Financial History 143 Fall 2022 - Page 33

World Gold / Silver Price Ratio ( ounce of silver per ounce of gold ), 1793 to 1834
1793
15.00
1794
15.37
1795
15.55
1796
15.65
1797
15.41
1798
15.59
1799
15.74
1800
15.68
1801
15.46
1802
15.26
1803
15.41
1804
15.41
1805
15.79
1806
15.52
1807
15.43
1808
16.08
1809
15.96
1810
15.77
1811
15.53
1812
16.11
1813
16.25
1814
15.04
1815
15.26
1816
15.28
1817
15.11
1818
15.35
1819
15.33
1820
15.62
1821
15.95
1822
15.80
1823
15.84
1824
15.82
1825
15.70
1826
15.76
1827
15.74
1828
15.78
1829
15.78
1830
15.82
1831
15.72
1832
15.73
1833
15.93
1834
15.73
US silver dollars were undervalued , and the vast majority of them were shipped off to the West Indies and then to China . Mintage of silver dollars ended in 1803 and did not start again until 1840 .
From 1793 – 1833 , gold coins accounted for approximately 25 % of the Mint ’ s production . As discussed , the vast majority of those coins were exported as de facto bullion . The surviving coins today — many of which are great rarities — were the subject of hoarding and possible storage in banks . This begs the question of why , over the course of 40 years , did Congress not once modify the silver to gold ratio ? If gold merchants were regularly bringing gold bullion to the Mint to be converted into coins for the sole purpose of export , why did Mint officials not petition Congress to amend the law and charge seigniorage ?
Hamilton left the US Treasury in 1795 and died in 1804 , and no other financial minds stepped in to successfully confront these challenges . Congress and successive Mint directors discussed and complained about these problems for 40 years , yet nothing was done to fix them .
Eric Brothers has been a frequent contributor to The Numismatist , the publication of the American Numismatic Association ( ANA ), since 2006 . Several of his articles have covered financial history , including “ Alexander Hamilton and the Panic of 1792 ” ( January 2021 ). He has received five literary awards for his work in The Numismatist and also authored a nonfiction book on the German resistance , titled Berlin Ghetto : Herbert Baum and the Antifascist Resistance ( Spellmount : Stroud UK , 2012 ). This is his second article for Financial History .
Sources American State Papers . “ Finance .” Vol . 3 , pages
399 , 646 .
Brothers , Eric . “ Forging the US Mint from the Words of Alexander Hamilton .” Financial History , Issue 141 . Spring 2022 .
Greenfield , Robert L . and Hugh Rockoff . “ Gresham ’ s Law in Nineteenth-Century America .” Journal of Money , Credit and Banking . Vol . 27 , No . 4 , Part 1 , pp . 1086- 1098 . November 1995 .
Kleeberg , John M . “ The Silver Dollar as an Element of International Trade : A Study in Failure .” Coinage of the Americas Conference at the American Numismatic Society . New York , NY . October 30 , 1993 .
Lee , Alfred E . “ Bimetallism in the United States .” Political Science Quarterly . Vol . 1 , No . 3 , pp . 386 – 399 . September 1886 .
New American State Papers . “ Public Finance .” Volume 27 , pages 292 , 325 .
Officer , Lawrence H . and Samuel H . Williamson . “ The Price of Gold , 1257 – Present .” MeasuringWorth . 2022 . http :// www . measuringworth . com / gold /
PCGS CoinFacts . https :// www . pcgs . com / coinfacts
Sylla , Richard and David J . Cowen . Alexander Hamilton on Finance , Credit , and Debt . Columbia University Press , on behalf of The Museum of American Finance : New York . 2018 .
Taxay , Don . The U . S . Mint and Coinage : An Illustrated History from 1776 to the Present . Sanford J . Durst : New York . 1966 ( 1983 ).
Yeoman , R . S . A Guide Book of United States Coins . Whitman Publishing , LLC . 2021 .
Heritage Auctions , ha . com www . MoAF . org | Fall 2022 | FINANCIAL HISTORY 31