Weights Measures Money
Query XXI.[ 282 ]
THE weights, measures, and the currency of the hard money? Some details relating to the exchange with Europe?
Our weights and measures are the same which are fixed by acts of parliament in England.–How it has happened that in this, as well as the other American states the nominal value of coin was made to differ from what it was in the country we had left, and [ Tip-in 23, Page 1 ]
Foot note for p 283
In the states where the Dollar is valued at 6/. the coincidence of their currency with the Greek Roman monies is so singular as to be worthy notice to found suspicion that this object may have had some influence in fixing our monies at this particular point, at a time when the value of Greek Roman learning was more justly estimated than at this day. The Penny lawful is precisely the Roman as, which was their unit, 10. of which, equal to ten Pence lawful made the Attic Drachma according to Pliny, l.21.c.33. in the latter ages of their history the monies of these two people were interwoven so as to make parts of the same series, which were in some degree decimal.The as (L. at first Libralis but latterly ½ an ounce of copper called Libella) = 1.d lawful.
10. as made the Denarius (X.) or Attic Drachm= 10.d
100. denarii made the Mina or Pondo = 1000d or £4-3-4
the denarius having been divide into fourth of 2½ as each, the fourth was called
a Sestertius or Nummus (LLS. or HS.) = 2½d
100. Sesterces made an Aureus latterly = 250d = £1-0-10
1000. Sesterces made the Sestertium = £10-8-4
the Libra = 96 X. = £4. lawful
the Talent of Silver = 60 Mina = £250.
the Talent of Gold was the decuple of the talent of silver at the proportion of 10 for 1. as among the Romans = £2500.
and was the Miliary of the Libra if valued at 16. for 1. as among moderns = 1000. Librae = £4000.
It is understood that the Attic drachm of silver was exactly our Dram Troy of 60. gr. the Denarius of the Romans was the 7.th part of their Ounce, which is supposed to have been exactly our Avoirdupois ounce, but this is of 437½ gr. Troy, which would make the Roman Denarios 62 ½ gr. consequently[ Tip-in 23, Page 2 ]
1/24 more than the Attic drachm, contrary to the testimony of antiquity that the Denarius and the Drachm were equal. we may very probably conjecture that our Troy weight is taken from the Grecians, from whom our Physicians derive their science , in copying their recipes, would of course preserve their weights which fix the quantum proportion of ingredients. We may as probably affirm that our Avoirdupois weight is taken from the Romans, from whom through their colonies conquests in France, Spain, Germany, Britain we derive our Agriculture Commerce. accordingly we observe that while we weight our physic by the Troy or Grecian weights, we use the Avoirdupois or Roman for the productions of agriculture general articles of Commerce. and since Antiquity affirms that these two series were united by the equality of the Drachm Denarius, we must conclude that in progress of time, they have become a little separated in use with us, to wit 1/24 part as before noted.
But the point at which their separation has been arrested, and fixed is a very remarkable one. 1000 ounces avoirdupois make exactly a cubic foot of water. this integral, decimal, cubical relation induces a presumption that while deciding among the varieties uncertainties which, during the ruder ages of the arts, we know had crept into the weights measures of England, they had adopted for their standard those which stood so conveniently connected through the medium of a natural element, always at hand to be appealed to.
The ounce avoirdupois being this fixed at the thousandth part of a cubic foot of water, the Winchester bushel, of 2150.4 cubic inches, filled with water, would weight 77.7 lb avoirdupois, [ Tip-in 23, Page 3 ]
and, filled with wheat of statute quality, weighed 64. lb amidst the varieties discovered between the standard weights Avoirdupois Troy in their different depositories, it would be observed that all of them were a little over or under this proportion: this would suffice to give this proportion the preference, and to fix the standard relation between the Avoirdupois Troy pounds at that which nature has established between the weights of water and wheat: and the Troy grain, 5760 of which make the pound Troy, would be so adjusted as that 7000 of them would make the pound Avoirdupois. for 7000:5760::77.7: 64. Exactly the same proportion is known to exist between the dry liquid measures. for the corn gallon contains 272. cubic inches the antient liquid gallon of Guildhall 224. cubic inches. so that the system of weights measures Avoirdupois Troy, dry liquid are found to be in the simple relation of the weights measure of the two obvious and natural subjects water wheat. that is to say, the Pound Avoirdupoise:Pound Troy::the weight of water:weight of wheat::the bulk of the corn gallon : the bulk of the liquid gallon or 7000:5760::77.7:64::272:224.
These weights measures seem to have been so combined as to render it immaterial whether a commodity was dealt out by weight or measure. for the dry gallon of wheat, the liquid one of wine were of the same weight, the Avoirdupois pound of wheat, the Troy pound of wine were of the same measure. a more natural, accurate, curious reconciliation of the two systems of Greece Rome which happened to be found in use could not have been imagined; the extension of the connection, from weights measures, to coins, as is done so integrally by our Lawful currency, which makes the penny of 6. grains of silver, as was the Roman as, has completed the system.
[ Tip-in 23, Page 4 ]
It is true, we find no trace either in English or American history, that these were the views which determined the relations existing between our weights, measures and monies. but it is more difficult to conceive that such a series of combinations should have been merely accidental, than that History should have been silent about them.
I am aware that there are differences of opinion as to the antient weights coins. those here stated are taken from Brerewood, Kennet, Ainsworth the Encylopedie; are as likely to have prevailed with our ancestors as the opinions opposed to them.[ 283 ]
[ 284 ]
|British gold coin not milled, coined gold of Spain and France, chequins, Arabian gold, moidores of Portugal||}||5s the dwt.|
|Coined gold of the empire||5s. the dwt.||4s 3 the dwt.|
|English milled silver money, in proportion to the crown, at||5s 10||6s 3|
|Pieces of eight of Mexico, Seville, and Pillar, ducatoons of Flanders, French ecus, or silver Louis, crusados of Portugal||}||3¾ d. the dwt.||4 d. the dwt.|
|Peru pieces, cross dollars, and old rixdollars of the empire||}||3½ d. the dwt.||3¾ d. the dwt.|
|Old British silver coin not milled||3¾ d. the dwt.|
[ 285 ]
The first symptom of the depreciation of our present paper-money, was that of silver dollars selling at six shillings, which had before been worth but five shillings and ninepence. The assembly thereupon raised them by law to six shillings. As the dollar is now likely to become the money-unit of America, as it passes at this rate in some of our sister-states, and as it facilitates their computation in pounds and shillings, e converso, this seems to be more convenient than it's former denomination. But as this particular coin now stands higher than any other in the proportion of 133⅓ to 125, or 16 to 15, it will be necessary to raise the others in the same proportion.