[Pages 313-315] 10 August 1651
23. Reasons submitted by Thomas Violet to the Mint Committee to prove the necessity of making farthing tokens, and half farthings either of copper or tin, at such a full value that they should not be
counterfeited abroad or at home, there being no advantage to be made of them but for payment of workmanship.
1. Money is the public means to set a price upon all things between man and man, and experience has sufficiently proved in all ages that small money is so needful to the poorer sort, that all nations have endeavoured to have it. Such small money was formerly commixed by some nations with silver to answer its true value, but it was subsequently determined by some of them to make it merely of copper, for the following reasons: viz., that a grain or two of silver, being commixed with copper, was waste of silver, as the refining of it out of the copper cost as much as the silver commixed therewith, and the colour of the copper being red, the commixture was not known upon sight.
2. There is therefore a reason in my first proposition for making farthings either of fine rose copper or of tin, without silver, for the accommodation of all sorts of people who buy or sell small wares; for that change being divided and subdivided, gives occasion that victuals and all sorts of small ware are divided, and accordingly proportioned, whereby the buyer receives a great commodity to have something for the least piece of coin, and the seller finds that light gains often make a heavy purse.
3. A plentiful supply of small pieces ministers means of frugality, where poor men can have a farthing or half farthing's worth, and are not constrained to buy more of anything than they stand in need of, their feeding being from hand to mouth.
4. Many aged and impotent poor and others that would work and cannot get employment are deprived of many alms for want of farthings and half farthings, for many would give a farthing or half farthing who are not disposed to give a penny or twopence, or to lose time in staying to change money, "whereby they may contract a noisome smell or the disease of the poor."
5. Copper monies have been used in all ages, as may be seen to this day in the Roman antiquities, both before and since Christ's time, in the commonwealth of Athens, and that famous copper at Corinth held in such esteem now amongst antiquaries. When I was a goldsmith, I used to have great quantities of antiquities, which for the most part had been ploughed up in men's grounds, and had lain here in England ever since the time of the Romans. At this day copper money goes in France, Flanders, Holland, Rome, Venice, Geneva, Milan, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and all Germany, and they make their copper money of such full value that many merchants have brought thousands of pounds of it out of Sweden, to sell to our braziers to make kettles in England, and have made a better return than the bringing of silver, gold, or other commodities of the country. Farthings may be made of tin at so full a value that the pewterer cannot sell you new pewter cheaper than the farthings of tin can be made, but to avoid adulteration with lead, or counterfeiting or clipping farthings, there must be an Act making it treason or felony at the least.
6. If you make farthings of tin, and have them justly assayed, and give them a full value, to be issued out at 15d. or 16d. to the Ib. avoirdupois, then you make use of your own native commodity, and it will give employment to many of our own miners and tinners, will be a merchandise to be carried out at that value, and you will keep in the stock of the nation, which will be in some proportion expended in buying copper in Sweden, if you make farthings of copper.
7. A surveyor will be necessary to keep an account for the State, to see the metal assayed, and that the farthings are justly assized, and for that place I desire the fee of 1d. the Ib. for all farthings that shall be made for the commonwealth and Ireland, or such a salary as you think fit; and every three months I will give an account to the Council of State of the quantity of farthings and half farthings made, the goodness of the metal, both copper and tin, the remains of what are not changed, and the names of those that took them, so that the State may know the quantities made.
8. If objectors would have pence, halfpence, farthings, and half farthings made with silver, I know by experience that almost all such are lost, as being of so little bulk, and being put with other coin, they slip between, and the silver generally comes to nothing; the inconveniency of putting silver in copper is shown in my first proposition.
9. My proposition for regulating the manufacture of farthings is to make the standard 84 pieces, with a liberty of sheer of two pieces, but not to exceed 86 pieces nor under 84 pieces in copper, which shall weigh 16 oz. avoirdupois, and which pieces, containing the weight and number aforesaid, shall be delivered out for 21d. the Ib. to all that shall require them, at the Tower, half-farthings to be 200 to 204 pieces to the lb., and sold for 2s. 1d. the Ib.
10. If the State make the farthings of tin, that can be done at 15d. the Ib., and be cut into 60 to 62 pieces, and half-farthings 144 to 146 pieces, to be delivered out at 1s. 6d. the Ib. A pound of copper farthings can be made for 4d. and the half-farthings for 8d., the State finding the copper; the tin farthings for 4d. the Ib. and the half-farthings for 6d., the State not being at any charge for tools, either for making or keeping them in repair. There will be 1d. charge per Ib. weight for keeping a surveyor and assay master to keep an account of the whole business, and I desire that employment. The workman could not afford to make the copper farthings under 1s. 8d. the pound and 2s. per pound for the half-farthings; 1s. 3d. per Ib. for the tin farthings, and 1s. 6d. for the half Ib., and the 1d. for charge upon every pound weight; for as the State gets nothing, the thing should bear its own charge, and by this way we may have small change, which will be a great relief to all sorts of people that trade in small wares.
10.[sic] Some restrictions may be appointed for passing farthings, such as that they are not to go in payment upon bills of exchange, bonds, public accounts to the State, nor for rents; that no man should be compelled to take them in payment above 6d., nor any labouring man or chapman above that sum in farthings for payment of labour; and that it should be left free to all, according to their necessity for change, to come and fetch their farthings at the Tower, or other appointed place, and an Act of Parliament should be passed, making it a felony to clip or counterfeit any of such coin.