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3 corrections, most recently by andygrace - Show corrections

THE MELBOURNE MINT. j

The establishment of the Melbourne branch of the Royal Mint is a great fact in the history of Victoria. When it was opened, however on the 12th of June 1872 there was a great diversity of opinion as to its probable effects on trade and commerce It was contended that it would keep the greater part of the gold raised here in the colony, and that we should have, greatly to our advantage, a metallic in place of a paper currency. Others were of opinion that the greatest benefit we could expect to derive from it was that it would   both raise and steady the price of gold here and some still believe that it has done so whilst many from the first had a vague notion that it would prove a costly luxury to the colony and can hardly be said to have altered their opinion

Now, the best way of dealing with the sub- ject is to bring these opinions to the test of ascertained facts, and that we shall be en- abled to do by referring to the accounts we have of the working of the Mint for the first six or seven years of its existence. With regard to the notion that the establishment of a Mint would keep the gold raised in the   colony in our hands, we need say no more here than that it has proved, as most people saw it would from the beginning, a mere popular delusion. Gold has found its way out of the colony since the establishment of the Mint, in the shape of coin or bullion as fast as it ever did before in the shape of dust, nuggets, and ingots. Then, with regard to the belief tha the establishment of the Mint would both raise and steady the price of gold, or that it has done so, it will be sufficient, perhaps, to say-first, that it is very difficult to under- stand how it could do that so long as gold has the standard value of £3 17s 10ld per ounce attached to it; and, secondly, that there is no proof of its having fetched less before the establishment of the Mint or of its having brought more since or of lts having been in any way steadier in its price. Gold in its crude state, has varied in price according to its purity or to the district in which it was raised, but the price of gold of the standard value has always been the same and always will be until the standard is altered. With   regard to the other point raised-namely as to the Melbourne Mint being a costly luxury-that, we think, may be safely left to the arbitrament of facts, after we have gone through the history of its working from the

commencement.

With a view to that we start with the opening of the Mint on the 12th of June 1872, and we give first the gold received for   coinage from that date until the 31st of De- cember, 1879. For this we are indebted to the report of Mr Delves Broughton deputy master of the Melbourne Mint to the deputy master of the London Royal Mint undei date of Febraarj the 19th 18s0 In transcribing thiB table we omit the decimal pointa in the weight of the gold and the fractional parts of pounds in its value -

GOLD BECEIVED FOR COINAGE AT THE MCL

BOURNE MINI

Year

1872 1878 «74 1876 187« 1877 1878 1870

Total

Oz.

1D0 733 221 8 0 33j JI7 489 731 61.1 103 378 310 660 032 050 o5j 3 385 051

\ lue

701 01

837 I 5 1 3» 101 1 17 712 2 149 130 1411 819 2 171 00J " 740 000 13 405 1 7

This does not of course include any of the goldraiBed in Victoria before the establish ment of the Mint Neither doea it include more than a portion of that which has been raised Bince Bay one third or a little more perhaps Our estimated yield of gold durim, the 20 years we were without a Mint was valued at£163 000 000 sterling or thereabouts and our eBtimatedjieldsinceia valued it saj

£30 000 000 bothat compared with either of these totals especially with the former the value of the gold sent to tho Melbourne Mint for coinage since its opening-namely £13 000 000-may be regarded by some ia rall of «° or. r «nt But this f -' "<? not

be loat sight of that 11 o business of the Mint ib Bteadily increasing as may bo seen from the forego ng aa well aa from the following

table -

I88UEP FROM TJE MELBOURNE MIST

I In lilli 1 Tot il Valu" «"-S , l|op liri CM n d llt5 l(Valuo)l BulUou

Year

1872 1878 1874 1876 1876 l8 7 l8 8 18<0

Total

In Coln (Value)

