnessed during the past three years, without compelling a recourse to measures necessary in periods of monetary crisis.

Until now Europe has been able, without difficulty, to furnish the United States of America the quantity of gold required for the payment of the supplies of food which the former has imported; but if this situation continues, if several bad harvests in Europe render necessary the continued importation of provisions from America, and if the latter country, in pursuance of its protectionist policy, prevents Europe from paying in European products and manufactured articles, then the exportation of gold to America must go on, and this state of things might be prolonged until the American circulation became glutted with gold.

It is true that the regular annual production of the yellow metal will assist Europe in its settlements with America, but, at the same time, any country should succeed, by extraordinary means, in extracting gold, as Italy is, just now, endeavouring to do; it is certainly doubtful whether the three great reservoirs of that metal in Europe, the Bank of England, the Bank of France, and the Bank of the German Empire, would be able to stand the drain without causing a long-continued and severe pressure upon the monetary circulation of the different countries.

Such is the situation.  What are the means to prevent the evils with which it seems to menace us ?  My answer is this :

The remedy must be sought in a more extended employment of silver, and in a more restricted use of gold.  Silver must become, in a much greater degree than at present, a necessary part of the circulation needed for the smaller domestic business of each country, while gold would serve only as the metallic reserve guaranteeing the notes of banks issued in larger sums, and as the means of settlement in international transactions.

Both of these objects would be attained if all the States represented at the Conference, or at least the seven great Powers, France, England, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and the United States of America (the other countries are of minor importance in this matter), would unite in the adoption of the following measures :

I.  Withdraw from circulation all notes of a nominal value of less than 20 francs, or an amount corresponding thereto in other denominations.

II.  Withdraw from circulation all gold pieces of less value than 20 francs.

At one of the early sessions of the Conference the honourable Delegate of Russia remarked, in connection with the declaration made on the part of Germany other willingness to withdraw the German five-mark gold pieces, that such a measure should be extended to gold coins corresponding to 10-franc and 10-mark pieces; but such an operation, undertaken by itself, would, in my opinion, prove insufficient, unless preceded or accompanied by the withdrawal of all the classes of notes referred to above; in fact, silver is driven away much more by small bank notes than by the little gold pieces.

The essential thing, as I observed above, would be to render the use of silver necessary in every day dealings.  The great obstacle to this is the presence of the immense quantity of national notes and bank paper of small denominations which is to be found in the civilised world, and in part unsecured by any metallic reserve.  These notes and the small gold coins are, in a certain degree, an obstacle in the manner indicated.

But first in importance should be the suppression of the low denominations of paper money; for if the gold pieces withdrawn are replaced by notes, these latter will not serve to increase the quantity of gold available in those countries which, in respect to the issue of bank notes, follow the rules of the Bank of England.  In such a case the gold coins would simply be turned into the reserve to secure the increased issue of notes which, in the circulation, would have replaced the coin.  The withdrawal of the gold pieces could only augment the quantity of gold disposable for international exchanges in those countries where bank paper is not based upon a metallic reserve, or where silver occupies the place of the other metal.

I will now, with your permission, point out the practical consequences of the measures which I have just recommended.  It will only be necessary to consider the seven great countries above named, the position of the other States having no essential importance in the general consideration of the question.  Furthermore, these latter have no small notes in their currency except such as are entirely secured, as, for example, in the Scandinavian kingdoms.

According to the information that I have been able to obtain, the amount of notes in circulation having a nominal or face value of less than 20 francs is as follows :


Germany : notes of 5 marcs
Austria-Hongry : notes of 5 florins
Russia (approximately) : notes of 1, 2 and 3 roubles
Italy : notes of ½, 1, 2, 5 and 10 francs
United States of America : notes of 1 and 2 dollars


millions of francs


2,269  millions of francs

In order to get at the amount of gold pieces of less than 20 francs, which I propose should be withdrawn from circulation, we evidently cannot take the quantity coined as the basis of our estimate.  During the course of time a large number of these pieces have been melted down and exported; a great many are held by the banks, of which they make up part of be metallic reserve.  We must therefore only take into consideration the sum total of these coins actually in use in the currency.  This figure can only be arrived at by means of estimates; but I think I shall not be far from the truth in taking the amount of gold pieces of less than 20 francs in value, and actually in circulation, at the following :

Germany : pieces of 5 and 10 marcs
Latin Union : pieces of 5 and 10 francs
Great Britain : ½ sovereigns
United States of America : pieces of 1, 2 and 2 ½ dollars
millions of francs


1,550 millions of francs

A sum of one milliard and a half in gold might thus be withdrawn from circulation, which amount of that metal would thus become available for international settlements, while at the same time a great quantity of silver would be needed to take the place of the gold and paper money retired.

According to the figures given above, there would be employment, in round numbers, for two milliards and a quarter and one milliard and a half, or a total of three milliards and three quarters of francs in silver; but there is reason to think that the proposed operation would not require so great a sum in that metal.

It must be remembered that a portion of the small gold pieces withdrawn would be replaced by gold coins of a larger denomination; and likewise many of the smaller notes by paper representing larger amounts. I am, nevertheless, convinced that the complete carrying out of the plan thus presented would necessitate a new currency of silver coins to the extent of two milliards of francs at least.

Such increase from, as I may say, a new direction of one milliard and a half in the available mass of gold, equivalent to the annual product of three years, and a new-found employment of silver to the amount of two milliards would, beyond doubt, remove all fear of a diminution in the supply of gold, and at the same time would not only prevent a further fall in the price of silver, but would much more likely cause a progressive rise in its value, which might finally approach the ratio formerly existing between silver and gold.

By these means the harm which is feared would be averted, and in a manner much more lasting and natural than any that bimetallism will ever be able to offer.

This plan presents, it is true, one disadvantage, but one, fortunately, easy of remedy.

In those countries where, up to the present time, the little gold piece has, in fact, been used for small change, as the half-sovereign in England and the 10-franc piece in France, and in the countries where notes of corresponding amounts have served the same purpose, complaints will be heard of being compelled in the future to carry upon the person a greater weight of silver than it had been the habit formerly to do.

But what is there to prevent the creation of a representative of the silver piece, in like manner as gold is represented by large notes ?

I think there would be no danger in issuing a paper money, silver notes, which would circulate in the place of the bulky silver coins, such as the five-franc, the five-mark, and the five-shilling piece, provided three things be kept in view :

1st.  The silver notes should be secured by a precisely corresponding amount in silver.

2nd.  So far as concerns the sum for which these notes would be legal tender, the limit should be the same as that for the silver coins which they represented; thus, in England the use of such notes would be limited to payments not exceeding £ 2.

3rd.  In countries having the single gold standard, the State should be obliged to redeem the notes under the same rules which are established in each country in relation to the convertibility of its silver coins.

In this way every necessary guarantee would be obtained against an inundation of little notes, and the currency of the different countries would be ordered in such wise, that gold would answer the requirements of international transactions, and would remain a fund for the redemption of the large denominations of bank notes, while silver would serve in small domestic dealings, and as the metallic basis for the silver notes whose legal tender faculty would be limited as indicated above.

Thus do I believe, Sir, that the interesting question now occupying the attention of the Monetary Conference may be solved without the necessity of a radical breach with the principles upon which are based the monetary systems of the different countries; for the requirement that the small, irredeemable notes should be got rid of, or provided with a redemption fund is only what every State having an inconvertible paper currency is constantly striving to attain, and the further requirement that certain States should exchange the use of their little gold pieces, many of which are much rubbed and worn, for silver coins or notes completely secured, can scarcely be regarded as calling for a sacrifice, especially when the object we are all seeking is immunity from troubles and difficulties of which the consequences may disturb the economic development of our different countries.

While leaving it, then, entirely to your good judgment, Sir, whether or not to make known to the Conference the plan which I have taken the liberty to submit to you, I seize the occasion for renewing to you the assurance of my highest regards.

(signed)  Moritz Levy,

Director of the National Bank.



Appendix B1 : Extracts from writings of Professor J. Thorold Rogers and Mr. Robert Giffen on the Rise in the Value of Gold in England (presented by Mr. Dana Horton – reprinted from the Document of the Monetary Conference of 1878)

The following important papers, written without view to any question of monetary controversy, may be advantageously compared with the statements made by the American Delegates in the Conference of the motives which have guided the monetary policy of the United States.  If the conclusions of the first of the following papers are correct, the anti-silver policy lately pursued on the Continent has wrought very appreciable havoc in English investments during the last five years; if the conclusions of the second paper are correct the value of gold has increased in England more than 20 % in this period, and a considerable portion of this rise is due to the Continental movement to adopt the English (gold) standard of money.

The picture suggested by these statements concerning the late experience of England is a very sad one.

The words, «a rise in the value of gold», make a short and simple phrase, but the event they pourtray is a national calamity; it means an infinite variety, an overwhelming mass of human sorrow.

If it were possible for men with malice aforethought to conceive and of their own power to execute a scheme, which should produce the results set forth in these papers, a new and colossal crime would have been added to the evil possibilities of human nature.

Fortunately this is not the case.  The results attained are merely chargeable to legislation forced upon statute books by a well-meaning doctrinaire agitation in favour of the gold standard.  It is perhaps the first time in the history of the world that science has become politics on so grand a scale, and yet of course the intentions of science were good.

The results thus pourtrayed, however, the cause thus ascertained, inevitably suggest the query.  Whether the prestige of sound learning will not suffer by this defeat of its representatives ?

However civilised the age may be, it certainly will not be safe for many centuries to come to obliterate the barriers between learning and ignorance, the chimeras of socialism will sufficiently ravage our century at any rate, and the science of legislation cannot well afford to weaken itself for the struggle with them, and therefore when a blunder of proportions so colossal has been made upon the advice of the accredited representatives of science, it is the vital interest of human progress that the error be repaired without delay.  The palladium of civil prudence must be gently, and with consideration, but, if possible, speedily wrested from the hands of its unskillful bearers.

But such a reversal of policy, such a recognition of error, implies in the former champions of gold monometallism a manliness of sacrifice which naturally requires time to perfect itself, but which, if it comes, will be a moral as well as an intellectual victory for science.  And this necessary sacrifice must not be too long deferred.  Else the popular sneers against science will be kept in countenance by the demoralizing spectacle of the doctrinaire monetary politician, reduced ad absurdum, lighting against truth to save his consistency, ready to sacrifice the prosperity of his people to his predilection for a coin, and willing to break down the landmarks of property in pursuit of a metric system which inevitably evades his grasp.

The date of the appearance of the following papers is itself suggestive of the difficulties to be overcome.

In the outset of the discussion of the general policy of European demonetization in 1876, the view was forcibly presented in the United States that a priori it was probable hat a general rise of the value of gold in Europe was already in progress, and that all known facts concerning prices pointed in the same direction.

This view became, in fact, a controlling ground of conviction of the necessity of bi-metallic union.

The objection to contracting the money of the world has had more effect in strengthening the policy of the United States than the parallel motive given by the necessity of the steady par of exchange between silver and gold countries, the loss of which has borne more disastrously upon other countries than upon the United States.

On the other side of the Atlantic, however, this inherent probability of a rise in the value of gold has been to a great degree ignored, and indeed an effort has been made in tone-giving circles [1] to counteract the presumption that contraction of metallic circulation by reduction of coin to bullion, checking coinage of bullion, and making existing silver coin inexportable) would naturally produce contraction of prices and a crisis.

The argument made use of consisted in this fact, that prices had been rising since, and by reason of the gold discoveries and their flood of metal, as well as that in late centuries prices had been rising as a rule, and it was assumed that this process was still going on, that the supply and demand were the same after 1872 that they had been before.

It was therefore not difficult to dispose of this argument effectually by pointing to the probability that in these times of completed means of intercommunication an inundation from the mines, in its influence on prices, spent itself speedily; and that what little rise of gold prices was noted after 1861 was attributable, not to a redundant production of the mines, but to the displacement of specie by paper in the United States and in Italy (1861-66).

The original presumption, therefore, the plain proposition, which was one of the foundations upon which the policy of the United States was based, remained in force.  Nevertheless, it failed to receive corresponding recognition at the hands of European Governments.

The argument with which the gold standard agitation set out, viz., that gold was steady in value, has now suffered decapitation, that is, if the facts set forth by Mr. Giffen be correct, and the close application of ideas drawn from the metric system to a «measure» which contracts itself more than 20 % before one’s eyes, is showing itself to the public in all its native simplicity.

After all these years, therefore, the scientific bi-metallist is at length, in legal parlance, in position to file his bill of interpleader, and ask that the two wings of the army of the gold standard be compelled to make good against each other their opposing claims to the possession of monetary truth, while the bi-metallist assumes the part of a spectator.

It is now in order that the Teutonic or Latin persecutor of silver, the continental monetary reformer, who, in the effort to substitute gold for silver, has brought the world of production and of exchange to its present condition, shall ascertain from the Anglo-Saxon’s insular but thorough experiment, whether, in these late years, the yellow metal, gold, which the Anglo-Saxon possesses in fuller measure than his Continental brother, has actually maintained itself as a rightful member of the metric system, steady in value, unshakable in its purchasing power.

The litigation of this subject will probably assist in bringing into clear light the services rendered by the exclusion of silver from coinage and legal tender, not only to mankind but to England.

[1]    See Erwin Nasse, «Der Bimetallismus und die Währungsfrage in den Vereinigten Staaten», 1878; Prof. W. S. Jevons’ «Paper on the Silver Question, before the American Social Science Association», 1877, cited also in Horton, «Monetary Situation», 1878.



Extract from an Article by Professor J. Thorold Rogers (of the University of Oxford) upon the «Causes of Commercial Depression», in the «Princeton Review» for January 1879

But despite these advantages, there is no doubt that prices, profits, and wages are falling in very many industries which have hitherto been prosperous.  We will attempt to enumerate the principal causes which have effected this result.  Some of them are local, some are shared with other countries.

The first cause in importance, the most general, and in all probability the most enduring, is the rapid rise in the economical value of gold.  The fact has been commented on with considerable but unequal force by M. Laveleye in a recent number of the «Revue des Deux Mondes», where he alleges, and on good grounds, that the annual produce of this metal is not more than sufficient to cover the annual wear and tear of the currencies.  But while the area of civilization is widening, and therefore the demand for an adequate currency is being extended, the most populous state of Europe has abandoned a silver for a gold currency, and has had, as a fruit of its successful war with France, an exceptional power of attracting gold to itself, with singular success indeed, but to the incredible misfortune of its people.  Germany has effected a monetary revolution on the grandest scale, and has beggared its own industries, for the rise of prices in Germany during the four years after the French war was over was unparalleled.  Now it is perfectly true than when a gradual scarcity in the amount of the metallic currency circulating in any one country occurs, it is to a certain extent possible to resist a general fall in prices by using substitutes for the precious metals, especially if the country in which the scarcity occurs is willing to adopt such substitutes with confidence and familiarity.  But unless we are to assert that the values of gold and silver do not depend on the demand which exists for them, and the means for supplying that demand, it must follow that a large demand brought to bear on a limited supply will affect the values of these precious metals, and through them lower prices.  Nor do European countries find themselves generally able to circulate the equivalents of a metallic currency to the extent which, for example, England does.  The treasure held by the Bank of France is enormous, being nearly equal to its note circulation.  It is understood that Germany has a considerable hoard of gold coin and bullion, which, for all practical purposes, is withdrawn from circulation.  But to the general fact that those two countries require a far larger amount of money for purposes of trade than England does, France is supposed to need three times as much, must be added that the political relations of the two countries are so far unsatisfactory as to suggest a further strengthening of their monetary position.  Nations do not keep more gold and silver than they need, but they measure their own needs, and sometimes their fears measure their needs for them.

Taking into account the growing intercourse of civilised nations, and particularly the sensitiveness which they feel at any event which may check the activity or derange the machinery of trade and production, it appears that at no time has the drain on the existing stock of gold been so sharp and so rapid as at present.  Nor does the proof of the fact depend solely on the phenomenon of lowered prices, or in the fact that the demand for gold has been exceptionally great.  It is proved by the decline in the value of silver as compared with gold.  The writer has been informed by those who are best competent to give an opinion that no traceable rise in prices has occurred in those countries which use a silver standard only, and that this is particularly the case in India, where the loss which the government incurs arises from the necessity of meeting liabilities due to England in a currency which has increased in costliness by all the difference between the old and the present value of silver as measured by gold.  But it will be plain that when the dearness of gold is manifested by a fall in prices there must be a loss of profits, not only on stocks which have accumulated under the agency of higher prices, but on those parts of a producer’s capital which were called into permanent existence while these higher prices ruled, on buildings, plant, and machinery.  It may be added too, that low rates of profit do not depress wages with corresponding energy, just as high rates of profit do not raise wages correspondingly.  In other words, and the fact may be proved by the evidence of prices taken at different periods in the last six centuries of English economical history, labour has always been far better off when prices were falling, owing to the increased value of the precious metals, than at epochs when, owing to their abundance, or to other equally energetic causes, prices were rising.  But it is a common-place in political economy that, except in the case where the employer can recover himself at the expense of rent, dear labour is always accompanied by a reduction of profits.

Extract from a Paper on the Fall of Prices of Commodities in recent Years, by Robert Giffen, Esq., in the Journal of the London Statistical Society, for March 1879

[Read before the Statistical Society, 21st January 1879]

There is a general agreement that during the last few years there has been a heavy fall in prices.  The fall in cotton and iron, and the various manufactures of cotton and iron, is notorious, and for the rest the losses in trade, in almost every description of business, have been such as to leave no doubt of a fall in price.  It is usually a fall in price which cripples the weaker borrowers, and causes bad debts, and this makes a beginning of losses by which stronger borrowers are in turn crippled, further falls in prices ensue, and more bad debts and losses are produced.  When we see so many failures as are now declared, therefore, we may be quite sure that they are preceded and accompanied by a heavy fall in prices.  But the question for statisticians in such a matter is not the fact of a general fall, but whether it can be measured and compared with other facts of a similar kind, and whether there is anything to show the fall to be of a more or less permanent character, and not merely a temporary fluctuation which will be corrected by an immediate rebound; in other words, whether the average of two or three years, including the present, will or will not exhibit a decline when a comparison is made with a date two or three years back.  Looking at the matter in this more definite way, I have come to the conclusion that not only is there a decline of prices at the present time from the high level established a few years ago, but that this decline is more serious than the downward fluctuation of prices usually exhibited in dull times, and that it may be partly of a permanent character unless some great change in the conditions of business should occur at an early date.  I think this can be shown without difficulty with the help of some well-known figures which have been published lately, and which I propose to analyse and sum up, after which I shall proceed to discuss the causes of this apparently serious decline in prices, and some of the probable consequences.

I. – Extent of the fall

[Six pages omitted]

The general effect of all these figures may now be summed up.  First, it has been shown by a general table of prices at the beginning of each year, from 1873 to 1879 inclusive, that there has been a general and remarkable fall in the prices of wholesale Commodities in the period, this fall having also been, to a large extent, continuous, and amounting in the end, with three exceptions only, to between 26 and 66 %.  Second, it would appear from a comparison of prices by means of the index number in the «Commercial History and Review», that the average fall between 1873 and 1879 is 24 %, and that the level of price now established is lower than anything recorded since 1850 in the tables referred to, these tables comprising the years 1857 and 1858, and each year since 1865 inclusive; further, that although the fall between 1865 and 1871 appears greater by this index number than between 1873 and the present time, yet there is a special explanation of this, and there is reason to believe the present fall to be unusually great.  Third, it has been shown by certain tables of Mr. Ellis’s that as regards food and raw materials, prices at the beginning of 1878 were lower than in 1869, one of the years of depression following 1865, while prices are now considerably lower than at the beginning of 1878.  Fourth, it has been shown as regards the prices of exports, that the average in 1877 was considerably lower than in 1868, while the fall to the present level was from a lower height in 1873 than the previous fall in 1868-70 from the height of 1865.  Allowing for the further fall of prices in 1878, we are confirmed in the belief that prices are now unusually low, and that the facts shown by the first index number cited rather understate than overstate the change.  In other words, it is ascertained by the concurrent testimony of all the facts examined, that prices of commodities are unusually low, though one of the sets of the figures would seem to throw doubt, on the idea that the fall from the height of an inflated period to the present depth is unusually great.  The preponderance of evidence seems, however, to be that there is an unusual fall, although it began from a lower level than what had been established in the previous inflated period.  I have not attempted, however, to measure exactly what the extra depreciation is, though I should be inclined to put it at between 10 and 20 % below the prices of 1868-71.  In these matters great exactness is impossible; without waiting to aim at great exactness, I have thought it would be useful to bring the rough facts together, pending the more elaborate efforts which I trust some of our members, perhaps Mr. Jevons, may be induced to attempt.

II. –Causes of the fall

[Six pages are here omitted – In these the author treats, first, causes general in their nature, of speculations, and frauds, &c.; secondly, of the bad harvests in England in 1875, 1876, and 1877]

A third cause which must be mentioned is the extraordinary demand for gold for the new coinage of Germany, and for the United States on its resumption of specie payments during the last few years.  It is a little difficult to consider this point except in connection with the question of the supply of gold, and any variation in that supply which may have occurred, but what I desire to bring out is that apart from a permanent diminution of the supply, whether absolutely or in relation to the growing wants of the world, which would necessarily have a permanent effect on prices, extraordinary demands like those referred to would tend to produce a momentarily extreme fall.  The reason is that a sudden pressure on the stock of the precious metals at a given period tends to disturb the money markets of the countries using them; makes money dear, or creates a steady apprehension that it may at any moment become dear; and so by weakening the speculation in commodities and making it really difficult for merchants and traders to hold the stocks they would otherwise hold, contracts business and assists a fall in prices.  It is conceivable that after such a pressure the current supply of the metals may again be found sufficient to meet the current demands with prices raised to their former level; but while the pressure lasts prices are low.

Now the extraordinary demands of the last few years – I think I may say eight years, the German lock-up having commenced in 1871 – have certainly been of a kind to produce some momentary effect, even on the assumption that the supply of gold, when the pressure is removed, remains sufficient for the wants of the world with prices at their former level.  Altogether during the last six years Germany has coined 84 millions of gold, very little of this being re-coinage.  The accumulation of gold in the United States, again, principally during the last two years, amounts to about 30 millions sterling, the stock increased by that amount.  These two sums amount to 114 millions, and if we allow for other extraordinary demands, such as that for Holland, which has been substituting a gold for a silver money, and at the same time make deductions for what Germany may have re-coined, we may say in round numbers that the extraordinary demands for gold during the last eight years have amounted to 120 millions, or 15 millions a-year.  As the annual production of gold eight years ago was estimated at from 20 to 22 millions only, and has since rather fallen off, as we shall presently see, it is quite plain that these extraordinary demands can have left very little for the ordinary wants – the wear and tear of coinage, losses, use in fine arts, and new coinage to correspond with the wants of populations increasing in numbers and wealth.  My own calculation in 1872, in a series of articles which I then wrote, was that for many years previous the average requirements of the gold-using countries, excluding both Germany and the United States, which were not then in the list, had been 12 millions annually.  But if you deduct 15 millions from 20 or 22 millions, you have much less than 12 millions left, and consequently the former state of things as regards prices could not have been maintained during these eight years.  Now that the extraordinary demands are over, prices may recover, but the extraordinary demands must have contributed to the present adverse fluctuation.

These three causes, then – the extreme and prolonged discredit, the bad harvests, and the extraordinary demands for gold – appear to me to have concurred in bringing prices of commodities to the lowest level which has been reached at any period for many years.  That they would be sufficient to account for much of the effect which has been produced can hardly be disputed, and that they have existed is beyond all doubt.

The question is infallibly suggested, however, whether in addition there is not a subtler cause at work – an actual insufficiency of the current supply of gold for the current demands of gold-using countries.  This is quite a separate question from the effect of the extraordinary demands which have been described, and it seems to me most important that we should keep it separate.  It is a subject infinitely more complex and difficult to treat, and one on which even the most skilled, I believe, would venture to give an opinion with far more diffidence than on the effect of the extraordinary demands themselves.

My own opinion is that some such cause may have been at work, though whether its effects would have been at all marked as yet, in the absence of the extraordinary demands, may be doubted.  The main presumptions to this effect are – first, the undoubted falling off of the gold supplies during the last 20 years.  I have reprinted in the Appendix (Table IV.) that portion of the table put in by Sir Hector Hay in his examination before the Silver Committee which relates to the production of gold, as containing, I believe, the most generally accepted estimate of what the gold production has been.  The following is a summary of that table in quinquennial periods, with the annual average for each period.

Estimated production of gold in the years 1852-1873, in quinquennial periods, with the several averages for each period.

Years Total production Annual average
£  149,665,000
£  123,665,000
£  113,800,000
£  108,765,000
£    76,800,000
£  29,933,000
£  24,733,000
£  22,760,000
£  21,753,000
£  19,200,000

The dwindling of the supply in this table is very marked, and naturally suggests that the effect on prices of the great gold discoveries may not have been continued much beyond 1861, while, lately the difference is so great that, even apart from extraordinary demands for gold, that effect may have been reversed.  The difference of an annual yield of from 25 to 30 millions between 1852 and 1861, and an annual yield of less than 20 millions at the present time, is palpable.  Of course the question is not settled by this consideration.  One of the effects of the great gold discoveries was to create new markets for gold itself.  Under its bimetallic régime France replaced an enormous stock of silver by gold, and becoming a gold-using country, absorbed the new supplies to an enormous extent.  India again absorbed an immense sum, especially during the years of the cotton famine, when her credit abroad was so suddenly and so enormously augmented.  Until 1866 it may be said the market for gold was so affected by extraordinary demands that there was hardly time for prices to settle down into a normal state, and the full effect of the new supplies on gold-using countries alone was never fully tested.  But it is at least obvious that the diminished supply could not now meet the extraordinary demands which were met by the supply of the earlier years, even if the ordinary demands have continued the same.

I should add that not only do the figures show an actual falling off of supply, but there is a probability of the supply being obtained at a greatly increased cost of production.  The nineteen millions now produced are obtained with more effort than the thirty millions 20 years ago.  This means that if prices were to tend upwards, a check might be put upon the movement by a still farther falling off of the gold supply.  It might not pay to work mines which are now profitable if prices all round, necessarily including wages as well as commodities, were to rise.

We come, then, to the question whether ordinary demands have continued the same, to which the answer must, of course, be that coincident with the gradually declining supply of gold there must have been an enormous increase of current demands.  The increase of population in the gold-using countries alone must have been nearly 50 %.  In the United Kingdom alone, the annual rate of increase has been for long nearly 1 % per annum, 0.83 % between 1861 and 1871, which gives 28 % in 30 years, while in the Australian colonies the rate of increase is, of course, much greater.  Suppose the world’s annual supply of gold before 1848, say six millions sterling, was quite sufficient to maintain equilibrium then, which I doubt, the natural increment of population, assuming it to be no more wealthy and to use no more coin per head than the population before 1848, would make the present usual requirement from the gold-using communities in existence before 1848, or their descendants, about nine millions.  But the wealth per head has increased enormously.  In the paper I read last year on recent accumulations of capital in the United Kingdom, the rate of increase in the 10 years ending 1875 was estimated at 27 %, and this rate of increase being deduced from the actual rate of increase in the assessments to the income tax, is not subject to the doubts which may be entertained respecting the totals of the accumulations themselves.  Whatever the figures may be at the beginning and end of the period, such has been the rate of increase.  Not only then must the requirements of gold-using people be increased by 50 %, to allow for the natural increment of population, but another 50 % must be added for the greater wealth per head.  This would further raise the usual requirements according to the previous 1848 standard from the above sum of nine millions, which allows for the increase of population only to 13 ½ millions.  The same conclusion is reinforced by a consideration of the quantities of goods dealt with in our principal industries.  The production of coal in 1846, as you will see by reference to Mr. Mundella’s paper last year, was estimated in 1846 at 36,000,000 tons; in 1876 it was 133,000,000 tons, or about three times as much.  Between 1854 and 1876, or little more than 20 years, the production was rather more than doubled.  The production of pig-iron, again, has increased between 1840 and 1876 from 1,396,000 to 6,556,000 tons, or about five times in less than 40 years.  The entries and clearances of ships in the foreign trade again have increased from 13,307,000 in 1848 to 51,531,000 tons in 1877, or nearly quadrupled.  The imports of raw cotton again have increased from six million cwts. in 1848 to more than 12 million cwts. in 1877, or 100 %; and although this seems less striking than some of the previous figures, it is to be noticed on the other side that the exports of cotton-piece goods have risen from 1,096,751,000 yards in 1848 to 3,838 million yards in 1877, or nearly four times.  But it would be needless to multiply instances.  The peculiarity of the period has been the increase of mechanical invention and the constant augmentation of goods, so that the accumulation of capital above shown is even in less proportion than the increase of the movement in trade which the money in use has to move.  It is a moderate calculation that if only the countries which used gold in 1848, including their colonies, were now using it, the requirements to correspond with the increased population and wealth would be at least three times what they were, assuming prices to remain in equilibrium.

Nor is this all.  The extension of the area of gold-using countries since 1848, first, by the practical inclusion of France, and next, by the more recent inclusion of Germany and the United States, has no doubt added to the usual demands to an extent it is unnecessary to determine exactly, but at least by several millions.  Thus while during the last 30 years the annual yield of gold has been falling away from its first superabundance, the current demands for the metal have certainly been growing with marvelous rapidity.  If there was much need 20 years ago of new channels for the new gold supplies to prevent an enormous rise in prices, it is at least possible that more recently the increasing current demands have been sufficient to use up the diminishing annual supply.  So far as we can judge, the point of junction of the two curves must have been at some date within the last 10 years, though in such matters precision is of course impossible.  In this view the fall of prices in the last 10 years has been aggravated by a subtler cause than the extraordinary demands for gold which have existed.  These demands have come upon a market which apparently had no surplus to spare.  They have consequently been supplied very largely by a continued pressure upon existing stocks, till an adjustment has at length been made by a contraction of trade and a fall in values.

It may be said, perhaps, that the usual requirements of gold-using countries have been changed from what they were by the extension of the cheque and Clearing-house system, by the diminished use of gold in the arts, and by similar means.  Perhaps there is some diminished use of gold in the arts, but, of course, the only really important question in this matter is the use of gold in coinage, and I should doubt if any great economy in the use of gold has been established in the last 30 years.  Excluding Germany and the United States, which have just been added to the number, the principal gold-using countries besides the United Kingdom and its colonies are France, Portugal, Egypt, and the South American countries, but it would be difficult to show, I think, the check system or any other system of economising money has been greatly extended in those countries in the period.  In the United Kingdom again all the recognised expedients for economising money, especially the cheque and Clearing-house system, seem to have been fully operative 30 years ago as they are now.  The United Kingdom was very fully «banked» before 1850, the growth of banks and banking business having since been no more than in proportion to the increasing wealth of the community.  The circumstances are such, however, that a considerable allowance may be made for the introduction of economising expedients, without altering the fact that the current gold requirements of the world have increased enormously since 1848, while the annual supplies which threatened an incalculable rise of prices have been dwindling away.

Let me add, that whatever doubt may be entertained as to the actual meeting of the two curves of demand and supply of gold during the last few years, apart from extraordinary demands, all the facts and circumstances seem to indicate that the meeting point must come very soon unless the supply of gold is increased, or economising expedients introduced and extended.  At the recent rate of progress the current demands may be expected to increase at least 20 % every 10 years, so that if 20 millions annually are now just sufficient for all purposes, not less than 24 millions will be required 10 years hence.  In another 10 years the annual requirement will be more nearly 30 millions.  If we start from a lower total now, say from 16 millions, all the same the figure of 20 millions will soon be exceeded.  And this without leaving any margin for extraordinary demands, which experience seems to show are never wanting, so that, as in a budget, allowance should be made for the unforeseen as in some sense more certain than all that is exactly forecast.  If the scarcity of gold has as yet contributed very little to our money troubles or the fall in prices, it must at least be about to have that effect if no great change comes.  Whether such a change is likely to come in the shape of an increased gold supply it will be for geologists and mineralogists to judge, but it is not reassuring to see how little comes practically of the recent gold discoveries in India and the rediscovery in Midian.  Whether on the other hand change may come in the shape of economising expedients will be a point of no little interest for bankers and all other business men, and for legislators.  Considering the slowness with which such expedients become effective when they are first introduced, and the perfection to which they have been brought in countries like England where they are introduced, I feel great doubts whether much relief can come in this way.  On the whole, I see no other outlet from the situation than in the gradual adjustment of prices to the relatively smaller and smaller supply of gold, which must result from the increasing numbers and wealth of the populations of gold-using countries.

III. – What the fall explains, and its consequences

The fact of a fall of prices such as has been described explains a good many things, while the consequences of it, or, to speak more correctly perhaps, of the more permanent of the causes which have contributed to it, must be far-reaching.  There are one or two topics of importance in this connection on which I have a few brief remarks to offer.

First, we have a sufficient explanation in the fall of prices of much of the falling off of trade, especially our foreign trade, which is the occasion of so much alarmist writing.  There is a constant assertion by some writers of two alleged facts, one, that our foreign trade is diminishing, the other, that foreign countries are gaining as we lose, from which the inference is that the decline of our trade is to be accounted for by the successful competition of foreigners.  Indeed, it is sometimes said that the foreigner is taking the bread out of the mouths of our manufacturers and the men whom they employ.  I have never seen this view supported by any careful examination of what the growth of the trade of foreign countries really is, or by a consideration of what goes on in our trade generally, and not merely in particular trades which may be affected here and there by the pressure of foreign competitors; but the question of the fall of prices appears to open up a new view.  What if there is no falling off, or no material falling off of our trade at all, so that all this writing about our decaying trade, and the gain of foreigners at our expense, is only so much writing in the air ?  It is clear that an average fall of 20 or 30 % in prices must make all the difference in the world.  We are not left to conjecture in the matter.  The exports of British and Irish produce show a falling off in total value between 1873 and 1877 of about 22 %.


The exports in 1873 were   £  255,165,000
in 1877   £  198,893,000


£    56,272,000

which is almost exactly in the proportion stated.  But we have already seen that while the index number of 73.1 falls to be increased in 1873, when a comparison is made with 1861, by the sum of 20.60, the index number falls to be decreased in 1877 by 2.04, so that there has been an average fall of price between 1873 and 1877 of more than 20 % [And exclusive, of course, of the additional fall in 1878].  There is nothing in the figures then to imply that the quantities of the articles exported in 1877 were less than in 1873.  To throw farther light on the point, I extract from the report to the Board of Trade already referred to, a table in which the prices of the articles of export enumerated in the statistical abstract, according to their declared values in 1873, have been applied to the quantities exported in 1877.  The result is, that while the aggregate declared value of the enumerated articles in 1877 was £ 147,801,000, their aggregate value at the prices of 1873 would have been £ 191,530,000, which is within a million of the aggregate value of the exports of the same articles in 1873.  There are variations in the quantities of the articles, some increasing, and others diminishing between 1873 and 1877, but the upshot is that if the prices of 1873 had been maintained all round in 1877, the returns, as far as the enumerated articles are concerned, and presumably as regards the remaining articles of trade where the entries are mostly by value only, would have exhibited no decline at all.

It cannot be maintained, of course, that a fall of values only is immaterial.  Profits depend on price, and this is an especially important consideration in the foreign export trade as regards articles exclusively or mainly of British origin, and where a large part of the value is not constituted by the cost of the raw material previously imported.  Our trade may consequently be less profitable, though the quantity we turn out has not diminished.  But other countries must suffer by the fall in price exactly as we do ourselves, and the question here is not of the profitableness of the trade at a given time, but of its extent; and as to this the impression that our foreign trade has diminished to any material extent during the last few years may be pronounced to be absolutely without foundation.  Regarding profit, moreover, I may be allowed to say in passing, a good deal might be urged in favour of a time like this being really the most profitable in the end, notwithstanding all the complaints of depression.  Much of the prosperity of years like 1873 is in reality hollow, and much of the dullness of dull times is due to the fact that people are forced to acknowledge themselves not so rich as they thought.  But this is perhaps taking us away from the matter in hand, which is that of the volume of our trade only.

