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Denomination of Money.
Present weight in
of pure gold.
United States...... Half Eagle..... ....
The objections which may be made to the unit proposed in this Code, are objections which may be urged against the introduction of any international unit of money. They are found in the inconvenience which will be temporarily experienced in those countries in which the change in the standard of value may disturb, to some extent, the adjustment of prices to commodities, and may require special legislation to secure the equitable fulfillment of contracts; and also in the trouble and expense attendant on the calling in of a coinage which the new system may have rendered un. serviceable. But these disadvantages are inseparable from the nature of the reform itself, whatever may be the special shape in which it comes ; and if the reform is to be accomplished, they must be encountered. No other plan of unification hitherto proposed has justified the promise that its introduction could be effected with fewer temporary disadvantages than must attend this.
What gold coins shall be legal tender.
500. All gold coins, of the value of the dollar, or of multiples of the dollar by the whole numbers, two, five, ten, twenty, or fifty, which may be struck by any nation, and which, in respect to weight and fineness, shall be originally within the limits specified in article 503, and shall not have become diininished by abrasion, fraud or otherwise, below the lowest of these limits, shall be a legal tender at their nominal value for payments of any amount in any place within the jurisdiction' of any of the nations.
1 See Title VIII.
501. Silver coins of the value of one dollar, or any fraction of a dollar, may be issued to facilitate the minor transactions of business; and such coins shall be composed of an alloy, consisting of nine parts of pure silver to one part of base metal, and shall have a weight equal to fifteen times the weight, which, under the provisions of this Code, is prescribed for gold coins of the same nominal value, respectively.
The present ratio of gold to silver, in respect to value at the mints of the United States, is 14.88 to 1, as between the gold coinage and the fractional silver; and 16 to 1 as between the gold coinage and the silver dollar. The silver dollar, being worth more than its nominal value, has nearly disappeared from circulation. The relative value of these metals has largely varied during the last five or six centuries in Europe. Under Henry III. in England, it stood less than 10 to 1; and at the commencement of the coinage of gold under Edward III., in the fourteenth century, it was about 124 to 1. (Mr. E. B. Elliott, in Blake's Report on the Precious Metals. Reports of the Am. Com'rs to Paris Exposition.) To this point it returned, after nunerous oscillations, at the commencement of the seventeenth century; after which time it continued on the whole to increase until 1848, when it was 15.83 to 1. This was the culminating point. Since the opening of the Californian and Australian gold fields, there has been a slight reaction ; but the effect in this respect of the very large increase in the production of gold, has been much less than might reasonably have been anticipated. Mr. Elliott puts the ratio at present at 15.38 to 1. (Blake's Report, above cited. It is possibly somewhat less. The French mint ratio, in the case of the silver five-franc piece, is 15.5 to 1. This piece, therefore, has nearly disappeared. The French mint ratio, in respect to the two-franc, one-franc, and fractional silver coins, is 14.38 to 1. The British mint ratio is 14.28 to 1. The ratio, 15 to 1, adopted in this Code, is convenient, and very near the truth; the error being in favor of the preservation of the coin from the melting-pot.
What silver coin shall be legal tender, and to what extent.
502. The silver coins issued under the last article, when the same shall, in respect to weight and fineness, be within the limits prescribed in article 503, shall be a legal tender at their nominal value, in any place within the jurisdiction of any of the nations ; in the case of the silver dollar, for payments not exceeding ten dollars ; and in the case of fractional silver coins, for payments not exceeding five dollars.
Limits of variation from standard. weight or fineness within which coins shall be current.
503. In the preparation of the coins authorized by this Code, there shall be allowed a deviation from the standard weight and fineness, prescribed in articles
1. In respect to weight:
For gold coins, one one-hundredth part of the square root of the weight expressed in tergrammes.
For silver coins, one one-hundredth part of the square root of the weight expressed in pentagrammes.'
And the foregoing rules shall be applicable to coins weighed in bulk as well as to single pieces.
2. In respect to fineness : For gold coins ; one part in one thousand. For silver coins ; two parts in one thousand. The rules in regard to tolerance of variations have heretofore been arbitrary. The British law makes the tolerance for gold coins two onethousandths of the total weight; and for silver coins, four one-thousandths of the total weight. (33 Vict. c. 10, $ 20.) The amount of deviation from the standard allowed is, therefore, directly proportioned to the weight of the coin. There would be reason in this, if the tolerance were near the turning weight of the balance; but as it is immensely greater, (say from one hundred to ten thousand times greater,) the tolerance allowed in large coins should be in much less proportion to the weight than that permitted in small coins.
The law of the United States, (Act of Congress of Jan. 18, 1837,) for a considerable period of time, allowed the same absolute amount of variation of weight (one-quarter of a grain) for all gold coins ; which was equivalent to something less than one two-thousandth part of the double eagle, * and one one-hundredth part for the dollar. At the present time the allowance is one-half a grain for the double eagle, eagle and half eagle, and one-quarter of a grain for the quarter eagle and dollar. (Act of Congress, of Mar. 3, 1849.)
The proportion, therefore, varies from about one one-thousandth (in the double eagle) to one one-hundredth (in the dollar).
