[BULLION REPORT.]

Report, together with Minutes of Evidence, and Accounts, from the Select Committee on the High Price of Gold Bullion.

Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be printed, 8 June 1810.

London: Reprinted for J. Johnson and Co., and J. Ridgway, 1810 Stock Code: 140011
£2,500.00

"Probably the most famous public document in the history of economics"

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Notes

First trade edition, preceded only by a small number of copies printed in folio for official use; the folio copies were issued in August 1810, these octavo trade copies on 23 September 1810. "The Bullion Report of 1810 holds a unique place in monetary controversy. It is probably the most famous public document in the history of economics" (Fetter, p. 152). In February 1810, the House of Commons set up the Select Committee on the High Price of Gold Bullion, to investigate why the price had risen during the Napoleonic Wars. Since the Bank of England ceased to redeem its bank notes in gold in 1797 due to the erosion of its reserves by the war, the price of gold was up 20, thereby ending many decades of gold at 4.25 per ounce as established in 1717 by Isaac Newton as Master of the Mint. Evidence was given by the Governor of the Bank of England and the Clerk of its Bullion Office, Nathan Mayer Rothschild (appearing anonymously), and also refiners, brokers, merchants, and exchange dealers, their testimony printed in the appendix (and consequently giving a unique insight into the gold trade in London).

The Committee concluded that the Bank, released from the obligation of paying gold against notes, had printed them too freely. As a result there was "an excess in the paper circulation... this excess is to be ascribed to the want of a sufficient check and control in the issue of paper from the Bank of England; and originally to the suspension of cash payments, which removed the natural and true control" (p. 73 of Report). The Committee urged the Bank to resume specie payments at the earliest possible date, a resumption that did not occur until 1821.

The fame of the Report "must be explained not on the basis of logic the Report itself a clumsy rehashing of old doctrines, in the opinion of its Chairman, but in terms of economics as part of the living fabric of political life. It brought forcibly into public attention a great issue of economic policy, and it gave the prestige of a Parliamentary Committee to the view that the money supply is an importance influence on money and on exchange rates. Even for many who might disagree with some of the analysis it became a symbol of the view that a central bank should pay attention to the monetary circulation if prices were to be restrained and exchange stability maintained" (Fetter, p. 152).

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Description

Octavo (205 x 126 mm). Late 19th-century red half calf, green morocco label, gilt floral ornaments to compartments, green paper shelf label to spine, marbled sides and endpapers.

Condition

Early underlining to a few pages and slightly cropped annotation to p. 60. A little wear at extremities skilfully retouched, short superficial split at head of front joint but covers firm, contents lightly toned with some foxing, faint small stain at head of some pages. A very good copy.

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