To be quite fair, it must be acknowledged that holding our own in such matters is not all that is necessary.  If business is to be in a real equilibrium, there should be a steady increase in it pari passu with the increase of population.  There has been some real check then to the growth of our foreign trade during the last five or six years.  But, on the other hand, we must remember that previous to 1873 there was a marvelously rapid growth, much above the annual average.  All things considered, it is yet too soon to complain of the check of the last five years as indicating the beginning of a permanent retrogression.

The second point I shall advert to is the possible connection between the appreciation of gold and the depreciation of silver.  It is an obvious enough suggestion that as silver in the markets of gold-using countries is only a commodity, it will probably sympathise with any general movement in the prices of commodities.  Indeed, it has been urged by the Calcutta Government that it is not silver which has changed, but gold.  Silver prices they say have not perceptibly risen in the Indian markets, although gold has risen.  Without going into detail on this subject, which would take up a whole paper by itself, and which we may safely leave to Mr. Bourne when he comes to read his paper on the silver question, I may be allowed to remark that very likely gold and silver have both changed.  One or two of the causes we have described as likely to produce a general fall in prices; the prolonged discredit and the bad harvests, have been as applicable to silver-using as to gold-using countries, and have surely been applicable to India and China with their tremendous famines and much rottenness in their foreign trade.  It was therefore possible that silver prices should have fallen like gold prices, and the relation between the two metals have been left unchanged; if silver prices have been stationary, or have not fallen so much as gold prices, then as we cannot be sure how much the scarcity of gold has aggravated the fall of prices here, it is difficult to argue from the fall of silver in relation to gold that the difference between them arises from an appreciation of gold only.  There may have been depreciation of silver as well, even if of a temporary kind only; the events of the last few years relating to silver, especially the sudden sales of the stocks of German silver, and the stoppage of silver coinage by the Latin Union, being calculated to have that effect.  The wonder perhaps rather is that silver has not depreciated still more.  Possibly the stock in use in the silver countries is so large that great additions can be easily absorbed; but the change has yet to be tested, we must remember, by a period of good business, and naturally rising prices in the silver-using countries.  So far as it goes, however, the depreciation of silver in relation to gold, whatever changes may have occurred in silver itself in relation to other commodities, is not inconsistent with the supposed change in gold in relation to such commodities.

A third point to notice is the connection between a great fall in the prices of commodities and a fall in wages.  The two things are inseparately connected.  First, in certain trades, and this connection has been especially shown of late years in the iron trade; the gross price of the articles produced is so much diminished that if the cost of labour is unaltered the labourer will be receiving an enormously increased share of what is produced.  Say an article formerly selling for £ 20, the cost for labour being one-fourth, or £ 5, falls in price to £ 10, then the £ 5 given to the labourer would be 50 % of the selling price.  It is incredible that so great a change could occur without the labourer being affected, and there have been even greater changes in the iron and coal trades.  But, second, in almost all trades, especially those in which the cost of labour constitutes a large part of the cost of production, there is necessarily some connection, in the long run, between the money rate of wages and the prices of the usual articles of the labourer’s consumption, according to his standard of living.  It would take us out of our way to enter into a controversy here about the wages-fund, but it is quite plain that the real wages paid by the capitalist to the labourer consist mostly of commodities; if money wages remain the same while commodities fall in price, there is an increase of real wages.  In some way or other, then, an adjustment of money wages to reduced prices becomes inevitable.  In miscellaneous industries this may be effected by the constant action of individual interests when changes of employment occur; by the steady substitution of superior for inferior workmen; by the transfers of business enabling wages of clerks and others to be revised; and by similar means.  In more conspicuous trades, where large groups of men are employed, there are notices of reduction on a large scale as well as these minor instruments of effecting a reduction.  But nominal reduction must come somehow, unless there is to be a real rise in wages.  The visible opportunity of employers is of course the scarcity of employment, and the disorganisation of industry which attend a great fall of prices; but employers would obviously be unable to continue paying for any length of time really increased wages.  There is no Fortunatus’s purse which would not quickly be exhausted in such an attempt.

There is another subject of, perhaps, greater complexity which seems to be suggested.  If a general downward movement of prices, due to a comparative scarcity of gold, has begun, are we not on the eve of a reversal of the changes which commenced with the Australian and Californian discoveries – changes so admirably described in Mr. Jevons’s well-known book.  These changes were substantially a gradual lightening of debts for the benefit of the debtor class, and to the immediate loss of annuitants and capitalists however much the latter might be compensated in the end by an increase in the nominal income of their land, houses, and other securities.  Now we may witness a gradual increase of the burden of debts to the loss of debtors, and for the immediate advantage of creditors, although, in the end, the latter may lose by the relatively diminished nominal income of their securities, following the adjustment of all prices to the new circumstances.  There can be no doubt that some such general effect as this must follow, if it should, in fact, turn out that a serious appreciation of gold has set in, and the circumstances of its production and the use of economising expedients do not change.  In the end the effect in contracting trade is looked forward to with some apprehension by many of our best authorities.

I do not propose to dispute this conclusion here.  It would land us in an almost endless controversy if we were to discuss whether a constant influx of new money, leading to a prolonged rise in prices, does more good or harm in the long run, than a constant failure of new supplies to meet current demands leading to a prolonged fall in prices.  A great deal, I imagine, could be said on both sides, the rebound from excessive inflation more than compensating perhaps all its alleged benefits, and the additional fall in prices, due to a gradual scarcity of gold being as nothing when compared with the falls which take place from time to time owing to the simple failure of credit.  But while avoiding this discussion, I may at least point out that the most serious effects of this incipient gold scarcity will probably be gradual, just as the effect of the discoveries in causing a rise of prices has been much more gradual and confined within narrower limits than economists were in the habit of anticipating.  Particularly at the present moment the depression may have gone so far that the accumulating stocks of the precious metals will be sufficient for a good while to support a considerable expansion of trade – that it will only be later on, as prices tend to get back to the former level, that the real pressure of the scarcity will be felt.  A year or two’s ease in the money market following the events of last year will however be no proof at all that the causes above described have not been operative and will not again be operative.

IV. – Concluding observations

In bringing this long paper to a close, I have only one or two practical observations to offer.  The «moral» of much that has been said is clearly this : that, if possible, the scarcity of gold which has contributed to the present fall of prices, and may have further serious effects in future, should, if possible, be mitigated, and should at any rate not be aggravated, by legislative action.  I have expressed great skepticism as to whether, in fact, seeing how slow men’s habits are to change, any mitigation is probable in the shape of expedients for economising money.  But it must be recognised that if bodies of men were amenable to reason in currency questions, and there was really a widely felt belief of serious mischief impending from a gold scarcity, some economising expedients could be tried.  To give only one illustration : I suppose few things are more unlikely than that £ 1 notes, or notes for less than £ 5, will again be re-introduced in England, but the introduction of such notes alone, with all suitable arrangements for their convertibility, would certainly go far to neutralise even such another extraordinary demand as that for the German coinage.  The German demand for gold would itself have been much smaller than it was, but for the banking reform which accompanied the coinage, and part of which reform was the abolition of notes of small denominations.  The United States pressure for gold during the last few months would also have been far more serious than it has been, if the Government of that country had complicated its resumption arrangements by the abandonment of all greenbacks of from 5 to 25 dollars, and the prohibition of bank notes for such amounts.  There seems a possibility of regaining something then by re-introducing £ 1 notes if the present gold scarcity should continue.  I hope I shall not be understood as advocating such a change, or as being insensible to the weight of many practical objections which could be urged against it if it were immediately proposed.  I am only mentioning it as a possible expedient for economising money, and there are no doubt others.  As regards small notes, however, it would seem that at least any change by countries which still retain them in the direction of their further abolition, leading to a greater demand for the precious metal, ought to be deprecated.  Still more we ought to deprecate any change in silver-using countries in the direction of substituting gold for any part of the silver in use.  It would be nothing short of calamitous to business if another demand for gold like the recent demands for Germany and the United States were now to spring up.  Even a much less demand would prove rather a serious affair before a very long time elapsed.




Appendix B2 : Note on the relative disadvantages of a rise or of a fall of Prices (from «Silver and Gold», Cincinnati, 1876, page 71 – presented by Mr. Dana Horton)

Supposing, then, we have to compare the effects upon prosperity of a rise and of a fall in the value of money thus caused, and the extent and suddenness of which are similar, which of the two is preferable, other things of course remaining equal ?

The judgment of economists is clear, that a fall is preferable to a rise; or, in other words, that redundancy is better than scarcity.

J. R. McCulloch (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1858, Art. Precious Metals), in his Discussion of the effect of the late great increase in the world’s stock of gold, says, in conclusion, «Though, like a fall of rain after a long course of dry weather, it may be prejudicial to certain classes, it is beneficial to an incomparably greater number, including all who are actively engaged in industrial pursuits, and is, speaking generally, of great public or national advantage.»

Roscher (Grundlagen der National Oeconomie, sect. 141) points out that the gold discoveries by preventing a dearth of money, which without them would have probably occurred, saved the nations from grievous malady.  On the other hand, he explains, in the sense expressed by McCulloch and Chevalier, how a fall in the value of money may stimulate to a notable increase of national production.

Michel Chevalier (La Monnaie, ed. 1866, p. 759), expresses himself as follows :

«In fine the change will profit those who live by present labour; it will injure those who live on the fruits of past labour, be it their own or that of their fathers.

«In this respect it will act in the same direction with the greater part of those evolutions which are accomplished in virtue of the great law of civilization to which ordinarily we assign the noble name of progress.

«It remains to add that in society, as it is at present organised, the number is very small of those of whom it can truly be said that they live on the fruits of past labour.  Real property, rents, and the interest of investments, depend to such a degree on the present labour of those who pay them that, in an important sense, those who receive them live rather on the present labour of others rather than upon past labour.»



Appendix B3, presented by Mr. Dana Horton : Hostorical note on the ratio of 15 ½ in France


At the opening of the Sixth Session of the International Monetary Conference of 1878, in pursuance of an announcement on the part of the President, Mr. Ruau presented an Exhibit the Declaration of Louis XVI, of 1785, by which the ratio of 15 ½ was first established in France.

To not a few students of money this fact was first made known through this announcement.

In an important work on the production of the precious metals, lately published, Professor Soetbeer, the Monetary Counsellor of Germany, marks this announcement of Mr. Say as an event of importance in monetary discussion.

«It is well known,» he says, «that the ratio of 15 ½ to one has been of late accounted to a certain extent the normal relation, inasmuch as it lies at the basis of the double standard in the countries of the franc, and as the prices of silver have, on the average, remained close to this ratio throughout the first seven decades of our century, and in view also of the fact that the transition from the silver valuation to the gold valuation in Germany has taken place upon this basis.  The French Monetary Law of 1803 has hitherto been almost invariably regarded as the starting point of this opinion.  The French Minister of Finance, Léon Say, has, however, employed the occasion of the International Monetary Conference in August 1878, to point out, by reprinting an older French Ordinance of 30th October 1785, that the recognition of this ratio had already taken place 18 years before.  Article I. of this Ordinance is as follows : &c.» [From Soetbeer, Edelmetall-Production, Gotha, Perthes, 1879, page 130].

Although allusions to the re-coinage at 15 ½ in 1785 may be found in one of Gallatin’s writings of 40 years ago, as well in Chevalier’s La Monnaie, and in one of Cernuschi’s works, yet for the general reader, Dr. Soetbeer has certainly not overrated the novelty of the information presented by Mr. Say and Mr. Ruau.

In general monetary discussion, not only is French bimetallism identified with the Law of 7 Germinal, year XI, but 1803 is regarded as the date of the birth of the ratio of 15 ½.

Now the law of 1803 has been the apple of discord over which the battle of the standards has raged in France, and as France has herself been, so to speak, the chief theatre of the continental conflict on monetary subjects which has been going on for a quarter of a century, it is not unnatural that to the great mass, both of lookers-on and of combatants, the law of 1803 should occupy a position of commanding interest.

Did the law of 1803 by implication ordain what the American law of 1793 did explicitly ?  Did it «put the standard in the two metals,» or was silver the real standard and gold merely a brilliant satellite of silver ?

The importance of the question, the intensity of feeling which it excited, may most aptly be suggested by the eloquent words of the first elaborate and comprehensive treatise ever written on money; I refer, of course, to Chevalier’s La Monnaie (see pages 220 and 221, ed. 1866) – in which the distinguished author, appealing to the law of 1803, vindicated the right, «inalienable, imprescriptible, absolute», of the holder of French National Bonds to have them paid in francs of five grams of silver nine-tenths fine, and scornfully rejected the claim of francs of gold ever to be the measure of the obligations of France.

Now, in the controversies waged over this law of 1803, one point has been accepted, namely, that in 1803 15 ½ was really the rate of exchange of the metals in the market.  It is safe to say that by members of the various great Commissions instituted by the Second Empire of Napoleon, that great edifice of ambition which was to have been crowned with metric and monetary unification centering in Paris, it has not been questioned that the ratio of 15 ½ was not created arbitrarily, but was adopted because it was recognised as an «economic fact»; because in the movement of the world’s supply and demand for the metals respectively, 15 ½ was the normal point of equilibrium, so that the fixing of a ratio by French law was, in point of fact, a mere echo of «commerce», that it was merely a ratification of the market rate of exchange between the metals as bullion, which had been fixed by commerce independently of the influence of French law itself.

It is the appearance of this idea in the addresses of Messrs. Burckhardt and Pirmez, which suggested the presentation of this Paper as an Exhibit to the Journal of the Conference of 1881; it is worth remarking that at the same period a distinguished Swedish statesman, Mr. A. G. Wallenberg, in the «London Economist» of 7th May 1881, was making use of this same idea as a decisive argument.

Now, the monetary questions of to-day resolve themselves, on final analysis, into the assertion or denial that govermental policy sensibly affects the demand and may regulate the ratio of exchange of the metals; and it is plain that if the French legislator had chosen a ratio which was not the ratio of the market, an opportunity would have been given to study the effect of the introduction of free bimetallic coinage, with a minimum mint-charge, in the country which held a larger stock of the precious metals than any other two of the civilised nations; while the admission that the French legal ratio was, in fact, merely transferred from the market to the statute-book deprives controversy of the benefit of this test.

It is evident then, that apart from the mere question of history, a point of considerable interest in monetary doctrine is involved in this matter of the adoption of 15 ½.

When, therefore, the attention of the monetary public is called to the fact, that the ratio of 15 ½ was established in 1785, not in 1803, is it not natural that the elastic faith of the monetary public should be ready to assume that what was believed to be true before should remain true; that the French legislator had not wandered from the teaching of what French thinkers maintained to be those ot science, and hence that 15 ½ was the market ratio in 1785 as well as in 1803 ?  Circumstances seem to warrant this inference.  The statement of the President of the Conference, on page 57, clearly points in this direction, while some expressions of the learned Chief Delegate of Switzerland in the Conference touch directly upon the point.  The reader will find on page 82, an allusion of Mr. Feer-Herzog to 15 ½ as the extremely fortunate or happy (heureux) ratio which France had adopted in 1785, while on page 81, the learned Delegate deliberately attacks the American ratio of 15, adopted in 1793, because it was too low, and imputes peculiar motives to Alexander Hamilton for choosing 15, when he should, in Mr. Feer-Herzog’s view, have chosen a higher ratio, presumably 15 ½, or something near it.

But the reader has already remarked the comments of Professor Soetbeer on this point.  He will observe that after noting how the ratio of 15 ½ had come to be regarded as «normal» from 1800 to 1870, this pre-eminent monetary authority alludes to the event to which Mr. Say called attention as a recognition of the ratio of 15 ½ in 1785.  Of course, if the law of 1785 was a mere «recognition», it was a recognition of an existing fact; there must have been an existing market ratio of 15 ½ to be recognised, and, if this be true, the faith of the monetary public in the fidelity of the law of 1803 to the market rate may be safely transferred to the law of 1785.

Now, in addition to the historical and economic interest attaching to this subject, the question thus apparently taken for granted in quarters in which tone is given to public opinion, has a certain sense an international character.

The criticism of national monetary policy of the past is necessarily the school in which the monetary statesman of to-day must learn the lessons of experience.

If the natural assumption of which I have spoken, namely, that 15 ½ was the market ratio in and after 1785, be correct, it is plain that the United States, in adopting the ratio of 15 in 1792, committed an error of policy only equalled by the recoinage of gold at 16 in 1834-’37.

On the other hand, if the ratio of 15 ½ was not the ratio of the market, the policy of France becomes the subject of investigation; and if the ratio of 15 were then economically the fit one, anything derogatory to it is not only unjustified, but withal, is crimen læsæ majestatis; not merely because it was the choice of Alexander Hamilton, but also, because from a metrical point of view 15 to 1 is, through its relation to the decimal system, the most convenient ratio which has been within reach of mankind in modern times, and hence per se preferable to 15 ½.

But not only is the character of the monetary policy of these two great States at stake, but that of England also.  If, after 1785, gold stood at a price in Paris so high, as compared with the English ratio 15.21, that there was profit not only in sending gold in preference to silver to Paris, but that there was profit in importing silver from France into England, to be coined into English money, how was it that this natural movement did not take place, that this natural «course of events» was turned awry, and never claimed the name of action ?  How was it that not until 1798, did the rise of gold above 15.21 bring about the appearance of silver at the English mints ?

In presence of queries like these, so likely to arise if the study of monetary policy be further pursued, so necessary to be solved, if the lessons of experience are to be rightly read, it seemed useful to supplement the information for which the monetary student is indebted to Messrs. Say and Ruau, concerning the declaration of 1785, by setting forth more in detail the motives and character of this important measure, and also, if possible, to present some information concerning the market ratio of the metals between 1785 and 1803.

Strange to say, this latter question, thus raised, strikes with hollow sound upon one of the empty spaces of modern monetary literature.

No one has apparently sought to collect material in order to answer the question categorically; nor indeed, has any attempt come to my knowledge to compile any table of the rates of and exchange of bullion in the market of Paris, such as Soetbeer published for Hamburg in 1855, and such as was compiled by Mr. Ingham for London in 1830.  But more that this, the French monetary literature of that early date has not suffered from unnatural neglect.

In fact, both Chevalier and Wolowski, the well-known leaders of French thought, the one in his La Monnaie, the other in his L’0r et l’Argent, would seem to date the important scientific activity of France from 1803, and to treat what preceded 1803, merely as a preparation for, and purely in reference to, the law of 1803.  And, strange to say, both of them mark the beginning of this preparation with a great speech of Mirabeau of December 1790.

In view of these facts, it has appeared to me useful that I should communicate to the public the results of some researches I have been able to make in the monetary history of France.  I have been enabled by means of these researches to bring to bear upon the questions here stated, the contributions to monetary discussions of certain contemporary writers, of whom monetary literature does not seem to have taken account.  In seeking what was the motive, what the result, of the recoinage of the gold coins ordained by the declaration of 1785, I found full information in the «Requête au Roi», published in 1787, by Mr. de Calonne, the responsible author of that measure.  This melting down of gold pieces coined at 14 ⅝, and recoining them at 15 ½, formed a most important episode in the career of the Finance Minister of Louis XVI, which had exile for its close.  Formally accused before the Court at Paris, by the Prosecutor General, of peculation in connection with the recoinage of the gold coin, and with the management of the finances in general, Calonne published at London a brilliant defence of the measure, worthy of the able and accomplished statesman of the old régime; long extracts of which I have had the pleasure of presenting to the English reader in the document above mentioned.

So far as the adoption of the ratio of 15 ½ is concerned, I can state the outcome of the matter in a few words.  What seems to have determined Calonne to adopt 15 ½ was the fact that Spain and Portugal had the legal ratio of 16, and that there was therefore a probability that in the future gold would rise in value.  As for the market price, he admits it was only 15.08-15.12 in 1785.  At the same time, according to Calonne, this raising of the legal rating of gold which he had decreed, brought a profit of 7,255,216 livres to the King’s purse, and a profit of 21,600,000 livres to the holders of old louis d’or.

Naturally enough, there was no lack of criticism of such an alteration of the coin of the realm.

In a Report made to the National Assembly of 1790, on the part of the Committee on Money, there is a severe attack upon Calonne’s policy, a reproduction of a paper written in 1785, by a member of the Committee : MM. Bontin, Fargès, Valdeck de Lessart, de Fortbonnais, Desrotours, Dorigny, De la Châtre, Sylvestres de Sacy, Cressart, Tillet, De Borda, Lavoisier, Tournachon, Gresling, Oudart, Gillet, and Solignac were members of the Committee. Their Report is a profound discussion of the subject and makes a volume.  It was presented to the National Assembly by M. de Cussy.

The ideas of Mr. De Fortbonnais and Mr. Desrotours seem to have prevailed in the Report; its conclusions being : the silver standard, with an authorised circulation of gold coins, at the rate of 14 7/9, the abolition of all retenu or seigniorage; that is to say, the introduction of the English system of gratuitous coinage.

The importance and the interest of this document, which seems to have been completely ignored in monetary literature, has suggested to me the question whether this fact is not another testimonial to the fatal eloquence of Mirabrau who crushed this Report by his great speech of 1790, of which we have already spoken.

The opinion of the Committee of 1790, which gave 14 7/9 as the ratio of the two metals in the market, supports the figures given by Dr. Soetbeer for the Hamburg market.  In fact, Dr. Soetbeer’s tables indicate an average rate for the 50 preceding years, 1740-1790, of 14.74, which is almost identical with the 14 7/9 recommended by the Committee of 1790.  It is evident then that Hamilton was perfectly right in 1791 in establishing the ratio of 15, and that the French Legislator, far from «recognising» the existence of the ratio of 15 ½ in 1785, created it at one stroke ab ovo.

The events of the French Revolutions are so well known, that I may dispense with examining here the condition of the coinage and of the ratio between gold and silver in the period that followed, 1790-1802.

It was by the law of the year XI of the French Republic (1803) that the principle of freedom of coinage of the two metals, at 15 ½ to 1, was definitely established, and it was therefore in 1803 that the working of the bimetallic system, such as it is known in the 19th century, began in France.  We have then simply to inquire what was the market rate in 1803, the year of the discussion, and of the adoption of the present bimetallic system in France.

It is in the Report to the Consuls of Gaudin, the Finance Minister under whose auspices the law was passed, that I have been enabled to discover the admission that 15 ½ was the proportion, not of the market, but of the law.

Gaudin presents as a quotation, in his report, a long series of observations, made, he says, by a gentleman who thoroughly understood the subject, the object of which was to secure the adoption of the ratio of 15.  The person thus quoted declares that for a long period the ratio has been below 15.  The decisive point, however, with Gaudin was, that to change the status quo, by the adoption of 15, would occasion great losses to the holders of gold coins, and that there was no sufficient reason for so important a change.

Gaudin’s report is therefore the complete justification of the ratio of 15 chosen by Hamilton, and condemns, as being absolutely false, the alleged economic facts we haw mentioned, namely, «that the legislator of 1803, in adopting the ratio of 15 ½, did no more than sanction what the natural course of events had established.»

I should add here that after having announced to the Conference the presentation of the above Exhibit, it came to my knowledge that the latter point had been presented to the public 20 years ago by Mr. Alphonse Allard, of Brussels, in his pamphlet, «L’Or, l’Argent et le Commerce belge» (Bruxelles, 1861).  It was in a speech of Mr. Le Breton, pronounced in a Session of the Tribunate (Moniteur Français, 3 Germinal, An XI), that Mr. Allard found the assertion, that the price of the market at that date was 14.90.

It is perhaps worth while to note here certain observations which might naturally be made concerning the figures given by Gaudin and by Le Breton for the market rate of the metals.  At London, as we have already noted, the price of gold rose above 15.21, in 1798, while for Hamburg, Soetbeer gives for the period immediately preceding 1803 an average of about 15.40, while for 1802 he gives the rate of 15.26.  Evidently we have here the well-known phenomenon of «local prices».

It remains to observe a fact connected with the relation of the French legal ratio to the market price of the metals, which is often curiously ignored.

Freedom of coinage at the rate of 15 ½ to 1, under the French law, did not tend naturally to fix the rating of the two metals in commerce at 15 ½.  In commerce the cost of coinage is always to be considered; and the Mint-charge in France has always been greater for silver than for gold, reckoning by the value.  The rate was originally fixed in 1803 at 3 francs the kg for silver and 9 francs the kg for gold.  The true rate then at which the metals were received at the Mint, or what I have called the «Mint-ratio», was 15.69 : 1.  In 1835, the charge was reduced to 2 francs the kg for silver, and 6 francs for gold, and the Mint-ratio became 15.626 : 1.  In 1850, the charge for silver was reduced to 1 fr. 50 c., and the Mint-ratio became 15.586 : 1.  In 1854, the charge for gold was reduced to its present rate, 6 fr. 70 c. the kg, and the Mint-ratio remains at 15.583 : 1, or rather would so stand, if any silver were coined.



Appendix B4, presented by M. Dana Horton : Historical note on the simultaneous circulation of the two metals in France, 1726–1785.

In monetary controversy the assertion is often heard, that the «double» standard has always been merely an optional, an alternative, standard, and never really composite or «bimetallic»; that it has never happened that a double standard country long enjoyed the great monetary desideratum, a simultaneous circulation of the two metals.

Some researches I have had occasion to make into the monetary history of France have enabled me to show with absolute certainty that this assertion is erroneous.

I cite the following authorities : Charles Alexandre de Calonne, the Finance Minister of Louis XVI, who proposed, and executed, the famous project of the recoinage of the gold coins at 15 ½, in 1785; and Martin Michel Charles Gaudin, Duke of Gaieta, Finance Minister between 1799 and 1813.

In his «Explanation of the Operation of the Re-coinage of the Gold Coins», Calonne says :

«In 1726 the legal ratio was fixed in France at 14 marcs 5 ounces of silver to a marc of gold; and that which proves with how much sagacity this point was seized is the fact, that during a long course of years France retained in her circulating medium a sufficiently large proportion of each metal.  Nevertheless, her gold gradually became less common, and for some years this scarcity has rapidly increased; and this precisely because its legal value has always remained the same, while its metallic value has increased from year to year.»

Further on he gives 650 millions of livres in louis d’or as the amount of louis in existence in 1785, and 1,300 millions of livres as the total amount of louis coined at the re-coinage of 1726, and in the following period down to 1785.

In his «Second Report to the Consuls on the Coinage» (1803), Gaudin observes that during the long period between 1726 and 1785 no one had observed that the low proportion of 14 : 1 had caused any inconvenience, but that in 1785 a voice was heard saying that foreigners were carrying off gold from France.

With her traditional hoard of silver, and with the gold circulation thus indicated, it is safe to say that in the 50 years that followed 1726 France enjoyed a simultaneous and sufficient circulation of both gold and silver.



Appendix C : Statement of the monetary circulation of the United States – Résumé of the operations for resumption of specie payments (presented by Mr. Dana Horton)


The law of 14th June 1875 ordained that on and after 1st January 1879 the Secretary of the Treasury should redeem the legal tender notes (greenbacks) of the United States then existing, which should be presented for reimbursement in sums of 50 dollars and over.

These notes did not have forced currency either for the payment of customs duties or of interest on the public debt.

The Treasury Department on and after 1st January 1879 accepted the greenbacks in payment of customs duties.  The department paid only gold for the greenbacks which were presented.

It has received the following amounts :


Month 1879 1880


There were in the Treasury, 1st November 1880 :


Gold coin 60,210,179.75
Gold bullion 80,742,657.99
Silver bullion 6,043,367.37
Silver dollars 47,084,459.00
Fractional coin 24,629,489.89

of which $ 142,597,013.61 were available for the redemption of greenbacks.

Stock on hand of the precious metals




Gold coin

Silver coin Total
Dollars Fractional coin Trade dollars
In the Federal Treasurt, 1st Nov. 1880 60,210,179.75 47,084,459.00 24,629,489.89   131,924,128.64
In the national banks, 1st Oct. 1880 95,675,472.00 2,500,000.00 [1] 2,830,357.00   101,005,829.00
In the various State banks 17,102,130.00 23,263,291.00 44,969,948.00 7,000,000.00 [3] 292,658,507.00
In private hands 200,323,138.00 [2] y. c. y. c. y. c. y. c.
Total coin 373,310,919.75 72,847,750.00 72,429,794.89 7,000,000.00 525,588,464.64
Gold and silver bullion in the Treasury, 1st November 1880 80,742,657.99 6,043,367.37 [4] 86,786,025.30
Total coind and bullion [5]   612,374,490.00

[1]  Approximation

[2]  Estimate of Mr. Burchard, director of the Mint

[3]  Estimate of Mr. Burchard, director of the Mint.  These pieces still circulate, although they are no longer legal tender; there are banks and individuals who take them at par with the standard dollar or with gold, and others who do not accept them, or who take them only for 90 or 95 dollars.

[4]  Gold and silver bullion is valued at the rate of 16 : 1

[5]  I make no estimate of gold and silver bullion in private hands.

Statement of the fiduciary circulation and of the paper money in the United States, according to the report of Mr. Knox, Comptroller of the Currency


Denomination 1880 1879 1878
National Bank notes legal tender total total total
Fractions of notes








342,063,141 347,681,016 689,744,467 682,815,520 667,333,137
To be deducted for greenbacks destroyed in the Chicago fire
    1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Totals 342,063,141 346,681,016 688,744,467 681,815,520 666,333,137

Of these amounts, there were on the 1st October 1880 in the 2,195 National Banks :


De greenbacks 56,600,000
National Bank notes




According to the report of Mr. James Gilfillan, Treasurer of the United States, there were on 30th September 1880, in the Federal Treasury :


De greenbacks 27,901,694
National Bank notes 3,508,529




Statement of the mintage of coins in the United States in the years 1877, 1878, and 1879, according to the report of Mr. Burchard, Director of the Mint


1877 1878 1879
20 dollars
10 dollars
5 dollars
3 dollars
2 ½ dollars
1 dollar 
3,030 00
Totals 43,999,800.00 49,780,052.00 39,080,080.00
Trade dollar [1]
Standard dollar
50 cents
25 cents
20 cents
10 cents


Totals 28,393,045.50 28,518,850.00 27,569,776 00
5 cents
3 cents
1 cent

Totals 8,525.00 58,186.50 165,003.00
Totaux généraux 72,401,434.50 73,363,088.50 66,814,859.00

[1]  The trade dollars, 420 grains, 9/10 fine, have no legal tender power


Montage of silver coins since 30th June 1871

Years Trade dollars Standard dollars Fractional coins Total


Totals 35,959,360 93,824,861 51,382,955.85 181,167,181.85


Appendix D1 : Note on the industrial use of the precious metals in Norway, presented by Dr Ö.-J. Broch.


In response to the question propounded by the honourable Delegate of Switzerland, Mr. Lardy, in the session of 10th May 1881, I have the honour to present to the Conference the following table on the use of gold and silver in manufactures in Norway, with the exception of the consumption in photography.  The silver that is used comes in the form of silver ingots; silver utensils melted and worked anew into utensils, or jewels are not included.  The gold comes almost invariably in the form of domestic or foreign gold coins.  Silver or gold jewels imported from abroad are not included.

Industrial use of silver and of gold.


Years Fine silver (in kg) Fine gold (in kg)
Moyenne annuelle 1,694 22


Appendix D2 : Statement of the monetary situation of the Kingdom of Norway before and after the transition from the silver to the gold standard, by Dr. Ö. J. Broch

The former monetary system of Norway was constituted under the law of 14th June 1816.  This system was based upon the single standard of silver.  The unit was the speciesdaler, of which 37 were coined at 0.875 fine out of four Cologne marks of pure silver.  The weight of the mark of Cologne was fixed in Norway by the law of the 28th July 1824 relating to weights and measures, at the proportion of one pound = two marks of Cologne, which contained 123,144.5 gran in Norwegian commercial weights, which gives for the Cologne mark a weight of 233 grammes, 993.35.  In Denmark and in Hamburg the mark of Cologne was worth a little less, viz., 233 grammes, 854.89; in Prussia it was worth 233 grammes, 8555.  The ancient ounce of Charlemagne was equal to 1/400th of the «pile» of Charlemagne, or 30 grammes, 594, and the mark of eight ounces was therefore originally equal to 244 grammes, 752.

The Norwegian speciesdaler was therefore of 28 grammes, 910.4 in weight at 0.875 fine, and contained 25 grammes, 296.6 of pure silver.  Compared with the five-franc silver piece the speciesdaler was worth 5 fr. 62 centimes.

Coins were struck of the same fineness in subdivisions of one-half, one-fifth, one-tenth, and one-fifteenth of the speciesdaler, and were current as full legal tender; the speciesdaler was divided into 120 skillings.

In Sweden and in Denmark coins were struck resembling the Norwegian speciesdaler, and of the same standard of fineness, but the weight, and consequently the amount of pure silver contained in them, differed a little.


The Swedish speciesdaler contained
The Danish speciesdaler contained
The Norwegian speciesdaler contained
25.5045 g of pure silver

The Danish speciesdaler coincided with the Hamburg-banco reichsthaler, or three marks Hamburg-banco, an uncoined money of account; thus 59 ½ marks banco represented 600 grammes of pure silver.

In Sweden the monetary unit was the riksdaler, equal to one-fourth of the Swedish speciesdaler, which was divided into 100 ore.  In Denmark the monetary unit was the nigsdaler, equal to one-half of the Danish speciesdaler, which was divided into six marks, and the mark into 16 skillings, thus the rigsdaler into 96 Danish skillings.

Of current coins having full legal tender faculty there had been struck in Norway under the law of 1816, up to the close of the year 1873, a total of 3,934,355 speciesdaler, 16 skillings as follows :

In 1/1 speciesdaler for
In 1/2
In 1/5
In 1/10
In 1/15
2,518,155 spd.
436,462 spd. 60 sk.
462,102 spd. 96 sk.
462,860 spd. 60 sk.
54,774 40 sk.
Total 3,934,355 spd. 16 sk.

The coinage had almost exclusively been done for account of the Bank of Norway.  The seigniorage paid at the mint at Kongsberg for mint charges was 2 % on the 1 sk. and half speciesdaler pieces, and 2 ½ % on the divisional coins of one-fifth, one-tenth, and one-fifteenth speciesdaler.

A part of the speciesdalers had been, from time to time, exported to Hamburg and turned into silver bars at the bank of that city.

Swedish and Danish current coins circulated side by side and at par with those of Norway.

The actual currency outside of the reserves of the National Bank was almost exclusively paper, with bank notes of 5, 10, 50, and 100 speciesdalers redeemable on demand.  The current coins of one-half, one-fifth, one-tenth, and one-fifteenth speciesdaler were the only ones that actually circulated.  Pieces of one-half speciesdaler were even rare.  In small dealings it was frequent to reckon in one-fifth of the speciesdaler, called «ort», which thus became, so to speak, the people’s unit.

In Sweden and Denmark the active circulation was likewise principally of paper money.  The smallest denomination of bank notes was at that time in Sweden the note of one riksdaler, and in Denmark the note of five rigsdalers.

The metallic reserve of the Bank of Norway was largely composed of Danish species-dalers and silver in bars.  The bank is allowed to place as much as one-third of its specie reserve in the hands of its foreign correspondents.  That institution buys bills upon foreign countries, and forwards them immediately to its correspondents to collect and hold the proceeds; the bank then sells bills at short date, drawn upon its correspondents, and thus, by these operations, maintains near par, or within very narrow limits, the rates of exchange on the principal places with which Norway has commercial relations.  When the payment of the trade balance of the country necessitated exports of silver, the bank frequently itself shipped the metal to its correspondents upon whom it afterwards drew and sold the bills.

The note circulation of the Bank of Norway, the sole bank of issue, amounted at the close of the year 1873 to 11,794,633 speciesdalers.  At the same period the monetary circulation outside the bank in current silver, together with the silver and copper token coins, may be estimated at 1,000,000 of speciesdalers, including the Swedish and Danish coins which circulated in Norway.

The total circulation, therefore, not counting the reserves of the bank, was 12,800,000 speciesdalers.  The population of Norway at that date was estimated at 1,780,000 inhabitants, which gives a note and coin circulation of 7.2 speciesdalers or 40 francs and 40 centimes per inhabitant.

