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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/34

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

proportion to such quantity of the commodity as might be accepted by the seller for and yielded by the buyer to obtain the article exchanged. Such a commodity used for the convenience of exchange is money; and all peoples who at different places on the earth's surface at different times have step by step risen from barbarism through barter have made use of money. Different commodities at different places and with different peoples have served for this purpose—skins with one tribe, shells with another, beads with another, and even in our own country, within the last two hundred years, the leaves of the tobacco plant. But no other substances known to man have so completely possessed the attributes of permanence of form, durability, and divisibility as the metals; and therefore lead, tin, copper, silver, and gold have been very extensively used as money.

Another characteristic essential for a commodity used as money is its acceptability, not only among the persons of a particular locality, whose efforts are interchanged, but among the people of all localities whose efforts are interchanged. The shells accepted by the members of one tribe might not be acceptable as money by the members of another tribe among whom skins were used for that purpose. If the members of the tribe using shells as money wove mats and molded pots, which were acceptable for exchange for tools made by the tribe using skins as money, and the money of neither tribe were acceptable to members of the other, there would be direct barter of the tools of one tribe for the mats and pots of the other. But as barter between individuals of one locality results in confusion, so also does barter between individuals of different localities, and the confusion in the processes of exchange by barter becomes the more inextricable as an increasing number of people in an increasing number of localities produce an increasing number of articles acceptable for exchange among the different peoples of the different localities. With the extension of intercourse between tribe and tribe, race and race, has therefore increased the tendency toward the use as money of commodities acceptable as money over the more extended territory occupied by the peoples whose efforts were interchanged. With the increase of this tendency the use of metals as money increased. They have been found in nearly all parts of the earth, and because of their general acceptability—that is, because of a certain common estimation in which they have been held—they have attained to a degree uniformity of value, which has the more nearly approximated perfect uniformity of value as the use of metals as money has become restricted to the metals meeting in greatest degree the requirements of money, which are silver and gold. And as the common needs of similarly situated groups of people have resulted in the formation of the more or