Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/33

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mold and harden the clay into pots, to fashion and wield the oar, to weave the bands of willow into mat and basket, it became impossible for any one man to accomplish for himself all that man had learned to do. There was division of labor, first perhaps between a man and the women of his household, but in time the efforts of the members of any one family alone became impossible to supply its wants. There was a further division of labor, and the exchange of the results of effort is the more marked as the division of labor increases. When one man traded pots of clay to another for flesh obtained in the chase, the efforts of the one in digging, molding, and baking were exchanged for the efforts of the other in hunting, killing, and delivering the game. This was barter and barter, or the exchange of effort as embodied in desired commodities, without the intervention of other commodities, endured over much of the earth for centuries, complicated by the customs of slavery, feudalism, and absolutism. But as man learned in a greater number of ways to produce a greater variety of articles, barter became inadequate to effect their exchange. A weaver might want a bow and a dozen arrows, and a maker of bows and arrows might want a bolt of cloth; but the weaver, perceiving that he had to work six days to make the cloth, while six bows and as many dozen arrows might be made in that time, of material no more difficult to obtain and by a man no more skillful than himself, would properly refuse to exchange the cloth for fewer than that number of bows and arrows—that is, a bolt of cloth would be worth six bows and six dozen arrows. If, however, the exchange were so made, the weaver would have five bows and five dozen arrows which he did not need. He, therefore, would not obtain the reward for his own use of his effort in producing the bolt of cloth until he had exchanged the five bows and five dozen arrows for articles that he could use. Consequently, if barter were persisted in, each purchaser would accumulate a number of articles of different kinds for which he had no need, and he might have no place wherein to store them. Each producer would be endeavoring to exchange articles made by every other producer, and so have his time absorbed that his efforts in production would be lessened. The process of exchange would be of inextricable confusion. If, however, there were some one commodity for which each producer would readily exchange his products at any time, so that, therefore, each person could at any time exchange this commodity for any other commodity that he might need, the process of exchange would be simplified. It is evident that such a commodity must occupy little space, so that it could be readily stored, that it must not be perishable, and that it must be so divisible that different portions of it might be exchanged for different commodities in proportion to their value—that is, in