The metallic reserve of the Bank of Norway was, at the same period, 8,593,435 speciesdalers, including the portion thereof put out in foreign countries.

The transition from the silver standard to that of gold took place in Norway on the 1st of January 1874, by virtue of a law of the 4th of June 1873.

The Bank of Norway had already been authorised to change a part of its reserve into gold by a law of the 17th of June 1869, passed in consequence of the International Monetary Conference at Paris in 1867.  The management of the bank took advantage of this privilege to sell silver from time to time and to buy gold.  The transformation was chiefly accomplished by sending silver coin to Hamburg where it was changed into «Hamburger banco-marks» at the rate of 118 2/3 marks for the kilogram of pure silver.  By the German monetary reform the Hamburg mark-banco was subsequently changed to gold at the rate of 2 mark-banco = 3 reichsmarks, therefore at the ratio of 15.674.  The metal reserve of the bank, including the capital left with correspondents at Copenhagen, Hamburg, and London was, towards the close of the years :


 speciesdalers 1871 1872 1873
total reserve 6,588,963 7,561,310 8,593,435

The transition to the gold standard took place simultaneously in the three Scandinavian kingdoms.  It was admitted without discussion and without being referred to in the Scandinavian Monetary Treaty of 18th December 1872, as resting in right and as being an unquestionable international obligation that each State was responsible for the coins struck at its mints and bearing its arms, and that in case of demonetisation and transition from the silver standard to that of gold, such State should withdraw its current coins as well as its fractional currency of silver, alloy, or copper, and exchange them for gold.  Thus, as early as the autumn of 1873 the Government of Denmark received from the Bank of Norway 2,000,000 speciesdalers in Danish silver and paid for them in gold.

Under the law of 4th June 1873 the old silver coins have, from and after the 1st of January 1874, been reduced to the condition of subsidiary currency with legal tender faculty limited to five speciesdalers or 20 crowns.  The Government is, however, not only obliged to receive them for all payments without limit as to amount, but also to exchange them for gold coins.

The demonetisation of the old silver and copper money and the manufacture of fractional coinage suitable to the new system of crowns was done under a law of the 17th of April 1875.

The speciesdaler was transformed into four kroner or crowns of the new monetary system.  Gold pieces of 10 and 20 crowns were struck by virtue of the laws of 4th June 1873 and 17th April 1875, at a standard of 9/10ths fine; 248 pieces of 10 crowns and 124 pieces of 20 crowns are coined from a kilogramme of refined gold.  Of these gold pieces, eight are therefore exactly equivalent to nine German gold coins of like denomination in marks.

A Scandinavian crown is therefore worth exactly 1 and 1/8th German marks.  Compared with French gold coins the Scandinavian crown is equal to 72 francs.  Therefore in gold : 100 francs = 81 German marks = 72 Scandinavian crowns.

The conversion of silver into gold was accomplished at the following ratios :


In Norway

25.2966 × 5 × 0.124 = 15.684

In Denmark 25.2816 × 5 × 0.124 = 15.675
In Sweden 25.5045 × 5 × 0.124 = 15.813

The difference between the old silver coins of the three Scandinavian kingdoms disappeared by their conversion into gold according to these different ratios.

In the month of December 1872, the date of the simultaneous resolution of the three kingdoms to make the transition from the silver to the gold standard, the ratio in the London market was 15.79.

In Norway there were successively withdrawn from circulation the following amounts in old coins :


1/1 spd. for
Total in current full-weight coins
Ditto silver token coins
Ditto copper coins
Total old coins


00 sk. 
converted in
changes into

Of silver current coins there were melted into bars and sold at London to the following amounts :

In 1874
In 1879
In 1880

1,000,000 400,000

c.     at a rate of


59 d. to 59 d. ¼ per ounce standard
52 d. per ounce standard
52 d. ⅛ per ounce standard
Sum total 4,036,000

c. or 1,009,000 silver speciesdaler sold in bars.

There has further been melted the sum of 65,533 c. 80 öre, in old copper coins.

Lastly, there have been used in the manufacture of the new subsidiary coins of base silver and bronze : 2,413,045 c. 34 ö. il old silver coins and 38,983 c. 67 ö. in old copper coins; amount realised, 6,553,562 c. 81 ö.

316,540 c. 00 ö. in old coins of base silver token still remain to be disposed of, and 84,000 c. 00 ö. in old copper coins, total 6,954,102 c. 81 ö.

The loss in weight of the coins caused by wear in the circulation was found to be, on an average :

For the 1/1 speciesdaler
For the 1/2 speciesdaler
For the 1/5 speciesdaler
For the 1/10 speciesdaler
0.188 %
0.416 %
1.749 %
2.279 %

On the other hand, the standard of fineness was found to be, on an average, a little higher than was requisite under the former legislation.


The sale of the 4,036,000 crowns in old current coins (including commissions, transport charges, &c.), resulted in a loss of 319,179 c. 05 ö.
The sale of the copper produced by the 65,533 crowns 80 ore in old copper coins occasioned a loss of 41,677 c. 72 ö.
The sum of 2,413,045 crowns 34 ore in old silver coins, and 38,983 crowns 67 ore in old copper coins, paid in to be exchanged at the mint, and to be used in the manufacture of the new subsidiary (fractional) coins, estimated upon the basis of the price of silver in London, and of copper in general trade at the date of such different payments, produced a loss of 322,664 c. 48 ö.
The general expenses of collecting the old coins and transporting the same were 3,376 c. 72 ö.
Hence the total loss realised in the conversion of the 6,553,562 crowns, 81 ore of old coins has been estimated at 686,897 c. 97 ö.
Per contra, the profit on the manufacture during the years 1874-1879 of 5,040,000 crowns in new «token» coins of silver and copper under this same monetary reform has been estimated, upon the same bases, at 774,172 c. 84 ö.
Hence Balance of Profit 87,274 c. 87 ö.

The 400,540 crowns in old silver and copper «token» coins which still remain in the Treasury of the State, can be used in the manufacture of the «token» coinage under the new monetary system, by reason of which they can only be the cause of a loss or a profit insignificant in either case.

The 1,009,000 speciesdalers, or 4,036,000 crowns melted down into bars, contained 25,000 kilogrammes of refined silver, which the Norwegian monetary reform threw upon the London market during the years 1874-1879.

The old current silver coins contained 25 g 2966 of pure silver per speciesdaler, or 6 g 32,415 of pure silver per crown, whereas the new fractional (subsidiary) coins contain only six grammes of pure silver to the crown.

The conversion at the mint of the old silver coins into the new fractional currency therefore produced, by this fact alone, a profit of 5 1/8 %.

The retirement of the former coins was effected at the ratio of 15.684 of silver to gold, while the new fractional «token» coins of silver are struck at the ratio of 14.880.

The largest amount of bank note circulation was towards the close of the month of June 1874, when it reached the figure of 50,111,925 crowns.

In Norway, up to the end of 1880, there had been coined in gold : 12,686,480 crowns in pieces of 20 crowns and 441,130 crowns in pieces of 10 crowns.  Total : 13,127,610 crowns in gold coins, equal to 18,232,792 francs.

The metal used in the coinage was exclusively gold bullion purchased in London.  No gold coin was presented for exchange at the Mint

The paper circulation of the Bank of Norway was, towards the close of the year 1880, 38,713,675 crowns in notes of 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 crowns.  Its metallic reserve in gold coin and bullion was, at the same period, 33,721,357 crowns, of which 10,330,572 crowns were with foreign correspondents of the bank.  The general monetary circulation, besides that of the bank, may, at the same date, be estimated at seven millions of crowns, of which the larger part in fractional coins.  The total outside of the bank was, therefore, 45,700,000 crowns.  The population of the kingdom of Norway at this time was estimated at 1,890,000 inhabitants.  The note and coin circulation was therefore 24 crowns 18 ore, or 33 francs 58 centimes per inhabitant.



Appendix E : France - Table showing the coinage of silver (pieces of 5 francs) executed for the account of the Treasury [1] since 1st January 1874


Date of purchase of the metal Cost price Weight at different standards Amounts disbursed Amounts produced Difference constituting profit
25 June 1875
5 July
31 August
2 September
2 October
3 November
1st December
58 ‰ loss
50 ½
50 ½
50 ½
50 ½
42 ½
45 ½
47 ½
52 ½
56 ½
56 ½










[1]  There was no coinage for the account of the Treasury from the 1st of January 1874 to the 25th June 1875; nor has there been any since the 28th of December of the latter year. No fractional coins were struck in 1874, or have been since.



Appendix F : Replies of the Belgian Government to questions propounded by the Conference, concerning Silver Coinage


1.  — Q.  Be pleased to make known the quantities of silver converted either into coin having unlimited legal tender faculty, or into coin with limited legal tender power, or into coin passing current outside of the State coining it ?

A.  See Document A., annexed.

2.  — Q.  How much did the metal used in the manufacture of these different coins cost each State ?

A.  As appears by the Table hereto annexed (Document B.), the refined silver purchased by the Belgian Government for the manufacture of its five-franc pieces and fractional coins, beginning from the 1st of January 1874, cost, when delivered into the vaults of the mint, including all charges for carriage, insurance, brokerage, &c., as follows :

in February
in July
in September
in August
in February
in June


59 d.

62/100 per oz. de 37/40

To arrive at these rates, the exchange has, in every case, been calculated at par, viz., 25 fr. 2213 to the pound sterling.

3. – Q.  How much more would it have been necessary to expend in the purchase of the silver which has been coined, if bimetallism at 15 ½ had been in force, that is to say, if silver had not ceased to be worth 60 13/16 the English ounce at .925 fine ?

A.  The metal purchased in London was, in most cases, stipulated deliverable free of charge in Brussels and payable in francs.

In estimating the cost of carriage to Brussels and the loss on exchange at 0.5716 d. per ounce, the result is seen that it would have been necessary to pay an increase to the extent mentioned below :


Years Value per Ounce Charges Total Cost per Ounce Increase
February 1874
July 1874
September 1874
August 1875
February 1876
June 1880
60 d. 13/16
60 d. 13/16
60 d. 13/16
60 d. 13/16
60 d. 13/16
60 d. 13/16
0 d. 5716
0 d. 5716
0 d. 5716
0 d. 5716
0 d. 5716
0 d. 5716
61 d. 38
61 d. 38
61 d. 38
61 d. 38
61 d. 38
61 d. 38
59 d. 62
59 d. 33
58 d. 46
56 d. 96
54 d. 37
52 d. 88
1 d. 76
2 d. 05
2 d. 92
4 d. 42
7 d. 01
8 d. 50

4. – Q.  What is the total amount of the profit realised by the State in purchasing silver at prices below that of of 60 13/16 d. ?

A.  The profit of the State is as follows :


On the coinage at 900 ‰

fr.  1,365,138.50

On the coinage at 835 ‰


5. – Q.  Be pleased to make known the total of the amounts coined for account of private individuals, and on which the .Government has made no profit; and set forth the price at which silver was selling in London at the time when such private individuals presented their bullion for coinage ?

A.  See Document C.

6. – Q.  Indicate, if possible, the origin of the bullion according to any marks which may have been upon it ?

A.  Information is entirely wanting to answer this question.

When bullion is received, the numbers, weights, and marks of fineness are removed; no record ia kept of marks which might indicate where the metal came from.

7. – Q.  State if old, demonetised, national coins have been recoined, and in what amounts ?

A.  Since the date referrred to in the interrogatory (1st January 1874) there has been no recoinage of old, national, demonetised coins.

8. – Q.  Show whether banks of issue have presented silver for coinage, and to what extent, and if the profit resulting from the difference between the nominal value of the coin and the price of the unwrought metal has accrued to the banks themselves or to the State ?

A.  The National Bank presented in 1875, for coinage, 23,512 kilograms of refined silver.

The profit realised therefrom by the institution itself amounted to 200,632 fr. 18 c.

Document A – Amounts of Silver converted into Coin


Year Having full legal tender faculty Having limited legal tender faculty Current in foreign States

Weight of fine silver
kg    g  mg

Coins manufactured

Weight of fine silver
kg     g    mg

Coins manufactured

Weight of fine silver
kg    g    mg

Coins manufactured


53,997.097 490

5 fr. Belgian


32,382.639 723

Coins of Romania at 835 ‰


31,497.349 449

5 fr. Swiss

    25,821.631 724

67,070.907 365

5 fr. Belgian     10,811.536 230

48,596.721 556

5 fr. Belgian        
1879             10,811.536 669 Coins of Venezuela at 900 and 835 ‰
1880        3,261.457 855

Coins of Belgium at 835 ‰



201,162.075 860

  3,261.457 855  

69,856.846 346



Document B  – Table showing the amount, the price and the product of the coinage of silver bullion, purchased for account of the Belgian Government


Dates Amounts in kg Cost per kg in francs Cost per once en pence Total of invoices

a) Product of the coinage
b) Product of the premium of 1 ‰

Gross profit

a) Cost of refining
b) Commis- sions

Net profit


27,687.015 217.82 59.62 6,030,705.09 a) 6,106,509.60
b) 6,106.50


14,283.469 216.73 59.33 3,095,756.60 a) 3,149,405.10
b)        –
a) 53,648.50
b)      –
  a) 53,648.50
b)      –


14,225.463 216.69 59.32 3,082,578 37 a) 3,137,047.85
b) 6,287.78
a) 54,469.48
b) 6,287.78

a) 883.30

a) 54,469.48
b) 5,404.48


6,780.790 213 53 58.46 1,447,900.28 a) 1,495,426.11
b)        –
a) 47,525.83
b)      –
  a) 47,525.83
b)      –


8,268.059 208.09 56.96 1,720,715 76 a) 1,823,765.70
b) 1,823.95
a) 103,049.94
b) 1,823.95
  a) 103,049.94
b) 1,823.95
Total 43,558.081 198.60 54.37 9,346,951 01 9,613,750.49 266,805.48 883.30 265,922.18
2/76 48,597.680     9,651,573.13 a) 19,718,401.30
b) 19,718.40
a) 1,066,888.17
b) 10,718.41

b) 60,300.97

a) 1,006,587.20
b) 10,718.41
General total 119,843.376     25,029,229.23 26,455,552.35 1,426,323.12 61,184.27 1,365,138.85
6/80 4,175.000 193.14 52.88 806,359.50 1,000.000,00 193,640.50   193,640.50

Amounts coined for account of private individuals, without profit to the Government

Year during which the coinage was done

Dates on which parties brought their bullion to be coined

Price of silver in London at same dates

fr. 5,840,467.30


from 3rd to 19th December 1873

About 58 pence



[1]  The law of 18th December 1873 having authorised the Government to suspend or limit the coinage of silver, a Royal Decree closed the Office at the Mint against silver bullion coming in to be coined from and after the 20th of the same month.


Appendix G : Austria-Hungary – Replies of the Austrian-Hungarian Government to the questions of Mr. Cernuschi and Dr. Broch (presented by the Count von Küfstein)

Table A gives a statement of the quantities of refined silver converted by the mint in Vienna, from 1st January 1874 to 1st January 1881, into current coins, fractional coins, and trade coins; while Table B shows the sources whence the silver was derived.

Besides this, the Imperial and Royal Mint in Vienna, coined in 1875, for the Serbian Government, 25,050 kilograms of fine silver, and 15,355 kilograms in 1880, using for the purpose bullion from Hamburg and Paris.

The mint purchased the refined metal in all cases at 90 florins the kilogram, deducting the mint charge.

This price corresponds to the value of 60 13/16 pence per English ounce.  No profit, therefore, resulted from these purchases, none of which were made at prices below the ratio of 15 ½.

As regards the profit made by private individuals offering bullion for coinage, the situation in Austria was more complicated than elsewhere by reason of the simultaneous existence of the agio (premium) on gold and on silver.

From the middle of the year 1878, however, the premium on silver diminished more and more, and finally disappeared entirely.  The exchange on London and the price of silver in that place having brought that metal below the legal par, it was found profitable to import silver bars to be coined.

Hence the Government was compelled to suspend the coinage for the account of private individuals, and has not been able to resume it since.

The value attained in 1878 and 1879 by the imports of silver bullion is clearly shown by the figures for those years in Tables A and B.

The profits realized as a result of these speculations, after calculating the expenses (such as transport charges, seigniorage dues, and loss of interest), may be estimated at from ½ to 2 ½ % at most.

The State, for its part, purchased and coined but very small quantities of silver bullion.

The National Bank, from 1874 to 1880, presented in all 5,005.643 kilograms of fine silver to be turned into «trade coins» (Levantine thalers), on commission for the Egyptian Government.

The coinage of the thalers of the Austro-German Union begun under the Monetary Treaty of 1857, ceased entirely in November 1867, after the dissolution of that union.

Tables C, D, and E, show, beginning with the year 1872, the number of gold and silver coins, both national and foreign, which have been recoined at the Vienna Mint.

These tables also contain the answer to the question put by Dr. Broch.


Statement of the quantities of silver converted by the Mint in Vienna, since the 1st of January 1874, into current coins, fractional coins, and trade coins


Years Current coins Fractional coins Trade coins
2 florins [1] 1 florin ¼ florin 10 kreutzer Levantine thalers




total 25,842.6 1,019,236.7 55.6 9,936.6 [2] 326,254.8

General total


[1]  This class includes the 11,152 kg used for the pieces coined in 1879, in remembrance of the silver wedding of Their Majesties

[2]  This figure corresponds to an equal amount in pieces of 20 kreuzer withdrawn from circulation


Origin of the bullion according to the stamps


Years London Paris Hamburg Berlin



National product Demonetized coins




Totals 417,578.295 28,647.963 259,623.022 125,607.567 35,993.610 184,752.563 329,123,323

Statement of national coins, paid in to be exchanged at the Mint in Vienna, from 1872 to 1880, inclusive


Years specie-thalers florins zwanziger 20 kreutzer zehner 10 kreutzer
Totals 1,031,352 200,960 27,053,176 440,232 319,593 1,190,001

Statement of national coins, paid in to be exchanged at the Mint in Vienna, from 1872 to 1880, inclusive – continued


Years 5 kreuzer 3 kreutzer 6 kreuzer 10 kreutzer (1857) 5 kreutzer (1857)
Totals 1,550,646 1,246,435 5,325,088 1,084,000 656,000

Statement of foreign coins, paid in to be exchanged at the Mint in Vienna, from 1872 to 1880, inclusive

Years Kronenthaler

½ Kronen-

¼ Kronen-

2 bavarian florins 5 francs Latin Union Mexican pesos Various [1] (value in fl.)


Totals 482,417 82,205 54,681 121,617 31,393 534,155 13,030,769.15

[1]  Chiefly beschliks and paras from Bosnia

Statement of gold coins, paid in to be exchanged at the Mint in Vienna, from 1872 to 1880, inclusive


Years Ducats Latin Union 20 marks ½ imperials (Russia)



Sovereigns Eagles (10 dollars) Various [1] (value in fl.)
448 ½
459 ½

Totals 940,111 608,445 357,254 339,642 43,104 24,930 9,033 2,922,165.98

[1]  Chiefly imperials, Dutch ducats and pieces of 100 and 50 piastres



Austria-Hongary – The use of the precious metals in the industrial arts


The table hereto annexed gives the weight and the value of the precious metals employed in Austria, from 1867 to 1880, inclusive, for the manufacture of different articles in gold and silver, and of gold and silver thread.  This table is based upon official figures from the Stamp Office, whose mark guarantees the fineness of the gold and silver used in such articles.

It is necessary to add that, in addition, a considerable quantity of precious metal enters into the manufacture of various objects in compositions lower in standard than 250 ‰ fine.

Such compositions are considered, under the law, as imitations, and are not required to be stamped.  Their importance as affecting this question cannot therefore be ascertained.

Much fine gold and silver is also used in gilding, silvering, enamelling, plating of mirrors, &c.  But it has not been possible to obtain any information approaching to accuracy upon the quantities of these metals so used, and especially as the persons in those trades make use chiefly for that purpose of coins, ducats or silver florins.

Table of precious metals used in Austria, from 1867 to 1880, inclusive, in the making of various articles of gold and silver, and the manufacture of gold and silver thread


Désignation Somme totale des métaux précieux de 1867 à 1880 Moyenne par an
  en kg de fin en florins en kg de fin en florins
Objets divers
Total 20,370.055 28,416,226 1,455.004 2,029,730
Objets divers
Fil doré
Fil blanc
Total 354,837.780 31,935,400 25,345.554 2,281,100


Suppression of coin-counterfeiting

The suppression of coin-counterfeiting might certainly be greatly aided, in the first place, by the establishing of uniform principles in the legislation of all States, and then by an understanding between the different Governments, with the object of mutually assisting each other in the pursuit of criminals and in the adoption of repressive measures.

As to the first point, it would seem desirable that the counterfeiting of foreign money should everywhere be placed upon the same footing as the counterfeiting of the national coins, and that the culprits should be tried and punished by the State in which they shall have been arrested, unless extradited to the Government of their own country or to the State in which the criminal act shall have been committed.

These principles have been incorporated by the Imperial and Royal Government in the draft of a new criminal code which has been submitted to the deliberations of the Austrian Parliament (Reichsrath).

It is also desirable that counterfeiting and criminal actions of like character should be included in all treaties of extradition.

Concerning the second point, it is of the first importance for the successful prosecution of crimes and offences connected with counterfeiting, and the participation in such unlawful acts, that the evidence required by a foreign government should be furnished with the utmost promptness, especially when a government prosecutes the falsification of foreign coins and sends these to the government whose effigy has been counterfeited to obtain an official authentication thereof.

Experience has shown that delays in the return of answers to such requests for facts have frequently led to serious troubles, and have exerted a most unfortunate influence upon the course of the legal proceedings, inasmuch as they easily give rise to the supposition that the State which should be considered most directly interested, really attaches but slight importance to whether the counterfeiting of its coins is punished in foreign lands or not.

Lastly, it would remain to be inquired into whether other arrangements, rather in the nature of police regulations, might not be advantageously adopted between governments with a view to the suppression of the crime of counterfeiting.




Hongrie  –  Replies to questions of Mr. Cernuschi


Table N° 1 gives a Summary of the silver coins having full, and also of those having limited legal tender faculty, coined at the mint at Kremnitz.

No silver trade coins have been minted.

The silver was purchased by the mint at the price of 90 florins, or, after deducting 90 kreutzers for mint charges, at the price of 89 fl. 10 kr.

In general, during this period, there was coined only silver produced by the mines of the State, and such quantities of that metal as were brought to the mint by the retail trade.  It was not till 1876, and notably in 1878 to 1880, that the condition of the market for the precious metals permitted of operations upon a more extended scale.  The total value of these coinages, done in part for account of the Government, and in part for account of private persons, is 31,824,815 florins.

The numerous oscillations to which, at this time, the price of silver at London was subject, make it impossible to set forth the price which silver commanded in the metal market at the precise date when private parties brought their bullion for coinage.  So far as concerns the operations of the Government, the latter has realised a profit of about 3/5 %.

The silver bars bore the stamps of London, Paris, Hamburg, Frankfort-on-the-Main, and Hettstadt, while some few came from St. Louis.  Table N° 2 gives a statement of the pieces recoined from 1874 to 1880.  There has been no coinage for the account of the bank of issue.

Table N° 1  –  Summary of silver moneys coined at the Mint at Kremnitz, from 1874 to 1880, inclusive


Years Coins having full legal tender faculty (pieces of 1 florin) Coins having limited legal tender faculty
Weight in kg of fine silver Nominal value in florins Weight in kg of fine silver Nominal value in florins
23,130.029 0
23,043.978 0
47,393.568 9
23,468.211 9
63,526.372 2
286,176.951 0
42,384.644 1
880.370 0
281.664 0
343.504 0
303.570 0
Total 509,123.755 1 45,821,139 1,809.108 0 272,732.00

Which, when taken together, give a total of 510,932.863 1 kg of fine silver coined into the nominal value of 46,093,871 florins.

Table N° 2  –  Table of silver pieces recoined in the years 1874 to 1880


1874, fot a nominal value of

florins   298,897.120
Total 1,726,633.890


Reply to the question of Dr. Broch

In Hongary, only national coins no longer current or much worn by use, have been presented to be exchanged at the Mint.




Appendix H : Letter of the Bank of the Netherlands on the monetary situation (presented by Mr. Pierson)


To His Excellency the Minister of Finance at the Hague.

Amsterdam, 22 June 1881.


We have had the honour to receive the letter of your Excellency, under date of the 11th of June last, desiring our opinion upon the monetary question, in view of the International Conference at Paris, of which the sessions are to recommence on the 30th instant.

The following are the observations which we take the liberty of making upon the subject.  It may be assumed that the monetary situation at the present time is to be taken as the point of departure, without the necessity of stopping to describe it.

It is important, however, to note its attendant disadvantages.

Of these, there are two.

In the first place the situation is peculiarly trying to those States which, like our own, have chosen gold for a standard, while permitting, at the same time, the circulation of a large quantity of silver, the legal value of which, at present, is higher than its intrinsic worth.  If these countries wish to settle their monetary systems, they would be obliged to demonetise the larger part of these silver coins, which would involve a heavy expense; if not, they will always remain exposed to a great danger, viz., the possibility of the depreciation of their monetary unit.

It is evident that gold alone has peculiar advantages for export; therefore, if the rate of exchange rises above par, it is probable that those who hold gold specie will profit by the occasion to sell it at a premium.  And from the moment that gold commands a premium, the monetary unit has lost a part of its value.

It is true that banks like our own, which are the source first drawn upon when gold is required for export, may do something to remedy this ill; but, in the long run, they are unable to check it.

In the second place, the present situation is not only full of dangers for certain countries, it is also injurious to all, no matter what may be their monetary system.  These harmful effects are already apparent, and it is probable that they will go on increasing.  They consist chiefly in this, that the value of each of the two metals and the rates of exchange between countries with different standards, have become more variable.

It is impossible to predict the future value either of gold or of silver.  Nevertheless, if the facts which have been observed for some years past continue to prevail, that is to say, if the production of gold goes on diminishing while that of silver increases, it is probable that the latter will fall in value and that gold will become dearer.  This tendency may be assisted by legislative measures undertaken by different States; for, let it be carefully noted, all the silver pieces now circulating in those countries having the «limping» standard (étalon boiteux) are actually doing the duty of gold coins.  As soon as they were replaced by the latter, and an attempt were made to sell them in the shape of bullion, the tendency of silver to fall and of gold to rise in value would be very considerably augmented.

It would become still more marked if paper money should be superseded in the same manner in those countries where notes now circulate.

Let the discussion be continued as to which of the two evils is the lesser, that of a rise or that of a fall in the value of money; it is clear that both are evils.  We may add that no country can remain free from them.

A distinction is sometimes drawn between countries having a favourable and those having an adverse balance of trade. This distinction is applied to those of the gold standard when it is asserted that certain countries will have more difficulty than others in procuring and retaining a sufficient quantity of this metal.  Nothing can be more erroneous.  The balance of trade tends to distribute all articles, including the precious metals, over the different countries according to their several needs.  Doubtless the relative values of these articles will not be everywhere the same; but that does not prevent prices in a given country from being permanently influenced by those in other countries, while differing at the same time from them.  Let us suppose that a more extended use is made of gold, and that its production diminishes, by reason of which gold becomes rarer relatively to the demand; in this case the normal relation between the general condition of the prices of everything in the different countries would not cease to exist.  Quite the contrary, there would be a fall everywhere, although at first very irregular and unequal.

As to the unsteadiness in rates of exchange, this is an evil from which no country will be able to escape, and of which England and British India have already experienced the unfavourable consequences.  It may be true that commerce pays but little heed to whether exchange rates are high or low; but great unsteadiness in them is always prejudicial to trade.  Funded debts and investments must also not be forgotten.

We have thus pointed out the evils of the present situation.  In our opinion there is but one efficacious remedy, and that is the establishment of the system of the double standard, with an uniform ratio between the two metals, over a great extent of territory.

It is surprising that so many intelligent men refuse to admit this truth.  We are told that such a measure might alter the relative production of gold and silver.  We do not deny it, but what would be the result ?  A change in the relative quantities of these metals, no doubt; but this does not imply that their relative value would likewise change.  On the contrary, the law of supply and demand would prevent such from being the case.  Those who oppose the adoption of the bimetallic system on the plan indicated do not appear to recognise that gold and silver conjointly will be far more stable than when performing their functions separately.

Against this project our opponents are pleased to appeal to the lessons of history.  They forget that the system of the double standard, with uniform ratio between the two metals, has never yet been applied to an area of sufficient extent.  They forget, further, the real services which this system has already rendered, even although acting within far too narrow limits.

So long as everyone could get for a kilogram of coined gold 15 ½ kilograms of coined silver, and vice versa, it would be impossible for the relation of value between gold and silver in the shape of bullion to differ much from the legal ratio established for the coins.

Before such difference could show itself it would be necessary, either that nearly the whole amount of the coins of one of the metals should be exported from the territory of the double standard, or that such coins should there command a premium by reason of being used as the money of commerce.  Neither the one nor the other hypothesis is probable.

The total amount of gold or of silver would only be exported provided the exported metal could command, in the foreign country, a relative value higher than that which the law gave it in the countries where the double standard prevailed; but it is clear that this would be impossible if these latter countries were very numerous.

As to the danger that one of the metals would be at a premium, we find great difficulty in admitting this.  It is very true that, in former ages, when the monetary systems of nearly all the States of Europe were in a condition of the utmost disorder, it often happened that contracts were made in a given coin, the value of which inspired greater confidence than that of the current money of the country.  Among uncivilised peoples the same thing may be observed to-day; but wherever the monetary system is well organised, the currency of the country is properly considered the most stable measure of value, and nothing is gained by the use of a trade coin which one cannot say will pass later fur the amount at which one took it.

Furthermore, it is possible to remove the danger which is feared, by imposing upon banks of issue the obligation to treat the coins of the two metals upon the same footing.  Since the use made of the bank note in all civilised countries is very extended, it will, therefore, be almost equally impossible that one of the metals should rise to a premium, or that it should be wholly exported.

The necessary conditions for the regular working of the double standard may be gathered from what has been stated above.  All depends upon the extent of territory over which this system shall be established; and this is the point which we cannot sufficiently emphasize.  As it is possible that after a time certain of the bimetallic States might change their system, it is even important that the arrangement should not be adopted until the territory, in which the system shall be put in operation, shall be much greater in extent than would be necessary to make the success of the measure assured.

For, unless this territory preserves its requisite dimensions, the system of the double standard will operate as an alternative standard; and, in the present circumstances, it is silver, and not gold, that will remain.  Not that silver seems to us less fit than gold to perform the functions of money; it has more bulk, we admit; but the consequent disadvantage is of the smallest importance so far as carriage is concerned, and, for the uses of circulation, the difficulty is entirely removed by replacing the silver with bank notes.  We might even add that it is easier to regulate the fractional coinage when the monetary system is based upon silver than when it rests upon gold alone.  But if the world is to remain divided between countries having the gold standard and countries having the silver standard, it would be desirable that each of these groups should form a coherent territory.  Let us suppose a small State, a member of a monetary union, the efforts of which to maintain the system of the double standard had failed, and that this little country, by reason of that fact, had fallen into the system of the silver standard; being surrounded with countries using only gold, the position of the little State, as may be readily understood, would not be enviable.  Such is the danger which we desire to point out, and which must be avoided.  For these reasons we are of the opinion that the Netherlands should make their concurrence in the adoption of the bimetallic system depend upon the extent of territory which should be secured for it.

We take this occasion to convey to your Excellency the assurance of our high consideration.

(signed)    Mees, President. Quack, Secretary.





Mr. Magnin presided

There were present the Delegates of Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, British India, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, the United States of America and France, who attended the previous meeting, and Mr. Dumas, Delegate of France, and Mr. Luzzatti, Delegate of Italy, who had arrived the previous day at Paris.

The session was opened at 12.30 p.m.  The Minutes of the session of 30th June 1881 were read, and adopted.

Baron von Thielmann presented to the Conference the written reply of the delegates of Germany to the request for information made by M. Cernuschi at the session of the 7th May 1881.  It was agreed that this document should be inserted at the end of the present minutes.  (See Appendix A).

Mr. Pirmez also presented the reply which the National Bank of Belgium, which had been specially consulted according to the wish of the Conference, had made to the Minister of Finance at Brussels on the monetary question.  It was agreed that this letter should be annexed to the Minutes.  (See Appendix B).

Mr. Vrolik having sent a message affording a hope that he would attend the future meetings of the Conference, the President did not think it was necessary to proceed to the nomination of a second Vice President.

This opinion was unanimously concurred in.  The President next asked the delegates to settle the order of their labours.  As he had recalled at the previous session, the programme adopted by the Conference comprised two parts : the first, the general theory of the question, had been the object of a very serious and thorough investigation.  The discussion of the Questionnaire remained to be entered upon.  This discussion might be carried on either by considering seriatim the various points stated in the list of the Netherlands’ delegates, or, inasmuch as these points did not involve any vote, by studying them in any order according as they might offer matter for observation.

Mr. Seismit-Doda, Delegate of Italy, also held that the general discussion was exhausted, but he did not see any utility in entering on the examination of the Questionnaire.  The points contained in these interrogatories had been considered in the course of the previous debates; to revert to them now would be running the risk of re-entering on the general discussion, with the certainty of throwing no fresh light on the question.  There was a more practical path to be taken.  After the declarations of Baron von Thielmann, after the remarkable observations of Sir Louis Mallet at the meetings of last May, the Conference felt bound to adjourn, in order to enable the two Governments of England and Germany to ascertain in what manner those important declarations might be effectively supplemented.  Resolutions must since have been prepared and settled upon.  It was especially important to learn the nature of these resolutions.  The Conference might thus shorten its labours, and arrive sooner at a precise and definitive conclusion.

Mr. Lardy, Delegate of Switzerland, fully concurred in Mr. Seismit-Doda’s observations.  In this he was but conforming to the last instructions received by the Swiss delegation from the Federal Government, and which directed it to ascertain, in the first place, what was the result of the negotiations which had taken place during the adjournment of the Conference between the French and American delegation, and the Governments of Germany and Great Britain.  He, therefore, supported the proposition of the delegate of Italy, and asked that those States whose resolutions were awaited should inform the Conference whether any practical result had been attained since the delegates separated.

Mr. Cernuschi, Delegate of France, while sharing as a general principle the opinion of Mr. Seismit-Doda and Mr. Lardy, thought it would, nevertheless, be very interesting to hear those members of the Conference who had been unable to state their views at the previous sessions.

Mr. Seismit-Doda agreed with Mr. Cernuschi on this last point, but it should be quite understood that after these speeches the discussion of the Questionnaires, as well as the general discussion, should be deemed exhausted, and that the Conference should pass on to practical questions.

Mr. Pierson, delegate of the Netherlands, shared, but only in part, the opinion of Mr. Seismit-Doda and Mr. Lardy.  It was quite correct that the three first points of the interrogatories, the existence of the monetary crisis, its causes, and its remedies, had been investigated in the course of the general discussion, but the two last points, the measures to be taken to reduce the oscillations of the two metals and to establish a fixed ratio between those two metals, had been passed over in entire silence, yet those two points were well deserving the attention of the Conference.

Mr. Dumas, delegate of France, supported Mr. Pierson’s proposition.  He did not think the general discussion could be revived if the debate was limited to the two last points of the Questionnaire.  The debate being thus limited, he reserved the option of entering upon it, and of explaining how he had been converted to the fixed ratio of 15 ½.  In any case he held that the Conference, which had the outside public as listeners, and had hitherto given its labours a value already everywhere highly appreciated, should not leave unexamined the two last points of the programme it had laid down for itself.

Mr. Dana Horton, delegate of the United States, expressed his concurrence with the views of Mr. Cernuschi, Mr. Pierson, and Mr. Dumas.  He also desired before the general discussion was resumed to make a statement with reference to the question which the delegates of the Netherlands had addressed to the American Delegates at the eighth session.  He regretted that he was as yet unable to present a response, or rather to enter into the practical discussion to which the question would necessarily give rise.

The President read the text of this question.

