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geological age of the auriferous drifts of New Zealand has not been fully determined.
In 1830, Mr. William Jacob estimated the total amount of gold and silver produced by the continent of Europe, by Asiatic Russia, and certain parts of northern Africa, from 1492 to the end of 1829, at 162,000,000 pounds sterling. Mr. William Newmarch, in the sixth volume of Tooke's “ History of Prices," published in 1857, computes the product of the same, from 1492 to 1803, at £80,000,000 of gold, equal to $388,800,000; and £60,000,000 of silver, equal to $291,000,000; and from 1492 to 1848 at £170,000,000 of gold, equal to $826,200,000; and £90,000,000 of silver, equal to $437,400,000.
* Adopting the estimates of Mr. Newmarch up to the year 1848, we compute as the product of the twenty years since that date, for Europe, an annual aver. age of $2,000,000 gold and $7,000,000 silver; or for the whole period $40,000,000 gold and $140,000,000 silver, making a total of $180,000,000 of both metals. For the Russian empire $15,000,000 gold and $1,000,000 silver yearly, or $300,000,000 of the first, and $20,000,000 of the second, for the whole time, being a total of $320,000,000 of gold and silver.
The product of Australia and New Zealand we compute at $390,000,000 gold and $5,500,000 silver for the sixteen years since the first discovery of gold in Australia, making a total of $895,500,000 of gold and silver. .
The amount of gold received by western nations from Asia and Africa during the last twenty years, or any preceding period, cannot be ascertained with any approximation even to certainty. That a certain quantity is received, perhaps variable in amount from year to year, there can be no question, but both the amount produced and the proportion received in Europe and America are so much matters of conjecture that it is thought better not to include these countries in the following table. Chevalier computed the product of Asia, excluding Russia and Turkey, in 1848, at $4,400,000 silver, and $13,700,000 gold ; and that of Africa at $2,700,000. In 1865 he computes the yield of India to have been $5,500,000; the Philippine and Sandwich Islands $17,200,000 gold; China $17,911,000 gold, and $13,300,000 silver, and Japan, $7,500,000 gold, and $8,800,000 silver; and the product of Africa at $6,800,000 gold. If we take an average of these figures for Asia and Africa respectively for the product of the last twenty years, we obtain about $600,000,000 for the gold of Asia, and $240,000,000 as its silver product; and about $100,000,000 for the gold of Africa. This would add $700,000,000 more to the value of the present supply of gold in all countries, and $940,000,000 to the world's wealth in both metals.
These estimates of Chevalier of the pruduce of gold and silver in Asia and Africa, differ widely from those of Jacob and Birkmyre, but agree very nearly with those of M. Otreschkoff, a Russian author, who computed the gold and silver product of Asia, (exclusive of Russia,) and the Islands of the Southeastern Archipelago, for the four years ending with 1854, at a yearly average of $22,900,000, and that of Africa at $2,800,000. Very little reliance, however, can be placed upon any of these estimates, and besides, whatever the mines of these countries may yield, the product has comparatively little influence on the markets of the civilized world.
The estimates of Newmarch for the European continent from 1492 to 1848, embraced in the following table, include the product of Asiatic Russia, and the gold dust of certain parts of northern Africa, supposed to have found its way into Europe:
Product of gold and silver from 1492 to the commencement of 1868 in America, Europe, Asiatic Russia, Australia, New Zealand,
and portions of Northern Africa.
Produce of the mines from 1492 Produce of the mines from 1804 Produce of the mines from 1848 to 1804. to 1848.
Amount of each metal from 1492
of both metals
388, 800,000 291,600,000 437, 400,000 145, 800,000 $1, 348, 500 000 $4, 163, 530,000 $447, 074, 430 $1,077, 981, 674 $1,265, 080,000 $805, 560,000 $3,060, 654, 430 $6,047, 071, 459
340, 000, 000 160,000,000 1, 166, 200,000 597, 400,000 890, 000, 000
$9, 107, 725, 889
Existing in Europe in 1492
The precious metals existing in Europe at the date of the discovery of America have been computed as amounting to $60,000,000 gold, and $140,000,000 silver, wbich if added
It will be seen from the preceding tables that of the gold taken from the mines of the western nations from 1492 to 1868, America furnished three-fifths, and of the silver more than ten-elevenths of the whole; that from 1804 to 1848, the Old World furnished nearly as much gold as the New, but less than one-seventh as much silver; that from 1848 to 1868 the American continent furnished more gold than Europe and the Russian empire, and Australia, and New Zealand, and nearly four times as much as Europe and Asiatic Russia together; that of the $2,495,080,000 gold produced from 1848 to 1868, the United States contributed nearly one-half, and the United States and Australia together nearly the four-fifths of the whole.