743 000 S34 500 1 373 000 1 883 000 ?> I'M 000 1 527 000 2 171 000 2 740 000

02

1205 3100 2 011 8 5j» 3 024 33 0 3 091 1740

£

80IO 11035 10 410 13 857 14 144 13 004 14 GIO 6 8"9

13 405 600 I 23 16 | 87 53S | 13 103 033

Í

751 810 3 Id 5Jj 1 J3J 410 1 901 Sj7 2 13o 111 1610 031 2 18j (140 2 740 8 9

On this Mr Delves Broughton remarks in bia report of the 10th of Tebru iry 1880 to the deputy master of the London Royal Mint -

1 he coinage of the year has been £2 710 000 all in sovereigns being the largest coinage in any one year aince the establishment of this branch of Her Majesty a Mint and exceeding that of 1878 in which the largest previous coinage took placo bj £ou9 000 1 or this two or three reasons may be assigned-first the Melbourne Mmt l8 growing more and more into favour Becondly we no longer Bend any of tho gold to Sydnej to be coined

and thirdly, there waa no gold coinage worth speaking of at the London Mint last year But it should be observed hero that Borne of the gold coined, at the Melbourne Mint iu 1870 Mid during tho previous years Binco its opening carno from other colonies and was not the produce of Victoria Ihe quant ty raiBed in each colony ia shonu m thr> following lable -

Country | Dur "g 1Í79 I Slncô~187'

Victoria

Hew South Wales Kew ^eala&d Queel Bia el

South Australia Tasmania >atal

TJukno vu

Total

Oz.

2 619 803

2 J 7 033 0(19

1 693 0s ISO 7 0

Henee it appears that the gold we send to New South Wales now and tho gold wo re ceive thence ib reduced almost to a minimu n tho quantity acknowledged by Mr Delve3 Broughton in the above return for 1879 bBiog only 599oz against Gjo/ acknowledged by Mr Hunt deputy master of the Sydney M ut for the Bamo year This stands out m very striking contrast to tho state of things between the two colonies in 1805 and 1801

when wo Bent 1 22f 07Co/ of gold to Sydney to be coined and eveu to what it waa in 1871

the yeor before the Melbourne Mint was opened when we Bent 148 701o¿ to be coined It may also be aa well to observo hore that aB the buBiness of the Melbourne Mint ia in creasing the bnaineBB of the Sydney Mint is decreasing as may bo seen by the follow

nig -

COINAOK IS MBCBOURMI AND SMINrT «INO« 1370

1878 lb 7 1878 1879

Total

" Vi 000 1 o"7 000

171000 2 740 000 S 5a" 000

Syil o

G 0(18 000

DlOcrci ein favour ol Melbourne £"504 000

But this bringa us to another and to what many consider tho most important part of thiB queation-the coat of tho Mint to the colony-and there are different methods of estimating this Some for instance think the Mint should be made chargeable with the whole of ita outfit-with tho valuo of the land it holds with the buildi ga erected thereon and with ita equipment ar a Mmt

at simple or compound interest, whilst others would bo quite satisfied if it was made self supporting or did not at any rate entail any great annual expense on the colony ?* et no one can surely refuse to admit, on reflection that it ib altogether un usual, and that it would be very unreason

able, to charge Buch an establishment as a mint with its outfit, and those who think the Melbourne Mint ought to be self-supporting should, most assuredly, take into account the circumstances under which it waa established, and make such allowances as are de manded in common fairneaa for the benefits resulting from ita establishment. We Bhould never hove had a mint atoll had wo not been prepared to grant on annuity not exoeedmg £20,000 a year to it, and that limit has cer

tandy never jet been reached, nor is it ever likely to be Granted that the Melbourne Mint has been worked at a loss, if wo look at ita buBineaa receiptB and expenditure only, aa all auch eatabliahmcute usually are Yet not at such a loss as to swallow up tho whole of the annuity guaranteed bj act of Parliament, nor at Buch a 1ob3' as to alarm ub, even from a buamoss point of vioiv, as we Bhall presently ahow.