The President said, we have before us two propositions, one submitted by Mr. Seismit-Doda, for hearing solely the declarations of certain States, the other submitted by M. Cernuschi and M. Dumas for considering the interrogatories, or at least the two last articles as advocated by M. Pierson.  Mr. Seismit-Doda, moreover, has partially rallied to this latter proposition.  It is for the Conference to decide whether it will adopt this second proposition.

The second proposition was adopted.

Mr. Thurman, delegate of the United States, then read, in English, the following address :

Mr. President and Gentlemen,

The general discussion having closed, we are brought by the previous orders of the Conference, as I understand them, to a consideration of the Questionnaire.  I propose to submit some brief observations on some of its points; but they will be little more than an expression of my individual opinions with little or no argument.

The first question propounded is substantially as follows :

«Have the diminution and great oscillations in value of silver that have occurred, especially of late years, been injurious or not to commerce, and, consequently, to general prosperity ?

«Is it desirable that the relation of value between gold and silver should be stable ?»

I do not see how it is possible to give any but an affirmative answer to these questions; unless, indeed, the use of silver as money is to be wholly discontinued; and no one, here or elsewhere, advocates that.  Although, according to the logic of gold monometallists, it might seem that if an exclusive gold currency is the best for one country, it must be for all countries, yet I do not understand that any one proposes to inaugurate measures for the universal demonetization of silver.

Silver then, in a greater or less degree, is still to be used as money by commercial nations everywhere, and this being admitted, can argument be required to prove that great fluctuations in its relative value must necessarily be injurious to commerce and to general prosperity.  And as gold is also to be used, is it not equally obvious that the relative value of the two metals should be as stable as possible.  The effect of an unstable and greatly fluctuating currency upon debtors and creditors, at one time to the injury of the former, and at another to the injury of the latter; the discouragement to production, the uncertainly of employment, and the difficulties of exchange, to say nothing more, are sufficient to demonstrate how great are the calamities that such a currency is sure to inflict, and how imperative is the duty of Government to prevent, or at least to mitigate them.

We are next asked, «whether the fluctuations in the value of silver of late years are to be attributed to an increase in the production of that metal, or, rather to legislation ?»

It seems to me very clear that they were caused by unfriendly legislation, and not by increased production.  According to the table presented by Dr. Broch, the mean price of silver in the year 1845, in the London Market, was 15.93 of silver for one of gold, and the mean price or ratio in 1873, 29 years later, was precisely the same.

During this period there were some fluctuations, not very great, however, and taking the mean of the whole 29 years, we have the striking fact that the relation was 15.54 to 1, being almost exactly the legal relation (15 ½ to 1), that has existed in France for about 78 years, and that now exists in the States of the Latin Union.

But during the 29 years above mentioned the production of gold was enormous, and was, in value, at least double that of silver; so that, if either metal should have lost value as compared with the other, it would seem that it should have been gold and not silver.  Yet their relative value was precisely the same in 1873 that it was in 1845.

But in 1873 began, both in America and Europe, that course of legislation to which, in my judgment, are chiefly to be attributed the monetary troubles which this Conference has met to consider.  In the United States, by Acts of Congress of 1873 and 1874, silver was demonetized; and although the error, after a lapse of several years, was corrected, yet the coinage of full legal tender silver is greatly restricted.

In Europe, Germany and the Scandinavian States have become gold monometallic, while the States of the Latin Union have almost wholly suspended the coinage of the white metal.  That metal being thus, by force of legislation, condemned and dishonoured, its fall in value was inevitable, and the only matter of surprise to me is that it is no greater than it is.  Look at the facts.  In 1873 the relation between silver and gold was 15.93 to 1.  Then commenced the legislation of which I have spoken, and its effect was instantly seen.  In 1874 the relation was 16.16; in 1875, 16.63; in 1876, 17.80; in 1877, 17.19; in 1878, 17.96, in 1879, 18.39; and in 1880, 18.06 to 1.  Was ever a result more directly traceable to its cause ?

The next question propounded by the Questionnaire is this :

«Is it, or is it not, probable, that if a great group of States should agree to a free and unlimited mintage of coins of the two metals, having full legal tender faculty, in an uniform proportion for the gold and silver contained in the monetary unit of each metal, a stability, if not absolute at least very great, in the relative value of the metals would be obtained ?»

It might, perhaps, be said, by a person disposed to be hypercritical (which I am not), that there is some ambiguity in the expression «a great group of States» in this question.

The nations of Asia form a great group of States.  So do those of North and South America.  And, certainly, all, or even the principal States of Europe, including Great Britain, form a very grand group.  But I cannot suppose that the framers of the questionnaire wish us to discuss the question whether a bimetallic union in Asia alone, or in America alone, would have the effect suggested by the question.  The inquiry is doubtless a practical one and is to be construed in view of the circumstances that brought about the holding of this Conference and, especially, with reference to the States here represented.  The question, then, may be stated in this wise : «Were a great group of the States of Europe and America to form and maintain a bimetallic union, such as that supposed in the question, would the result be a great stability in the relative value of coined gold and silver ?»

In my humble judgment that would certainly be the result of such an union, provided Great Britain and Germany were parties to it.  Without their concurrence, or at least that of one of them, I fear that the day is not as near as I could wish when it will be possible to form such an union and to make it effective.  So long as they stand opposed to bimetallism, other States will be opposed to it or occupy an expectant or neutral attitude; and the pronounced bimetallic States will not perhaps be sufficient to form that grand group upon whose formation and maintenance success is said to depend.  And yet believe that bimetallism will ultimately prevail; for I cannot see how the vast structure of credit, the most distinguishing feature of modern industry and commerce can be supported on a gold basis alone.  With both metals its base has often been found too narrow; with but one it would be, to my apprehension, positively unsafe.

The remaining points in the Questionnaire, though interesting and worthy of serious consideration, may, without impropriety, be called minor points; and I shall not, at present, offer any observations upon them.

I wish now to make some brief remarks upon the concessions, as they have been called, that, it is suggested, the Governments of Germany and India are willing to make.  To avoid the possibility of misstatement I quote the German propositions from the declaration of her delegates, as follows :

«We recognise without reserve that a rehabilitation of silver is to be desired, and that it might be attained by the re-establishment of the free coinage of silver in a certain number of the most populous States represented at this Conference, if these States, to this end, should adopt as a basis a fixed relation between the value of gold and that of silver.  Nevertheless, Germany, whose monetary reform is already so far advanced, and whose general monetary situation does not seem to call for a change of system so vast in scope, does not find herself in a position, so far as she is concerned, to concede the free coinage of silver.

«Her delegates are therefore not able to subscribe to a like proposition.  The Imperial Government sees itself, on the other hand, entirely disposed to do its best to second the efforts of the other powers which might wish to unite in view of a rehabilitation of silver by means of the free coinage of this metal.

«To reach this end and to guarantee these powers against the afflux of the German silver which they seem to fear, the Imperial Government, would voluntarily impose upon itself the following restrictions :

«During a period of some years it would abstain from all sales of silver, and during another period of a certain duration it would pledge itself to sell annually only a limited quantity, so small in amount that the general market would not be glutted thereby.  The duration of these periods, and the quantity of silver to be sold yearly during the second one, would form the subject of ulterior negotiations.  Such an arrangement would efficiently protect the mints of the bimetallic States against the unlimited outflow of German thalers drawn from the National funds.  Private individuals or the Imperial Bank (which is a private bank under special control of the Government) would not be able, on the other hand, to cause thalers to flow to the mints of the bimetallic union, except in the case of the balance of trade being against Germany, or unless the relation of 1 to 15 ½ established by the bimetallic union, should undergo a considerable modification in favour of silver.  This last contingency appears, however, but slightly probable.  In all other cases, the exportation of thalers would of necessity entail a loss to those who might undertake it; and hence the countries of the bimetallic union have no occasion to apprehend that the silver of Germany will inundate their mints.  Furthermore, these operations could be rendered still more difficult by excluding specie in thalers from free coinage in the bimetallic union; a measure of this kind would add to the other expenses to be borne by the exporters of silver, that of the cost of melting down and refining the thalers.

«If an international arrangement based upon these indications could be arrived at, Germany would still remain free to sell silver within these self-imposed limits, or to sell none at all.  But Germany, in order still farther to contract even these limits, might make other concessions; she would provide in her own circulation a wider area for the metal silver, thus generalising the use thereof.  To attain this end, the Imperial Government would engage to retire eventually the gold pieces of 5 marks (27 ¾ millions of marks) as well as the Imperial Treasury notes of the same value (40 millions of marks).

It might, further, melt down and recoin the silver pieces of 5 and 2 marks (71 and 101 millions of marks), by taking as a basis a relation between the two metals approaching that of 1 to 15 ½; whereas, under existing legislation, 100 marks are made from the pound of fine silver, which is equivalent nearly to the ratio of 1 to 14.

«You have here, gentlemen, the concessions which the Imperial Government would be willing to offer, and of which its delegates are now ready to discuss the scope and the details of execution.»

And in like manner I quote the Indian proposition from the speech of Sir Louis Mallet at the 7th session of this Conference, as follows :

«My colleague and myself find ourselves here in a position altogether exceptional.  The Indian Government is not even invited to join the bimetallic union which has been proposed.  On the contrary, if I am rightly informed, all that is hoped for from us, while England remains aloof, and which, from the commencement of the negotiations, has been known to all the world, is that no change be made in the present monetary system of the Indian Empire.

«We are authorised to respond to this wish in the following manner : namely, that during a definite period, the duration of which shall be the subject of later negotiation, the Indian Government will undertake to maintain its present system of free coinage of silver having full legal tender faculty throughout the whole of Her Majesty’s Indian possessions.

«But it must be added that we could only bind ourselves in this absolute manner upon the condition that a certain number of the principal States of the world pledge themselves on their part to maintain within their borders, during the same period, the free coinage of silver as full legal tender in the proportion as respects gold, of 15 ½ to 1; and our engagement would remain in force only during the maintenance of this state of things.»

Mr. President and Gentlemen : At the outset I wish to state distinctly that what I may say in reference to these several propositions will be nothing more than an expression of my own opinions.  I shall not presume to speak authoritatively for my Government, although I hope and believe that what I shall say will reflect its sentiments.

A majority of the people of the United States are, undoubtedly, at this time, bimetallists, and wish to see bimetallism established throughout the commercial world.  In advocating this policy they are not actuated simply by a desire to obtain a better market for their silver; as has been most injuriously said, not in this Conference certainly, but elsewhere.  On the contrary, their motives are of the highest and noblest character, as my colleagues have eloquently and convincingly demonstrated, and are as free from the taint of mere selfishness as it is possible for international transactions to be.

But while the American people believe that the existing money systems of the world greatly need reformation, that the present status is injurious to commerce and general prosperity, and is a hindrance to that friendly intercourse and harmony among States that are so much promoted by a mutually beneficial trade; and while they believe that one of the most effective, if not the most effective, reforms that could be made would be the adoption of bimetallism; yet they are too well informed not to know how slow is the progress that truth often makes, and that it is seldom the part of wisdom to reject what is attainable and reasonable at the time because it falls short of something better and more desirable.  I think, therefore, that in view of the difficulties of the situation and of the conflicting opinions of States and statesmen, my Government would not, probably, feel it to be his duty to reject any and every proposition that comes short of perfect bimetallism.

Relying on the goodness of its cause and believing in its ultimate triumph, it could afford to march step by step instead of insisting upon reaching the goal at a single bound.  But if we be invited to halt at a halfway-house and tarry in it for a season, we must, before we accept the invitation, be well assured that the tenement is not a dangerous one for us to occupy.  Now here, as it seems to me, lies the chief obstacle to the acceptance of the propositions in question.  Each of the propositions, as I understand it, requires that the United States and France, and perhaps the chief States of the Latin Union, shall open their mints, and keep them open, for the free and unlimited coinage of silver into money having full legal tender quality.  It is not for me to say what France, or the States of the Latin Union or other States of Europe here represented, may think of such propositions.  Their Delegates will answer for them, if they see fit to do so – I can speak in reference to my own Government alone.  Would such an agreement as that proposed be acceptable to the United States ?  I am bound, speaking frankly, to say that I think it would not.  There is a great and vital difference between a grand bimetallic union that, by fixing and maintaining a stable relation between gold and silver, would stop, or at least powerfully tend to stop, the efforts, so often made, to drain a State at one time of one of the metals, and at another time of the other; and a little and halfway union that might leave each State liable to a recurrence of such drains.  Now, if I understand the views of my Government and of the American people, they do not desire an alternative standard, gold to-day and silver to-morrow, nor a single standard, whether of gold or silver, and certainly not the single silver standard.  Their stock of silver money is less, in proportion to the wealth and population of the country, than that of most commercial nations, while, on the other hand, their stock of gold is very large, is steadily increasing day by day, and is likely, unless prevented by some blunder, to continue to increase.  Under such circumstances it is but natural that the Government should hesitate to enter into an agreement the effect of which might possibly be to lessen the amount of our gold.  It would cheerfully become a party to a great bimetallic union, which, if formed, would of course open its mints to the free coinage of silver; but I must be permitted to doubt whether, without such an union in existence, it will, by convention, surrender its power over its own coinage.

In saying this, I would not be understood as underrating the importance of the German and English propositions.  I consider them as steps in the right direction and entitled to most respectful consideration; but, in my judgment, they fall far short of what the exigency requires, and I see no probability of their acceptance.

Mr. Schraut then read the following address :

Mr. President and Gentlemen,

I shall first of all tell you that in what I am about to say on the first and second points of the interrogatories before us, I am merely expressing my personal views.  The fall of the price of silver, and the fluctuations to which the value of that metal is subject, have caused a certain injury to commerce.  They have especially rendered more difficult the exportation of manufactured articles to countries where silver is the only denomination of value, particularly Eastern Asia and India.

Moreover, the oscillations in the price of the white metal expose commercial affairs in general to the invasion of irregular speculation.

The commercial situation of the United States, and of those European countries where the monetary situation is practically based on that metal, is now such that those countries, owing to the depreciation of silver, can make use only of bills payable in gold, when they have accounts to settle among them.  For cash international payments they have also to use gold money, to the exclusion of silver.

Owing to these circumstances every State is trying to husband and increase its supply of gold.  This struggle to gather together gold is not without inconvenience, as has been observed during the last two years.  In 1880 especially we saw the rate of discount at times rise, and gold at a premium in France, solely because Europe had that year to pay a somewhat considerable quantity of gold to America; but must it be thought that the continuance of this drain to the advantage of America will lead in an early future to a gold famine in Europe ?  That is a point on which I do not wish to enlarge; I merely venture to express the opinion that the fears entertained on this point seem to me a little exaggerated.

What seems certain is that commerce would greatly suffer if the demonetisation of silver, and the adoption of the single gold standard, were destined to become more general.

The countries where paper money now prevails will, moreover, with difficulty, succeed in substituting the metallic for the paper money system.

This substitution of metal for paper, which is subject to too frequent fluctuations, and the disappearance of the discount which affects the great mass of minted silver, would doubtless exercise a beneficent influence on the development of international commercial relations.

Even the countries holding to the gold standard should consequently desire the augmentation, or at least a comparative stability, in the price of silver.  As to the causes of the depreciation of silver, I must say that it is not mainly due to the sales of silver by Germany; it arises rather from the suspension of the coinage of silver money in the countries of the Latin Union, a suspension which was in part caused by the adoption of the gold standard in Germany.

Germany’s sales of silver may indeed have at times depressed the market; but what proves that their influence has been quite secondary as regards the depreciation, are the following figures :

During the period which has elapsed from 1871 to the end of 1879 the production of silver rose to a total of more than three milliards of marks, and the bills of exchange of the Indian Government, which act instead of silver, reached a total sum of about two milliards of marks, whereas the sales of silver made by Germany amount only to 560 millions of marks.  Germany’s sales took place mostly in 1877, when the average price of silver was 1¾d. above that of 1876, and 2d. above that of 1878, years during which the sales of German silver were very limited.  A sensible and persistent depreciation of the white metal remained impossible as long as the Latin Union really accepted it at a fixed price for coinage.  The bills of exchange of the Indian Government and the consignments of silver to India could not counteract this, except within a limit indicated by a rate beyond which it became more advantageous to convert the silver into francs by coinage.

Having no longer its regulator, the double standard of the Latin Union countries silver has lost a constant and certain market.  Its value is now subject to the fluctuations of production and the vicissitudes of commerce, and of payments between Europe and Asia.  Unfortunately both these have turned against it.

The increase of silver production has made silver much more plentiful, and on the other hand the amount of the bills of the Indian Government offered in the London market has undergone a considerable increase.  These two events which have occurred simultaneously have afterwards reacted on each other, and have thus produced a progressive fall in the price of silver.

If, in lieu of these unfavourable phenomena, circumstances favourable to silver had arisen, a diminution, for instance, in the silver production, and greater and more lasting demands of silver for India through a falling off in the cotton crops of America, a sensible depreciation of that metal would not have taken place, even assuming the suspension of the coinage of silver in the Latin Union.  I conclude from the foregoing that the opinion which attributes the depreciation of silver solely to the monetary policy of European States is not altogether correct.

Mr. Cernuschi thought himself bound to call attention to the speech just delivered by the Delegate of Germany.  Nobody could be mistaken as to the feelings animating him when, after acknowledging the loss sustained by the Empire from the demonetisation of its silver coin, and after having even proposed to repair that loss, he now in the name of science protested against the erroneous monetary policy of Germany, and repelled an accusation thrown out against the Latin Union.  Neither the more plentiful issue of bills by the Indian Government, nor the glut of production of the silver mines, was the cause of the existing evil.

The institution of bimetallism had always precisely for its object, and had always produced the effect, of a guarantee of the relative value of gold and silver, against all natural or commercial influences which could act upon the relative value of other commodities.  If Germany had not endeavoured to appropriate the legal monometallism of England, France would have continued to coin the two metals freely, and in spite of the fertility of the mines, in spite of the drafts of the India Council, gold and silver would still be at 15 ½ the whole world over, as it had been in the past.  Mr. Soetbeer had always desired to cast upon us the responsibility of the present monetary disorder, because we ceased to coin silver; but it was Germany that made the beginning.

Mr. Soetbeer had supposed that Germany could become monometallic by pouring all her silver into France, and by draining her of French gold at the rate of 15 ½; that is, without loss to the Imperial Treasury.

There is a desire to resume this plan, and this is the object of these pretended concessions, which consist in reducing the exportation of German silver, but in exporting it gradually into the countries of the Latin Union, and in taking gold for it at 15 ½.  Even the proposed recoinage of 5-franc silver pieces into smaller pieces coined at 15 ½ would lead to this final result.

He desired clearly to state that the German legislator had been the sole author of the silver crisis; and, on the other hand, that Germany, failing possible new declarations, had as yet made no proposition which the United States and France could regard as a concession.

Mr. Dana Horton remarked that the mistake justly attributed by Mr. Cernuschi to the German legislator went further back.  It originated in England; it was next propagated in France, and in 1867, at a Conference, in which even the United States were represented, all the civilised nations endorsed it.  The responsibility for the mistake fell both on the German legislature and on the civilised world.

Baron Thielmann, delegate of Germany, understood that Mr. Seismit-Doda and Mr. Cernuschi expected a fresh declaration from him.  He had nothing to add to what he stated at the meetings of the first session of the Conference.

Mr. Fremantle, Delegate of Great Britain, presented to the Conference the replies of the English Government to the requests for information made by Mr. Cernuschi, Mr. Lardy, and Mr. Broch, at the 3rd, 4th, and 7th sessions (See Appendix C), and he added :

I have had the honour of submitting to my Government the questions which were addressed to me as delegate of Great Britain by the Honourable Mr. Cernuschi and by the Honourable Mr. Dana Horton at the sessions of the 14th and 17th May.

My Government has asked me to point out to the Conference that these interrogatories cannot be regarded as simple requests for information, but rather as theses designed to maintain certain opinions, and which cannot be replied to without entering on a detailed controversy.

In the opinion of Her Majesty’s Government there would be serious inconveniences in entering on questions of that kind by means of interrogatories and replies.

The Delegate of Great Britain handed in at the same time the following reply made by the Delegate of Canada, Sir Alexander Galt, to the question put by Mr. Cernuschi, at the 6th session.

Dominion of Canada, Office of the High Commissioner, 10, Victoria Chambers, London, S.W.

Reply to Question XXXV by M. Henri Cernuschi relative to Canada.  Undoubtedly if the United States adopted bimetallic legislation in accord with Europe, it would be the interest and policy of Canada to follow the same course.

20 June 1881.

(signed)    A. Galt, Delegate for Canada.

Mr. Fremantle announced that, after a correspondence between the United States Minister at London and Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, he had just received instructions which would enable him to make a communication to the Conference at the next session.

Mr. Pirmez wished to remark that if he had not replied to the questions put by Mr. Cernuschi at the first session, it was because, even by Mr. Cernuschi’s own confession, these questions had been considered by him as only a special form of argumentation.

The discussion of the Questionnaire was adjourned to Monday, 4th July, at 1 p.m.  The session concluded at 3 o’clock.



Appendix A : Response of the German Delegates to the request for Information addresses to the Conference by Mr. Cernuschi (presented by the Baron von Thielmann)




The Governments here represented are requested to furnish the Conference with detailed information concerning their mintage of silver since the 1st of January 1874.

1.  To state the quantities of silver converted

a)  either into coin with unlimited legal tender

b)  or into coin with limited legal tender

c)  or into coin current outside the State manufacturing it.


a)  None

b)  See annexed table marked (A)

c)  None

2.  The cost to each State, of the metal which served to manufacture the different coins ?

2.  Old silver coin withdrawn from the circulation was used for the manufacture of these coins.

     The cost of the silver, independently of the wear of the coin melted down, and of the losses caused by the recoinage, correspond, therefore, with the nominal value of the coins melted down; it amounts to 382,271,086.62 marks for 4,247,456.518 pounds of fine silver.

     See No. 7.

3.  The additional sum which must have been expended in buying the silver thus minted if bi-metallism at 15 ½ had been in force; that is to say, if silver had still been worth 60 13/16 d. per English ounce, 37/40 fine ?

3.  This question is not applicable to Germany.

4.  The total amount of the profit realised by the State by buying silver at prices below 60 13/16 d. ?

4.  Ditto.

5.  To state the amount manufactured for private individuals which yielded no profit to the Government, and give the price of silver at London at the time when these individuals presented the bullion for mintage ?

5.  In Germany the law does not permit the mintage of silver for private persons.

6.  To indicate, if possible, the source of the bars by the marks they bore ?

6.  This question is not applicable to Germany.

7.  To indicate whether old demonetised coins have been reminted, and to what amount ?

7.  In the total amount of 4,247,466.518 pounds fine silver, indicate in No. 2, are included 32,429.569 pounds of fine silver, which were delivered to the mints in the form of bullion produced by melting down the silver coins of the different States, which had been withdrawn form the circulation.

The nominal value of the latter was 2,988,453 marks.  Exclusive of this sum, the total amount of metal to be coined was composed of silver coins of the different States given up in specie to be minted into coins of the Empire.

8.  To indicate whether the banks of issue themselves presented silver for mintage, and how much; and whether the profit resulting from the difference between the nominal value of the coin and the price of the metal accrued to the banks themselves, or to the State ?  

8.  This question is not applicable to Germany.

9.   The German Government is requested to state how much silver money was coined by the various German States in 1869, 1870, 1871, and at what date the last thaler and last florin were coined ?

9.  See annexed table marked (B)

The last thaler and last florin were coined in 1871.


Statement of the imperial silver coins struck in the German Mints since 1st January 1874


Year 5 marks 2 marks 1 mark 50 pfennig 20 pfennig Total




– 5,000,000.00
Totals 71,653,095 101,026,942 151,043,702 71,486,552.00 29,535,360.80 424,745,651.80

Year 5 marks 2 marks 1 mark 50 pfennig 20 pfennig Total




– 50,000.00
Totals 716,530.95 1,010,269.42 1,510,437.02 714,865.520 295,353.608 4,247,456.518


Statement of the silver coins of the different states (current and fractional coins) struck in Germany in the years 1869, 1870 and 1871


Year 1869 1870
Current money Value expressed in the coins themselves Value in marks

Value expressed in the coins themselves

Value in marks
2 thalers
1 thaler
1/6 thaler
1 florin
1/2 florin
1 thaler d’or




Total   19,745,025.29   19,515,165.86
Fractional money Value expressed in the coins themselves Value in marks Value expressed in the coins themselves Value in marks
1/12 thaler
1/15 thaler
1/30 thaler
1/60 thaler
3 kreutzer
1 kreutzer
187,296.12 ½
225,927.02 ½
Total   1,504,347.25   1,579,296.82
General total   21,249,372.54   21,094,462.68


Year 1871 Total
Monnaies courantes Value expressed in the coins themselves Value in marks Value expressed in the coins themselves Value in marks
2 thalers
1 thaler
1/6 thaler
1 florin
1/2 florin
1 thaler d’or
Total   32,125,386.57   19,515,165.86
Fractional money Value expressed in the coins themselves Value in marks Value expressed in the coins themselves Value in marks
1/12 thaler
1/15 thaler
1/30 thaler
1/60 thaler
3 kreutzer
1 kreutzer
Total   1,428,659.59   4,512,303.66
General total   33,554,046.16   75,897,881.38




Appendix B : Letter from the Governor of the National Bank of Belgium to the Finance Minister at Brussels (presented by Mr. Pirmez)


Brussels, 29 June 1881.


You have done us the honour of requesting the views of the Bank on the question of the single or double monetary standard.

We do not suppose that it was your idea that we should enter into a profound examination of the vast question of metallic circulation, a question which has been further widened by the manifold considerations which have been, in our view unwisely, complicated with it.  A volume would be necessary to do justice to the errors, so varied in their nature, which have been put forth, and, let us admit, defended, with passion and with talent, in the numerous debates, treatises, and polemical writings which have been produced on the subject of bi- and mono-metallisms.

It seems, therefore, that everything has been said already, and that the only work which can now be usefully undertaken is to put side by side the various arguments presented in turn for and against the double and the single standard, and in a manner to institute a comparison between them.  The recent discussion in the Monetary Conference, which is still in session, will singularly facilitate this task.

We think that we can the sooner respond to your idea by contenting ourselves with recalling that, on various occasions, the Bank has had reason to make known its views on the question of the monetary standard, and to communicate them to your department, notably in its letter of 28th August 1873, when, on being consulted by the Finance Minister of that day concerning the measures to be taken to parry the effects of the depreciation of silver, it declared that in «regard to the principle of monetary organisation the unanimous opinion of the Bank Council was in favour of the single standard.»

This opinion to which, with unanimity among the members which composed its board of directors, the Bank gave expression, in 1873, is still its opinion; the events which have occurred since then, and of which the letter just mentioned expressed an anticipation, outlined with some clearness, far from having shaken its way of looking at the matter, have only confirmed it.  We remain, therefore, and are convinced partisans of unity of standard.

We think that the simultaneous use of two different and variable units, in order to measure all values, is an attack upon logic and upon good sense.

We think that fixity, which ought to be the desideratum to be aimed at in the choice of a measure of all objects, is more surely to be attained with one metal than with two metals, to establish the invariability of which the law is impotent.

We think that money is nothing but a commodity which requires the intervention of the State merely that it may certify and guarantee its weight and fineness, and that it is, therefore, impossible to prevent variations of the relative value of the two metals.

Permit us, Sir, in closing, to call your attention to the fact, that we have, perhaps, a certain merit in defending this opinion, inasmuch as the opposite view might prove favourable to the present interests of the establishment which we have the honour to direct, and as the considerations which guide us, our solicitude for the general interest and wealth of the country, outweigh the desire, legitimate as it appears to us, to increase the profits of the Bank.

It is, perhaps, unnecessary to remind you that speculations in the metals are expressly allowed to the Bank, and that it is better situated than any other establishment, to be enabled to profit by any such variation in the ratio of the two metals, of which the past offers us numerous examples.  Nothing, therefore, would be more easy, nor more profitable, for the Bank than to substitute one metal for the other in the circulation, according as it should find it to its advantage to do so.  If the Bank is willing to close this source of a profit, which is certain, and which implies no risk whatever, it is because it is convinced that these benefits would be realised to the detriment of the trade and manufactures of the country, for in its relations with foreign countries trade would have to suffer losses of exchange which would diminish its profits and paralyse its activity.

Accept, Sir, the assurance of our profound consideration.




Director (Acting as Secretary),





Appendix C : Great Britain – Replies to questions proposed by the International Monetary Conference 1881 – Questions by M. Cernuschi


Amount of silver bullion purchased for the coinage of British token coins from 1 January 1874 to 31 December 1880 ounces


Average price paid per ounce pence 55 ⅝
Total amount paid £ 1,530,532
Amount which would have been paid if the purchases had been made at 60 d. 13/16 per ounce £ 1,673,913
Gross profit to the State on the purchases made £ 282,729
Loss to the State by re-coinage of silver coin withdrawn from circulation £ 258,851
Net profit to the State £ 23,878

All silver bullion for coinage is purchased by the Government, and the profit resulting from its conversion into coin accrues to the State only.

It is not possible to furnish any accurate statement respecting the source whence silver ingots sent in to the Mint are derived, as almost all the barsilver received is refined in London before its purchase for coinage.

During the period from 1 January 1874 and 31 December 1880, no British coins have been demonetized.


Questions by M. Lardy

It is very difficult to form an estimate of the amount of the precious metals annually used in the United Kingdom in the arts and in industry.  The report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on depreciation of silver (1876) estimates the amount of silver thus absorbed at £ 600,000.

The amount of gold thus absorbed has been estimated at between £ 250,000 and £ 500,000 a year, which includes the amount sold by bullion merchants to manufacturers at Birmingham and elsewhere, and also sovereigns taken from circulation by persons using small quantities of gold.

Counterfeit coining is not extensively practised in the United Kingdom, and every effort is made to repress it.

The average number of prosecutions for making or issuing counterfeit coin during the last five years (from 1876 to 1880) has been 182, and the average number of persons convicted 209.


Questions by Dr Broch

No gold or silver moneys of foreign countries are received at the English Mint for coinage.





Mr. Magnin presided

There were present the Delegates of Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, British India, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, the United States of America and France, with the exception of Mr. Pirmez, delegate of Belgium, and Mr. Howe, delegate of the United States.

The session was opened at 1 p.m.

Before the minutes were read, the President thought it right to make himself the interpreter of the feeling of the members of the Conference in expressing to the delegates of the United States all the indignation and the horror felt by them at the criminal attempt on the life of the Chief Magistrate of the American Republic.  He begged them to transmit to Washington the expression of the warm sentiments of sympathy, and at the same time of hope, which the Conference addressed to the President of the United States and to the whole American nation.

Mr. Evarts then spoke as follows :

The delegates of the United States, upon the information of yesterday morning that the terrible crime which had brought into the extremest peril the life of the President, threatened an immediate fatal result, felt that it would not be in their power to take part in the sitting of the Conference to-day.

They have the pleasure now, in attending upon this session, to announce that the news from their country continues to give good encouragement of the President’s recovery from his wounds.

They desire, also, gratefully to acknowledge the kind and cordial expressions from their colleagues in the Conference, of sympathy in the public and private grief which surrounds the President in his critical condition, and they will hasten to transmit to their Government these sentiments which have been so warmly expressed by the President of the Conference upon opening this session.

The President proposed that, as a testimony of sympathy, this manifestation of the feelings of the Conference should be recorded on the minutes, and he added, in agreement with Mr. Evarts, that owing to the better news as to President Garfield’s condition, the Conference would not suspend its session, and would resume its labours.

The minutes of the session of the 2nd July were read and adopted.  The discussion of the questionnaire was resumed.

Mr. Dumas, delegate of France, spoke as follows :


In the questionnaire which you adopted some time ago, there are two questions namely Questions N° 3 and N° 5, concerning which I ask leave to set forth to the Conference in a few words the ideas which I should have offered in the course of the discussion if I had not been temporarily kept away from your later sessions.

Question N° 3, is in these terms : «Is it probable or not that if a large group of States should agree […] a stability, in the relative value of these metals would be obtained, which if not absolute, would at least be very substantial.»

And Question N° 5 adds, «In adopting bimetallism, what should be the ratio between the weights of pure gold and of pure silver contained in the monetary units ?»

It is more than half a century, gentlemen, since it came in my way to enter upon studies and labours respecting the monetary question which you are now discussing.

At the date to which my memory carries me back, we were in France in presence of a phenomenon which had hitherto passed unnoticed.  On consulting the recollections of my youth I am struck with the fact that we had arrived under the régime of bimetallism, at a state of such perfect quietude in relation to monetary questions, that nobody it may be said, in France at least, devoted attention to them.  Events were allowed to drift, and nobody appeared to understand that there might be questions calculated to lead to derangements and difficulties either for the State or for individuals.

At that time, however, I found that, as regards France in particular, of the total production of 200 millions of francs of silver, France every year on the average retained 100 millions, thus yearly augmenting her stock of money.  This circumstance I repeat had passed unnoticed.  The Ministry called upon to examine the question felt that a serious problem was before it.  A Commission was appointed, composed of competent persons, very few in number.  The Commission started with the fundamental idea that France had adopted silver as the principal standard, and that the silver franc was the basis other monetary system.  If silver entered France in more considerable quantities than appeared necessary for her own circulation, and if at the same time that silver took the place of an equivalent quantity of gold which was sent abroad, and if consequently the mass of gold existing in France was seen to be diminishing at a very rapid rate, the danger was that it would disappear altogether, and it was necessary to consider the question of withdrawing its legal tender power, or at least that it should be reduced by diminishing the weight of the 20-franc piece to a value which would no longer allow of its exportation.  The Commission, of which I was the organ, concluded by saying that in lieu of coining 155 twenty-franc pieces, 158 should be coined out of a kilogramme of gold.  It was silver monometallism which was proposed, gold losing entirely, or at least in a considerable degree, its paying power.

Among the 12 members of the Commission, there were however some, and they were not the least competent, who had no strong sympathy with the idea of suppressing, or even of reducing the functions of one of the money metals.

It was these Conferences, which were kept secret, which led M. Michel Chevalier, who, however, had not been a member of that Commission, some years later to make a sweeping proposition in favour of silver monometallism, and the reduction of gold to the rank of a token.

Everybody knows that later on M. Michel Chevalier changed his opinion, and proposed to give gold a monometallic value, and to put silver in an inferior position relatively to gold.

Need I add that in the presence of natural or economic phenomena, which have so often in these 50 years altered the respective situation of the two metals in the circulation, the opinions I heard maintained in my youth by the men most enlightened on financial questions, have come back to my mind with fresh force ?  After having been inclined to regard silver as the standard money of our country, and gold money as properly subordinate to it, I can quite understand that the eminent financiers, who were good enough to make me the confidant of their sentiments and opinions on this subject, were in the right, and that bimetallism was the necessary and inevitable condition of the situation in France, or better, of all other countries.

On studying the question with attention, it will indeed be acknowledged, and you have yourselves since this Conference was opened too often heard it proclaimed, that from the origin of civilisation, from those remote epochs to which history, or monuments, enable us to go back, we see gold and silver acting together as money, representing all values in commercial transactions.

It may therefore be said that there is a necessity, I might say natural necessity, for the simultaneous use of gold and silver at all times and in all countries.

To oppose for the future this necessity which, for the past, has been recognised, is certainly to run the risk of inconveniences so serious that, to-day, in spite of the passing confusion which has occurred, nobody here ventures frankly to approach the question and declare, in an unqualified manner, that the simultaneous use of the two metals should be definitively abandoned.

Among the considerations which seem to me to govern the question, there is one which I ask your permission more particularly to point out.  If we consider the relative situation of the two metals prior to the discovery of America, it will be recognised that the value of equal weights of them was not, so to speak, variable.  The relative value of gold and silver in the monetary circulation of the different countries in those remote times may be said to lie between the limits of 1 to 10, or 1 to 13.

That this relation was not absolutely stationary is in no way surprising; that it varied in different countries, especially at a time when the movements of persons, merchandise, and of metals were neither very certain nor very easy, that this ratio, I say, oscillated between 1 to 10, and 1 to 13, is, in no sense to be wondered at.