The present annual supply of the American continent, Europe, Russia, Australia and New Zealand, may be computed as follows:
Of the whole amount of gold contributed at the present day by civilized nations, the United States contributes nearly one-half, and of the whole product of silver nearly one-third.
It appears that since 1492 there has been taken from the mines of civilized countries a total product of gold and silver amounting to about twelve billions of dollars. How much of this mass of precious metal is now existing? How much is in the form of coin, in manufactured articles, and what proportion has perished entirely? These are highly interesting questions, but cannot be fully discussed in this paper without extending it much beyond its intended length.
Mr. Jacob, in 1830, estimated that of the amount of gold and silver extracted from the mines of America and Europe up to that date, $940,186,000 had perished from abrasion, fires, shipwreck and other losses; $2,674,000,000 had been converted into articles other than coin, and $2,126,000,000 had been exported into eastern Asia, leaving a balance of coined money in circulation in Europe and America of $1,516,800,000.
Mr. Newmarch places the quantity of gold furnished by America, Europe, including Russia, and certain parts of northern Africa, from 1492 to 1848, at £603,000,000 sterling, or $2,930,580,000, and the quantity of silver at £1,170,000,000 sterling, or $5,686,200,000, and the amount of both metals produced up to 1848 as equal to $8,616,780,000. This is about $300,000,000 inore gold than has been computed in this paper, and arises from the fact that Mr. Newmarch has in the main, as to the American yield, adopted the estimates
of Mr. Danson, who not only reckoned the quantities of gold in Mexico and South America passing into the market without being returned to the mint as equal to five-eighths of the whole product, (rather an extreme estimate for practical adoption, but appears to have been lead into several errors in reference to the gold of Chili and that produced by the countries bordering on the River De La Plata, as already pointed out.
Of the whole amount produced, and including the $60,000,000 gold and $140,000,000 silver supposed to have been existing in Europe at the time of the discovery of America, Mr. Newmarch computes that $267,300,000 of the gold product and $1,934,280,000 of the silver product had disappeared from Europe and America during the 356 years from the discovery to the year 1848, by wear and tear, and casualties on the stock of these metals in use on both sides of the Atlantic, and by transportation to Asia, after allowing for partial reflux from Asia at various periods, leaving as the quantity existing in Europe and America in 1848, in various forms, gold $2,721,600,000, silver $3,888,000,000, amounting to $6,609,600,000.
The loss on both metals amounted to $2,201,580,000, according to Mr. Newmarch, wbich is about $865,000,000 less than had been computed by Mr. Jacob for such loss from 1492 to 1830.
Albert Gallatin, former Secretary of the United States Treasury, in 1831 estimated the amount still existing in Europe and America in the form of coin and manufactured articles at $4,500,000,000, gold and silver-a sum abont $300,000,000 greater than that computed by Mr. Jacob for the same period ; and as the product from 1830 to 1848 of the mines of America and Europe, including Russia, did not exceed $1,000,000,000, it is doubtful whether at the latter period, the mass of the two metals in coin and manufactured articles amounted to $6,000,000,000.
Upon an examination of the very careful inquiries instituted by Mr. Jacob as to the exportation of the precious metals, and disappearance by abrasion and other casualties, the allowance made by Mr. Newmarch for losses under these heads appears too small.
As, however, great accuracy in such investigations may be unattainable, an average of the different computations will be adopted, and six billions of dollars is assumed as the quantity of gold and silver remaining in America and Europe in 1848, of which $1,900,000,000 may be set down as gold, and $4,100,000,000 as silver, existing either in the form of coin or other articles.
From 1848 to 1868 the quantity of gold produced was equal to $2,495,080,000, and that of silver to $971.060,000, making a total of $3,466,140,000.
During the twenty years the process of destruction was reducing the mass remaining in 1848, as well as the accumulating stock, not only by wear and tear, but by shipwrecks, by consumption in gold and silver leaf, gold lace and thread gilding, gold-foil used by dentists, and other contingencies.
