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place in different countries, and of which some traces are still retained, appear to have been all settled with a view to the convenience of the Hebrews. But however those persons were occasionally flattered by Christians, they still lived every where in terror, and thus most probably were induced to secure their treasures in secret repositories. This circumstance is considered by Mr. Jacob as one reason for the abstraction at certain periods of large amounts of gold coin from circulation. The scarcity of money in these, countries during the Saxon heptarchy is very remarkable—but still more so is the depression of prices. The gold coin at that time was called a bezant, having been put into circulation by the Romans, who struck it at Constantinople (Byzantium). Seventy-two bezants weighed only one pound. St. Dunstan purchased the manor of Hendon for 200 bezants, or three pounds of gold. Alfred was considered to have left his family well off by leaving his sons five hundred pounds each, or about 14001. of our money, and his daughters one hundred, being about 2801. of the present coin of Great Britain. Mr. Jacob then details the variations of the prices of different commodities, particularly those of agricultural produce, and exhibits the changes in its value which the money itself experienced. As a proof of the high value of gold and silver coin in the period which we have just mentioned, he adduces the amount of the tribute which Athelstan required of Sudwal, chief prince of Wales, whom he subdued in 937. The sum was in value no more than about 17001. of our money: yet so enriched was Athelstan by this tribute, that he was enabled to contract family alliances with the Emperor Otho—the mayor of the palace of Paris, and prince Louis of Aquitain. When Richard I. was detained by the Duke of Austria, the sum demanded for his ransom amounted to about 140,0001. of our money: but even to raise that inconsiderable amount it was necessary to borrow all the money of the churches, as well as that of the barons. It is stated that the money for the ransom was raised with great difficulty; that the chalices and cups were melted down, and a general tax imposed upon every person to the extent of a fourth part of their income. The low price of articles of consumption about the same period also serves to show the high value of money. For the coronation of Richard the First, there were paid for 870 hens, 200 cups, 1350 scutellis or platters, only 121. 158. : for 2000 plates and 200 cups, 31. 15s. 9d. In 1309 the expenses of the installation feast of the Prior of St. Austin, in Canterbury, amounted to 8621. only, including music, cooks, and attendants, 3300 dishes, and 1400 wooden cans or jugs. We shall not pursue the course of the narrative on this part of the subject any longer, contenting ourselves with stating, as the general result of comparative statements, that no great difference is observable between the early and late years of the period which intervenes between the time of the Norman Conquest, and the discovery of America.
Mr. Jacob attributes to the crusades a considerable share of the
merit of having advanced civilization and industry in Europe, and of thereby increasing the wealth of its several nations. But although the mines were not very productive in the meantime, and though the amount of gold in this country was on the decrease, still there was certainly a very great diffusion of money gradually taking place from the year 800 to 1500. The chief part of the gold money brought to the royal mint of England, seems to have been obtained from foreign trade: but we have no clear accounts of our coinage previously to the reign of Edward I. But it fully appears that up to the time mentioned, namely, the commencement of the sixteenth century, the money of domestic coinage formed a very small part of the general circulation.
In the latter century, in consequence of the continental discoveries in the western ocean, commercial intercourse received a mighty impulse. Its business began to be attended with difficulties, and to require system. This was the origin of bills of exchange, and of agencies which were commenced by the Lombards in Italy, and followed in all the principal parts of Europe, by a class styling themselves goldsmiths. These persons had a very great influence in discouraging the circulation of domestic coinage in England : and hence we have another reason to explain why so little of it was coined before the reign of Henry VII. Mr. Jacob proceeds at some length to survey the state of commerce at the close of the fifteenth century in the several kingdoms, with the view of estimating, through such an enquiry, the portions of the precious metals which they severally possessed. This chapter is replete with curious and valuable details.
The great interest which commerce had now established in the general mind, and the example of respectability and influence, of ease and independence being acquired by success in trade, was inflamed by the report of the discoveries of gold mines in America--and, as we before observed, the countries of Europe were resolved that they would have mines of their own. The result, however, was, that in a single century after the discovery of America, the quantity of coin in circulation in Europe was very nearly quadrupled, and the prices of commodities in England, France, and other parts of Europe, advanced at the rate of nearly 470 per cent. Such was the influence exercised on commodities by the increased supply of the precious metals; and after having disposed of this part of his subject
, Mr. Jacob goes on to consider the effect of this new course of events on the several classes of society. The tenor of his observations admits of being briefly stated. At no period of the world, of which we have any account, did so complete a revolution of the subsisting relations between man and man take place, as during the beginning and middle of the sixteenth century, owing, as Mr. Jacob labours to prove, to the impulse which the new accession of the precious metals gave to the minds of men. Its effect,' observes the author, 'has been felt in every quarter of the globe, and has had an influence in the
prosperity of the whole civilized race of man-not by the wealth that the silver and gold amounted to, but by the stimulus it began to administer to every branch of industry, by the impulse it communicated to physical, mechanical, legislative, judicial, and even moral investigations, and by the attachment it inspired to the sound principles which introduced legal, civil, and political freedom.' It had a striking influence likewise on the amount of population, for the increase of 1700 as compared with the amount of 1600, shews an advance of 40 per cent. in the mass of the inhabitants of Europe. Again, husbandry was improved, land became more fertile, and inclement seasons were in a great measure disarmed of their destructive power, by the care and foresight of the farmer. Then, too, our most useful culinary vegetables were first brought into cultivation : turnips, parsnips, early pease, &c.; manufactures began to be followed ; and the dwellings, which, when Erasmus visited England in the former century, were built of wood and mud, and thatched with straw, were in that of which we speak principally constructed of stone or bricks, were floored with timber instead of rushes and mats, and covered with slates or tiles. In fine, Mr. Jacob thinks that after a careful survey of the state of the country at the two periods, he is justified in the conclusion that the five millions five hundred thousand (the assumed number of the population) in 1700, enjoyed at least double the amount of material wealth that was possessed by the three millions eight hundred thousand (the assumed number of the population) in 1600.