The imperative conclusion is, that it is a fixed ratio, not that it is a variable ratio.  If account is taken of the permanence, or of the limited variations, in the relative value of the two metals, it will be acknowledged that the fact arose because that ratio was established not over small numbers representing petty populations, but over large numbers representing the entire population of the civilised parts of the globe at that date.

It is only by applying the theory of large numbers to ratios, which by their nature would seem variable, that we can understand how it is that from the time of Alexander the Great, for instance, to the discovery of America the ratio of 1 to 10, or 1 to 13, is that met with in nearly all documents and historical records.

That this ratio was altered at the time of the discovery of America is not at all strange.  Silver suddenly arrived in very large quantities, as compared with gold.  The discovery of America once made, and its consequences a little developed, the ratio of gold to silver changed in Europe owing to this invasion of the white metal.  This is the less extraordinary, because at the time in question the mass of metal in circulation was singularly reduced.  Historical circumstances on which it is not necessary to dwell, had led to such an impoverishment of metal, that when the metallic wave of America arrived, it fell on so low a stock that its invasion caused a prompt alteration in the historic ratio between the two metals.

But this sudden change once effected, was not the phenomenon which had occurred before the discovery of America again realised ?  Did we see, as long as no derangement was caused by artificial measures, as long as the slow-working operations of commerce were not interfered with, did we see, I say, the ratio between gold and silver vary to a disproportionate extent after the discovery of America ?  No.  You find it rising to 1 to 14, or even 1 to 16.  And when I say 1 to 14, or 1 to 16, does this mean that the ratio was necessarily 1 to 14, at one time and in one place, and 1 to 16 at another time and in another place ?  No, this nearly always arose from special and temporary circumstances which disappeared in time and were lost in the mass of the general ratio which all the world had accepted.  Indeed, the ratio of 1 to 15 ½ which we maintained without disturbance for the first 50 years of this century approximates to the ratio existing in Louis XIV’s reign; we discover it under Louis XVI; and it still represents a ratio accepted, I may say, by the unanimous consent of nations since France made it the basis other monetary system.

Does this mean that it is a natural and necessary ratio ?  No; but it means that when this ratio has been admitted by a certain number of States, the great factors which come in, through its application to a widespread population, cause the small monetary or local variations to disappear, or to be subordinated and controlled by the mass of the metals in circulation amid populations who have accepted a common ratio.

I lay stress upon this consideration, because it is really at the foundation of the special discussion to which I desire to confine myself.

It is quite clear that if one should say to-day «there is a nation which has the pretension, in the present state of the civilisation of Europe, and of the rest of the world, with the facilities of communication existing between all countries, and with the enormous extent of commercial relations between one nation and another, there is, I say, a nation which has the pretension of fixing this ratio,» it would be senseless.  Whatever nation should undertake it would be punished for its presumption.  Recent examples have thrown the clearest light upon this point.  A ratio of this kind can only be effectually adopted and permanently established when great nations, representing numerous populations, submit themselves to such a rule.  That system will then last for a time, more or less long, but it will last at least for a sufficient number of years, perhaps even of centuries, to be considered as endowed with substantial permanence.

If one desired, indeed, to picture to himself the consequences that would ensue, if, instead of acting on the basis of large numbers, a small number should be taken as is sometimes done in operations of this kind, I should say :

There are on the globe three kinds of countries; there are the countries which produce gold and silver, there are the countries in which this gold and silver is diffused, or in which they serve for all the operations of commerce and the requirements of life; lastly, there are the countries in which these metals are lost, and disappear.  There are, consequently, producing countries, using countries, and absorbing countries.

The producing countries are well known; the countries which use are essentially European; and so are the countries which absorb.  When you review the progress of the production of gold, you find that that production had always, as a starting point, a particular part of the globe; that it was then diffused over the civilised countries; and when you inquire through what phenomenon or in what manner it disappeared you find nothing.  This gold disappeared of itself; was consumed on the spot, and we know of no country which is especially an absorbing country for gold.

Silver is not in the same position.  From the discovery of America, and ever since America produced the large quantity of silver with which it for some time flooded Europe – I do not speak of modern times – we have seen that, of the 200 millions I mentioned just now, 100 millions came to France, and stopped here, while the other 100 served for carrying on the trade of Europe with the extreme East, and were engulfed and disappeared in China and India.  The Mexican or Peruvian current, which brought silver to Europe, left a part here, and then by a regular movement passed on to lose itself in the extreme East.  Europe did not possess in sufficient degree the faculty of absorbing silver, while for gold this full power of absorption existed.

The gold which came to Europe remained here, while of the silver which came half was left here, and the other half disappeared in the extreme East.

Now what has happened in these latter days ?  When it was seen that the supplies of silver were becoming more abundant, was any care taken to cause a more extensive absorption of the silver thus arriving in excess ?  No, the opposite course was taken.  Instead of spreading this silver over a wider area, the field over which it could extend itself has been more and more narrowed; yet how then can any one be astonished that after having limited the use of silver in proportion as it became more plentiful, silver has lost, at least as bullion, a considerable portion of the value it formerly possessed.  This was only natural.  No one has any right to be surprised at the consequences produced by the necessity which arose of closing the mints to the coinage of silver, and of thus diminishing, by half, the market for the silver reaching us.

Permit me to make a comparison; you have a reservoir of 1,000 cubic metres; it is full of water.  If it suddenly received another 1,000 cubic metres of water, there is a deluge; that is evident.  But if, instead of 1,000 cubic metres, the reservoir had held 10,000, the level would have been raised a little; there would have been a slight temporary inundation, and there would have been an end of it.  If the reservoir had held a million cubic metres, the thousand metres you added would have been lost in the mass, and would have disappeared without apparent disturbance.

This is just the case with the production of silver, and in general of the precious metals relatively to the nations which receive them.  If these nations are numerous, if their population is considerable, the silver or gold arriving every year to increase the stock will disappear in the mass.  If on the contrary the nations and the populations who accept these metals are yearly reduced in number; and if the mass of silver or gold which is produced continues to be the same, the value of gold and silver will suffer a depreciation which may undoubtedly disappear later, if a change of circumstances should take place.

The civilised countries represent two large lakes, in which the mass of gold and of silver which the mines produce within a certain time loses itself; in the lake of gold the supplies which arrive in excess are distributed without difficulty in more or less time, to satisfy the requirements of the circulation, and there has hitherto been no occasion for concern as to the absorption of gold.  As to silver, which how arrives in more considerable quantity, if it be desired that its lake should not overflow, far from diminishing the coinage of silver, far from diminishing the number of nations which accept silver as legal tender, it is necessary to augment the number of nations, to multiply the consumers, and in this way to give greater scope to the metal which arrives in greater quantity.

These considerations lead to the maintenance of a ratio, which is, I will not say a natural ratio, but a ratio created by very legitimate circumstances, the ratio of 1 to 15 ½ between gold and silver.

Why that ratio rather than any other ?  We are in the presence of three hypotheses :

1st.  Gold monometallism; silver become a commodity; no fixed ratio between the two metals; 2nd.  Bimetallism with a new ratio to be fixed between silver and gold; 3rd.  Bimetallism with the ratio of 15 ½.  Lay aside monometallism.  If we adopt bimetallism, we may consider gold and silver either as having a ratio to be fixed, or as having a ratio already existing.

A ratio to be fixed, where would you find it ?  In the present position of the relative value of gold and silver bullion ?  But this relative value is temporary, arbitrary, fictitious; it is solely the result of the fact that the consumption of silver has been cut oft by a coup d’État.  If the consumption of silver were restored, the ratio would change.  I do not say that it would immediately become again 1 to 15 ½, but it would not be at the point where it now is, and it would speedily approach 15 ½.  Would you take another ratio than that of 1 to 15 ½ ?  How difficult it would be to find a ratio satisfying at once historical traditions, present conditions, and future conditions ?  With the ratio of 1 to 15 ½ historical traditions are respected, the difficulties of the present are removed, the conditions of the future are guaranteed.  As to the difficulties of the present, which are transitory, they would disappear with the causes and circumstances which created them.  It is quite certain you would find no embarrassment in restoring the ratio, which having been chosen by France and accepted by the Latin Union, has been adopted during a long space of time in other countries.  From the standpoint of accomplished facts, its regularly established existence dates from nearly a century ago, while its origin is still more remote.  It now applies to an enormous mass of metal, which would have to be melted down and re-coined, if the ratio were abandoned.  All these reasons authorise me to believe that the small difficulties which would be encountered in taking the ratio of 1 to 15 ½ as the basis of new concerted action, would be temporary difficulties, disappearing with the progress of events.  It would at once give full satisfaction to the general interests of the world, and to the special interests of the nations engaged in the matter.

In the considerations which I have just had the honour of presenting to you, I regarded the civilised countries as representing two great lakes in which the gold and silver extracted from the mines came to discharge their respective streams, and I remarked that if the relative supply of the two metals varied, the surfaces of the two lakes might be further and further from equality of level.  A canal of communication between them would be necessary to maintain the equilibrium.  The legal ratio of 1 to 15 ½ has performed this function, and would have continued to perform it if all nations had adopted it.  A proportional diminution in the product of the mines of the two metals causes the same fall in both reservoirs.  If one should fall and the other be in excess, the communicating canal would offer an exit to the metal in excess, and the level would be maintained undisturbed.

There is one point which I have passed over, viz., whether the value of the two money metals, which presents no natural fixed ratio, has or has not a fixed relation to the labour or to the commodities which each of these metals is destined to represent or pay for.  Now it is quite clear I think to everybody that the value of gold and silver is no more stable relatively to labour or to commodities than is the relation between the metals themselves.  There is no natural law which indicates that there will be a constant relation between the weight of wheat, for example, and the weight of gold, or of silver which represent it in the market.  These quantities vary from time to time.  There is no natural law which says that the ratio between the weight of the gold and silver extracted from the bowels of the earth and put in circulation will be always 15 ½ to 1.  There is no natural law for this, but there is a natural law which says that when you deal with very large numbers, the slowness with which any metal, already existing in large quantities, is affected by small additions, allows the alteration of value to move by degrees, which are insensible during a generation, or even longer.  That the ratio between gold and silver varies, but in different directions, is certain.  That, if we should take the production of these metals each year, in order to make it the rule of all the transactions of commerce in all countries, we should be liable to sudden variations, is not less certain.  But when the new yield is once merged in the stock in general circulation, the small quantities being lost in the large, if the ratio varies, it varies only in insensible quantities every year.

If you regard the mass of a population, men and women, you perceive that they are born in about equal numbers, but at a particular time and in a particular village, girls only are born for several years.  This phenomenon is not observable when you take an entire Department, much less when you take a nation.  So, likewise, the ratio between the production of gold and silver localised in small quantities and small proportions, may present varying results, but when looked at after merging the small annual production in the quantity forming the aggregate stock of all nations put together, this slight difference in the ratio of each year’s production entirely disappears, or, at least, but very slightly affects the general ratio, and tends to become insensible for individuals and for States.

It is, therefore, I repeat, in consequence of the magnitude of the number of consumers that the naturally variable ratio between the yield of gold and of silver, must be considered as having, so to speak, a constant value.  To say that that ratio should be invariable is not possible.  To say that because the ratio varies the legal ratio should annually or from time to time be changed would, in my opinion, be very dangerous.  But to say what seems to me verified by history, that though this ratio varies from year to year, though this ratio presents difficulties calculated temporarily to disquiet the public mind, yet when the mass of silver and gold falling into the general circulation is so slight compared with the mass which receives it, the conclusion is that the ratio of the two masses remains almost permanent, at least practically so, which is the only question we have in view.

It is the more reasonable to look at the facts in this way, because, in point of fact, there is in countries now civilised or accessible to commercial operations a population of nearly 100 millions to whom gold is necessary, or an object of preference, whereas there are 900 millions who prefer silver.  You have consequently 1,000 millions of people on the globe, of whom nine-tenths find silver the metal best suited to them, while one-tenth I prefer gold.  A market for both metals is therefore possible and necessary; it is indispensable for commercial operations, and any one who should argue that silver can be dispensed with when nine-tenths of the population prefer it, would seem to me to commit a blunder, not only economic, but ethnological, with which I can have nothing to do.  It is true I have heard it said, not only here, but often elsewhere, that gold is the metal of the privileged countries, the countries whose civilisation is advanced; and that silver is the metal of backward countries, barbarous countries, countries of inferior civilisation.  The yellow metal is noble; the white metal, plebeian.

I confess I have never been struck with this reasoning; I have never found it applicable to monetary facts.  It has always seemed to me that among the races of men there were some who preferred gold as ornament or money, and others who preferred silver.  In all countries there are, in this respect, both civilised and barbarous people.  Looking at France, for instance, there is no doubt that at Paris, Lyons, and in the large towns, there is a civilised portion of the population who like to handle gold, and who having from time to time 100,000 francs or a million to pay, object to sending it in five-franc pieces.  This is quite possible; but we have in France regions called Auvergne, Brittany, Cevennes, Lozere, in which the people are, so far as this point is concerned, real barbarians, to whom gold coins seem difficult to handle, while five-franc pieces are, on the contrary, coins whose weight and size please them.  People have not every day to pay bills of 100,000 francs or a million, but they have every day to pay the butcher, the baker, or the shoemaker; and they have every day to deal with a kind of money inferior to gold, if it is to be called inferior, for it is simply a money which fulfils its office, and which in this respect is not inferior to the other.

It therefore seems to me quite natural to say that there is room in all countries for three kinds of money, gold money, silver money, bronze money.  They each satisfy different requirements; they are each fitted for different classes; and to say that, because gold suits a portion of the population which is refined, or civilised if you like, a little fastidious in its tastes, and lavish in its habits, the middle and lower classes are therefore to be deprived of the means of exchange suited to them, is very incorrect reasoning.  To say that there are nations entirely composed of people belonging to the higher or civilised portion, and others entirely composed of barbarians, is not the fact.  There are civilised portions in all nations; there are portions in all nations which you may call barbarian; everywhere there are countries which are advanced; everywhere there are countries which are backward; and I do not think there is anything uncivil to France and England, for instance, in saying that Brittany, Auvergne, or Cantal, are not as civilised as Paris, and that Ireland or the Scotch Highlands have not inhabitants such as are found in the wealthy parts of England.  Every country has, therefore, so far as its habits in the matter of money are concerned, its barbarism, if you call it barbarism; and every country has its civilisation; or rather let us say each country has need of different kinds of money.

Now, I was consulted at a time when questions of this class did not attract much attention in my country, and, when having busied myself with them rather more than others, I had from time to time occasion to give opinions on matters which hitherto had appeared very obscure; I was consulted, I say, on this point : how much fractional money is required in France per head ?  How much bronze money is required in France per head ?  Now, on recurring to the ideas I have just expressed, and considering the documentary evidence on the subject, I arrived at the conclusion that two francs of bronze money were necessary per head, and six francs of silver fractional money.

I enunciated that opinion, and the then Minister of Finance took it into consideration; it served as basis for the legislation of the country, and I have the satisfaction of seeing, after many years, that the six francs of silver fractional money have been neither too much nor too little, that the two francs of bronze money have also been neither excessive nor deficient.  The circulation is satisfied by means of these two amounts without embarrassment, without difficulty.

I was asked, at the same time, what was the proper amount of gold and of silver having an international circulation, for the bronze coins and the fractional silver coins are domestic money.

I had estimated the quantity of gold or silver money suitable for all the necessities of the inhabitants of our country at an average of 100 francs per head.  The relative amounts of gold and silver coin remained dependent on the chances of the free coinage, and could be augmented or diminished, within certain limits, without inconvenience, full legal tender faculty being equally reserved to both.

Since then I have often been asked whether the formula I proposed at that time had been verified by facts.  I am obliged to answer that nothing has occurred to disturb the proportion I believed myself able to establish, in estimating at four milliards the quantities of gold and silver then existing in circulation in France for a population of about 40 millions, Algeria included.

I believe that that formula is still practical and sound.  If it is practical and sound, and if it were applied to Europe, to Asia, and to America, that is to say, to large populations, if it could be applied to all countries which might take part in a transaction of the kind which occupies us, you see at once how a market for the precious metals, gold and silver, would be insured for a long time.

For my own part, I am quite certain that whenever all the countries which have been hitherto obliged to retain the forced currency of paper, return to a metallic circulation, we should easily arrive at a similar employment of gold and silver, even if we assume that France loses the special taste ascribed to her for hoarding specie, a taste evinced, it is true, in various ways; and that she ceases to maintain 100 francs per head as the quantity of her stock of coin.

Diminish, if you like, to 60 francs per head, the average amount which the various parts of the world might require for their population, there would still be room for the quantities of silver and gold which would present themselves, even assuming that the mines maintain the ample yield with which they have of late years favoured us.

But here arises a last observation on this point : are you sure of maintaining for the yield of gold and silver the conditions which have of late been realised ?  Without wandering into scientific systems, we may say that, as regards gold, the production is so intermittent that nobody can tell what it will be in 10 years.  The gold «placers» are nearly always exhausted in a very short time, even after having yielded large quantities of gold.  Since the origin of civilisation gold countries have enriched their first owners, and then have ceased to produce, precisely because the sources of the gold were «placers» in which the metal had been accumulated by being deposited there, and were not mines with regular lodes in their normal position.  The extraction of gold is a thing which appears in one country, disappears, arises in another, again disappears, and so on.  I have seen, in my youth, gold washers in the South of France, where, since the time of the Phoenicians, particles of gold had been extracted from the rivers.  To-day, in the same localities, I find men who earn in other ways twice as much as they earned by picking up gold in the river, and who have abandoned that industry.  I do not cite this example as of much account compared with the great production of gold occurring in other parts of the world; but still it gives an exact picture of what has occurred there.  When a gold working has been established, at the end of a short time wages rise, the «placer» is exhausted, and the diggers are forced to quit the locality and go elsewhere.

It is not so with silver.  Silver is in general extracted by the regular processes of working mines; there are regular lodes, sometimes of great importance from their thickness, at other times from their richness, but generally presenting conditions such that the working may be made regular, and extended over long periods of time.

When the question arises of choosing a standard which has a fixed value, is it not better to adopt silver in preference to gold ?  Is not silver a metal of more stable value, and one which can maintain fixed relations between production and consumption over a length of time ?  In gold we have a metal subject to continual fluctuations, exposed to unforeseen commercial combinations, which may drive it out or accumulate it in a given country through proceedings which governments, and especially individuals in particular, are often incompetent to comprehend.

The conclusion I am led to draw from these observations is that there is very little reason for abandoning the principle of bimetallism, and the ratio of 1 to 15. ½; that there are, on the contrary, many reasons for retaining the two metals in circulation with their full legal tender power, and that there are very cogent reasons for maintaining the ratio of 1 to 15 ½, which has already been accepted in a great part of the world.

And now what are the inferences to be drawn from these general principles, assuming them to be admitted ?  Assuredly it is not for me, at my age, in the position which I occupy, and far removed as I am from public affairs, to give practical advice.  The difficulties are so great as to require mature consideration on the part of all the States interested in the question; it is one which cannot be solved in a day.

For 50 years I have seen the most prominent men differing in their opinions on monetary questions, and I am convinced that to form a decision in the matter is a difficult task for the best minds, especially as such decision, even when put forth by the most competent, will meet much opposition.  It is necessary, therefore, within proper limits, to allow time to bring about the conversion of those who are interested.

But cannot measures of immediate effect be adopted ?  If gold be a metal which is needed for the reserves of great banks, for the great transactions of commerce, and for the habits of fashionable life, it is not less true that silver is indispensable for the ordinary uses of life, for the domestic needs of every family, for the every day work of manufactories and of agriculture.  If gold is coined in a country as the metal necessary for large transactions, why coin 10-franc and 5-franc pieces, or the like, in gold.  It is a mistake.  These 10-franc and 5-franc pieces should be left to their real destination, that is to say, to silver coinage.  They belong to a medium class of consumers, upon whose support they can rely, and whose wants they satisfy.

Another mistake we have committed is the manufacture of silver tokens, that is to say, small change silver of inferior fineness to that of 5-franc pieces.  The functions of the silver token money, when it is of rather a high value, approach those of the 5-franc piece.  When it is of inferior value it approximates to bronze.  It should not compete with bronze by being made a token; it should not be far removed from the fineness of silver coin, properly so called, when it has a value, for instance, like that of the 2-franc piece.  It is necessary, then, to do away with the 5 and 10-franc gold pieces and to replace them by silver pieces; to do away with silver token money of inferior fineness, and to replace; it by silver 9/10-ths fine.  If these two operations were effected they would aid in restoring to silver the favour it seems of late to have lost.  The assent of the population would show that the right path had been found.

Add to these measures, which are of a temporary nature, yet would have a permanent effect, another measure which commends itself equally to attention, I mean the question of the charge for coining gold and silver.  No doubt, when one looks at the recompense for the service performed for the owner of the bullion, it ought to be in proportion to the labour which he has exacted.  Nothing is more legitimate than what has hitherto been done; but see how unfavourable to silver is this procedure.  In converting silver into specie destined for circulation as 5-franc pieces, and in converting gold into 20-franc pieces destined for circulation, the difference of expense is 1 to 3, and even more, against silver.  It costs 7 francs 50 centimes for a kilogramme of gold, it costs 23 francs 50 centimes for making silver coins equivalent to a kilogramme of gold.  Thus, everything has latterly tended to place silver in an unfavourable situation, and more than one of these details might be corrected by simple measures of internal regulation in each State.  If these internal measures were adopted they would have the advantage of showing the public that a definitive solution was in preparation, and they might lead opinion to express itself in favour of that solution.

One word more.  There are four interests in the question before us.  There is first the State, there are the State banks, there is the trade, and, lastly, there are the consumers.  I have known the time when the State shut its eyes to movements of specie, when the State banks paid no attention to them, and when the consumers naturally looked on all these matters as foreign to them.  Who did then pay attention to them ?  It was the trade; it was the banker who took silver in our country and sent it elsewhere, where there was a premium to be gained, and who took gold in its turn and sent it where he could make a profit out of it.  The principle of these operations passed unnoticed by three of the four parties interested, the State, the State banks, the consumers, and received the attention of only one class of persons, certain bankers who were accustomed to trade in gold and silver on a large scale.  The time for this has passed : the State has seen the danger it incurred of letting such events go on without its interference.  The State banks have now perceived that the Bank of England offered an example which other countries would do well to imitate; lastly, the general education of the country is such that the consumers themselves have found enlightened representatives of their interests.  To-day, when anyone offers advice, supported by information, he will find it appreciated by the State which feels itself affected, by the State banks who know that they are interested, by the consumers, whose eyes are now opened, and who begin to understand that it is not immaterial to them whether the price of their merchandise varies without apparent cause, whether silver is 200 francs a kg at the time they buy it to pay for their raw material, and 160 francs at the time they receive silver in payment.

The State, the trader, the producer, the consumer, are aware that these are questions in which their interests are very closely engaged.  The time has come, then, to ask a solution; not from the trade, the trade will always claim its liberty, it will wish to be able to send its bullion in one direction or another.  This is its business, and we cannot require it to look at business in any other way; not from consumers, that is to say, from persons for whom these matters have not a sufficiently profound interest, but from the State banks.  With the broad and enlightened spirit which their directors bring to the affairs entrusted to them, if they should assist in the efforts of the various States upon which they depend, they would lay the bases for a solution of the matter.  The State alone, I fear, with all respect for the convictions of my honourable colleague, Mr. Cernuschi, is not sufficiently adroit to conduct such operations alone.  But when the State has the great banks on its side, which are bound to the State by contracts, and by common interests, when the State and these great banks have agreed to adopt a certain principle for the coinage, and to temper the application by intelligent management, the trade will be controlled; and satisfaction will be given to the consumers whose interests should be guaranteed.

To recapitulate.  There are in all countries hills and plains.  With the hills I have no concern; they demand gold, let us give them the satisfaction of handling handfuls of it, if they will or can; they will always be able to give themselves this satisfaction.  What touch and interest me are the plains; they are extensive, and covered with an abundant population, a population which labours, lives on little, can be poor, can be frugal, and has need of a money suited to it.  It is for its sake that I demand the maintenance of that silver money, legal tender both at home and abroad, which I consider not only as the money of the middle class in its daily needs, but of the artisan, of the labourer, of the part of the nation the most interesting, the most considerable, and the most worthy of interest.  For its sake, I repeat, I dread to see silver disappear, to see it lose its paying power, and subside into a depreciated condition in public opinion, because every step in that direction will be a suffering for it, without being an enjoyment for the elevated part of the population, so often spoken of as representing civilisation, culture, wealth, power.  No, the wealth of a country, its importance, and its power, are not always at the top; they reside below also, in that population that labours, that produces, that saves, and for which gold is so often a chimera, and silver the daily bread and the safeguard for the morrow.

Mr. Schraut, Delegate of Germany, read the following address :

Mr. President and Gentlemen,

After the discourse we have just listened to from our illustrious colleague, Mr. Dumas, allow me to say a few words on the way in which I look personally at the third interrogatory.

I do not dispute that the re-establishment of the free coinage of gold and silver at a fixed ratio in a certain group of States would raise the price of silver to the rate corresponding to that ratio, and that its future oscillations would be but insignificant.  Accidental perturbations would be the less to be feared if we succeeded in guaranteeing the Mints against an unforeseen and extraordinary influx of the white metal.  The best means, in my opinion, of arriving at this object, would be to make the use of silver general in all countries, as remarked by several of our honourable colleagues in the course of our first sessions.

A first step would be taken in this path if all the States which have issued paper money notes below 20 francs would call them in, and replace them by silver money.  I reckon among these States not only the States with forced currency paper money, but also the United States of America, which have issued a considerable quantity of one and two dollar notes.  It would also be expedient, as our illustrious colleague, Mr. Dumas, has shown, to do away with the small gold coins, and to replace them by silver, the consumption of which would be augmented in direct proportion to the withdrawal of small notes and of small gold coins.  We should thus arrive at keeping the fluctuations of the price of the white metal within narrow limits.

The President announced that Mr. Fremantle, the British Delegate, deferred till the next session the communication be had expected to be able to make to the Conference at to-day’s meeting.

Count Rusconi, Delegate of Italy, reserved his right of speaking after the communication announced by the delegate of Great Britain had been made to the Conference.

Mr. Broch, Delegate of Norway, desired to pay only one word to express his concurrence in great part with the remarks of Mr. Dumas.  But he desired to call attention to the fact that the proposals submitted by his illustrious colleague differed, in his opinion, from those formulated by Mr. Cernuschi.

The theory of Mr. Dumas tended to restrict the coinage of silver, and not to authorise the free and unlimited coinage of that metal.  The State and the State banks would undertake to supply the requirements of commerce, and to the degree which should be deemed necessary.  Now this system would have a great chance of success; it was the very system already adopted by a certain number of States.

Mr. Dumas, moreover, thought, as Mr. Broch had himself pointed out in a previous session, that 10-franc, 5-franc, 10-mark, and 10-shilling gold pieces should no longer be coined, on order that the use of silver might be proportionally increased.  This, again, was a point on which monometallists agreed with him, just as they were unanimously in favour of retaining the use of the three metals.  But what they could not accept was the unlimited coinage of silver.  Left to State banks or to governments, the coinage of silver would create no uneasiness, because governments and State banks would not abuse the powers given them.  But this system could not be confused with bimetallism as understood by the honourable Mr. Cernuschi.

Mr. Dumas remembered that in the course of negotiations carried on a few years ago between Austria and the States of the Latin Union, he proposed and had nearly witnessed the adoption of a 25-franc gold piece which was to serve for international use, and which representing, as it did, 5 dollars, 10 florins, or a sovereign, seemed likely to be favourably received by the public, and destined to render very useful service.

Mr. Cernuschi, Delegate of France, before submitting a document which he had to present, wished to make some observations on what had been said in the course of the session.  All the measures recommended to the Conference were only half measures; they looked only at small aspects of the question, and consequently could serve no practical purpose.  If certain small gold coins were abolished the evil would be none the less great.  England, said Mr. Cernuschi, is under that system.  She has no 5-shilling gold coins, and but very few half-sovereigns.  She coins on a larger scale than elsewhere small silver token money which, for that matter, people accept and use in all their daily transactions, and which they pay out without concerning themselves with its weight or fineness.  This silver money, which passes like gold in internal transactions, what value has it from an international standpoint ?  No value at all.

The internationality of silver at 15 ½ is the point to be arrived at.  Without internationality nothing is effected.  What matters it whether silver rises to 59 d. or falls to 40 d., if, in Europe and America, we continue unable to coin this metal freely, and are unable to use it in paying each other.  Even if the petty combinations recommended brought us back to the rate of 59 d., this would be a thing to be regretted, because the general conversion to bimetallism would be proportionately delayed.  We must have all or nothing.

Mr. Cernuschi then read the reply of the French Government to the questions put by Mr. Lardy, delegate of Switzerland, at the session of the 10th May, on the industrial use of the precious metals.  He remarked that the value assigned in this note to silver bullion was necessarily erroneous, it being estimated at the ratio of 1 to 15 ½, which had ceased to be the fact.

He could not moreover omit calling attention to this strange position of the partisans of gold, who, perplexed and uneasy, were forced to institute inquiries to ascertain whether there was not too great a consumption for industrial purposes of this precious metal on which they made their whole economic life depend.  Bimetallists had none of these perplexities, disquietudes and troubles.  What was produced or what was consumed of either metal was immaterial to them.  For them there was but a single monetary mass, composed of all the gold and silver which ages had accumulated.  Whatever amount was consumed in the year of either metal reduced by so much the increase of stock from the annual yield.  That was all.  Bimetallists were not disturbed on that score.  Just as the relative value established by law was not influenced by the production, no more was it by the consumption of either metal.  Here was certainly an unquestionable superiority of bimetallism.

The note presented by Mr. Cernuschi was ordered to be inserted at the end of the Minutes.  (See Appendix).

Mr. Dumas was anxious to point out that this note did not include the use of precious metals in electro-plating or photography, a use which, especially as regards silver, had been very largely extended of late years, and would still go on increasing.

Mr. Lardy, Delegate of Switzerland, thanked Mr. Cernuschi and the authorities of the French Mint for the interesting return just presented on the industrial consumption of the precious metals.  He should await the printing of the similar documents already submitted by the delegates of Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, and Norway, before entering on the consideration of the conclusions to be drawn from these returns.  The work of the Conference was moreover sufficiently advanced for that examination to be left to the governments rather than to the delegates.  He confined himself to recalling that, in asking for an investigation of the question of the industrial use of the precious metals, he had no preconceived idea.  In proportion as the industrial consumption of gold was very considerable compared with the production of that metal, the results of the inquiry might imply the necessity of advancing with great moderation on the path of the adoption of the single gold standard.  This fact was unfavourable to the monometallic thesis, but proved at the same time that, in a given country, industrial demands might occur calculated to modify the relative value of the precious metals, which fact again impaired the bimetallist position that «law alone creates the value of money».  Switzerland, whose jewellery and watch-making industries were much developed, had had at various times to suffer in a monetary point of view from the demands of industry.  She was obliged, about 1860, to reduce to eight-tenths the fineness of her silver coins, which had been going straight from the Mint into the crucible of the watchmakers.  At the present moment one might be certain that 5-franc pieces were no longer melted down to make silver watches, but the gold coins manufactured by Switzerland would not fail to be put in the scales, and all above the legal weight melted down.

Mr. Pierson, Delegate of the Netherlands, thought it would be very advantageous that the various Governments represented at the Conference should be enlightened as to their reciprocal intentions.  With this view, in obedience to the instructions of his Government, he communicated to the Conference the following declaration :

Declaration of the Delegates of the Netherlands.

The Government of the Netherlands is of opinion, like several members of this Conference, that the fall of silver and its great oscillations of value are a great evil.

It also thinks that the simultaneous and unreserved adoption of the double standard by all the Great States of Europe and America would be the true means of remedying that evil.

It would scarcely hesitate, therefore, to propose to the Legislature the re-establishment of the unlimited coinage of silver, at present prohibited, both for our country and for all its colonies, as soon as the double standard system should have been adopted over an area as large as that which we have just indicated.

But our Government could not engage to act thus, if that system be established only over a more restricted area.  As long as it is ignorant what guarantees would be given for fixing, as far as possible, the ratio of value between the two metals, what States would adopt the bimetallic system, and what concessions would be made by the other States for facilitating its success, it is impossible to judge of the advantages and inconveniences there would be for the Netherlands and its colonies in re-establishing the unlimited coinage of silver, even maintaining the legal ratio between that metal and gold, which is now not 15 ½ but 15 ⅝.

While, however, reserving its entire liberty, the Government of the Netherlands does not peremptorily reject any project of establishing the double standard system in an area comprising only several great States of Europe and America.  Such a project, if proposed at the Conference, would doubtless be taken into very serious consideration by the Netherlands.

This Declaration was ordered to be inserted in the Minutes.

Mr. Evarts tendered the apology of Mr. Howe, whom the state of health of Mrs. Howe had forced to leave Paris and start for the United States.

The President begged Mr. Evarts to convey to Mr. Howe the expression of the warm regret of all the members of the Conference, as also the expression of their good wishes.

The discussion of the Questionnaire was adjourned to Wednesday, 6th July, at 1 p.m.  The session concluded at 3 p.m.



Appendix : Response of the French Government to the questions formulated by Mr. Lardy, Delegate of Switzerland, in the session of 10 May (presented by Mr. Cernuschi)

1st.  What is the importance of the industrial use of the precious metals, and notably, of gold ?

Independently of coinage, gold and silver are employed in manufactures for the following purposes : Watch making; jewellery and trinkets; electro-plating; photography; decoration; furniture; tissues; sculpture; arms.

Of all these uses, the only ones with regard to which the Government has information, are those connected with watch making, jewellery, and trinkets.  The consumption of gold and silver in these industries is considered to be most important of all.

The amount of gold emplyed for these purposes annually is estimated at

14,000 kg

It may be assumed that the average of this metal is .740 fine, or worth, in round numbers   35,600,000 fr.
It is admitted that a large proportion of the metal which is manufactured escapes registration through fraud, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5 ?  Say 1/5 2,800 kg 7,100,000 fr.
The coinage of medals absorbs about 100 kg  
at .916 fine   314,000 fr.


43,014,000 fr.

The preceding figures have been established by the official statements of the manufacture; and they have, therefore, great statistical value.

The amounts of silver employed in manufacturing for the same purposes are respectively :


Watchmaking 80,000 kg  
at an average .940 fine   16,585,600 fr.
Manufacture of medals 2,879 kg  
at an average of .950 fine   442,120 fr.


17,027,720 fr.

  43,014,000 fr. in gold
  17,027,720 fr. in silver
or, in round numbers 60,000,000 fr.  


2nd.  Is it possible better to insure the repression of counterfeit coining ?

In France counterfeit coining is generally limited to the melting, stamping, and furring of silver pieces, and offers no serious dangers.  These imitations are almost always crude, and are easily detected by reason of the blurred look of the engraving, of the imperfect edges, the lack of ring to the metal, and especially of their lightness.  This latter circumstance of itself is enough to insure the detection of false coins and to arrest their issue.

It is probable that, on account of the ease with which the work can be done by a man working alone, and with any simple machinery, this kind of counterfeiting, which has always been practised, will continue to show itself in spite of all precautions.

On the contrary, the counterfeiting of gold pieces by using alloyed platina, which is resorted to especially in Spain, is really a cause of alarm; the density of alloyed platina approaches that of gold.  Beside this, the counterfeiters have at their disposition material perfectly adapted either for reproducing the imprint, or for the milling of the edges.

Another kind of fraud, which of late has acquired a certain importance, consists in washing gold coins in acids.  This operation can be carried so far as to remove from a 20-franc piece as much as a gramme of its weight, without producing an alteration in the imprint which is obvious to the naked eye.

As far as the counterfeiting with platina is concerned, a plan has been suggested of having this metal subjected to registration, so that its uses can be known, and its movements followed.  This measure would be the more efficacious according as it should be adopted by a greater number of States.  As for washing in acids, the use of the scales appears to be a good defence, coupled with the right given to the public to cut or deface, on its own responsibility, pieces which have been reduced in weight.





