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Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series,
of the Reign of Charles II.

Preserved in Her Majesty's Public Record Office.

Reasons against the Copper Farthings and for the Tin Farthings

The great care of our ancestors was that the value of our exports, should exceed that of our imports, and then the overplus would be money. In 1640 the Parliament looked on the copper farthings then in use as a grievance, because the metal being foreign and going here as money contributed to the overbalance of trade, and they were therefore laid aside. Since then a copper farthing has always been rejected till very lately.

The farthings now in use are a far greater grievance than the former, because those, being very light and of less value than these, did not consume so much copper nor went so current. These being cried up to be near the intrinsic value, it makes them more acceptable, and yet they are not above half the intrinsic value, so other nations may, and it's feared, to stamp them and bring them in in great abundance, so that this kingdom loses not only the value of the copper unnecessarily imported but all that the stamp makes them above the intrinsic value, and, if this farthing to be continued, it will insensibly draw all the money out of the nation.

If there were no other metal for making farthings, there might be a little colour for this copper, but tin is a far better metal for the purpose and is not only the commodity of this kingdom but the king's own, for he has the pre-emption of all the tin, which he heretofore let to farm for 12,000l. per annum rent. This farm is lost for want of occasions to consume the tin, and, if farthings may be made of tin, the farm would be restored, the grievance of copper farthings removed, and the subject not deceived, for these may be made of intrinsic value.

(Answers to the four objections to tin farthings, viz., that it is a soft metal, and easily counterfeited, may be debased by lead, and will be easily worn out, and that, if the copper farthings be suppressed, it will be a great loss to the holders, and, if called in, to the king.)

The benefits by the farthings are:--1. It will restore the tin farm. 2. A farm is the only thing that can encourage the miners to dig tin, for then they shallbe sure of a certain and great price for it. Now it grows lower every day, and in conclusion will not be worth their labour, and so they will probably leave off digging in Cornwall as they have in Devon, where the greatest quantity was heretofore digged, and now little if any. 3. The farmers will see it be well made, whereas now, being corruptly made, it becomes a drug beyond the seas and not half the value it was in the time of the farmers. 4. It will sell for double the value abroad and consequently bring double the custom. 5. Its being advanced in price will help the balance of trade. 6. It will turn the commodity of tin into money, for the farthings, being of intrinsic value, will be, for as much as it goes, as good as silver, and, if all the commodities of England could be turned into money or, as tin will be, into a ready way of exchange, it would be a great increase of trade, and enriching the nation, for silver itself is but a commodity and being stamped into coin at an intrinsic value makes it readily taken in exchange for any other commodity, and so would a tin farthing be, if made of intrinsic value, and, whereas the copper farthings draw out of the kingdom their equivalent in money, the tin ones will advance the kingdom so much money as they amount to.

A copper farthing cannot be made of intrinsic vallue, because the King of Sweden can at his pleasure make the metal higher or lower in value, for instance, since his Majesty has been making copper into farthings, that King has raised it 20 per cent., so by these copper farthings England not only loses the money the farthings amount to by the unnecessary importing of so much copper for that use, but pays 20 per cent. more for the copper for which there is necessary use than it did before this copper farthings was made. [3 pages. S.P. Dom., Car. II. 387, No. 215.]

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