Thomas Tooke

World Gold and Silver production 1803-1848 and the following years.

In Bullion and Mining on April 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Here is some interesting historical account of the discoveries of Gold post 1848.  As new discovery in California and New South Wales were impacting the price structure, several economists tried to compile the proper data.

The context of 1848-1953 in England was of rapid accumulation of bullion, followed by decrease and change in the rate of discount, which was a cause of concern at the time for those living out of capital. At the time the general consensus was that this rapid accumulation of capital would be an inconvenience due to the produce of the Gold colonies, this opinion however changed rather radically in a short period of time. There was at the time a palpable rise of wages and prices as a result.  In 1853 William Nemarch writes: ” During the present year, we have begun to trace a palpable rise in the Wages of Labour ; and we have witnessed a rise ; or a tendency to rise ; in tne market value of classes of commodities which are important either from the magnitude, or the multiplicity, of the articles which compose them.”

It is supposed by the same author, that the new Gold discoveries, while just transient, might have a profund impact on society.

“These are a few of the reasons which appear to authorise the supposition that what may be called the purely transient consequences of the Gold Discoveries:—that is to say, the early and incidental disturbances, moral and material, arising from the first shock which they occasioned :—have in a great measure passed away : and have been replaced by a commencement of those greater, and more fundamental changes, by means of which the New Gold will, more or lessrapidly, modify the commercial and social relations of the world.”

Evidently a derangement of the price structure is known historically to lead to societal changes.

In the Statistical Journal (see vol. xiv. 1861), John Towne Danson has done a remarkable work of compiling the quantities of existing Gold and Silver and the quantities mined since 1500.

The periods taken, therefore, will be from 1492 to 1803 (or 311 years) ; and from 1492 to 1848 (or 356 years). It will he seen also that, from the total quantities obtained, certain deductions are made ; so as to show the quantities of gold and silver, the produce of America, existing in various forms in Europe and America in 1 803, and also in 1848.

The Statement is as follows :


Note: In this table piastres and dollars are converted into sterlings at an approximate rate of 5 per Pound.

Further data shows the following total with other regions included:

Table II. Estimate of the value of the Total Quantity of Gold and Silver existing in various forms in Europe and America at the commencement of the Year 1848.

After adjusting for the large exports to Asia, wear and tear of coins, ornaments, shipwrecks, the final estimate in 1848 was:

Now that we have the stock, next we will inquire in the increase in supply by country.

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