Mr. Magnin presided

There were present the Delegates of Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, British India, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, the United States of America and France, with the exception of Mr. Pirmez, delegate of Belgium, and Mr. Howe, delegate of the United States, and Mr. Pirmez, Delegate of Belgium, who had arrived that day from Brussels.

The session was opened at 1.45 p.m.

The Minutes of the session of the 4th July 1881 were read and adopted.

Mr. Seismit-Doda, First Delegate of Italy, asked leave to make a declaration to the Conference in the name of his Government.  He had hoped that, during the interval of more than 40 days which had elapsed between the 8th and 9th sessions, decisions would have been reached, and that on the return of the delegates, and before a fresh separation, decisive resolutions might be adopted.  Without wishing to prejudge the result of the present session, and without awaiting the declaration to be made by the Delegate of Great Britain at to-day’s meeting, the Chief Delegate of Italy was anxious to state what his Government, after the first discussions of the Conference, was inclined to accept.  Notwithstanding some dangers she would, perhaps, have to encounter, Italy was prepared to enter upon the path of free and unlimited coinage of silver, provided Germany and England would unreservedly engage themselves to enter upon it also.

It was now more than doubtful whether these two Powers would agree to take such a step.  It was, therefore, proper to declare before the world that on them alone must fall the responsibility of the consequences which, the Conference being dissolved, might result from any future depreciation of silver.

Mr. Seismit-Doda, on behalf of his Government, could only read the following declaration, which he was anxious to make known before the Delegate of Great Britain had read his own, so as clearly to show that it was entirely independent of it.

Declaration of the First Delegate of Italy.

The Italian Government would be disposed to enter into a league, of various States, to agree on the limited coinage of silver on the following conditions :

1.  The Government of the German Empire should engage to suspend the sale of its silver for a term of at least five years, and to replace by silver money the gold five mark pieces and its Imperial Treasury notes, and it should also adopt for its silver coins, or at least for those of five and two marks, the ratio of 1 to 15 ½, conferring on the silver thus coined the full legal tender faculty at present possessed by the thalers.

2.  Her Britannic Majesty’s Government should enter into an engagement with the other States to increase the legal tender faculty of its silver crowns.

If these conditions were accepted by Germany and England, Italy might agree with the other States of the Latin Union, and with the United States of America, in resuming the limited coinage of silver for a term which should not exceed that fixed for the suspension of the sale of silver by the German Empire.

The quota of each State in the coinage of silver should be based on a proportion to be established relatively to the populations of the States.  This quota would be binding on each State as a minimum, and each State might exceed it on fixing the rules and special guarantees for a limited mintage, to which private individuals and banks of issue should be admitted.

Italy could in no case enter on the path of the free and unlimited coinage of silver if Germany and England, or one of them, did not unreservedly adhere to it.

Mr. Cernuschi, Delegate of France, asked leave to speak on the declaration just made.

The President did not think he could allow a discussion on this declaration of the Italian Government.

Official notice was taken of this declaration, and it was ordered to be inserted in the Minutes.

Mr. Fremantle, Delegate of Great Britain, presented the reply made by the Bank of England on being consulted, according to the wish of the Conference, on the monetary question.

This document was ordered to be published at the end of the present minutes.  (See Appendix A).

Mr. Fremantle next read the following declaration :

Declaration of the Delegate of Great Britain.

In pursuance of the announcement made to the Conference at last Saturday’s session, I have the honour of making the following communication on behalf of my Government :

The United States Minister at London, in the course of a conversation with Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, having expressed an opinion that it would be possible to arrive at an agreement between the other Powers on the monetary question, if (inter alia) the Bank of England should agree to exercise the powers conferred on it by the Bank Charter Act of 1844 (7 & 8 Vict. c. 32, ss. 2 and 3), and if the Treasury would put a question to that effect to the Bank Directors, Lord Granville applied to that Department, and through that channel obtained a reply from the Bank Directors.

In this reply the Bank declares its readiness to exercise the power above mentioned, on condition that the mints of other nations revert to the observance of rules ensuring the exchange of gold for silver, and of silver for gold, at a legal rate.

Her Majesty’s Government, having subsequently learned that Mr. Lowell’s action was in no way the result of instructions from his Government, did not deem it proper to follow up the declaration of the Bank of England by communicating it to the Conference through its delegate.

A similar proposal having, however, within the last few days, been submitted by the Ambassador of His Majesty the King of Italy at London, on behalf of his Government, Her Britannic Majesty’s Government has promptly given it the respectful reception it will always accord to the representations of one of the great Powers of Europe.

I have, therefore, the honour of laying on the table of the Conference the exact words used by the Bank of England in the above-mentioned communication :

«The Bank Charter Act permits the issue of notes upon silver, but limits that issue to one-fourth of the gold held by the bank in the issue department.

«The purchase of gold bullion is obligatory and unlimited, the purchase of silver bullion is discretional and limited, the distinction being enforced by the necessity of paying all notes in gold on demand.

«The re-appearance of silver bullion as an asset in the issue department of the Bank of England would, as is understood by the Foreign Office letter, depend entirely on the return of the mints of other countries to such rules as would ensure the certainty of conversion of gold into silver, and silver into gold.  The rules need not be identical with those formerly in force; the ratio between silver and gold, and the charge for mintage, may both or either of them be varied, and yet leave unimpaired the facility of exchange, which would be indispensable to the resumption of silver purchases by a bank of issue whose responsibilities are contracted in gold.

«Subject to these considerations, the Bank Court are satisfied that the issue of their notes against silver, within the letter of the Act, would not involve the risk of infringing that principle of it which imposes a positive obligation on the Bank to receive gold in exchange for notes, and to pay notes in gold on demand.

«The Bank Court see no reason why an assurance should not be conveyed to the Monetary Conference at Paris, if their Lordships think it desirable, that the Bank of England, agreeably with the Act of 1844, would be always open to the purchase of silver under the conditions above described.»

Count Rusconi, Delegate of Italy, next spoke in these terms :

Mr. President,

I rise for the purpose of putting a few questions which it seems to me necessary to solve before we separate.

The rehabilitation of silver is desired; that is the desire expressed by all the delegates; but do we wish to rehabilitate silver bullion, silver as a commodity, or silver designed for conversion into money ?

There is a distinction here which it appears to me necessary to point out.  The commodity silver restored, or rehabilitated, would leave the question, as has been remarked, at the very point where it was; the situation would not be altered by bullion selling at 100 d. or 80 d.

If, on the contrary, it is a question of silver to be converted into money, it is necessary first of all to establish whether there can be a money in the real signification of the word, the metal composing which has not unlimited coinage, any more than unlimited paying power.

Restrictions and reservations on this point stand for nothing; there is no middle course between to be and not to be.

If this be the sense in which we mean to rehabilitate silver, it remains to be seen whether the Conference thinks a Bimetallic Union between a group of States, between, for instance, America, the Latin Union, the Netherlands, Spain, &c., would suffice to obviate all the dangers which the monometallic States might create a fear of.  At the last session of our meeting in May, I had the honour of drawing the attention of the Conference to the definition of money, which might, in my view, facilitate our future discussions, and to which our honourable colleague, Mr. Pirmez, was good enough to reply.  «Yes,» he told me, «money is a commodity, but a commodity weighed and verified by the State.»

Let us for a moment accept his definition and see whether, even considering money as a commodity, dangers would be incurred by adopting the double standard.  What is the danger according to monometallists, and according to their definition ?  It is that money, being a commodity, would be liable as such to all the fluctuations of supply and demand, and, therefore, the fixing of a ratio would be impossible, and above all we should incur the risks of a supply which should exceed the demand.  But how can such an eventuality be assumed to be likely when the taxes alone paid to the State make so large and sure a demand ?  How could the demand be lacking when it is already fixed a priori ?  And would not taxes alone give a margin large enough so that no danger need be feared ?

As to the supply, can anybody imagine that it would not be proportioned to the demand ?  If not, would it not be as if a country had no means of paying its taxes ?  Now the demand once certain, just as the supply is certain, what danger, even viewing silver as a commodity, can there be in making it, like gold, a measure of value ?

Whether, therefore, money be viewed as a commodity, or as what it really is, viz., a pure and simple creation of law, no danger appears to arise in trying, once for all, to make silver again money as it always has been.

The crisis, this unhappy crisis, which we are going through, has already lasted too long; it cannot last much longer; there are questions which you may refrain from raising, but which once raised must be solved, and this is one of them.  It is on this account that I ask the Conference, before separating, to consider a few questions which I have the honour of submitting to it.

What, indeed, would be the result of this status quo, were it to last some time longer ?  The States possessing silver would be forced to repeat the experiment of Germany and sell it, not by reason of their being converted to monometallism, but in order to get rid of a commodity which had become useless.  And if France, for instance, who has 1,200 millions of crowns in her bank, decided on utilising this dead mass in some way, and offered 500 or 600 millions for sale; if America, repealing her Bland Bill, entirely stopped the coinage of silver, how would the monometallic States face this immense mass of white metal (let us add Germany’s 600 or 700 millions in thalers), which would hang over them like Damocles’ sword ?  Yet would not these silver States, driven to extremities as they would be, have a right to come to such a resolution ?

The danger is, therefore, great for all, and cannot be warded off by a Platonic declaration like that of 1878.  The Conference must make some declaration on these questions.  A good definition would alone take us a step forward, and urge us to follow up the road still to be traversed.  To refrain, to evade these questions, to separate without saying anything on this subject, would not seem to respond, I say it with all possible respect and deference, to the legitimate expectations excited throughout the world by our meeting.

Before separating, therefore, I should like the Conference to reply to these simple questions :

1.  Is there enough gold for carrying on all the business and all the transactions of the world ?

2.  In view of the necessity of another money besides gold, can that money be other than silver ?

3.  Are unlimited coinage and unlimited legal tender faculty indispensable conditions for forming money ?

4.  Are the essential qualities of money in any way affected by the production of the mines ?

5.  Does the consideration of the price of the metal composing it stand for anything in the question of money ?

6.  Would the suspension of the sale of silver, or a greater use of that metal, if they can contribute to raise its price, be sufficient to justify a re-opening of the mints to the coinage of silver ?

Such, in my opinion, are the six questions on which something should be said before declaring the session closed.

Mr. Pierson, Delegate of the Netherlands, asked, and obtained leave to speak, and expressed himself in these terms :


The communication of the honourable Mr. Fremantle is of the highest importance, but especially from a point of view to which I wish to call your attention.

We learn that the Bank of England, at the instance of the British Government, engages to act upon a clause in the law of 1844, empowering it to have one-fifth of its metallic reserve in silver.  This engagement, however, is not unqualified.  The Bank is inclined to act in this way on condition only of a bimetallic league being formed embracing several great States.

We find the same reservation in Sir Louis Mallet’s speech of the 17th May : «For a certain period,» our honourable colleague then told us, «the Indian Government will undertake to maintain its existing system of the free coinage of silver, but only on condition that a certain number of the principal States of the world undertake, on their part, to maintain for the same period the free coinage of silver, with full paying power in the ratio to gold of 15 ½ to 1.»

Why this reservation ?  Why is not the Bank of England disposed to buy silver bullion unless under the particular circumstances here indicated ?  Why does not the Government urge the Bank to adopt that measure on some other ground than the formation of a bimetallic league ?  You will tell me, gentlemen, that the question is naive, and I admit it.  How can we expect the Bank to buy silver as long as that metal is treated throughout Europe as proscribed, as a pariah ?  It might as well buy sugar, cotton, whatever it pleases; for all merchandise is convertible into gold, silver no more than the rest.  For that metal to enter in a regular way into the metallic stock of the Bank its value must be steady, and this result can never be obtained except by the means indicated.

I repeat, the British Government is right; but observe, gentlemen, what an important declaration it has just made to us from the theoretical standpoint.  The great question which divides us is this : will the adoption of the double standard by a large number of States have the effect of rendering the price of silver stable as expressed in gold ?  We say yes, our opponents say «no; the effect of a bimetallic league will never be such; your principle is unsound; you are going against the nature of things; the ratio of value between gold and silver is regulated by causes with which law has scarcely anything to do.»  Now here is the British Government coming and placing itself on our side, inasmuch as it approves of the Bank taking a measure which, I say this on the strength of experience gained in a practical career, would be the greatest absurdity, would be most prejudicial to the interests of the Bank’s own shareholders, unless the adoption of the double standard had the effect of making the price of silver stable.  People emphatically told us «you are wrong», but they come and make us a declaration which implies «you are right».  They even go further than several of us, for it is well known that certain bimetallists refuse to acknowledge that their system would work well as long as England forms no part of the Bimetallic Union.  The English Government and the Bank are not of this opinion.  They believe that a merely partial league will have the desired result.

This then is what I would say to England : you are friendly, but you are not logical.  If you really believe that the double standard system can make the price of silver stable, why do you refuse us your co-operation ?  If you accord it, the present situation would immediately change from top to bottom.  The Netherlands, as is seen by the declaration I have made, would scarcely hesitate to adopt bimetallism.  France, the United States, and Italy, would be quite disposed to do the same; in short, a union would very soon be formed comprising the most important commercial countries, and I cannot believe that Germany would refuse to form part of it.  You have but to utter a word, and the thing is done.  Others are hesitating only because they are afraid of failing without you.  Look, moreover, at the probable, or at least possible, effects of your refusal.  The countries with the «limping» standard cannot permanently maintain that system, which is contrary to the simplest, the most elementary rule, viz., that the legal value of money should not be above its value as metal.  The United States will not go on coining silver; they will adopt the single gold standard.  Italy will do the same, as also Austria, as soon as she emerges from forced currency.  Do you realise what all this means ?  It means fall of silver, your Indian money, and rise of gold, your home money.  It means entire derangement of prices, monetary confusion, commercial chaos.  We are told in the end order will be re-established.  Indeed, order always ends by being re-established, but is this a reason fur not fearing revolutions ?

There is an English national song which begins thus : «Britannia rules the Waves».  To rule the waves is a thing of the past; it is no longer permitted to any nation to do this.  But there is something far grander, it is to rule men’s minds; to take the lead in a great movement.  You did this by being the first to adopt the free-trade system; crown your work by perfecting the instruments of trade.  The situation is serious.  On you it depends whether the evil assumes enormous proportions, or is entirely removed.

The President proposed that the Conference should adjourn to an early day.  After the important declarations of Italy and England, just communicated to the Conference, it was necessary for the Delegates to have the text of them under their eyes at the earliest moment, and to weigh their bearing upon the ulterior resolutions they might be led to take.  For this purpose, the two declarations of the First Delegate of Italy and the Delegate of Great Britain would be immediately printed and distributed.

In the second place, the President thought it would be well to decide at this next meeting on the temporary or final suspension of the sessions of the Conference.  After such full debates, after such profound discussions which governments and savants had watched with the warmest interest, it was difficult for fresh speeches to throw further light on the question, or to give the deliberations additional éclat.  It, therefore, seemed desirable to decide either on the closing, or on the adjournment, of the Conference.  Such would be the twofold object of the next meeting, which might be fixed for Friday, 8th July.

Mr. Seismit-Doda urged that if a discussion of the declarations was to take place at the next session, that discussion should bear not only on the declarations of Great Britain and Italy, but also on those of the Netherlands and Germany.

The text of these four declarations should, therefore, be simultaneously distributed to all the members of the Conference.

The President remarked that he had had no idea of submitting the declarations to a discussion.  In directing the prompt printing and distribution of these documents he had merely wished to enable the members of the Conference fully to comprehend the bearing of these communications.

Mr. Pirmez, Delegate of Belgium, asked that the next meeting should be fixed for the day following.

After an exchange of observations between Mr. Cernuschi, Mr. Evarts, Mr. Pirmez, and the President, the Conference decided that the next meeting should be held on Friday, the 8th July 1881, at 1 p.m.

Mr. Cernuschi presented a note respecting the coining of silver on private account, and the draft of an international monetary treaty drawn up by him before the meeting of the Conference.

These documents were ordered to be annexed to the Minutes.  (See Appendix B).

Mr. Forssell, Delegate of Sweden, presented the replies of his Government to the questions put by Mr. Broch as to the coinage of gold and silver money in Sweden from 1857 to 1880 (See Appendix C), and by Mr. Lardy as to the industrial use of the precious metals (See Appendix D).  He took this opportunity of informing the Conference that the Swedish promoter of the bimetallic system alluded to by Mr. Cernuschi in his speech at the sixth session was not the Governor of the Bank of Sweden, but the director of a private mortgage bank.

Mr. Lardy handed in some notes on the industrial use of gold in Switzerland. (See Appendix E).

Mr. Dana Horton, Delegate of the United States, presented a note touching certain questions suggested by Count Rusconi concerning the value of money.  (See Appendix F).

The session closed at three o’clock,


Appendix A : Letter from the Governor of the Bank of England to Lord Frederick Cavendish, M.P., Secretary of the Treasury (presented by Mr. Fremantle)

Bank of England, 30 June 1881.

My Lord,

We have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 27th June, in which, by desire of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury, you inform us that Mr. Fremantle has formally submitted to their Lordships the following resolution which has been adopted by the International Monetary Conference assembled at Paris :

«La Conférence exprime le désir que les Gouvernements des differents États représentés dans son sein veuillent bien demander l’avis des principales banques d’émission de chaque pays sur la question monétaire et lui donner communication de leurs réponses.»

Having laid your letter before the Court, we have to inform you that it was felt that «the monetary question» discussed at the Conference, being one partly of abstract science and partly of political application, did not form a legitimate subject for their discussion, or for the delivery of the judgment of the Bank in its corporate capacity.

Under these circumstances, we have to express our regret at our inability to comply with the request of the Conference by placing on record the opinion of the Bank of England in the sense which was apparently present to the minds of the members of it when they passed the resolution.

We have, &c, (signed)    H.  R.  Grenfell.

John S.  Gilliat.
Signed : H. K. GRENFELL



Appendix B : Statement of the Mint certificates delivered to private individuals in exchange for ingots, foreign coin, and other silver bullion delivered by them at the Mints of Paris and Bordeaux on and after 1st January 1874

Year Mint Ingots Foreign coin Plate Total
1874 Paris
Total 53,727,219.62
1875 Paris
45,497,098.40 [1]
Total 58,694,541.67
1876 Paris
Total 32,175,672.81
Total Paris
Total 144,597,434.10

[1]   40,946,917.85 fr., coined on account of the Treasury, are not included in this statement (see Appendix E of the ninth sitting.


The late legislation of the German Empire produced, after 1873, a great afflux of silver in Belgium and France.  The French Mints which, in 1872, had received less than a million of francs worth of silver to coin, received 173 millions worth of it in 1873.

A Ministerial Order, of 6th September 1873, directed that the mintage of silver five franc pieces should henceforth be restricted to 200,000 francs per day in Paris, and to 80,000 francs a day in Bordeaux.  By a second Order (19th November 1873) the mintage was limited to 100,000 francs a day in Paris and 50,000 francs a day in Bordeaux; and by their Order (28th May 1874) it was settled that, on and after 1st January 1875, there should be accepted of silver for coinage no more than 75,000 francs a day at Paris, and 25,000 francs a day at Bordeaux.

The system of limited coinage of silver, with a contingent for each State, was inaugurated in the Latin Union by the Treaty of 31st January 1874, and has been in force since then.

Although limited by the Ministerial Orders, the deliveries of silver bullion for mintage accumulated more and more in the Mints.  To preclude the mintage of a sum greater than the contingent allowed to France, a law was passed (5th August 1876) which ordained that the Mints should be closed to further delivery of silver.

By the Treaty of 5th November 1878, the States of the Latin Union put an end to the system of limited coinage, which cannot be resumed before 1st January 1886, unless by common consent.

What is the profit which private individuals were enabled to realise, after 1st January 1874, on the mintage at par, at 15 ½, of silver which they had bought at a lower price after the suspension of free coinage caused a fall in the value of the ingot ?

Inasmuch as hardly a day passed without the bankers bringing in silver to be coined, the calculation of the profit realised on each delivery would require great labour, which would be of no appreciable use.

It is, however, to be remarked, that the profits in question were lessened by the loss of interest which the bankers were obliged to bear, in consequence of the limitation, and of the delay in minting.  In exchange for the metal which they brought, the bankers received Mint Certificates, payable at distant dates.  The Mint Certificates delivered at the beginning of January 1874 were at six months.  Those delivered afterwards were payable at dates further and further removed.  The last certificates, issued in July 1876, were not due till December 1878.

The Bank of France abstained; no silver at all was coined on its account.


Silver coined by the French Mints for the Colonies and for other countries, from 1st January 1874 to 1st January 1881


Silver pieces of 50, 20 and 10 hunderdths of a piastre  

200,000 piastres

Pieces of
5 francs
1 drachme
50 lepta
20 lepta
15,462,865.00 francs
    4,944,376.90 4,944,376.90 francs
      20,407,241.90 francs
Pieces of
1 piastre at 900 ‰
50 centesimos at 900 ‰
20 centesimos at 900 ‰
10 centesimos at 900 ‰
       5,616,000.50 francs
Pieces of
1 venezolano at 900 ‰
5 decimos at 835 ‰
2 decimos at 835 ‰
1 decimo at 835 ‰
5 centavos at 835 ‰
      3,178,273.00 francs


Draft of an International Bimetallic Treaty (presented by Mr. Cernuschi)

On the 7th February the French Government received from the United States Government an assurance that it was disposed to take immediate action for convening an international conference, taking as a basis the essential ideas of the project which had been transmitted to the Department of State.

This project, drawn up by M. Cernuschi, had been forwarded from Paris on the 7th January, but without the preamble which he has since added.  The test is as follows :

1.  Whereas bimetallism, or the monetary system which consists in simultaneously coining any quantity of gold and silver on the footing of a legal ratio between the weight of the monetary unit in gold and the weight of the same unit in silver, had always been practised, and that only since a few years has it ceased to operate in any part of the world.

2.  Whereas, during nearly a century the principal Continental mints have coined at the legal ratio of 15 ½ all the gold and silver presented for coinage, whereby alone, whatever the vicissitudes in the production of gold and the production of silver, the relative value of the two metals was necessarily fixed in the entire world at the par of 15 ½; nobody in any country agreeing to part with either gold or silver at a less advantageous ratio than that which it was known could be realised in Europe at the mints which were bound at the rate of 15 ½ to convert into coin, having legal currency without limit of amount, all the metal they were asked to coin.

3.  Whereas, by this universal par of value between gold and silver, the monetary material of the entire world formed a single mass as homogeneous as if it had been composed of a single metal, but with this evident and very important superiority, that its paying power was much more stable than would have been the paying power of gold disjoined from silver, or of silver disjoined from gold; and this because the greater or less stability of that paying power depends on the greater or less regularity of monetary production, because the production of gold is very irregular, also that of silver, while the joint production of the two metals valued at the legal ratio is quite sufficiently regular.

4.  Whereas the above-mentioned universal par between the value of the two metals was of the greatest service to countries subject to monometallism, such as gold monometallic England and silver monometallic India, which countries, owing to that par, could mutually settle their pecuniary dealings with almost as much facility and certainty as if they had one and the same metal as common money.

5.  Whereas, as soon as silver was no longer freely admitted to coinage by the States which had previously been bimetallic, the universal par of value between the two metals necessarily disappeared; and inasmuch as, through that disappearance, the bimetallic and homogeneous material possessed by the world was decomposed into two monometallic materials heterogeneous to each other – the material gold, the sole metal admitted to free coinage in Europe and America, and the material silver, the sole monetary metal in Asia – a twofold monometallism, which has rendered the commercial and financial relations between the two halves of the world almost as complicated and hazardous as if the exchanges between them were made by barter.

6.  Whereas, moreover, the States of the Continent of Europe and the United States of America, while admitting gold alone to free coinage, are encumbered with coined silver, and the silver coins of one country cannot be converted into money in other countries, except in Asia, and then undergo all the loss resulting from the difference between the ratio at which such silver has been coined with regard to gold, and the much smaller proportion of gold realised on disposing of silver for an Asiatic market now that the universal par no longer exists, a proportion which would become smaller and smaller if the offers for sale of silver happened to be resumed and continued.

7.  Whereas it is, in fact, impossible to withdraw from circulation and get rid of the coined silver, not only because of the terrible fall which the Asiatic exchange would experience, and of the enormous losses which would have to be borne, but also because of the immense void such withdrawal would leave behind it; a monetary void which could not be filled either with the present gold, which has already its use, or with the future gold, which has not yet issued from the mines.

8.  Whereas, in short, the monetary chaos is general, and that chaos, extremely prejudicial to the interests of all nations, without a single exception, is solely attributable to monetary laws now in force in Europe and the United States, and cannot be put an end to except by reverting to bimetallism.

9.  And whereas such reversion to bimetallism and the adoption of the ratio 15 ½ by a preponderating group of nations would have the immediate effect of re-establishing, on a very solid basis, the old universal par of value between the two metals, of enabling Europe, without any loss, to employ its old silver pieces in paying America, and, reciprocally, of enabling the United States, when their balance of trade allows it, to pay Europe with silver from their mines, and, lastly, of making silver a universal money, while retaining gold on a footing of 15 ½ as European and American money.

Now, therefore, actuated by all these considerations, the American, French, &c., delegates have resolved, by common accord, to submit to the ratification of their respective Governments the following Convention :


Article I. – The United States of America, the French Republic, &c., form themselves into a Bimetallic Union on the terms and conditions hereinafter stipulated.

II. – The members of the Union shall admit gold and silver to mintage without any limitation of quantity, and shall adopt the ratio of 1 to 15 ½ between the weight of pure metal contained in the monetary unit in gold, and the weight of pure metal contained in the same unit in silver.

III. – On condition of this ratio of 1 to 15 ½ being always observed, each State shall remain free to preserve its monetary types : dollar, franc, pound sterling, mark, or to change them.

IV. – Any person shall be entitled to take any quantity of gold or silver, either in ingots or in foreign coins, to the Mints of any member of the Union for the purpose of getting it back in the shape of coin bearing the State mark; the mintage shall be gratuitous to the public; each member of the Union shall bear the expense of its mintage.

V. – The Mints of each State shall be bound to coin the metal brought by the public as speedily as possible, and at the aforesaid ratio of 1 to 15 ½ between gold specie and silver specie; the coin thus manufactured shall be delivered to the person who shall have brought the metal, or to his assigns; if the person bringing gold or silver requests immediate payment of the sum which would accrue to him after the interval of mintage, that payment shall be made to him subject to a deduction which shall not exceed two per mille; the sum shall be handed over, at the option of the paying party, in coin, or in notes convertible at sight into metallic money.

VI. – The gold and silver money shall alike be legal tender to any amount in the State which shall have manufactured them.

VII. – In each State the Government shall continue to issue as a monopoly its small change or tokens; it shall determine their quantity or quality, and shall fix the amount, above which no person shall be bound to receive them in payment.

VIII. – The fact of issuing, or allowing to be issued, paper money, convertible or otherwise, shall not relieve the State issuing it, or allowing it to be issued, from the above stipulated obligation of keeping its Mints always open for the free mintage of the two metals at the rate of 1 to 15 ½.

IX. – Gold and silver, whether in ingots or in coin, shall be subject to no Customs duty, either on importation or exportation.

X. – The reception of silver shall commence at the same date in all the Mints of the Union.

XI.  The present Convention shall remain in force till the 1st of January 1900.  If a year before that date notice of its abrogation has not been given, it shall of full right be prolonged by tacit renewal till the 1st January 1910, and so on by periods of ten years until such notice of abrogation shall have been given a year prior to the expiration of the current decennial period; it being, however, understood that notice of abrogation given by States having in Europe less than twenty millions of inhabitants, or subject to the inconvertible paper money system, while releasing those States, shall not prevent or interfere with the decennial tacit renewal of the present Convention between the other members of the Union.


Appendix C : Gold coins brought for exchange at the Stockholm Mint


Denomiation 1874 1876 1877 1879 Total
gross pure gross pure gross pure gross pure gross pure
7,100 carolins
200 Swedish ducats
2,000 sovereigns
21 Russian halfimperials







Totals 10.319 9.287 13.270 11.996 15.953 14.621 0.137 0.126 39.679 36.030

Silver coins brought for exchange at the Stockholm Mint


Denomination 1874 1875 1876 1877
gross pure gross pure gross pure gross pure
1, and species
1/6 species
1/12 species
1/24 species

1 species, 4 and 2 rd. rmt.
1 rd. rmt.
50 öre rmt.
25 öre rmt.
12 ½ öre rmt.
10 öre rmt.

Russian coins













Totaux 1,464.691 821.880 18,419.312 14,290.488 12,069.313 9,043.898 9,109.125 6,822.231

Silver coins brought for exchange at the Stockholm Mint  –  Continued


Denomination 1878 1880 Total
gross pure gross pure gross pure
1, and species
1/6 species
1/12 species
1/24 species

1 species, 4 and 2 rd. rmt.
1 rd. rmt.
50 öre rmt.
25 öre rmt.
12 ½ öre rmt.
10 öre rmt.

Russian coins












Totals 2,045.622 1,579,189 18,419.312 8,162.584 12,069.313 40,720.270




Appendix D : Gold articles manufactured in or imported into Sweden, according to the tables of the Board of Registration


Years Manufactured at Stockholm Imported Manufactured outside of Stockholm Total


Silver articles manufactured in or imported into Sweden, according to the tables of the Board of Registration


Years Manufactured at Stockholm Imported Manufactured outside of Stockholm Total



Appendix E : Notes on the industrial consumption of the precious metals, and especially of gold in the Swiss Confederation (presented by Mr. Lardy)

Until the present year Switzerland has had no uniform law for the registration of the use of gold and silver in manufactures.  The absence of obligatory registration of articles, into the formation of which the precious metals enter, renders it difficult to obtain information concerning their use.  The following is a résumé of information gathered from the Cantonal authorities, and from the banking houses, which have been consulted in view of their special competence :

I.  Geneva. – There are in this city large refining establishments, and the bankers there provide the manufacturers with considerable quantities of coined metal.

One of the principal establishments delivered, in 1880, 7,573 kilograms of gold, of which 7,000 were intended for Switzerland, but this gold contained every degree of alloy; on the other hand, this establishment brought back from the manufacturers about 3,000 kilograms of remnants and waste, belonging to Switzerland; there remain, therefore, 7,000 - 3,000 = 4,000 kilograms as the total rate of this establishment in Switzerland. This same refinery gives 3,000 kilograms as an estimate of the production of its competitors; admitting that it has not given figures which are too low, the industrial consumption of gold at Geneva would reach the sum of 7,000 kilograms; but a higher figure, varying between 7,000 and 8,000 kilograms, is generally conceded to be correct.  This would represent a value of about 21 million francs.

One of the principal banking houses of Geneva estimates, at two million francs per year, the consumption of napoleons directly melted down by the manufacturers, at two million francs the purchases of gold and silver bullion by manufacturers, together with the specie delivered by the bankers (Turkish livres, sovereigns, &c.), and at two millions the jewellery melted down and importations from other sources.

It is, therefore, necessary to add six millions (2+2+2) to the above total of 21 million francs, so that the industries of Geneva alone appear to absorb 27 millions of francs yearly.  It is proper to observe, however, that there is to a certain extent a double use, arising from the fact that Geneva sends gold to the manufacturers of Neuchâtel.  Notice will be taken of this at the end of Section II.

II.  Neuchâtel. – According to a communication of Dr. Hirsch, the learned Director of; the Observatory of Neuchâtel, and Secretary of the International Committee of Weights and Measures, the maximum of gold employed yearly in all watch making industry in Switzerland should be placed at 15 million francs, and the maximum consumption of the whole world for the same purpose at 30 million francs.  At Neuchâtel the invariable habit of the watchmakers is to confine themselves to melting down coined money.  A result of this practice has been that Switzerland has suffered under peculiar monetary difficulties, and she was forced, about 1860, to reduce the fineness of her silver coin to .800.

According to the indications given by Mr. Comtesse, Councillor of State, and Chief of the Interior Department, under whose direction the Offices of Registration in Neuchâtel were placed, one-half at least of the gold and silver watches are not reported at the office; as for those which are reported, they vary indefinitely in their fineness, from 2 to 18 carats, without, however, being subject to any ascertainment of these differences, each article being taxed by the piece, and not by weight or by value.

Making use of the indications given by the Offices of Registration, and of the estimates made by the principal bankers, the Department of the Interior of the State of Neuchâtel feels itself justified in presenting the following figures as an approximation :


Neuchâtel-Ville or 60,000 francs argent 300,000 francs
Fleurier or 800,000 francs argent 200,000 francs
Lock et Chaux-de-Fonds or 14 ou 15 millions de francs argent 2 à 3 millions de francs

The Canton of Neuchâtel, according to this, would absorb annually 15 to 16 million francs of gold, and 2 ½ to 3 millions of silver.

According to the estimates given by the various important banking houses of Neuchâtel and Chaux-de-Fonds, there would be ground for cutting down these figures to 12 millions for gold, and to two millions for silver, inasmuch as a part of the metal comes from Geneva and has already been included in preceding calculations relating to that Canton.

III.  Other Parts of Switzerland. – It has been impossible to obtain precise data concerning the consumption of gold in the other Swiss Cantons. It must be unimportant compared with Geneva and Neuchâtel; the watch making industry in the Bernese Jura produces but few gold watches.

IV.  Résumé. – At Geneva the industrial consumption of gold appears to be 27 million of francs, and at Neuchâtel 16 millions, from which there is good ground for deducting three or four millions, as being counted twice over.  We then arrive at a total of about 27 + 12 = 39 millions of francs for Geneva and Neuchâtel; and it appears, therefore, that we can consider the round number of 40 million francs as representing, without exaggeration, the industrial consumption of gold in the Swiss Confederation.

At the same time, in the absence of authentic information, the above figures are only given with all reservations.



Appendix F : Note on the two extremes of opinion concerning the cause of the value of money (presented by Mr. Dana Horton)

Explanations of the value of money divide themselves naturally into two categories : the extremity of which on the one side is presented in the formula, the Law is supreme; on the other in the formula; Commerce is supreme.

The first of these two theories is the theory of the fiat, of the supreme efficacy of the command of law, better known perhaps as the theory of the advocates of paper money.

The second is the magisterial theory of the orthodox dogmatic economic science of other days; or in other words the free trade or laisser-faire theory, dragged forcibly out of its proper place and wrongfully applied to money.

The Fiat Theory.

The best exposition within my knowledge of the fiat theory is that made by a Russian author of the last century, Iwan Possoschkow, a reformer of the time of Peter the Great.  Neither the assignats nor the mandats in France, nor irredeemable bank notes in England, nor greenbacks in the United States, have inspired so complete a scientific expression of the doctrine as did the copper money of Russia in the days of Peter the Great.

«The foreigners,» says Possoschkow, «estimate their foreign money according to the quantity of the metal it contains, and not according to the power of the monarch who issues it.  They have a rate of relative value for silver and copper.  But we honour our monarch as God, and we hold his dignity in honour, and most zealously obey his will.  On whatever thing we see the name of his Imperial Majesty, that thing we estimate highly. […] In coining money, men must not do as the foreigners do, and consider the amount of copper, but consider only the will of his Imperial Majesty.  We are no foreigners; it is not the copper that is valuable to us; it is the name of our Czar.  We do not look at the weight of the money, but upon the inscription.»

He objects to the foreigners that they «come into our country, test the value of our money, and then raise the price of all their goods.»

«Such prices,» he says, «are the fruit of their insolence.»  Without any good reason, they have raised the price of all their wares, and have grossly offended us by so doing.  Their self-will is responsible for it.

To be sure, they give as a reason for the rise of prices, our money, about which they have nothing to do.

If our coins come into their country, they might, for all I care, let our kopeks count only for half a kopek; that is their affair; it is their country, and their will.

But among us they have no power; with us, our monarch has all power.

Among the foreigners, kings have less power than the people; there the kings cannot accomplish anything out of their own sovereignty; but their subjects are all-powerful, and especially the merchants.

We have here the command of the law raised to its highest power; the omnipotence of the law alone, and of a single law.

Theory of Free Trade applied to Money.

I dreamed that I was in the pattern country of free trade.  It was not Belgium; but it ought to be very near it if we may rely upon the theories of the spiritual representative.

