Page:Treatise on Currency and Banking.djvu/25

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CURRENCY AND BANKING.

reader may have at the outset a clear view of this fundamental truth in political economy, that gold and silver being products of industry, possess a value as real and substantial as that which belongs to any other commodities; not indeed founded upon the basis of convention, as some people imagine, but upon their well known applicability to various purposes of utility and ornament for which no other materials possess equal qualities, and which renders them on that account universally sought for. They are therefore not mere representatives of wealth as many persons fancy, but real wealth itself to the full extent of their value.

What proportion of the actual value of gold and silver, as exchangeable for other commodities, is due to their applicability to objects of utility and ornament, and what proportion to their fitness for the purposes of a circulating medium, now that they are applied to that purpose, it would not be easy to determine; nor is it at all necessary to this investigation that it should be determined. It is sufficient for us to know, that almost every individual who can aiford a silver spoon, or a gold watch, or a plated or gilt ornament, will have one; and that if gold and silver were to be wholly disused as money, they would retain a large share of their present value for the purpose of being converted into plate and other objects of manufacture, and in process of time, would again rise to the cost of their production, which would be an indispensable requisite to ensure a future fresh supply.

It will, perhaps, remain for a future day to develope all the reasons why gold and silver have become so universally adopted by all civilised people as the medial commodity, that is, the commodity in exchange for which any other commodity can almost always be readily had. Those with which we are already acquainted, are the following:—

1. Their uniformity of value, varying from one year to another, and from one period of years to an-