In reference to the former of theae points, the^non absorption of the annuity for the last two years-and this, wo believe, applies to all previous years-Mr Delves Broughton states m his report for 1879 to the deputy-master of the London Royal Mint -"The saving on the Mint annuity for 1878, namely, £0,34912a 7d , haB, m accordance with your direc- tion, been paid into the Colonial Treasury 1'he say ing m the Mint annuity for 1879 has been £5,029 15a lOd The coat to the colony of Victoria of tho establishment for 1879 has been £5,021 13s 3d , against £5,078 2a Id in 1878 " Nor should we overlook what the deputy master of the Royal Mint says in a previous report of the modifications and improvements in the organisation of the staff of the Mint Among other things, he says -"Iheir lordBhips (the Lords of the Ireasurj) were pleased to give direc tiona for the preparation of the neceasary Treasury warrant appointing Mr. E S Wardell, the present registrar and ac countant, to be a principal officer, and to sanction certain increases of salary and re arrangements of duties which Mr. Broughton had recommended. By these changea a con Biaerablc reduction has been effected m the expenditure of the department "

How far the Mint haa been worked at a losa during the last six or seven years-after throwing aside all considerations aa to ita being chargeable with its outfit-may be seen from the following table -

RECEIPTS AÎ.D ExPENDIlURE OF THE MEL

BOURNE MINT

F\uj*l of

Rcycnue |Expt,ud!ture|Lxponilituro

over receipts

1873 4

1874 6 . 1876 6

1570 7.. 1677 8 187b 0

Totals

4,790 7,604 7,659 7,612 7,217 7,007 42,628

£

4,972

16 701

0 305 11220 1U5;.3 13 376 74 136

£

173 8,107 1,010 3,717 12.J08

6 40J

31 603

Trom these figures, which we take from Hayter a Year Bool, for 1879, it appears that the Iobb since 1872 has been about £5,090 a year, or, in other words, that the working expenses of the Mint have exceeded ita re ceipta to the extent of about 74 per cent But there ib much to be urged aa a set off against this, both in the way of convenience and of direct pecuniary advantage, and we must not therefore, look npon the whole of it aa loss For instance, v e aro no longer dependent on the banks to assay our gold for us-no longer under the neceagity of sending it in large quantities to the Sydney Mint to be coined , but we can Bend it to the Melbourne Mint, and have it turned into coin or bullion, whicnever we please, at a moderate charge, and that, too, with the least possible trouble or delay. *Tot only bo, but by virtue of our connexion with the London Royal Mint, through the Melbourne branch the Lords of the Treasury have ordered us to be dealt with in the moat liberal spirit, and on the most liberal terms, with regard to our Bihcr and bronze currency -with regard to the former in particular In proof of this we have only to refer to the reports of the deputy master of the London Mint for 1878 and 1879, m which tina matter ia fully discussed In his report for 1S78, the deputj master of the London Mint,

an j s -

" In November last I brought under their lordnhipn' n»>*>«~ <H'° juordi ni th* rv-io,,-,) o repon from the deputy master of the Mel bourne Mint, including a representation from the associated bankB of Melbourne, aa to the condition of the Bilvcr cómate in Victoria, and recommending that the subject ot Jim renewal 01 tbo Bilver coinage in that colony should receive fui Hier consideration at their lordshipB' banda " A ¡.am ,-*

"The associated bankB of Melbourne stated that they had on several opea Biona imported aiher com at their own expense , that they did not consider that to bo a duty which should be imposed upon them , and that, wDen recently appealed to by the Government of Victoria, thoy had de clmcd to incur the coBt of any further im

portationa They requested, therefore, that arrangements might be made between the Mint and the Melbourne branch, by which new Bilver coin could alwnts be Bupphed by the latter ' free of cost,' that ib to say, yvith out any charge beyond payment of the nomi- nal value of the coin '

How tina matter was d aposed of, and how it Blands now is thus described in the report of the deputy master of the London Mint foi