In the matter of money, there was no regulation or interference on the part of the State.  The law did not trouble itself with the question what object should be used as the equivalent and evaluator of commodities and of services; it was commerce which settled everything.

Taxes were paid, but people gave whatever they chose.  The Government also paid the salaries of its members with all sorts of things which it wished to be rid of.  One month it gave old cannon; another month, hunting permits in the forests of the State.  On the other hand, one could pay for postage stamps with dynamite if he wished.  For those who were condemned or adjudged by the Courts to pay fines or damages the system was notably convenient; they gave things of which they had no need, the law having nothing to say in presence of this natural course of events.

For an official appraisement, or in the winding-up of an estate, it might perhaps be loads of wood, or barrels of whale-oil that served as the measure, the instrument of valuation.  Complete liberty of contract was, however, observed; only the modes of enforcing contracts left much to be desired.  The recalcitrant debtor could be cited before the Courts; but inasmuch as, if he were adjudged to pay damages, he had entire freedom of choosing the means of payment, it was simpler to compromise than to go to law.  It sometimes happened, therefore, that a bill of exchange expressed in weights of the precious metals was paid with building-stone, or a mortgage of similar tenor was paid off with gravel.

The truth must lie between these two extremes; between the impotence of all laws, even the wisest, and the omnipotence of a single law, however unwise it may be; Media tutissimus ibis.  It is this central position which is occupied by the doctrine of bimetallists.

It is a curious fact that those who to-day place themselves at one of these two extremes of opinion concerning the cause of the value of money, and who, if they were consistent and logical, ought to undertake to call into real existence their ideal world of free trade in money, accuse the bimetallists who occupy the centre of monetary doctrine, of taking this stand at the opposite extreme, of being really fiat men; an accusation which, by the way, is not merely false but at the same time an anachronism.

Inasmuch, however, as this confusion of ideas contributes largely to the slowness with which Europe is being converted to the monetary reform proposed in 1878 by the United States, it may not be without use to mark the contrast offered by the development of opinion concerning the cause of the value of money on the two continents respectively.

Happily, perhaps for herself, Europe in general has not been, like the United States, the theatre of a long political struggle, in which the monetary question has occupied the centre of the field.  In Europe for many years men, eminent in political life, have had better things to do than to discuss the theory of money.  But with us in America, it was otherwise; the civil war between the rebels and the nation lasted but four years; but the monetary war has already lasted 19 years, paper against metal, gold against silver, and the end is not yet.  The United States is a country, therefore, in which, in the midst of a civil war, the law replaced a money (gold and silver) guaranteed by all the monetary laws of which the history of the human race has recorded the existence, with a money guaranteed by a law of the United States alone; and when at the close of long political struggle it was at length possible to decree the replacement of this national, by the international, money it was ascertained that, in the interval, while this discussion had been going on, a legal revolution in several nations had disorganised this very system of international money to which it was proposed to return.  In such a country the question of the cause of the value of money was naturally in permanence the order of the day; and there was no possibility of remaining an optimist in favour of maintaining the status quo of the best of all possible worlds; it was necessary to take sides; it was imperative to decide between the fiat-money man who desired to retain and to augment the paper money, and the free trade theorician who thought that paper could be replaced with gold at one stroke.

Hence the question of the cause of the value of money was ripe in the United States earlier than in Europe. [This analysis of the theory of free trade in money, and of Iwan Possoschkow, was made in 1870.  (See «Silver and Gold», pages 169-174.)]





Mr. Magnin presided

There were present the Delegates of Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, British India, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, the United States of America and France, who were present at the previous meeting.

The session was opened at 1.30 p.m.  The Minutes of the previous meeting were read and adopted.

Mr. Dumas laid on the table, as supplementing the information already communicated to the Conference respecting the industrial use of gold and silver, a return of the deliveries made to the Paris trade by one of the principal refining firms of Paris during the nine years 1872–1880.  (See Appendix A).

Mr. Dumas remarked that, according to this table, the average deliveries to the Paris trade were about 24,000 kilogrammes of silver and 465 kilogrammes of gold.  Assuming that the operations of the other Paris refiners came to half those of this firm, an average was arrived at of 36,000 kilogrammes of silver and nearly 700 kilogrammes of gold, worth 7,255,000 francs, at 200 francs per kilogramme for silver, and 2,370,000 francs, at 3,400 francs per kilogramme for gold.  This average, moreover, must be considered a minimum.  Indeed, the figures for the year 1872, which was included in the estimate, were exceptionally small; from various causes it represented for pure silver a consumption of only 13,000 kilogrammes, whereas the normal consumption varied between 16,000 kilogrammes and 20,000 kilogrammes, and the average was thus materially reduced.  It must not, moreover, be lost sight of, that the figures just indicated were necessarily incomplete, for outside Paris, in the provinces, there existed, especially at Lyon and Besançon, very important centres for refining and for consumption; and the industries of these cities used quantities of the precious metals, the amounts of which could not, for the present, be accurately calculated.

Mr. Evarts, on behalf of the Delegates of France and the United States of America, read the following declaration :

«The Delegates of France and of the United States, in the name of their respective governments, make the following declarations :

«1.  The depreciation and great fluctuations in the value of silver relatively to gold, which of late years have shown themselves, and which continue to exist, have been and are injurious to commerce and to the general prosperity, and the establishment and maintenance of a fixed relation of value between silver and gold would produce most important benefits to the commerce of the world.

«2.  A convention entered into by an important group of States by which they should agree to open their mints to free and unlimited coinage of both silver and gold at a fixed proportion of weight between the gold and silver contained in the monetary unit of each metal, and with full legal tender faculty to the money thus issued, would cause and maintain a stability in the relative value of the two metals suitable to the interests and the requirements of the commerce of the world.

«3.  Any ratio now or of late in use by any commercial nation, if adopted by such important group of States, could be maintained, but the adoption of the ratio of 15 ½ to 1 would accomplish the principal object with less disturbance in the monetary systems to be affected by it than any other ratio.

«4.  Without considering the effect which might be produced towards the desired object by a lesser combination of States, a convention which should include England, France, Germany, and the United States, with the concurrence of other States both in Europe and on the American Continent, which this combination would assure, would be adequate to produce and maintain throughout the commercial world the relation between the two metals that such Convention should adopt.»

The President then communicated to the Conference a French translation of this declaration.

The President informed the Conference that since the last session a considerable number of delegates of the invited Powers had, in private conversations, expressed a desire to see the Conference suspend its labours, and adjourn to some later date.  The President deemed it right to inform the Conference of this desire, begging that the question be examined and discussed.  In the event of its being favourably entertained, the delegates of France and of the United States would have the honour of submitting to their colleagues the draft of an explanatory resolution suspending the sessions of the Conference for a length of time, which would then have to be determined.

Mr. Forssell, Delegate of Sweden, asked leave to speak, and expressed himself in these terms :

Mr. President and Gentlemen,

I am opposed to the proposal for an adjournment to a later date.  My reasons are as follows : In the first place, I ask you, gentlemen, whether it would not be a little exceeding diplomatic decorum thus by repeated adjournments, and without taking the opinion of our respective governments, to give a certain permanence to our meetings.  For my own part, at least, I cannot share in it, except under the reservation of the entire freedom of action of my government, and as there are governments infinitely more interested in the question than mine, I presume the majority of my colleagues would do the same, which would convert the nominal adjournment into a real separation.  For what would this adjournment really signify ?  Should it be inferred that we lack either sufficient information to enable us to judge of the monetary situation, or official declarations, precise enough to enable us to judge of what I may call the political situation ?  Not at all.  As regards information, we have already received from nearly all the delegates explicit replies on questions of detail; what still remains to be finished is that investigation into the state and movement of the prices of commodities which is, however, of a more theoretical than practical nature, and is matter for a commission of inquiry rather than a Conference.

As to declarations, we heard the day before yesterday that of the delegate of the Netherlands intimating that the Netherlands Government would not hesitate to propose the free and unlimited coinage of silver as soon as the double standard system should have been re-established in an area including all the great States of Europe and America, but that that Government could not engage to act thus if this system be established only in a more limited area; then that of the Italian Government assuring us that Italy could not enter on the path of the free and unlimited coinage of silver if Germany and England, or one of them, should not unreservedly adhere to it.  These declarations are quite clear, and leave no doubt respecting the conditions of the adoption of the bimetallic system by these two States.

Next comes France, whose most advanced bimetallist delegate held, at our fifth session, bold language concerning a bimetallism possible, even with two great Powers, «même à deux.»  Mr. Cernuschi assured us that the bimetallic union would be supreme in the world, even although it comprised only the United States and France.  It was this bipartite convention which the liberal propositions of England and Germany suggested to the two Powers.  We might, therefore, have regarded this declaration by Mr. Cernuschi as a proposition for an agreement between France and the United States alone for the free and unlimited coinage of silver.  Happily one of the delegates of the United States has recently disillusionised us as to this bipartite agreement.  Mr. Thurman, speaking at our tenth session of the proposition that the United States and France alone, or with the chief States of the Latin Union, should open their mints to the free and unlimited coinage of silver, plainly told us, as regards his government, that a treaty of this kind could not be accepted by the United States.  The Americans, he says, do not desire an arrangement which might have the effect of diminishing the quantity of gold in the United States; and as for the propositions which were made in our last session by Germany and England, pointing at this bipartite union between France and the United States, he assures us that, although he recognises their importance, they are very far from responding to the exigencies of the occasion, and have no chance of being favourably received.

This firm and clear language is sufficient to convince us that this bipartite bimetallism is quite as impracticable as individual bimetallism, and that, consequently, the only practical bimetallism is that of all the world, which necessarily implies the adhesion of Germany and England.

We therefore adjourned six weeks ago, in order to give rise, if possible, to a modification of these declarations of the two States, hitherto apparently insufficient.  We came back, and the delegate of Germany told us at our tenth session that he had nothing to add to the declaration of our second session.  The delegate of Great Britain the day before yesterday communicated nothing, absolutely nothing, to us on the part of his Government, and on the part of the Bank of England, he announced, what we knew before, that it is free to buy a certain quantity of silver; this is all.  We still remain in a very singular position, in which everybody is pressing for a bimetallic union, but on condition of its being joined by England and Germany, who do not accept the invitation, while, on their side, England and Germany invite you to adopt this bimetallism à deux, which you all reject, except Mr. Cernuschi.

In such circumstances what would the proposed adjournment really signify ?  Nothing – except perhaps a hope of getting the United States Government to change its mind as to bipartite bimetallism, or the German and English Governments to change their minds as to universal bimetallism.  No doubt the delegates of these Governments would, by their assent to the adjournment, give a support to that hope which, however, has really very little foundation.

Would it not be better at once to acknowledge the fact that the projects of bimetallism, failing the adhesion of certain States, have collapsed ?  And as in point of fact the present situation is scarcely different from that which dictated the resolutions of the last Monetary Conference, the difference consisting in the declarations of Germany and England, who evince their desire to avoid any forcible and sudden alteration in their monetary systems, it seems to me that it would be proper for the Conference, in concluding its labours, to declare its adhesion to the opinions enunciated by the Monetary Conference of 1878, on the necessity of maintaining the monetary function of silver as of gold.

Baron von Thielmann, First Delegate of Germany, thought that in view of the divergences of opinions revealed by Mr. Forssell’s speech, it would be somewhat difficult to discuss the proposition for adjournment without knowing its terms.  He should therefore deem it well if the French and American delegates would be good enough to communicate to the Conference a draft of an explanatory resolution.

After some observations to the same effect from Mr. Denormandie, the session, on the proposal of the President, was suspended for 20 minutes.

On resuming, the President read the following draft resolutions :

«The Conference, considering that in the course of its two sessions it has heard the speeches, declarations, and observations of the delegates of the States hereafter enumerated :

«Germany, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, the United States, France, Great Britain, British India, Canada, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland,

«Considering that the declarations made by several of the delegates have been in the name of their governments;

«That these declarations all admit the expediency of taking various measures in concert, under reservation of the entire freedom of action of the different governments;

«That there is ground for believing that an understanding may be established between the States which have taken part in the Conference;

«But that it is expedient to suspend its meetings;

«That, in fact, the monetary situation may, as regards some States, call for the intervention of their Governments, and that there is reason for giving an opportunity at present for diplomatic negotiations;

«Adjourns to Wednesday, 12th April 1882.»

Mr. Denormandie, Delegate of France, next rose to speak, and expressed himself in these terms :


You have before you a proposition for a prorogation of the Conference.  The two Governments of the United States and France concur in that proposition, and they have consequently drawn up a formula which has just been read to you by the President and the object of which is to sanction this prorogation.

The proposition thus made to you calls for a few explanations; in the first place, out of deference to all of you, and also as especially decorous towards our honourable colleague, who has lately given expression, to a different opinion, and to whom we are bound to give a reply.  It is under the influence of this twofold feeling that, on behalf of the delegates of the two Governments of the United States and France, I ask you kindly to listen to me for a few moments.  I will be as short as possible.

We cannot disguise from ourselves that the observations just now submitted to you tend to nothing less than to establish, at least virtually, that nothing has been done here but an imperfect, useless, and empty work.

Now that is a sentiment which it is painful to hear expressed, and whatever decision you may presently take, even though you should not decide in favour of a prorogation of the Conference, it would not, I think, be possible for us to separate without affirming that this has been a mistaken judgment on the part of our honourable colleague, that the Conference has steadily progressed towards a tangible and useful end, and that, within the measure of possibilities, it has certainly attained it.  Each day has its work.  There are problems which it is impossible to solve at once.

The first question, gentlemen, which presented itself was assuredly whether you had the qualifications and competency for assembling to study in common a problem of general interest, to solve it, and to carry out your decision.  I am aware that this question was not expressly raised.  I am aware that only after several days’ sessions was it alluded to in one of his striking speeches by our eminent and esteemed colleague, Mr. Pirmez.  But what I may assume is, that at the outset some of you must have put it to yourselves.  Well, gentlemen, it has been solved; it has not been solved here; it has not been solved by a vote, but it was virtually solved on the day when the governments to whom France and the United States addressed themselves decided upon responding to that appeal, on delegating and sending you here, and this not merely, allow me to say, from a sentiment of courtesy and deference of governments towards each other, but evidently with the seriously conceived idea of doing something.  Do not exaggerate my idea, or my language.  I know quite well that some of you came here with restricted instructions; that reservations have been made of which official notice was taken.  I am quite aware that in one country there may exist old traditions worthy of respect, that in another a monetary reform has been effected which may not leave complete freedom of action.  But by the side of these great questions of principle, reserved by the instructions which you have received, and by your attitude in this assembly, it is certain that the governments which sent you, well understanding the general interest, thought they did so to some purpose; if not a purpose which it was possible immediately to attain, at least a probable purpose, and with a view to a work which some day or other might be accomplished.  You consequently had qualifications and competency for coming here and for co-operating in the common work.

This is a very important point, and in thus reverting to the past, I attach, for my part, considerable interest to establishing it, in order to give due weight, were it necessary, to the work, whatever it is, and we will consider it in a moment, which you have up to to-day accomplished.  I attach considerable interest to it as regards the work which you will perhaps accomplish, as we must hope, when you re-assemble.

The examination I have just made had especially the object of bringing out what I may call the first useful result of the initiative taken by our governments, namely, the favourable reply to the invitation, the question of utility examined and virtually settled by all the governments, your arrival here, the formation of this great council, of this high court, the common elaboration of all the questions, all implying, in the highest degree, the consciousness of a task which was useful, which might lead to effective legislative action.

Having said this, gentlemen, I wish to bring out another very considerable result of the labours of the Conference, namely, that be it through declarations or in speeches, you have all acknowledged that we were confronted by a deplorable situation; that there were sufferings, that the monetary position of the world was very grievous, that silver was in discredit, that it had ceased to have an international circulation and legal tender faculty, and that whatever the individual sentiment on the question of principle, there was something to be done.

This means a great deal, gentlemen; even if the Conference had had no other result, this alone would be an important result.

I have said that everybody made this declaration, but it had more interest in some cases than in others.  It was well known, indeed, that a certain number of governments among those represented here were bimetallists; the tenets on that liead of a certain number of our colleagues were known, I shall therefore make no comment as regards them; but what it is interesting and useful to note is the loyalty, the frankness, with which those of you who are monometallists, and I profoundly respect their opinion, as is always a duty towards opponents, have acknowledged that there was something to be done.  If I were not afraid, gentlemen, of trespassing on your time, and if you would kindly allow me a few moments more, I would place before you the various expressions of feeling and opinion which have the greatest weight, especially when we consider by whom they were enunciated.

On the 5th of May the first delegate of the German Empire made this declaration :

«While thus considering the monetary situation of Germany as firmly established, we in no way overlook the bearing of the fall of silver which has since happened.

«We acknowledge, without reserve, that a rehabilitation of silver is to be desired, and that it might be arrived at by the re-establishment of the free coinage of silver in a certain number of the most populous States represented at this Conference, who for this purpose would take as the basis a fixed ratio between the value of gold and that of silver.»

Baron Thielmann made his reservations concerning the system and the monetary reform of his country, as he had a right to do, but at the same time with a good will for which we are grateful to him, and with great candour he admitted there was something to be done.

The delegate of British India at the same session said :

«Although the Secretary of State as well as the Council of India do not think they can cherish the hope in existing circumstances of any radical reform in the monetary system of India, they are ready to take into consideration any measures the introduction of which, into India might be suggested, in order to re-establish the value of silver.»

The representative of Austria-Hungary made this declaration :

«Our sympathy is ensured for any measure which should be adopted with the view of improving or restoring as far as possible the position of the white metal.

«We therefore willingly hope that, the Conference will not definitely separate without having adopted some remedy to obviate the inconveniences of the existing monetary situation which, in our view, is serious from more than one standpoint.»

And the representative of Switzerland at the same session said :

«The Federal Council has sent delegates to the Conference solely because it considers this Conference as having only a preliminary character, and as having for its sole task the investigation of the bases on which an acceptable treaty might be constructed.»

We have sought for those bases, we have brought them together, and we have thus responded to the special idea of one of our honourable colleagues.  An accord may be usefully sought for between the different governments, and this is why in the text of the draft resolution just communicated to you by the President allusion is made to communications which the various governments, in presence of all the elements of information and of all the documents for which we are indebted to the labours of the Conference, may now usefully exchange through the channels of diplomacy.

The honourable delegate of Norway is assuredly beyond suspicion; he is one of the most weighty and dangerous representatives of the system which we combat, dangerous by his experience and science, dangerous by the weight of his character.  Well, gentlemen, he has said to us :

«In short, there is unquestionably a great interest, not in rehabilitating silver, which seems to me impossible, but at least in obstructing its fall.  The true means, however, of succeeding is not arbitrarily to raise the value of that metal in Europe and America, it is to encourage its use in the Oriental countries which still prefer it, in that vast Chinese Empire scarcely opened up to Europe, in that immense African continent now attacked on all sides, where trade is still carried on only under the primitive form of barter, but where it would doubtless be easy to introduce the use of silver money.  In order that the metal may recover from its present discredit.»

I do not give the whole quotation; the Conference well remembers the words of the delegate of Norway; he added, «the production of gold is still half a milliard of francs per annum.»  No doubt, gentlemen, these declarations of our honourable colleague do not contain anything so explicit as the other quotations I have already put before the Conference, yet he acknowledges in a general way that something must be done, that silver is in a situation which demands a remedy; and I am not sorry to seize in passing this avowal, «the production of gold is still half a milliard per annum,» which implies that, in Mr. Broch’s own mind, the production of gold has sensibly diminished for a certain number of years.

Mr. Pirmez, in the name of Belgium, rose to speak on the 7th May, and made the first of his addresses, for we have had the pleasure, always very great, of hearing him several times.

It is important, he said, «to establish that the existing situation which, without doubt, is not perfect, contains neither the evils which have been portrayed, nor the dangers with which Europe has been threatened …

«It is certain that on the payment of the tributes received by the Indian Government from the native princes, and which are fixed at a certain number of rupees, England undergoes a certain loss, inasmuch as she receives a uniform sum, the real value of which has diminished through the fall of the rate of silver …

«There is little to be said of the States subject to the paper money system.  It is evident that for these Powers the financial question controls the monetary question.  It is also certain that, considering only the financial standpoint, they might find an advantage in adopting the silver standard, inasmuch as it would furnish them a very legitimate means of discharging their debts at the smallest possible cost.»

The representative of Russia, on the 6th May 1881, said :

«To deny the dearth of gold is almost denying daylight, and this dearth will probably increase, for from the monetary point of view, the eventuality of the resumption of specie payments by Italy, by Austria-Hungary, and by Russia, threatens Europe with a great danger.

«It can be warded off only by returning, at least partially, to the use of silver, which has too suddenly been dispensed with, and which has taken its revenge on us.»

The delegate of the Swiss Confederation, on the 10th May said :

«There remains the second point on which I proposed to say a few words, viz., the stock of coined silver existing in the Latin Union.  I admit that this is more serious – remark gentlemen that these are all our opponents who speak thus – and that there are here inconveniences for the present, and elements of danger for the future …  I think it behoves us to seek a remedy for this state of things.»

On the 17th May the Honourable Mr. Fremantle, delegate of England, declared that his Government would not fail to take into very serious consideration the conclusions adopted by the Conference.

«It would be very glad to be able without modifying the situation in which it was placed, and without renouncing the gold standard system, to discover a means of affording its co-operation in the work undertaken by the Conference, namely, the restoration of the value of silver …»

The delegate of Germany on the 4th July 1881, said :

«I do not dispute that the re-establishment of the free coinage of gold and silver at a fixed ratio in a certain group of States would raise the price of silver to the rate corresponding to that ratio, and that its future oscillations would be but insignificant.»  At the session of the 4th July we had the good fortune of hearing my illustrious neighbour, Mr. Dumas.  After his speech Mr. Broch rose and said :

«Mr. Dumas thinks that 10-franc, 5-franc, 10-mark, and 10-shilling gold pieces, should no longer be coined, in order proportionally to increase the use of silver.  That again is a point on which monometallists are agreed with him, just as they are unanimously in favour of retaining the use of the three metals.»

If I could thus continue my quotations we should end perhaps by being all agreed on all points.

England (in her last declaration) expressed herself thus two days ago, by the medium of her delegate.

«Subject to these considerations, the Bank Court are satisfied that the issue of their notes against silver, within the letter of the Act, would not involve a risk of infringing that principle of it which imposes a positive obligation on the Bank to receive gold in exchange for notes, and to pay notes in gold on demand.

«The Bank Court see no reason why an assurance should not be conveyed to the Monetary Conference at Paris, if their Lordships think it desirable, that the Bank of England, agreeably with the Act of 1844, will be always open to the purchase of silver under the conditions above described.»

Such, gentlemen, are the extracts which I wished to place before your eyes in order to impress upon your memory the unanimous assent which has been given to this proposition, that there exists in the world a bad monetary situation to which it is necessary to apply a remedy.

It is satisfactory to be able to say that on this platform we have all, both monometallists and bimetallists, been unanimous in testifying to the existence of the evil.  This was the second point, that is to say, the second useful result, secured by our Conference, which I wished to bring out.

Assuredly we are still divided on the question of principle, the fundamental question.

But thanks to the candour and good will of all, we have been unanimous in acknowledging the state of discomfort and the state of suffering.  Well, gentlemen, I cannot repeat too often that that is a fact of importance, for morally it binds us all to discover a remedy for a situation which we acknowledge to be bad.

Now that remedy, gentlemen, you have sought for with untiring industry.  Your industry is represented by an enormous quantity of documents, of materials, by numerous ideas which have been expressed, by brilliant discussions; and all this constitutes, in addition to what I have just said, a very important result.

You have all with extreme zeal presented documents which form admirable archives for the question involved, independently of the speeches delivered, the declarations made, and the opinions enunciated.  The question is complex and difficult; it subdivides itself; you have treated theoretically and in principle the thesis of monometallism as opposed to that of bimetallism; then all the questions involved in this : silver as international legal tender, the question of the fixed ratio between the two metals, the figure of that ratio, &c.  All these, gentlemen, constitute questions of the highest importance, and you have so seriously studied these difficult problems that you have now in the record of your sessions all the elements for a decision.

Could that decision have been formed at once ?  Why, gentlemen, it would have been a miracle; it was impossible, and as you have always been animated by an admirable spirit, as you have all felt that the solution of the problem could not be attained immediately, you have, through the natural bent of your mind and of your good dispositions, with extreme frankness, without deviating from your principles which we thoroughly respect, sought every means which would justify a postponement of the fundamental question.  A radical solution can be waited for.

Time may do much for this; facts, always more eloquent than speeches, may one day impose this or that solution.

Meanwhile, the various means which some of you have imagined may be examined, may even be combined, may serve as the bases of a treaty by means of which we might to a certain degree fence with the difficulties of the situation if even only for a limited time, by way of experiment, and in order to pass through a kind of phase of transition.  All those, therefore, who may henceforth devote attention to the monetary question will find veritable treasures in your records.

Gentlemen, it seemed to me that inasmuch as one of our honourable colleagues had laid before you a proposition for a final adjournment, it was well in this way to place before your eyes a kind of summing up, recalling the labours carried on, the results obtained, the road traversed.

And now that we have just made together this retrospect, are we not better able to say to our colleague, «No !».  Can you seriously contemplate the question of your final adjournment ?

I confess that for myself I should consider this really deplorable.  If this was to happen it was not worth while going through all the labour which you have imposed on yourselves; it was useless to accomplish this great task merely, so to speak, to throw it into the waste basket.  You would be neither earnest nor brave if after some weeks’ labour you were to say, «The matter is too difficult, we must give it up and separate.»

I am confident there will be found here a majority, and a considerable majority, to say, «No, no, this is out of the question.»  There is even, gentlemen, a moral responsibility on us all; we have the cure of souls with regard to the paramount and general interests which have been entrusted to us.  We have not the right to abandon our task.

I will add, in conclusion, that it would not be worthy of the cause which has brought us together, nor of the views which have been brought to the examination of this question.

I cannot indeed forget, and shall never forget, that no personal interest has disclosed itself in our discussions; I mean by this no sentiment peculiar to such and such a nation.  You have always forgotten your frontiers, you have never for a single instant been the delegates of this or of that nation, you have been true citizens of the whole world, you have always been inspired by the general and permanent interest of mankind, an interest which is here the supreme law.  In order to persevere, gentlemen, in your work two things are necessary, first to allow diplomacy to intervene, because at the point which we have now reached it may be necessary for the Governments to exchange views; and, secondly, to adjourn for the present till next April, in order then to find, if it shall so happen, a solution to the grand problem, which we have before us; for, gentlemen, difficult, and even very difficult as the solution may be, which we are in search of, with the breadth of view which you have brought to your labours, it will be found.

We therefore ask you to pass the resolution which the President has communicated to you.

Mr. Pirmez, first delegate of Belgium, presented the following considerations in support of the resolution :

I wish, Mr. President, to support, by some very simple considerations, the proposition which is submitted to us.

I should refrain from doing so after Mr. Denormandie’s eloquent speech, if the divergence of our views on the very foundation of the monetary question did not seem to me to give a certain value to my words.

A twofold reason justifies this proposition, in my view; it offers advantages, and it involves no inconvenience.

I shall not, doubtless, be contradicted by anybody in affirming that the meeting of States in conference for treating interests common to all is always a happy event which brings nations closer together, and is the best means of promoting the progress of international relations.  France and the United States have a right to our thanks for having taken the initiative of this Conference, whose object interests all countries.

The monetary question is a question which raises numerous problems.  They bear upon a situation which not only is not perfect, but which will not be so unless at a very distant day.  Perfection would evidently be the monetary unity of the whole world.  How far we are from that !  How many stages to be made before reaching it !  But just because we are far from the goal, and because it is difficult to attain, we ought to try and approach it, and every difficulty overcome is a progress.  It is, therefore, well not to abandon the examination of a matter in which there is so much to be done.

France and the United States ask us to examine again next year the problems not solved.  Why should we not assent ?  The Belgian Government directed its delegates to take part in these discussions, to examine the questions raised and the solutions proposed, and to make its sentiments, moreover, freely known.  It seems to me to be within its views to accede to anything that may throw light upon the situation, and the adjournment, with the subsequent re-assembly which is proposed to us, comes within these conditions.

Would there be any inconvenience in this fresh meeting of the Conference ?

The honourable delegate of Sweden appears to me to have been under the idea that to accept this fresh meeting is to acquiesce in the order of ideas of the two great Powers proposing it.  Were this the case, I could understand, and should even share his sentiments.  But such is not the bearing of the adjournment proposed.  The reasons given for justifying it expressly state that each Power retains its entire liberty.  We therefore give up nothing of our judgments, our views, our opinions, either on what exists or on what it behoves us to do.  To define, in one word, what will be the position of delegates coming to this meeting of next spring, I may say that they will arrive as free from engagements, as unfettered by precedents, as we were at the very outset of this Conference.

The delegates of Belgium will therefore accept the motion for adjournment.  They will do so the more willingly because their assent will be a homage to the initiative taken by the two great Republics in trying by an international understanding to realise progress in commercial relations.

Lord Reay, delegate of British India, next spoke, and expressed himself in these terms :

Mr. President and Gentlemen, – My honourable colleague and myself have the honour to accept the proposition for adjournment addressed to us by the Powers who invited us here.  An opportunity for reflection will be useful in order that we may maturely consider the new aspect of the situation.

It is scarcely possible to deny that that situation has been sensibly modified by the important declarations and interesting discussions to which we have listened.  Before the Conference met it was difficult to form an exact idea of the dispositions of the governments we have had the honour of representing.  This is no longer the case.  Valuable thirteenth session pledges have been given, not resting, it is true, on identical bases, but testifying to a tolerably general conviction that the monetary question appertains to the sphere of international action, and cannot be looked at as of merely national interest.  In this matter an international concert is the point to be aimed at.  The diplomatic efforts we invoke may accelerate a solution which it would have been presumptuous to try to precipitate.  The declarations which have been made at the Conference are so many proofs of the desire of governments to arrive at an international modus vivendi, without cherishing the hope of carrying out a universal system.

We may perhaps hope that the Governments of his Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty, and of his Majesty the Emperor of Russia, will offer the Conference their powerful co-operation for the rehabilitation of silver.

The Government of Her Majesty, the Empress of India, attaches the greatest value to the decisions which those two governments may take in this question, as well in their own interest as in that of the whole world.

The delegates of British India will vote therefore for the adjournment, not merely for reasons of diplomatic decorum, but in view of the possibility that in the future deliberations of the Conference the two above-named governments may, by their friendly support, open up new and serious prospects of establishing an international accord.

The declarations of the delegates of Italy and the Netherlands, so important from all points of view, are alone sufficient to justify an adjournment during which the various Governments may exchange views.

The motion proposed by our honourable colleagues of the United States and France has this advantage, that it does not prejudice diplomatic action, which remains unpledged, and the initiative in which will be taken by the governments of the two Republics,

The delegates of British India flatter themselves that at the next meeting of the Conference the statesmen and eminent savants composing the delegations of the United States and France will be able to agree in offering the Conference a programme which will give its labours a practical direction.  It would be desirable that this programme should carefully keep within the limits imposed by the governments, and not to aim at the adoption of an absolute theory not previously sanctioned by them.  The theorists who will vote for the motion of adjournment will virtually acknowledge that the question is not the application of an economic principle, but the discovery of a rapprochement necessary in order to escape the dangers of a deplorable crisis.

Science will declare that diplomacy is not an encumbrance but a valuable ally, and diplomacy on its part will be grateful to science for having opened up new paths.  Our task, gentlemen, is too complicated and embraces too many interests to think of solving at one stroke the problem submitted to us.  As Mr. Denormandie observed just now in his eloquent speech, «audaces fortuna juvat» cannot be our motto.  Monetary reforms have not hitherto had the success expected by those inaugurating them; let us therefore be prudent.  It is evident there are many obstacles to be overcome before succeeding.  The delegates of British India have never been under illusions on this point, and by voting for the adjournment of the Congress they do not abandon the hopes they have always entertained.

Count Küfstein, first delegate of Austria-Hungary, also expressed his concurrence in the motion of adjournment.  He would vote for it the more readily because at the final meeting of the first series of sessions of the Conference he expressed a fear that, at the date then proposed, the Imperial and Royal Government would not yet find itself in a position to respond to the question which Lord Reay had suggested concerning the entry of Austria-Hungary into a bimetallic union.

An adjournment to next April offered an opportunity for action more in accord with the importance of the suggestion which had been repeated by the honourable delegate of India, and with the present situation of Austria-Hungary.

The Imperial and Royal Government would conscientiously profit by the delay in studying, and causing examination in both sections of the Empire into the question submitted to it, which involves indeed the question of the monetary future of the Empire.

Mr. Forssell, delegate of Sweden, stated that, while retaining his preference for the definitive closing of the labours of the Conference, he did not deem it right in view of the declarations just made, and of the express reservation of the rights of the various governments, to press for the adoption of his proposal.

Mr. Broch, delegate of Norway did not hesitate, while also reserving the rights of his government, to support the motion of adjournment.  He was glad to testify that of all the monetary conferences held since 1867, and in which he had successively taken part, this would have contributed more than any other to elucidating in all directions the serious problems of monetary science.  At no conference had so many valuable documents been presented, nor the various systems been so thoroughly discussed.  Theory and practice had had equally brilliant representatives whose co-operation had been in various ways equally useful.  Nevertheless it was doubtful whether this Conference would have the considerable results expected from it, viz., the restoration of silver.  That restoration seemed impracticable.  But there were other apparently secondary, yet important, points on which an accord appeared to be established.  There had been almost unanimous acknowledgment of the evil of extending the use of small gold coins and small notes, and of the expediency of substituting silver money for them.  It had also been testified that there was much to be done in improving the monetary situation by revising the legislation on banks and establishments of credit in general.  On this subject one might ask whether it would not be advantageous to borrow from Scandinavian legislation a provision which had hitherto been confined to the three kingdoms, and which conferred on the banks of those States the power of having a certain portion of their stock deposited in the great foreign banks of issue.  The means would perhaps contribute to relieving the money market, a result desirable for the whole world, particularly for a country like Norway, where commerce and the mercantile marine formed the chief elements of national wealth.

After this speech the motion of adjournment was again read by the President, put to the vote, and adopted unanimously by the members voting.

It was next agreed that the minutes of the session should be communicated in proof to the delegates, and, after revision, added to the minutes of the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th sessions, so as to form the collection of the labours of the second session of the Conference.

Sir Louis Mallet, delegate of British India, rose to submit a document.

I have the honour, he said, of laying on the table of the Conference observations which have been handed to us in reply to the questions addressed to us by Mr. Cernuschi at the 6th session.  The questions did not seem to us to be of a nature allowing of official replies by the Indian Government, and were consequently submitted to competent persons in London not belonging to the Administration, and I have the honour of presenting to you their respective replies just as we received them (See Appendix B).

But I should add, that while submitting these documents to the judgment of the Conference, the delegates of India cannot accept any responsibility for the opinions or facts contained in them.

I ask permission at the same time to present to the Conference two tables respecting the commerce of British India and the Public Debt  (See Appendix C).

Mr. Forssell, delegate of Sweden, presented to the Conference the response which the Banks of Issue in Sweden have made concerning the monetary question (See Appendix D).

Baron von Thielmann, first delegate of Germany, felt bound as an interpreter of the sentiments of all his colleagues, to offer, at the moment the Conference was separating, to the French Minister of Finance the expression of their thanks for the honour he had done them in accepting the Presidency, and for the uniform impartiality with which he had directed the debates.

He likewise begged the President to express to the Government of the French Republic the sentiments of gratitude on the part of the delegates for the gracious hospitality which has been offered them.

He evinced at the same time his regret that reasons beyond his own control had prevented Mr. Vrolik, Vice-President of the Conference, from taking part in this last phase of its deliberations, and he begged Mr. Pierson to convey to Mr. Vrolik the expression of this unanimous feeling, as also the wishes formed by the entire Conference for the speedy restoration of Mr. Vrolik’s health.

The President cordially concurred in Baron von Thielmann’s concluding words.  He would also make it his duty to express to the French Government the sentiments which had been so courteously expressed to him.  As regarded himself, he thanked the first delegate of Germany for the feeling, which he felt to be so flattering, to which utterance had just been given.

