feet long and upward, 3s. 6d.; bayberry-wax, 1s. 4d. a pound.
Turpentine, full bound, 13s.; merchantable bar-iron
, 48s.; cast-iron pots and kettles, 48s. a hundred.
Well-cured tobacco, 4d.; good tried tallow, 8d. a pound.
We can but faintly conceive the embarrassments which our ancestors here must have encountered from the fluctuating prices of their products; especially when, as in 1740, there were circulating in Massachusetts
public bills of four provinces, at 29s. for an ounce of silver.
New tenor of Massachusetts
at 6s. 8d., but current at 9s. 8d. oz. of silver.
new tenor at 8s
., and Rhode Island
new tenor at 6s. 9d. Our fathers, under these circumstances, must have been good mathematicians to have understood this occult chemistry of trade.
July 30, 1781: Medford
voted “to raise £ 100 in specie
, in lieu of the £ 400 raised on the 29th of June last.”
This would seem to imply that £ 100 specie was worth £ 400 of New-England
Aug. 20, 1781: “Voted to raise £ 450 hard money
, instead of the £ 1,300 paper money
, voted in May last.”
It is not necessary to trace further the currency of the Province, or to show the effects of the issue of “continental money,” or the “sword-in-hand” money, of 1775, or the influence of the Stamp Act, and the subsequent oppressions of the crown upon the trade, comfort, or hopes of our fathers.
The currency of the country, from its settlement to the present time, pertains as much to the town of Medford
as to any other town.
It makes part and parcel of its history.
It influenced every family's labor, and shaped the town's laws.
May 12, 1791, the town voted to sell the “old continental money” then in the treasury for the most they could get for it. We have given these details, that our readers may see how the fathers and mothers, the brothers and sisters, of the olden time were obliged to think, calculate, and act, in their pecuniary intercourse with their neighbors and public functionaries.
Trading and shopping then were very different operations from what they are now. The word pay
was used to denote whatever was employed as currency or medium of exchange.
Suppose a farmer went to buy a pair of oxen, how would the colloquy proceed?
Somewhat thus:--Neighbor A.: “I want to buy your two-year-old steers: what do you ask for them?”
“I will sell; but what's your pay
Answer: “Flax at 1s. 4d., butter at 12d., winter wheat at 8s