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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/184

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172
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the same year to 461/6d. From January to September, 1887, the average price was 46·8d., declining to 441/8d. in October.

During the early years of the decline of silver, the opinion was extensively entertained, that it was primarily and mainly occasioned by the new supply to the world's market, consequent upon the sales of silver by Germany,[1] and this opinion found so much of favor with leading German bankers, that it is understood that Germany suspended her sales of silver in 1879 in accordance with their advice, and with the expectation that a partial or entire recovery of price would thereby ensue. But no such result, as is well known, followed the suspension of sales thus recommended. How little, moreover, there was of foundation for this opinion, will appear from the following circumstances:

The aggregate silver product of the world during the years (1873-'79), when Germany was selling her discarded coinage, was $581,800,000, or more than four times the amount of the sales ($141,781,000) which Germany actually effected. Again, during the same period of years when Germany was increasing the world's supply of silver, through her sales, to the extent of $141,781,000, the United States drew upon and reduced this same supply by increasing her dollar and subsidiary coinage to the amount of $111,307,187.[2] Surely the world's status of silver during these years must have been one of extraordinarily unstable equilibrium from antecedent causes, threatening serious fluctuations in price even in the absence of anything abnormal, if the addition of so small a net product during six years as $30,473,000 to the current market supply of silver could depress the average bullion price of the world's mass of this metal from 591/4 to 511/4 pence per ounce, or over thirteen per cent.

That the term "unstable equilibrium" is truly expressive of the real status of silver in 1873 would further appear from the following evidence: There was a well-recognized movement in France against silver and in favor of gold from 1853 to 1865, and its influence would probably have shown itself in a fall in value of silver, had it not have been for the cotton-famine consequent on the American war, which occasioned extraordinary shipments of silver to India, and so counter--

  1. The amount of silver (old coin) which Germany up to 1880 was able to sell, as the result of her policy of displacing silver by gold, has been estimated at $270,000,000. Of this amount $141,781,000 had been sold up to May, 1879, when the sales were suspended; and since then, it is understood, that only a few additional millions have been marketed, i. e., to Egypt. In addition, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, which followed the lead of Germany, and changed their silver circulation to gold, have since thrown upon the market about $9,000,000 of silver. (See Laughlin's History of Bimetallism in the United States, pp. 141-145.)
  2. During the twenty years from 1853 to 1873, the aggregate silver coinage of the United States was $57,137,000, or an average of only $2,856,000 per annum, and of this aggregate but $5,538,948 was in the form of silver dollars. From 1874 to 1879, inclusive, the silver coinage of the United States was 35,859,360 trade-dollars, 35,801,000 standard dollars, 22,899,785 halves, and 16,747,042 quarters and twenty-cent pieces; total, $111,307,187, or an average of $18,560,000 per annum.