Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/598

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580
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ganized a system of instruction in technology of arts and manufactures, for persons actually employed in factories and workshops, who desired to extend and improve their knowledge of the theory and practice of their particular avocations;[1] and a considerable subsidy was liberally granted in aid of the efforts of the Society by the Clothworkers' Company. We have here the hopeful commencement of a rational organization for the promotion of excellence among handicraftsmen. Quite recently other of the livery companies have determined upon giving their powerful and, indeed, almost boundless aid to the improvement of the teaching of handicrafts. They have already gone so far as to appoint a committee to act for them; and I betray no confidence in adding that, some time since, the committee sought the advice and assistance of several persons, myself among the number.

Of course, I cannot tell you what may be the result of the deliberations of the committee; but we may all fairly hope that, before long, steps which will have a weighty and a lasting influence on the growth and spread of sound and thorough teaching among the handicraftsmen[2] of this country will be taken by the livery companies of London.—Fortnightly Review.

 
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THE DEBASEMENT OF COINAGES.
By E. R. LELAND.

IN primitive days the parties to a trade had in every case first to agree as to the quantity and quality of the articles to be exchanged. When gold and silver first made their appearance in the list of commodities they were, along with other metals, in an unfashioned state, and the processes of barter were carried on with them precisely as with more bulky and inconvenient articles, so that at each transfer it became necessary to determine their quality and quantity, that is, their purity and weight, by the crude methods which then obtained. Such is still the case among some of the far-away, half-civilized nations, and in the early days of California and Australia gold-digging, "nuggets" and "dust" were in common use as currency.

With all the perfection of modern scientific appliances the work of assaying is one of great difficulty and nicety, and it must have been impossible for primitive merchants to reach anything but the rudest approximations. To do even this involved a great deal of trouble and loss of time, so that the necessity of devising some means by which

  1. See the "Programme" for 1878, issued by the Society of Arts, p. 14.
  2. It is perhaps advisable to remark that the important question of the professional education of managers of industrial works is not touched in the foregoing remarks.