though we had no direct trade with Portugal, 
this small quantity could always, somewhere 
or another, be very easily got. 
Though the goldsmiths trade be very considerable 
in Great Britain, the far greater part 
of the new plate which they annually sell, is 
made from other old plate melted down; so 
that the addition annually made to the whole 
plate of the kingdom cannot be very great, and 
could require but a very small annual importation
It is the same case with the coin. Nobody 
imagines, I believe, that even the greater part 
of the annual coinage, amounting, for ten 
years together, before the late reformation of 
the gold coin, to upwards of L.800,000 a-year 
in gold, was an annual addition to the money 
before current in the kingdom. In a country 
where the expense of the coinage is defrayed 
by the government, the value of the coin, even 
when it contains its full standard weight of 
gold and silver, can never be much greater 
than that of an equal quantity of those metals 
uncoined, because it requires only the trouble 
of going to the mint, and the delay, perhaps, 
of a few weeks, to procure for any quantity of 
uncoined gold and silver an equal quantity of 
those metals in coin; but in every country 
the greater part of the current coin is almost 
always more or less worn, or otherwise degenerated 
from its standard. In Great Britain 
it was, before the late reformation, a good 
deal so, the gold being more than two per 
cent., and the silver more than eight per cent
below its standard weight. But if forty-four 
guineas and a-half, containing their full standard 
weight, a pound weight of gold, could 
purchase very little more than a pound weight 
of uncoined gold; forty-four guineas and a-half
wanting a part of their weight, could 
not purchase a pound weight, and something 
was to be added, in order to make up the deficiency. 
The current price of gold bullion 
at market, therefore, instead of being the same 
with the mint price, or L.46 : 14 : 6, was 
then about L.47 : 14s., and sometimes about 
L.48. When the greater part of the coin, however, 
was in this degenerate condition, forty-four 
guineas and a-half, fresh from the mint
would purchase no more goods in the market 
than any other ordinary guineas; because, 
when they came into the coffers of the merchant, 
being confounded with other money
they could not afterwards be distinguished 
without more trouble than the difference was 
worth. Like other guineas, they were worth 
no more than L.46 : 14 : 6. If thrown into 
the melting pot, however, they produced, without 
any sensible loss, a pound weight of 
standard gold, which could be sold at any 
time for between L.47 : 14s. and L.48, either 
in gold or silver, as fit for all the purposes of 
coin as that which had been melted down. 
There was an evident profit, therefore, in 
melting down new-coined money; and it was 
done so instantaneously, that no precaution 
of government could prevent it. The operations 
of the mint were, upon this account, 
somewhat like the web of Penelop√©; the work 
that was done in the day was undone in the 
night. The mint was employed, not so much 
in making daily additions to the coin, as in 
replacing the very best part of it, which was 
daily melted down. 
Were the private people who carry their 
gold and silver to the mint to pay themselves 
for the coinage, it would add to the value of 
those metals, in the same manner as the fashion 
does to that of plate. Coined gold and 
silver would be more valuable than uncoined
The seignorage, if it was not exorbitant
would add to the bullion the whole value of 
the duty; because, the government having 
everywhere the exclusive privilege of coining
no coin can come to market cheaper than they 
think proper to afford it. If the duty was 
exorbitant, indeed, that is, if it was very much 
above the real value of the labour and expense 
requisite for coinage, false coiners, both 
at home and abroad, might be encouraged, by 
the great difference between the value of bullion 
and that of coin, to pour in so great a 
quantity of counterfeit money as might reduce 
the value of the government money. In 
France, however, though the seignorage is 
eight per cent., no sensible inconveniency of 
this kind is found to arise from it. The dangers 
to which a false coiner is everywhere exposed, 
if he lives in the country of which he 
counterfeits the coin, and to which his agents 
or correspondents are exposed, if he lives in 
a foreign country, are by far too great to be 
incurred for the sake of a profit of six or seven 
per cent
The seignorage in France raises the value 
of the coin higher than in proportion to the 
quantity of pure gold which it contains. Thus, 
by the edict of January 1726, the[41] mint price 
of fine gold of twenty-four carats was fixed at 
seven hundred and forty livres nine sous and 
one denier one-eleventh the mark of eight Paris 
ounces. The gold coin of France, making 
an allowance for the remedy of the mint, contains 
twenty-one carats and three-fourths of 
fine gold, and two carats one-fourth of alloy
The mark of standard gold, therefore, is worth 
no more than about six hundred and seventy-one 
livres ten deniers. But in France this 
mark of standard gold is coined into thirty 
louis d'ors of twenty-four livres each, or into 
seven hundred and twenty livres. The coinage
therefore, increases the value of a mark 
of standard gold bullion, by the difference between 
six hundred and seventy-one livres ten 
deniers and seven hundred and twenty livres
or by forty-eight livres nineteen sous and two