the coinage is free, yet the gold which is carried 
in bullion to the mint, can seldom be returned 
in coin to the owner till after a delay 
of several weeks. In the present hurry of the 
mint, it could not be returned till after a delay 
of several months. This delay is equivalent 
to a small duty, and renders gold in coin 
somewhat more valuable than an equal quantity 
of gold in bullion. If, in the English 
coin, silver was rated according to its proper 
proportion to gold, the price of silver bullion 
would probably fall below the mint price
even without any reformation of the silver 
coin; the value even of the present worn and 
defaced silver coin being regulated by the value 
of the excellent gold coin for which it can 
be changed
A small seignorage or duty upon the coinage 
of both gold and silver, would probably 
increase still more the superiority of those 
metals in coin above an equal quantity of 
either of them in bullion. The coinage 
would, in this case, increase the value of the 
metal coined in proportion to the extent of 
this small duty, for the same reason that the 
fashion increases the value of plate in proportion 
to the price of that fashion. The superiority 
of coin above bullion would prevent 
the melting down of the coin, and would 
discourage its exportation. If, upon any 
public exigency, it should become necessary 
to export the coin, the greater part of it would 
soon return again, of its own accord. Abroad, 
it would sell only for its weight in bullion
At home, it would buy more than that weight
There would be a profit, therefore, in bringing 
it home again. In France, a seignorage 
of about eight per cent. is imposed upon the 
coinage, and the French coin, when exported
is said to return home again, of its own accord. 
The occasional fluctuations in the market 
price of gold and silver bullion arise from the 
same causes as the like fluctuations in that 
of all other commodities. The frequent loss 
of those metals from various accidents by sea 
and land, the continual waste of them in 
gilding and plating, in lace and embroidery
in the wear and tear of coin, and in that of 
plate, require, in all countries which possess 
no mines of their own, a continual importation
in order to repair this lose and this 
waste. The merchant importers, like all 
other merchants, we may believe, endeavour
as well as they can, to suit their occasional 
importations to what they judge is likely to 
be the immediate demand. With all their 
attention, however, they sometimes overdo 
the business, and sometimes underdo it. 
When they import more bullion than is wanted
rather than incur the risk and trouble of 
exporting it again, they are sometimes willing 
to sell a part of it for something less than 
the ordinary or average price. When, on the 
other hand, they import less than is wanted
they get something more than this price
But when, under all those occasional fluctuations, 
the market price either of gold or silver 
bullion continues for several years together 
steadily and constantly, either more or 
less above, or more or less below the mint 
price, we may be assured that this steady and 
constant, either superiority or inferiority of 
price, is the effect of something in the state of 
the coin, which, at that time, renders a certain 
quantity of coin either of more value or 
of less value than precise quantity of bullion 
which it ought to contain. The constancy 
and steadiness of the effect supposes a 
proportionable constancy and steadiness in 
the cause. 
The money of any particular country is, at 
any particular time and place, more or less an 
accurate measure or value, according as the 
current coin is more or less exactly agreeable 
to its standard, or contains more or less exactly 
the precise quantity of pure gold or 
silver which it ought to contain. If in 
England, for example, forty-four guineas and 
a half contained exactly a pound weight of 
standard gold, or eleven ounces of fine gold, 
and one ounce of alloy, the gold coin of England 
would be as accurate a measure of the 
actual goods at any particular time 
and place as the nature of the thing would 
admit. But if, by rubbing and wearing
forty-four guineas and a half generally contain 
less than a pound weight of standard 
gold, the diminution, however, being greater 
in some pieces than in others, the measure of 
value comes to be liable to the same sort of 
uncertainty to which all other weights and 
measures are commonly exposed. As it rarely 
happens that these are exactly agreeable to 
their standard, the merchant adjusts the price 
of his goods as well as he can, not to what 
those weights and measures ought to be, but 
to what, upon an average, he finds, by experience
they actually are. In consequence of 
a like disorder in the coin, the price of goods 
comes, in the same manner, to be adjusted
not to the quantity of pure gold or silver 
which the coin ought to contain, but to that 
which, upon an average, it is found, by experience
it actually does contain. 
By the money price of goods, it is to be 
observed, I understand always the quantity of 
pure gold or silver for which they are sold
without any regard to the denomination of 
the coin. Six shillings and eight pence, for 
example, in the time of Edward I., I consider 
as the same money price with a pound 
sterling in the present times, because it contained
as nearly as we can judge, the same 
quantity of pure silver