The loss by abrasion, or wear and tear, as it is called, would act principally on the metal in circulation as coin, the quantity of which existing in 1848, and from that period to the present day, must be to a certain extent a matter of conjecture. Jacob computed the amount in Europe and America in 1830 at $1,516,000,000; while Storch estimated the quantity circulating in Europe alone at $1,600,000,000, and Gallatin supposed from $1,500,000,000 to $1,800,000,000 in use on both sides of the Atlantic in 1831. We will suppose that of the mass of metal remaining in 1848 $2,000,000,000 were used as currency, and the residue as plate, jewels, and other manufactured articles; and that of the two billions about $600,000,000 were in gold, and $1,400,000,000 in silver coin. A loss of one-half of one per cent. per annum on the silver currency, and one-fifth of one per cent. on the gold, would amount to an annual loss of $8,200,000. It is a moderate calculation to compute the loss on the new
product at an average of $1,800,000 a year, making a total of $10,000,000, annually disappearing from abrasion, shipwrecks, and other accidents.
The loss of metal by gilding by the fluid process, by gold and silver leaf, in the manufacture of gold lace and thread and gold-foil used by dentists, is very considerable at the present day, and it will be quite within the truth to compute it at $5,000,000 a year since 1848. We thus obtain a total loss of $300,000,000 for the twenty years ending with 1867. During the same period there were exported from European ports to China, Japan, and the East Indies, gold coin and bullion to the value of $129,000,000, and silver amounting to $818,000,000.
The shipment of gold and silver from the port of San Francisco, direct to China and Japan, has greatly increased of late years, and since the beginning of 1864 has averaged over $6,000,000 annually. The amount exported from that port since 1848 is equal to $70,000,000, of which about $30,000,000 were gold. In addition to these outlets to eastern Asia there has passed into China, overland through Siberia, an amount of silver equal to at least $27,000,000; making as a total export to the east, silver $885,000,000, gold $159,000,000. Silver coins wear away by handling about four times as rapidly as gold coins; but on the other hand gold is perhaps more extensively employed in those manufactures from which very inconsiderable quantities of the metal can be recovered after use, as in gold lace and leaf, gold thread, fluid gilding, and foil used by dentists. And as gold has been more extensively produced during the last twenty years than silver, its liability to loss at sea in passing to European ports would be proportionately greater. Of the $15,000,000 computed as an annual loss, we may estimate that upon gold as equal to $5,000,000, and that of silver at $10,000,000, making a total upon gold of $100,000,000, and upon silver of $200,000,000.
The metal supposed to be on hand in 1848, with the new product accumulating since that date, would stand as follows:
Gold, $4,395,000,000; silver, $5,071,000,000; from which there must now be deducted for exportation of gold $159,000,000; for other losses on gold stock $100,000,000; for exportation of silver $885,000,000 ; other losses on silver $200,000,000; or $259,000,000 on account of gold, and $1,085,000,000 on account of silver ; leaving on hand on the first of January, 1868, among the civilized nations of Europe and America, a supply of gold in various forms equal to $4,136,000,000, and of silver $3,986,000,000, or a total of both metals of $8,122,000,000, which the gold received from northern Africa during the twenty years may increase to $8,200,000,000, and put the supply of gold about $200,000,000 in excess of that of silver, a circumstance not heretofore witnessed for a period of three centuries.
If these calculations are approximately correct, (and it would be much more easy to prove that the estimate of eight billions is rather over than under the quantity actually existing at the present day,) it follows that the increase of the stock of gold and silver remaining in Europe and America since 1848 has been at the rate of one and eighty-three one-hundredths of one per cent. per annum; gold having increased at the rate of six per cent., while silver declined at the rate of four and one-sixth; and this, notwithstanding the mines returned a yearly product of more than $173,000,000. The great avenue for the escape of such an immense treasure has been the eastern trade, exacting from the commerce of the west an annual tribute of about $70,000,000. After meeting this demand and repairing the losses herein computed at the low estimate of $15,000,000 a year, there has remained for the use of civilized nations a yearly product of about $88,000,000, or about twice the value of the treasure yielded by the mines of Europe and America at the beginning of the century, when their population, business transactions, amount of exchanges, external and internal commerce, and various other industries were at least fifty per cent. less expanded than they are at present, and the demand for the precious metals still more limited.