Mr. Jacob continues the history of the precious metals down to the time in which we live. He estimates the produce of the SouthAmerican mines at different periods as it has been ascertained by the diligent De Humboldt; and he next attempts to appreciate the quantity of gold and silver which had been employed in any other purpose than that connected with the coinage. In following this part of his subject, the author is led to furnish many curious particulars respecting the use of gold and silver in the houses of the great and opulent.
It was not until the voluptuous Louis XV. directed the court system of France, that plate was much used in that kingdom. Necker's accounts shew an increase in the use of this costly article, between 1709 and 1759, in the proportion of seven to one. In Spain, plate was chiefly confined to the ecclesiastical establishments, and in Italy it was very extensively used by all ranks. There appears to have been but little plate used in England before the time of Queen Anne. At least it appears from unquestionable documents, that there was a very sudden increase of the manufacture of plate in that reign. Mr. Jacob ingeniously suggests that an impulse was communicated to the nobility by the magnificent presents of gold and silver plate to the Duke of Marlborough for his services; and it may be worthy of note, that all the old plate in this country--that which is preserved in high families,
such as the Duke of Devonshire's, as also that which is still used by the Goldsmith's Company-bears marks of having been manufactured in the time of Queen Anne. The use of tea likewise
gave rise to a more than usual demand for small spoons, which were scarcely known at the time of the revolution. The progress in the consumption of plate did not proceed so rapidly during the two ensuing reigns. But the accession of George III. seems to have created a new ambition for the use of plate, and the spirit has gone on increasing ever since. Silver now superseded both pewter and iron in the spoons and forks of daily use. The latter, however, was by no means universal amongst the upper classes of society until about the end of the reign of George III.
From 1765 to 1780, tea-urns, tureens, teapots, coffee-pots, made of silver, were introduced. The Sheffield plate has, since 1780, caused a very considerable increase in the consumption of silver.
The same cause which stimulated the consumption of silver, produced a similar effect with respect to gold; and at the period which has been just mentioned, the gold-beaters and gilders had vastly multiplied. Gilding in houses was another increasing source of consumption; and latterly no small portion of that precious metal is used in the potteries of England, and in those of France, Prussia, Saxony, and other parts of the continent. But the most rapid augmentation in the use of gold during the reign of George III. has taken place in the manufacture of trinkets and jewellery, such as brooches, bracelets, breast-pins, ear-rings, &c. These articles were imitated in Birmingham with gold of an inferior fineness to that used by the London jewellers; but they were cheaper and much more generally bought, so that the consumption of gold in this way was much more promoted than it would have been if the standard fineness had been always adhered to. Sixty years ago, gold and silver lace was used in the ordinary costume of gentlemen.* The following account will shew the progress of the increase for several years :
• Gross produce of the duty on gold and silver plate in Great Britain, from 1st August, 1784, to 5th January, 1800 :Year ending 1st August, 1785
£25,300 5 1 1786
22,824 14 102 1787
25,617 3 93 1788
28,397 12 9 1789
25,545 8 93 1790
26,681 11 1791
29,085 8 1792
31,376 15 5
* If this work arrive at a second edition, we would recommend Mr. Jacob to turn his attention to the history of gold and silver epaulettes, the consumption of the precious metals in which, we have reason to think, might be accurately ascertained.
VOL. III. (1831.) NO. 11.
Year ending 1st August, 1793
£34,049 18 103
cannot be given.
32,423 7 21
40,052 18 51
44,079 15 2
27,659 6 82'
, Without going into the specific grounds on which Mr. Jacob. calculates the proportion of gold and silver applied in the remaining countries of Europe to other purposes than coin, we shall merely state the result of his estimate, which is, that during the one hundred and ten years that intervened between 1700 and 1810, the quantity of gold and silver converted into other objects than coin, amounted to two-thirds of that which was left in Europe, the part conveyed to Asia being subtracted from the total produce of the mines.
Mr. Jacob enters into an elaborate estimate of the recent produce of the mines; that is to say, from 1809 to 1829. As the works from which he draws his principal materials have been all nearly in succession under our critical consideration, we do not deem it necessary to follow the author farther in this branch of the investigation. He annexes to it a chapter on the consumption of the precious metals in other uses than those connected with the coinage during the same period, and from the many curious and original details which he gives of the trades of gold-beating, jewellery, and indeed, of all those which have gold and silver for their principal materials, we consider this to be a very amusing and instructive portion of the work.
In London, it seems, the greatest portion of the precious metals is submitted to manufacture. Next to the capital, the largest amount is used in Birmingham, Liverpool and Chester, Derby, Newcastle, York, and Exeter. There is scarcely a town, indeed, in the three kingdoms, that does not contain a jeweller's shop. Mr. Jacob, by personal inquiries, has obtained what he considers sufficient materials to authorize him in making an estimate of the general consumption of the precious metal in other ways than in the coinage. His first step was to ascertain the quantity of gold which is annually produced by the whole of the refiners and sweepwashers. The latter class are technically so called from the nature of their business. The sweep-washer is generally a refiner of gold, who purchases the refuse that is swept from the floors of those workshops where the divisions, and subdivisions, of gold and silver are carried on. The sweepings are crushed by stamping into dust, and the mass being amalgamated with mercury, is exposed to heat, when the mercury comes off by evaporation, and is then condensed and preserved. There are about twenty-four houses of this descrip