Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/56

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46
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

000 ounces in the years 1821-'50, and only 790,000 ounces in the decade ending 1880."[1]

But the most tangible and solid evidence that can be found on the subject lies probably in the history of the production of gold. On page 174 of the Report of the Director of the Mint for 1894 is a table giving a statement of the annual product of gold from the discovery of America. It may be summarized as follows:

Periods. Average annual product.
1493 to 1520 $3,855,000
1701 to 1720 8,520,000
1801 to 1810 11,815,000
1850 to 1855 132,613,000
1890 118,849,000
1893 157,222,000

Prior to the Californian period the average product for three hundred and fifty years was about $8,794,000. Before 1493 it was still less. The value of gold therefore—its standing relatively to other commodities–may be said to have been determined by this long-continued rate of production. Then almost in the twinkling of an eye came the Californian and Australian discoveries. The annual product of gold became nearly twenty times what it had been: and this rate of production has not only been substantially maintained, but is now showing a rapid increase. The extraordinary contrast between the annual product of gold prior to and after 1850 deserves a diagram:


World's annual product of gold, 1493 to 1850
World's annual product of gold, 1850 to 1893.
Total product, 1493 to 1850, $3,158,233,000.
Total product, 1850 to 1893, $5,240,878,000.


It is therefore difficult to imagine that gold has appreciated fifty per cent, or to any other extent, in the face of this wonderful and continuous production.[2] The facts above stated—its standing relative to labor, land, and commodities not greatly affected by modern conditions, the economy in its use effected by banks and checks, and its novel rate of production lead me, on the contrary, to think that since 1845 gold has suffered a slight decline, some-

  1. Mulhall, History of Prices, p. 11. "Notwithstanding the great increase which has taken place in the means of all classes during the interval, the average Englishman of the present day consumes less gold than the Englishman of fifty years back." (J. E. Cairaes, Essays, p. 134.) M. Chevalier likewise finds a decrease in the consumption of gold for tableware purposes during the present century, both in England and France.
  2. J. E. Cairnes (Essays, p. 115) states the gold production of the three hundred and fifty-six years from 1492 to 1848 to have been, in round numbers, £400,000,000—an amount nearly supplied, as he states, every decade at the present rate of production.