Page:Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, A - Karl Marx.djvu/151

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where it lands under another machine which cuts it up with oriental cruelty.

That being the case, gold coins could not circulate at all were not their circulation confined to definite spheres in which they do not wear off so rapidly. In so far as a gold coin weighing only one-fifth of an ounce passes in circulation for a quarter of an ounce of gold, it is practically merely a sign or a symbol for one-twentieth of an ounce of gold, and in that way all gold coins are transformed by the very process of circulation into more or less of a mere sign or symbol of their substance. But no thing can be its own symbol. Painted grapes are no symbol of real grapes, they are imaginary grapes. Still less can a light-weight sovereign be a symbol of a full-weighted one, just as a lean horse can not serve as a symbol of a fat one. Since gold thus becomes a symbol of its own self, but at the same time can not serve in that capacity, it receives a symbolical, silver or copper substitute in those spheres of circulation in which it is most subject to wear and tear, namely where purchases and sales are constantly taking place on the smallest scale. In these spheres, even if not the same identical coins, still a certain part of the entire supply of gold money would constantly circulate as coin. To that extent gold is substituted by silver or copper tokens. Thus, while only a specific commodity can perform in a given country the function of a measure of value and therefore of money, different commodities can serve as coin side by side with gold. These subsidiary mediums of circulation, such as silver or copper coins, represent definite fractions of a gold coin within the sphere of cir-