For silver coins, the allowance is one and a half grains on the dollar + and half dollar, one grain on the quarter dollar, and a half grain on the
* The double eagle, 516 gr. The eagle, 258 gr. The half eagle, 129 gr. The quarter eagle, 64.5 gr. The dollar, 25.8.
The dollar, 412.5 gr. The half dollar, 192 gr. The quarter dollar, 96 gr. The dime, 38.4 gr. The half dime, 19.2.
lesser coins, varying from one two hundred and seventy-fifth to about one-fortieth. For gold, in masses of one thousand pieces, the allowance varies from one-seven-thousandth (for double eagles) to one-twenty. seven-hundredth (for the quarter eagles ;) and for silver, from one one-forty-three-hundredth (for the dollar,) to one-sixteen-hundredth (for dimes.) Act of Congress, of Jan. 18, 1837.
According to the law of probabilities in respect to the numerical results of experiment or observation, the probable error should vary as the square root of the total number. If, therefore, a just allowance can be empiri. cally determined for a given coin, the allowance for any number may be readily deduced from the law of the square roots. The same law will also fairly represent the allowance for single coins of different weights, after the proper allowance for one representing the unit of weight shall have been ascertained.
The numercial constants introduced into this Article are derived from the determinations of Mr. E. B. Elliott, Statistician of the United States Treasury.
I The term pentagramme, formed upon the principles of the metric nomenclature, signifies five grammes.
It seems proper to present the ratio of the tolerated variations of weight to the total weight of the several coins, as the result from the rule laid down in this Article; the corresponding ratios tolerated by the Statutes of Great Britain and the United States having been above given. A formula may be constructed for computing these ratios, equally for gold and for silver at the same time, by taking advantage of the convenient circumstances, that, inasın uch as one pentagramme is equivalent to fifteen tergrammes, therefore, a gold coin weighing any given number of tergrammes will have, according to the relation defined in Article 501, the same value as a silver coin weighing the same number of pentagrammes.
Then putting W for the weight of a coin, and T for the variation of weight tolerated; W, W, and T, T, for the weight and tolerance in tergrammes and pentagrammes respectively; we shall have, in accord. ance with the rule of this Article,
to VW, – T,, the variation tolerated in gold coins, referred to the tergramme as a unit; and,
to VW,- T, the corresponding variation for silver coins, referred to the pentagramme as a unit.
T. Tetto VW · 1
A180, W. W. W 100WW. That is to say, the ratio of tolerance to weight, for coins of either gold or silver, is found in dividing unity by one hundred times the square root of the weight; the quotient being tergrammes in the first instance, and pentagrammes in the second. If we, therefore, put W-1, the tolerance is one one-hundredth part of the weight. One tergramme of gold, or one pentagramme of silver, has the value of one-fifth of a dollar - one franc (international) — 1-25th of a sovereign (international) — twenty cents. The variation of value tolerated by the rule, in a coin of this weight, would therefore amount to one one-hundreth of twenty cents, or one-fifth of one cent. The variations of weight and value tolerated in coins in which W is greater or less than unity, are given for the cases most likely to occur in actual coinage, in the following table ; in which the weights are to be read as pentagrammes for silver coins, and as tergrammes for gold coins.
Weight, tolerated variation of weight, and tolerated variation of value in gold and silver
coins, as determined by the rule of Article 503 of this Code; compared with the same as faced by the statutes of Great Britain and the United States.
Half Dime = 870 (silver).... 0-25 0.005
50.001 $0.000R $0.0013 Dime = $70
0.0014 0.0004 0.0013 Franc = $
1.001 0.01 to 0.002 0.0008 0.0013 Quarter Dollar
1625 0.0112 TITg
| 0.002A 0.001 0.0036 Half Dollar
" .... 2.50 0.0158 768•T 0.0032 0.002 0.00391 Dollar (gold or silver)..
5-00 0·0224 223.5
0 00 10.002+|+0.0097 Quarter Eagle = $24 (gold)..
12:50 1.0364 363.7 0.00707 0·005 0·0097 Half Eagle = $5 25.00 0.05 to 0.01
0.0194 Eagle = $10
6000 0·0707 702.1 0.01414 0.02 0.0194 Double Eagle = $20 100-00 0°1 Tooo 0·02
0.0194 1000 Eagles = $10,000 “..
50,000.00 2.2861 2261 0.447 20.00 1.8605 1000 Double ) =$20,000 “.. Eagles
100,000.00 3.1628 1729 0.632 40.00 2.7907 5000 Eagles = $50,000 “ 250,000.00 5.00 Totoo 1.00 100.07 9.3025 10,000 Double
Eagles" }=$200,000" .|1,000,000.00 10.00 IT0o0o0| 2.00 400.00 27.9070
+ Gold. The tolerance of variation in value, as given in the last colump but one in the above table, is computed according to the British rule, although the coins named are not issued by the British mint. The mint of the United States coins all that are named, except the franc or double dime. The British tolerance for small silver coins is too low, and for large gold coips too large, The British statute provides no different rule for toler. ance of single coins, and for coin in masses. Hence the variations in the last four examples in the table are excessive. It will be seen, however, that, by the rule given in this Code, the results are entirely consistent ; and the computed tolerances are quite reasonable, whether coins are considered singly or in bulk.