1879 -

"This department has been authorised to pay all expenses connected w ith the carnage of new silver and bronze coin to the colonies and of worn coin to the Mint or one of its branches The amount of new silver coin Bbipped to the colonies in 1878 waa only £09.050, whereaB in 1879 it rose to £2J8,470, no leas than £125,500 having been sent to Victoria alone "

Of this advance of £125,500 to Victoria only £21,230 had been repaid in December last, that being the value of the worn silver withdrawn from circulation TUeseadyance* are, m fact, only ropaid bj instalments at

Buch timcB as the worn silver coln coulûs

in

Hitherto we have taken no notice of what is Bometimea aoid about our being put to the expense of supplying Great Britain with her gold coinage, upon which there ia a loss, and of her supplying us with our sil- ver coinage, upon which there is a profit, nor doea it, îudeod, deserve much notice. There ia, in fact, a very small modicum of truth in what is said on the former point, and none whatever in what ib said on the latter, bo far as we understand the queation Wo have the honour, it must bo admitted, of supply ing Great Britain with a portion of her gold coinage, but any cxponae connocted with this is borne by those who find it mora con veiuont or profitable to Bend tboir gold to England in the ahape of coin than to send it in the form of bullion, or in its crudo state With regard to silver, however, the case ia somewhat different, aa appearB by tina passage from the report of the deputy master of the London Mint fo

1879 -" In 1879 the proßtjon the coinage of Bilver bullion waa only £25,518, as againat £31,993 in 1878, while the Iobb on yvorn silver coin, including the worn coin with drawn from circulation by the Sydnoy and Melbourne Mints, wbb £55,017, as agonis' £48,959 in 1878 ' And the loss will, wo pre Burne, be greater before the whole of the new silver coin sent out to Melbourne and Sydnoy ib absorbed, so that the loss m one case must be Bet againat tho profit in the other

On a careful consideration of the foregoing factB, it must, wo think, be evident to all that whatever of a luxury the Melbourne Mint moj be to ua, it is not a very coatly ono We certainly pay, as we ought to do, for the convenience and the benefits we derive from it, I but not to any unreasonable, exorbi

tant, or alarming extent There ia no objection, of courao, to the reduction of the expenditure on this establishment to the lowest scale consistent with the maintenance of its efficiency , but it ia, surely, hardly a time to be very preBSingon that point, yvhon the husincBB of the Mint is so largely in creoBing, and when wo hove the testimony of the deputy master of the London Mint as to the late improvements in thoorgamsatiou of the Btaff having been productive of beneficia reBults Not only so, but wo have beforo ub a return from Mr, Delves Broughton, jua« laid

before Parliament, showing what the80 im- provements are, and what tho receipts and expenditure of the Mint for the last five yeara

have been.

j According to a previoua return, dated August G, 1872, the coat of the staff was £7,195 a year. Ita coat now, according to Mr. Delves Broughton^ return, dated September 10, 1880, is £0,485, with a much larger amount of work to be done. The average annual expenditure of the Mint for the last five years, namely, from 1875 to 1879 haa been £13,932 a year, and the average annual re- ceipts £8,445ayear. Such is theaubstance of Mr. DelveB Broughton'a lato report, and it accords altogether with what has been drawn from other eourceB, and which appears in the body of this article. The actual cost of the Mint to the colony during the last fivo years has been £5,487 a year, that is the differonco between an expenditure of £13,932 and re- ceipts amounting to £8,445 ajear. But the cost to the colony during the last two years, as stated by Mr. Broughton in his report to the deputy-master of the London Mint for 1879, scarcely exceeded £5,000 a year, namely, £5,078 in 1878, and £5,021 in 1879.

Another report haa since been laid before Parliament, Bhowing the total capital ex- pended on tho Mint up to date, with tho estimated value of the land it holds. Bat that appears to ub to be trilling with a, very grave matter, and to be no more deaerving of notice in this connexion than would be a return of the coat of Govern- ment-house, the Cuatom-houBO, tho Law Courts, or any other public building, with compound interest added at the rate of 7 per cent. To no "fancy" return of that kind is the least value or importance to be

attached.

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