issue, fell in value at least one-third.
The government tried to remedy this evil by allowing five per cent advance on the specie and par value of the bills in all public payments.
This restored them to par for about twenty years. They were called “old charter bills.”
June 8, 1693, the General Court changed the rate of interest from eight per cent to six.
So common had become the vicious habit of clipping gold
money, that the government issued a proclamation, March 3, 1705, “that no money shall past by tale but what is of due weight.”
Almost every family had a pair of scales to weigh the gold
The two crusades against Canada
, about this time, forced the colonies to issue “bills of credit,” to pay the soldiers.
These lost credit, and somewhat depreciated; and here was another embarrassment suffered by our fathers.
December, 1724, Judge Sewall
says, “The diminution of the value of the bills of public credit is the cause of much oppression in the Province.”
says (1728), “Our paper-currency has gradually lost its credit, so as at present sixteen shillings is but sufficient to purchase an ounce of silver.”
says (1733), “Sixteen shillings in these bills will not purchase five shillings lawful money.”
, as distinguished from old tenor
, is first mentioned in the Medford
records, May 17, 1750.
The town voted, May 21, 1751, to give Mr. Turell
, as salary for that year, £ 73. 6s. 8d. (lawful money), which was equal to £ 550 (old tenor). In 1754, voted to give him £ 80 (lawful money), which was equal to £ 600 (old tenor).
In 1761, £ 10 were equal to £ 75 old tenor, £ 24 to £ 180, and £ 80 to £ 600.
It is not easy, in our day of plenty and power, to estimate those perplexities and fears of our fathers which came from an empty treasury, a defenceless country, and an embarrassed trade.
To show how very slowly they must have gathered money, we give a table of prices of such productions as were taken for rates at the treasury.
Good merchantable beef, £ 3 a barrel; do. pork, £ 5. 10s.; winter wheat, 8s.; summer, 7s.; barley, 6s.; rye, 6s.; Indian corn, 4s.; oats, 2s. 6d. a bushel.
Flax, 1s. 4d.; hemp, 9d.; beeswax, 2s. 6d. a pound.
Peas, clear of bugs, 9s. a bushel.
Sweet firkin butter, 12d.
a pound. Merchantable dry codfish, £ 1. 10s. a quintal.
Mackerel, £ 1. 10s.; oil, £ 2. 10s. a barrel.