The President expressed also the pride he felt in directing the labours of the Conference.  It would be one of his pleasantest recollections, and the greatest honour of his political life.  He recognized the brilliancy, the learning, and the sagacity with which the Conference had treated the great and manifold questions submitted to its examination.  He especially congratulated it on having by its last act assured the continuance of the discussion, and paved the way for the solution of the monetary problem.  He believed he could say to all the delegates, if not as minister, certainly as friend, «au revoir» in April 1882.

Mr. Pierson, delegate of the Netherlands, thanked the Conference for the sentiments of sympathy just manifested by it for Mr. Vrolik, to whom he would not fail to convey the expression of them.

Thanks were then voted to the Secretaries on the motion of Mr. Pirmez, delegate of Belgium.

The Conference separated at 4.30 p.m.

Tuesday, 12th July 1881. – According to the Resolution adopted by the Conference at its 13th meeting, a proof of the journal of the last session was addressed to the different delegates, an submitted in that manner for their approval.  



Appendix A : France - Statement of gold and silver delivered to the trade by the chief refining etablishments of Paris


Years Pure silver (in kg) Alloyed silver at 500 ‰ (in kg) Nitrate at 635 ‰ (in kg) Pure gold (in kg) Alloyed gold at 766 ‰ (in kg) Chlorure at 647 ‰ (in kg)
Total 156,549 56,932 51,415 3,644 603 120
Net annual average of pure gold and silver 17,394 3,163 3,627 405 51.3 8.6


The consumption to be inferred from this table, if we admit that the other refiners in Paris represent a trade half as great as this of this House, may be estimated at :


  Galvanized plate and inlaid work Wire for braid, &c. Silver for photographers Galvanized guilding Mercury guilding Gold for photographers
C. L. A. 17,394 3,163 3,627 405 51.3 8.6
Other houses, 50 % 8,697 1,581 1,813 202 25.7 4.4
Total 26,091 4,744 5,440 607 77.0 13.0




Appendix B : Furnished by the Indian Delegates in reply to the questions put by M. Cernuschi


  A B C D
XVIII. Quite true. Very large amounts of silver arrived from the West Indies and Pacific, which were all taken for India, together with considerable sums in bars and 5 franc pieces from the continent. When the balance of trade between this country and India necessitated an export of silver to India, and the price of the metal here allowed of the profitable import of 5 franc pieces into England, those coins naturally flowed to this country from France as an arbitrage operation. When silver was required by English merchants at short notice for transmission to the Eastward, if the requisite quantity was not in London, they would in all probability apply to the continent for it as the nearest market after London.
XIX. No doubt. Very large amounts of silver were received from Belgium and Holland, as well as France, and payments were made in gold, as we’ll as in Bills and goods. The capability of the continental monometallic States of supplying silver to England, was not put to the test to any appreciable extent, because France had a double standard and supplied the demand.  Had the price of silver risen to a point at which it could have been profitably imported from those States it would have found its way here, and been paid for by exports either of securities or commodities. The silver monometallic States of the continent would naturally be influenced by the relative prices of silver and gold at the time.  If giving silver for gold would yield a profit, they would probably supply it to some extent as the transaction would be advantageous, although gold had not a forced circulation.

[The form in which this question is put, commencing «Is it not the fact,» is ill adapted to the nature of the enquiries in questions XVIII, XIX and XX.]
XX. Silver was generally obtained from France and no doubt the effect of the alteration in the rate of exchange caused by a demand for silver was to give France rather more than 1 kilo of gold for 15 ½ of silver.
The converse also holds good.


Yes chiefly.
The price of course varied with the exchange of France on England. Not always to France. Large amounts were sold to Belgium and Germany before the latter country declared for a gold currency.  


The first portion of the question is answered under N° XVIII.  As regards the second clause relating to silver arriving in London, that metal being a commodity would be offered to the best buyer, whether India or any other country. When the price of silver in London was above the rate of 1 to 15 ½, silver would flow to London from bimetallic countries.  If silver had arrived in London in excess of the demand for it, and the price was below that rate, English merchants requiring gold would have to give more than 15 ½ of silver for 1 of gold. 
XXI. Quite correct. Yes. The seigniorage and other mint charges on silver at Bombay and Calcutta amount to about 22 ‰.  The freight for bullion and specie between London and Calcutta or Bombay was at one time 2 %, but it was reduced to 1 % before the opening of the Suez canal.  The loss of interest was not lessened by the Canal route being opened, because bullion and specie had previously been transported by rail from Alexandria to Suez and reshipped thence. The cost of mintage of silver at Calcutta and Bombay is 2 %.  The freight on bullion between London and Calcutta or Bombay has varied from time to time, and special arrangements have been made by the Government in regard to their shipments.  The longer the voyage, the greater must have been the loss of interest.
XXII. If India had been gold monometallic (France remaining bimetallic), of course if gold were wanted as a remittance to India, and were obtained from France by giving more silver than 15 ½ to 1, it (the gold) would cost in India something like 5 ½ % over par value, and if sent from India, after deduction of freight charges and insurance, would have realised only about 96 ½ to 100.  There, would have been a large oscillation, but I can scarcely think it would have been so large as 10 to 12 %. If with a monometallic gold currency in India the English gold coins were not made a legal tender there, and if the mint charges were, under that supposition, as heavy as they now are for a silver currency, and moreover, if the cost of the transmission of the precious metals to India had never been reduced, the range of oscillation in the exchange might be as great as is stated in the question. Had India been gold monometallic like England, the variation in the exchange would have been mainly de pendent on the cost of transport, insurance, loss of interest, mintage and brokerage, and the limit of oscillation would rarely, I apprehend, have exceeded from 5 to 6 %  below par and 5 or 6 %  above.
XXIII. It seems to me that under no circumstances could the extreme oscillations of value have been more than the total of freight and expenses both ways; but within these bounds there must always be a greater or less oscillation. An Indian Bank would be best able to give the required information. The supposition under Q. XXII is that of India having a gold monometallic currency, but this question seems to refer to the existing state of things, and, if so, is not applicable. Oscillations of exchange could not have been avoided.
XXIV. Of course, because the quotation in London is in gold. Yes, with regard to India; but there were times previous to 1874 when the Continent were buyers of silver at higher rates than Indian Banks could give. On the same supposition of India having a gold currency, the price of silver would not in that case have been af-fected by the oscillations in the gold ex change. The oscillations of exchange affected the quotation of silver in London; but it must not be assumed from this answer, that those oscillations had a very potent influence in that respect, the price of silver being also greatly dependent on the supply and demand, and on the quantity continuously required for transmission to the East.
XXV. From 1865 to 1873, the price of silver was extremely steady at an average of 60 d. ½; in 1873, Germany demonetized, and the average declined to 59 d. ¼, and in the following year to 58 d. ¼; in 1876, the lowest price of silver was reached, 46 ¾. The average price of silver has been more irregular since 1874. The greatest oscillations prior to the opening of the Canal occured during the American civil war which caused an abnormal export of cotton from India.  Apart from that particular cause and period, the oscillations in the Exchange and the quotations of silver up to the year 1874 were similar both before and after the opening of the Suez Canal. Questions XXV and XXVI can be answered most satisfactorily by statements prepared from the best information obtainable.
XXVI. From 1865 till 1873 the average value of rupees was about 1/10 ¾; in 1874 about 1/10 ¼; afterwards a considerable decline, and in 1878; the average was about 1/8. Cannot say as regards the rupee.
This price of 60 13/16 would be about the average of 20 years prior to 1874.  


Excluding the period of inflation referred to in the previous answer, the average quotation of exchange prior to 1874 was probably 1 penny per rupee higher than that stated in the question, and the average price of silver was probably about 60 ½ or 61 d.  
XXVII. This question is rather vague; but, so far as I understand, it must be answered in the affirmative. Neither gold, nor silver, are interest-bearing securities; consequently, whenever there are arrivals of either metal, they are at once sold for cash, either for remittance to the Continent, or, if gold be not required on the Continent, it is then sold to the Bank.
The quotations of course varied from day to day, according to the exchanges on India or the Continent.
Silver being a mere commodity in England, no interest could accrue upon it if held; and the price, like that of all other commodities, is regulated by the supply and demand. The meaning of this question appears to me to be obscure.  Silver like any article of merchandise, could not remain unused in England for a time, without interest on its value for that time being lost.  The holder looks to obtaining compensation and profit from impro-vement in price.
XXVIII. No doubt this was so. Only Indian Banks, who jealously kept such information to themselves, could answer this question. The balance of trade has been generally in favor of India, and it has only been on very rare occasions that Banks in India could sell their bills on London profitably against shipments of silver to Europe. When the price of silver has been much below the French ratio of 1 to 15 ½, Calcutta and Bombay bankers have been able, when selling bills on London, to require more rupees than were represented in the French ratio.  
XXIX. Of course the price of Bills was limited by the value of silver in Paris (15 ½ to 1) minus fright, insurance, and interest on shipment of silver. Refer to an Indian Bank. Exchange in India could certainly not fall below the point at which rupees could be converted into silver bullion, and exported thence to silver-using countries in Europe. So long as the receipt and coinage of silver in Paris in the ratio of 1 to 15 ½ was unrestricted, the oscillations in the exchange with India were to some extent limited. The «disappearance» of French bimetallism has tended greatly to depreciate the value of silver, and, as a consequence, the exchangeable value of the rupee.  


XXX. Yes. Yes.  But there were, and are, often orders for the Bazaars in India, when silver is at a premium, which cause orders for the metal here, quite irrespective of exchange operations. When India was a buyer of silver at a price in gold higher than the ratio of 15 ½ to 1, the Council Bills would be sold at a corresponding equivalent rate.
XXXI. Obviously. Cannot say. Yes. The change in French bimetallism has been very injurious to the Indian Treasury.
XXXII.   If it has been, winch I am not prepared to admit, the fact of France having of late years been almost out of the market as a seller of silver, must have caused a better demand for the Council drafts, which have therefore obtained a better price. It is a disadvantage to the Indian Treasury with respect to the amount of the payments which the Treasury has to make in gold; but whether there has not been a corresponding gain in the revenues payable in silver is a question open to discussion.
XXXIII.   The Government only can answer this question. To be answered from the Government records. The rupee not having a fixed value in gold, it is not practicable to state precisely the loss on exchange in the years in question.  An approximate estimate only could be furnished.
XXXIV.   The India Council can answer this from their own estimates. Idem.  



Appendix C : East India – Loans raised in India  

Return of all loans raised in India, chargeable on the revenues of India, outstanding at the Commencement of the half-year ended on the 30th September 1880, with the rates of interest and total amount payable thereon, and the date of the termination of each loan, the debt incurred during the half-year, the moneys raised thereby during the half-year, the loans paid off or discharged during the half-year, and the loans outstanding at the close of the half-year, stating, so far as the public convenience will allow, the purpose or service for which moneys have been raised during the half-year


Description of loan Rate of interest One half year’s interest Date of termination of loan Amount of debt outstanding on April 1st 1880
Loans bearing interest

Transfer loan of 1870
Transfer loan of 1871
Loan of 1878
Transfer loan of 1879, 4 ½ %
Loan of 1824-25
Loan of 1828-29
Loan of 1832-33
Loan of 1835-36
Loan of 1842-43
Loan of 1854-55
Transfer loan of 1st May 1865
Transfer loan of 22nd April 1854
Loan of 1853-54
Railway loan from Maharajah Holkar
Debenture loan of 1867-68
Promissary notes for Mysore Family
Debenture loan from Mah. Scindia
Reduced loan of 16th January 1879
East Indian Railway
Debenture loan Nagpore Raepore Railway
Debenture loan of the Cawnpore and Furrackabad Light Railway
Loan of the Mutra and Hattras Light Railway
Loan of the Gazipore and Dildarnnagore Light Railway

4 ½ %
4 ½ %
4 ½ %
4 ½ %
4 %
4 %
4 %
4 %
4 %
4 %
4 %
4 %
3 ½ %
4 ½ %
5 %
4 %
4 %
4 %
4 %
4 ½ %
4 %

4 %
4 %

Not before 15/7/1885
Not before 4/7/1881
Not before 15/9/1893
No date specified
15 months after notice
3 months after notice
No date specified
Not before 1/6/1882
No date specified
Not before 16/1/1882
No date specified
Not before 1/7/1890
Not before 1/1/1890

Not before 30 years
Not before 10 years

      TOTAL 82,739,163
Loans not bearing interest
5 % loan of 1825-26
5 % loan of 1841-42
5 % loan of 1851-55 for Public Works
5 % loan of 1856-57
5 ½ % loan of 1859-60
5 % Debenture loan of 1867-68
Treasury bills at 2 ½ pie per Rs. 100 per diem
      TOTAL 143,346

Description of loan Amount of debt incurred Moneys raised by 30/9/1880 Transferred from other loans Total Amount of debt paid off Transferred to other loans Amount of debt outstanding on 30/9/ 1880
Loans bearing interest
Transfer loan of 1870
Transfer loan of 1871
Loan of 1878
Transfer loan of 1879, 4 ½ %
Loan of 1824-25
Loan of 1828-29
Loan of 1832-33
Loan of 1835-36
Loan of 1842-43
Loan of 1854-55
Transfer loan of 1st May 1865
Transfer loan of 22nd April 1854
Loan of 1853-54
Railway loan from Maharajah Holkar
Debenture loan of 1867-68
Promissary notes for Mysore Family
Debenture loan from Mah. Scindia
Reduced loan of 16th January 1879
East Indian Railway
Debenture loan Nagpore Raepore Railway
Debenture loan of the Cawnpore and Furrackabad Light Railway
Loan of the Mutra and Hattras Light Railway
Loan of the Gazipore and Dildarnnagore Light Railway





























  3,150,240 3,250,012 459,760 86,339,163 1,909 459,260 85,877,994
Loans not bearing interest
5 loan of 1825-26
5 % loan of 1841-42
5 % loan of 1851-55 for Public Works
5 % loan of 1856-57
5 ½ % loan of 1859-60
5 % Debenture loan of 1867-68
Treasury bills at 2 ½ pie per Rs. 100 per diem


TOTAL       143,346 44,610 500 98,236
GRAND TOTAL 3,150,240 3,250,012 459,760 86,482,509 46,519 459,760 85,976,230






(1)  Imports and exports of merchandise and treasure, with sums obtained for bills drawn by the Court or Council on India, for the years 1855-56 to 1879-80, and the average rate of exchange obtained for those bills

(2)  Value of gold and silver imported into or exported from India for the years from 1855-56 to 1879-80

(3)  Imports and exports of gold and silver in periods of ten years, from 1835-36 to 1874-75, and for the five years from 1875-76 to 1879-80

(4)  Value of gold and silver coinage in the Indian Mints from 1855-56 to 1879-80.

(5)  Currency notes in circulation, coin and bullion reserve, and Government securities held by the Department of Issue of Paper Currency

(6)  Imports of gold from 1868-69 to 1879-80 (details)

(7)  Imports of silver from 1868-69 to 1879-80 (details)

(8)  Exports of gold from 1868-69 to 1879-80 (details)

(9)  Exports of silver from 1868-69 to 1879-80 (details)

Note.  — The year in these tables is the official year in all cases (i.e. ending the 31st of March).  

Value of merchandise and treasure respectively imported into and exported from British India by sea from and to foreign countries, and of the sums obtained for bills drawn by the Court of Directors or Secretary of State on the several Governments in India, in each of the under-mentioned official years, and the average rate of exchange obtained for those bills


Official year Imports Exports Bills drawn Rate of exchange
Merchandise Treasure Total Merchandise Treasure Total
2 0 ⅛
2 0 ⅛
2 0 ⅝
1 11 ⅞
1 11 ⅞
1 11 ⅞
1 11 ⅞
1 11 ¾
1 11
1 11 ⅛
1 11 ⅛
1 11 ¼
1 10 ½
1 11 ⅜
1 10 ¾
1 10 ⅜
1 10 ⅛
1 9 ⅝
1 8 ½
1 8 ¾
1 7 ¾
1 8
Totals 741,661,031 330,161,504 1,071,822,535 1,215,842,748 41,501,285 1,287,347,033 177,254,212  
[1]   In consequence of the mutiny, it was necessary to refrain from drawing on India and the exchange was raised to a prohibitory rate.


Value of gold and silver respectively imported into and exported from British India from and to foreign countries in each of the under-mentioned official years


Official years Imports (in £) Exports (in £) Surplus of imports (in £)
Gold Silver Total Gold Silver Total Gold Silver Total
Totals 99,041,596 231,120,197 330,161,793 8,297,273 33,246,826 41,544,099 91,640,486 197,873,671 288,617,984
Treasure on account of Government is included in the above figures


Summary for each period of ten years from 1835-36 to 1874-75, and for the five years from 1875-76 to 1879-80


Official years Imports Exports Surplus of imports Amount obtained for bills of exchange
Gold Silver Total Gold Silver Total Gold Silver Total


Value of gold and silver coinage in the Mints of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay, from 1855-56 to 1879-80


Official years Gold Silver Total

Total 1,225,394 184,613,540 185,838,934
[1]  The Madras Mint was closed on the 31st August 1869


Amount of Government currency notes in circulation, and amount of coin and bullion reserve, and Government securities held by the Department of Issue of Paper Currency [1]


Dates Notes in circulation Silver coin reserve Silver bullion reserve Gold bullion reserve Reserve in Government securities Total reserve
1863 Jan. 1st
1864 Jan. 1st
1865 Jan. 1st
1866 Jan. 1st
1867 Jan. 1st
1868 Jan. 1st
1869 Jan. 1st
1870 Jan. 1st
1871 Jan. 1st
1872 Jan. 1st
1873 Jan. 1st
1874 Jan. 1st
1875 Jan. 1st
1876 Jan. 1st
1877 Jan. 1st
1878 Jan. 1st
1879 Jan. 1st
1880 Jan. 1st
1881 Jan. 1st


[1]  The Paper Currency Department began operations on the 1st of March 1862


Value of imports of gold from 1868-69 to 1879-80


  Fiscal years ending March 31st
1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879 1880
1,609,484 38,349
Total 5,176,976 5,690,400 2,782,574 3,573,778 2,622,371 1,648,808 2,089,236 1,836,881 1,443,712 1,578,927 1,463,050 2,050,393

Value of imports of silver from 1868-69 to 1879-80

  Fiscal years ending March 31st
1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879 1880
Total 9,978,978 8,264,407 2,662,249 8,000,035 1,934,214 4,143,726 6,051,811 3,464,341 9,992,408 15,776,532 5,593,699 9,604,502


Value of exports of gold from 1868-69 to 1879-80


  Fiscal years ending March 31st
1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879 1880









Total 17,624 98,283 500,453 8,434 79,009 266,169 215,701 291,250 1,236,362 1,110,798 2,359,223 299,889

Value of exports of silver from 1868-69 to 1879-80


  Fiscal years ending March 31st
1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879 1880













Total 1,377,956 944,070 1,720,312 1,467,660 1,219,070 1,647,902 1,409,608 1,908,986  2,793,536 1,100,198 1,623,005 1,735,259




Appendix D : Views of the Swedish banks of issue on the monetary question (presented by Mr. Forssell)

The Swedish Government, conformably to the desire expressed by the Monetary Conference, having requested from the banks of issue in Sweden their opinion upon the monetary question, the following named banks have given their views concerning the propositions formulated in the questionnaire of the Conference, viz. :

Stockholms Enskilda Bank
Smålands Enskilda Bank
Örebro Enskilda Bank
Sundsvalls Enskilda Bank
Skaraborgs Enskilda Bank
Gotlands Enskilda Bank
Skånes Enskilda Bank
Göteborgs Enskilda Bank
Norrköpings Enskilda Bank
Hallands Enskilda Bank
Wenersborgs Enskilda Bank
Bohus läns Enskilda Bank
Oscarshamns Enskilda Bank

These banks are all of the opinion that the adoption of the double standard is inadmissible.  The answer of the Stockholms Enskilda Bank being the most complete, and summing up all the others, is alone given below in translation.

Answers of the Stockholms Enskilda Bank (Director, A. O. Wallenberg), to the questions contained in the Questionnaire adopted by the Monetary Conference of 1881.

I. – The depreciation of silver which affects only contracts and agreements having long periods to run, is in no way injurious to general prosperity.

It is impossible by legislative enactments to fix an invariable ratio between the value of gold and that of silver, for experience has amply shown that the oscillations arise from circumstances entirely independent of any such laws.  The question proposed as to whether a stability in the relation between the values of the two metals would be desirable, is therefore stripped of all practical importance.

II. – The depreciation of silver is due to the fact that the production of this metal has been augmented in a much greater degree than that of gold simultaneously with the adoption of the gold standard by an increasing number of States, so that an enlarged production of silver has coincided with a diminished demand for that metal.

We may add that the price of the precious metals has fallen relatively to most other products, and that silver, by reason of its bulk and the cost of carriage, has become too inconvenient for large payments, notably in comparison with bank notes and other instruments of credit, circulation, which have more and more come into vogue.

III. – In accordance with our answer to Question I., we are of the opinion that it is impossible, by the means proposed in Question III., to prevent oscillations in the relative values of silver and gold. Every one would prefer to pay in the depreciated metal; as at present with silver, the value of such metal would become unsteady, and the ratio of value fixed by law would be impaired in fact, with a premium on payments in gold.

IV. – 1.  It is much to be desired that banks of issue should accept ingots of the metal upon which the monetary system of their country is based; cost of coinage, and if need be, of refining, being deducted.  But in countries with the double standard and with a fixed ratio between the two metals, this obligation is inadmissible, because the banks in such case would incur the risk of being inundated with the metal which would be, at one time or another, depreciated.

It is evident that it would be absurd to impose upon the Bank of England or upon the Bank of Sweden an obligation to buy ingots of silver at a fixed price.

2.  In order to secure the above-mentioned advantage to the public in countries where there are no banks of issue, it is necessary to establish banks of issue in these countries; such banks, when well founded and well managed, always contribute to the economic development and to the prosperity of a country.

3.  The mintage of coin for private individuals ought always to be conducted by the State, not gratuitously (for this would lead to abuses of the liberty to have coins struck), but at a rate of charge exactly proportioned to the expense of refining and of coinage. It is very desirable that all countries which have the same standard should agree upon a common charge for mintage, as well as upon a common tolerance both for the coinage and the wear.  Tokens should be coined exclusively by the State and on its account; they ought not to be included within the stipulations of international treaties.

4.  International trade in silver and gold ought everywhere to be free from all restriction.

V. – The term «bimetallism» which lately has replaced that of «double standard» is inexact; it would only become admissible if each piece of money were composed of two metals.

In view of the impossibility, in our view, of fixing a ratio between the values of the two metals, such a ratio could never be determined except for a certain time; at present the ratio is that of 1 to 18, or nearly, but we cannot venture to predict the stability of that relation.

As no proposition has been made to the countries of the Scandinavian Monetary Union that they should abandon their position, so happily assured by the adoption of the gold standard, we have nothing to add to sustain our opinion «that it is necessary to maintain the single gold standard.»







Denkschrift betreffend die Einführung der Goldwährung in Deutschland, Hambourg, 1856

Traité monétaire austro-allemand du 24 janvier 1857, 1857

Documents relatifs à la réforme monétaire en Allemagne (1871-80), Berlin, 1881

Exposé de la situation monétaire en Allemagne, Berlin, 1881


Traité monétaire austro-allemand du 24 janvier 1857, 1857

Statistisches Jahrbuch, Vienne, 1865-79

Relevé du monnayage en Hongrie de 1867 à 1880, 1881


Questions monétaires – Rapport à la Chambre des Représentants, Documents parlementaires, 1859

Documents monétaires – Exécution de la convention monétaire additionnelle conclue le 31 janvier 1874 entre la Belgique, la France, l’Italie et la Suisse, Idem, 1874

Documents relatifs à la question monétaire, recueillis et publiés par M. G. Malou, Idem, 1874


Resumen de los informes sobre la cuestion monetaria, Madrid, Imprimerie Nationale, 1862

United States

The laws relating to the Mint of the United States, Philadelphie, Miffin, 1859

Reports of the United States Commissioners to the Paris Universal Exposition, 1867, Washington, 1870

Report and accompanying documents of the United States Monetary Commission, Idem, 1877

International Monetry Conference, in Paris, in August, 1878, Idem, 1879

Annual report of the Comptroller of the currency, Idem, 1879

Annuel report on the state of the finances, Idem, 1876, 1879, 1880

Foreign relations of the United States, Idem, 1879-80

Report upon the commercial relations of the United States with foreign countries (2 vol.), Idem, 1879

Report of the Director of the Mint, Idem, 1879-80


Documents relatifs à la question monétaire, Paris, Imprimerie Impériale, 1858

Enquête sur les principes qui régissent la circulation monétaire, (6 vol.), Idem, 1867-69

Enquête de 1865-66; déposition des délégués de la Banque de France, Idem, 1867

Négociations monétaires entre la France et l’Autriche, juillet 1867, Manuscrit, 1867

Conférence monétaire internationale de 1867 – Procès-verbaux, Paris, Imprimerie Impériale, 1867

Documents relatifs à la question monétaire, Idem, 1868

Commission monétaire – Procès-verbaux et rapport, Idem, 1869

Enquête sur la question monétaire (2 vol.), Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1867

Conférence monétaire de l’Union latine – Procès-verbaux, 1874, Idem, 1874

Conférence monétaire de l’Union latine – Procès-verbaux, 1875, Idem, 1875

Conférence monétaire de l’Union latine – Procès-verbaux, 1876, Idem, 1876

Conférence monétaire de l’Union latine – Procès-verbaux, 1878, Idem, 1878

Conférence monétaire de l’Union latine – Procès-verbaux, 1879, Idem, 1879

Conférence monétaire internationale – Procès-verbaux, 1881, Idem, 1881

Great Britain

Report of the select Committee on the Royal Mint, Documents parlementaires, 1837

Report of the Commissionners and changes in the management of the Royal Mint, Idem, 1848-52

Report from the Royal Commission on international coinage, Idem, 1868

Report on the international monetary Conférence, Idem, 1868

Report from the select Committee on depreciation of silver, Idem, 1876

Idem, texte français, Documents parlementaires belges, 1876

Annual report of the Deputy Master of the Mint, 1870-71, 1878

Statistical abstract, 1860-79

British India

Memorandum on an international bimetallic standard measure of value, Gazette officielle de l’Inde, 22/9/1876

Idem, texte français, Bulletin de statistique, Paris, 1877


Rapport des Commissions parlementaires sur la convention monétaire du 5 novembre 1878, Documents parlementaires italiens, 1879

Statistique internationale des Banques d’émission, Rome, Botta, 1881

The Netherlands

Documents sur la législation monétaire, Documents parlementaires belges, 1878


Oustaw monetnüi, Saint-Pétersbourg, 1857-64

Notice statistique sur le système monétaire de la Russie, Manuscrit, 1870


Documents officiels sur les monnaies, 1859-60










Chanier (de)



Hirschfeld (v.)
Horton (Dana)


Laveleye (de)
Mar (del)
Mülingen (v.)
Parieu (de)

Puynode (de)
Rocca (de)
Rusconi (Cte)

Say (Léon)






L’or, l’argent et le commerce belge
Die vertragsmässige Doppelwährung
Die Deutsche Münzreform und die Pariser Münzconferenz
Die Restitution des Silbers, eine Nothwendigkeit für die gesammte Culturwelt
Lombard street
Le marché financier en Angleterre
The depreciation of silver
Die Entthronung eines Weltherrschers
Das Gold der Zukunft
Études sur la monnaie
La reprise de l’étalon d’argent, aux États-Unis
La nouvelle conférence monétaire
Om Myntforandring
Om den nye tydske Myntlov
Silver in its relation to industry and trade
Appreciation in the price of gold
Mécanique de l’échange
Or et argent
Silver vindicated (L’argent réhabilité)
M. Michel Chevalier et le bimétallisme
Bimetallische Münze, in German
Idem, in English
Nomisma or legal tender
Les projets monétaires de M. Say
La diplomatie monétaire en 1878, in English
Idem, in French
Le Bland bill (in English and in French)
Le bimétallisme en Angleterre, in English
Idem, in French
Le bimétallisme à 15 ½, in English
Idem, in French
La Conférence monétaire de Paris
Des mines d’or et d’argent du Nouveau Monde
De la baisse probable de l’or
La monnaie
De l’établissement d’une monnaie universelle
Die Münzfrage
Gold in the East
Die Geldreform
Solution de la question de l’argent-métal moyennant un dollar d’argent universel
Recherches sur l’or et sur l’argent considérés comme étalons de la valeur
De la production et de la démonétisation de l’or
L’argent et l’or, essai sur la question monétaire
La France et ses alliés monétaires
Or ou argent ?
Rapport sur l’état de la question monétaire
Silver and gold
Théorie des changes étrangers
Money and value
Die Finanzen Frankreichs
Silver and gold and their relation to the problem of resumption
The monetary situation
La monnaie et la loi
Gold und Silber im Landes- und im Weltverkehr
On the condition of the metallic currency of the United Kingdom
La monnaie et le mécanisme de l’échange
Idem, texte anglais
The national banking system
Address before the merchant’s association of Boston
Le marché monétaire et ses crises depuis 50 ans
La monnaie internationale
La monnaie bimétallique
Lettres sur la question des monnaies
Erörterungen über die Währungsfrage
La question de l’or
Money and legal tender in the United States
A treatise on the coins of the realm
A history of the precious metals from the earliest times to the present
Das Münzwesen auf einheitlicher Grundlage
Zur Währungsfrage
Considérations générales sur les monnaies
Les finances de l’Autriche
The new supplies of gold
Der Kampf um die Währung
La question monétaire en France et à l’étranger
L’union monétaire de la France, de l’Italie, de la Belgique et de la Suisse
De l’uniformité monétaire
La question monétaire et l’opportunité de sa solution
La monnaie internationale
La question monétaire en 1873
Lettre à M. Dumas, président de la Conférence monétaire de 1875
La politique française dans la question monétaire cosmopolite
La révolution monétaire par la dépréciation de l’argent
De la monnaie, du crédit et de l’impôt
Bimetallism and the finances of India
La circolazione monetaria e il corso forzoso in Russia
Les métaux précieux considérés au point de vue économique
La Conferenza monetaria Americana riunitasi a Parigi nel mese di Agosto 1878
Discours au Sénat sur la question monétaire
Für internationale Doppelwährung
Die Goldwährungs-Autoritäten
Bullion and foreign exchanges
Die Münz-, Währungs- und Bankfragen in Deutschland
Bemerkungen über das vom Bundesrathe vorgeschlagene neue deutsche Münzgesetz
The fall in the price of silver
The wealth and commerce of nations, and the question of silver
The monetary Conference in Paris and England
Denkschrift über Hamburgs Münzverhältnisse
Beifrage und Materialien zur Beurteilung von Geld- und Bankfragen
Das Gold
De la découverte des mines d’or en Australie et en Californie
The natural system of coinage (texte anglais et allemand)
Über einige neuere Theorien vom Geld
A history of American currency
Staatspapiergeld, Reichs-Kassenscheine und Banknoten
Die jungste Münzdebatte im deutschen Reichstage
Für bimetallistische Münzpolitik Deutschlands
Money in its relations to trade and industry
L’or et l’argent, question monétaire
De l’influence du change sur le marché monétaire
Les métaux précieux et la circulation fiduciaire
L’or et l’argent
Das Lehrgebäude der Volkswirtschaft
A Handbook on Gold and Silver
Ein Beitrag zur Frage der Goldwährung im deutschen Reiche und zur Demonetisierung des Silbers
Reichsgeld, ein Beitrag zur Währungsfrage
Die Währungsfrage im Deutschen Handelstage
Paris, Guillaumin, 1861
Berlin, Springer, 1880
Berlin, Burmester, 1881
Berlin, Puttkammer, 1881

Londres, Kegan Paul, 1878
Paris, Germer-Baillière, 1874
Londres, Henry, 1877
Leipzig, Brockhaus, 1876
Berlin, Deutsche Rundschau, 1876
Berlin, Deutsche Randschau, 1877
Paris, Guillaumin, 1870
Paris, Revue des Deux-Mondes, 1878
Paris, Picard, 1881
Christiania, Gundersens Bogtrykkeri, 1872
Christiania, Fabritius’s Bogtrykkeri, 1872
Christiania, Mailings Boghandel, 1879
Montréal, Lowell, 1880
New-York, Collins
Paris, Lacroix, 1863
Paris, Guillaumin, 1875
Idem, 1876
Idem, 1876
Paris, 1876
Londres, Sampson Low, 1877
New-York, Appleton, 1877
Paris, Guillaumin, 1878
Londres, King, 1878
Paris, Guillaumin, 1878
Paris, Guillaumin, 1878
Londres, King, 1879
Paris, Guillaumin, 1879
Londres, King, 1881
Paris, Guillaumin, 1881
Paris, Guillaumin, 1881
Paris, Revue des Deux-Mondes, 1846-47
Paris, Capelle, 1859
Paris, Capelle, 1866
Paris, Journal des Économistes
Paris, Haar et Steinert, 1881
Londres, Strahan, 1879
Berlin, Puttkammer, 1873
Brême, Müller, 1881

Paris, Paulin, 1843
Paris, Revue des Deux-Mondes, 1852
Paris, Germer-Baillière, 1881
Paris, Guillaumin, 1870
Paris, Haar et Steinert, 1873
Zurich, Orell Füssli, 1878
Londres, Effingham Wilson, 1879
Paris, Guillaumin, 1875
Londres, Macmillan, 1878
Berlin, Puttkammer, 1875
Cincinnati, Robert Clarke, 1877
Cincinnati, Robert Clarke, 1878
Paris, Guillaumin, 1881
Leipzig, Duncker, et Humblot, 1881
Londres, Edward Stanford, 1886
Paris, Germer-Baillière,1878
Londres, Kegan Paul, 1878
New-York, 1879
New-York, Bankers Magazine, 1880
Paris, Guillaumin, 1865
Paris, Revue des Deux-Mondes, 1867
Bruxelles, Muquardt, 1876
Paris, Guillaumin, 1861
Leipzig, Duncker et Humblot, 1881
Paris, Guillaumin, 1858
New-York, Putnam, 1878
Londres, Effingham Wilson, 1880
Londres, George Bell, 1880
Berlin, Puttkammer, 1875
Berlin, Puttkammer, 1880
Paris, Agasse, an IV
Paris, Guillaumin, 1875
Londres, Pelham Richardson, 1853
Iena, Fischer, 1881
Paris, Revue contemporaine, 1866
Paris, idem, 1866
Paris, Guillaumin, 1867
Paris, Revue contemporaine, 1868
Paris, idem, 1869
Paris, Revue de France, 1873
Paris, idem, 1875
Paris, idem, 1875
Paris, Journal des Économistes, 1875
Paris, Guillaumin, 1863
Londres, Trübner, 1881
Rome, Eredi Botta, 1881
Paris, Lacroix, 1865
Rome, 1878

Paris, Wiltersheim, 1877
Tübingen, Launpp’schen, 1881
Brême, Silomon, 1881
Londres, Effingham Wilson, 1868
Elberfeld, Martini, 1871
Elberfeld, Martini, 1871

Londres, King, 1876
Londres, Eden, 1878
Londres, Edward Stanford, 1881
Hambourg, Hoffmann, 1846
Hambourg, Herold, 1855
Gotha, Justus Perthes, 1879
Paris, Guillaumin, 1853
Berlin, Puttkammer, 1871
Iena, Mauke, 1860
New-York, Henry Holt, 1878
Berlin, Puttkammer, 1874
Berlin, Puttkammer, 1881
Berlin, Puttkammer, 1881
New-York, Henry Holt, 1878
Londres, Macmillan, 1880
Paris, Hennuyer, 1868
Paris, Revue des Deux-Mondes, 1868
Paris, Guillaumin, 1868
Paris, Guillaumin, 1870
Berlin, Grieben, 1877
Londres, Longmans, 1878
Berlin, Puttkammer, 1880

Berlin, Puttkammer, 1880
Berlin, Leonhard Simion, 1881







©  KBGN-SRNB, 2008-2021