( Originally Published 1853 )
MONEY, money ! Who does not know what that word means ? Who does not love to see money, to handle it, to hear it chink ? and who does not like to possess it ? I am sure that children are fond of money, for I do not know how many little boys have said to me, "Will you please to give me a penny, sir ?"
And I do not know how many little girls I have seen, who were at first so bashful, that if I spoke to them, they would run away ; but when I showed them a bright piece of silver, would begin to step slowly towards me; and when they had ventured up, and got the money fairly into their hands, their eyes would sparkle, and their faces become as bright as the silver itself.
Now I think every little boy and girl would like to know something more about this thing called money, which has such a charm in it. Money has done a great many strange things, a great many good things, and a great many bad things in this world. Many people strive harder to get money than they do for anything else, thinking that if they can only get enough of it they shall be happy. But I think that those who read this little book through, will see that such persons are greatly mistaken. God, who made us, did not intend that money should make us happy.
He tells us that in keeping his commandments we may find the greatest delight ; and that his love shed abroad in the heart, is what makes a person truly happy.
But money is useful, because with it we may obtain food, and clothes, and books, and many other things which our bodies and souls need. With it we may also do good to the poor, and help to send the Bible and missionaries to instruct the heathen. How to get money, and how to use it properly, are very important things for the young to learn. I hope this little book will be useful to its readers in teaching them these things. In this chapter I intend to show how money is made.
Could you take a piece of wood, and cut it out with a knife, so as to make a cent or a dollar of it ? No money is not made of wood. Well, could a blacksmith hammer out a piece of iron, and file it, so as to make money of it ?
No, no, again ; money is not made of iron. That would not be the right color ; and, besides, it would be very difficult for the blacksmith to make the letters and figures on it. -
If you were asked, what then is money made of ? you would immediately answer : some pieces are made of gold, some of silver, and some of copper. The bright yellow pieces, such as eagles and half-eagles, are gold ; the white pieces, such as dollars, half-dollars, and dimes, are silver ; and the dull reddish pieces, or cents, are copper.
Gold, silver, and copper, are called metals, and are found in the earth. They are dug out of deep, dark mines far down under ground, where God, when he made the world, put them for the use and benefit of man.
When found in the mines, the metals are not pure, but are mixed with other substances, from which they have to be carefully separated. It requires great skill to effect this, and obtain the metals perfectly pure;
Gold, in some countries, is found in small grains mixed with sand. When separated from the sand, it is called gold dust. So large quantities of gold dust are found along a certain portion of the western coast of Africa, that the country has been called the Gold Coast. Fine sport, wouldn't you think it, to go out and gather up a handful of sand,- and find a great number of bright particles of gold in it ! I wonder that the poor little negro boys who live there do not get rich enough to buy themselves clothes, and not go so nearly naked as they do.
But hark, my young friend ; the Gold Coast may not be so very fine a place for getting rich, after all. In a single handful of sand you would find but a very few particles of gold. You would have to search a great many weeks to find even so much as a thimbleful of gold-dust. ndeed, if this were the way you had to get your living, I fear you would, in a little time, be not only as naked as the negro boys, but as hungry too. I would much rather go to Africa to tell those poor ignorant negroes about Jesus Christ, and to teach them the way to heaven, than to go for their gold-dust.
Large quantities of gold have recently been found in California ; and thousands of people are so eager to obtain it, that they leave their cheerful homes, their kind friends, and their profitable business here, and hurry away to that wild and sickly country to dig for gold. I fear that many of them will repent of their haste to grow rich, when it is too late.
There are also mines of gold in several other countries ; and' silver and copper are found in great abundance in many parts of the earth.
The metal cannot be made into money until it is perfectly separated from the base substances mixed with it. When the metal is separated from the ore, and in a pure state, it is called bullion. It is then ready to be coined, or made into money.
The principal place in this country where money is coined from the metals, is Philadelphia, in a large and splendid building called the United States Mint. Besides this there are three branch mints, one at New-Orleans, one in North Carolina, and the other in Georgia.
When the bullion is brought to the mint it is first melted and cast into bars, perhaps a foot or more in length, half an inch in thickness, and two inches wide. These bars are then put into a machine, and passed under heavy rollers, by which they are rolled out into plates just as thick as the coins which are to be made from them. You see, then, 'that a silver bar, which is designed to make half-dimes, must be rolled much thinner than one of which dollars are to be made. Sometimes the bars are flattened into plates, by being drawn forcibly through a thin crevice, between two pieces of steel. The plate is much thinner than the bar was, but it is also much longer and wider.
Do you think a man could take hold of a bar of metal with his fingers, and pull it through between two pieces of steel, which pressed so hard upon it as to flatten it out into a thin plate ? It would be too hard a pull for one man. Five men could not do it ; ten men could not. No, it is not drawn through by men's fingers. A very strong machine has been contrived for doing this.
And here let me tell you that nearly all the other operations of coining money are performed by beautiful and ingenious machinery, the whole of which is put in motion by a steam-engine.
When the plates are flattened to the proper thickness, they are taken to an other part of the mint, where a strong steel punch cuts them out into round pieces just as large as the pieces of money to be made from them. The remaining part of the plate, now full of holes, is taken to the furnace, melted over, and cast into bars again. But what becomes of the little round pieces cut out ? These begin to look a little like money ; but they are not money yet. There are no letters, or anything else on them, by which we should know what to call them, or could tell how much they are worth.
They are now called blanks, and must go through a few more operations before we can call them money. They are next very carefully weighed, to ascertain whether they are all exactly the right weight, for all coins of the same value must be of the same weight. If any of the blanks are found to be a little too heavy, they are made lighter by filing them off; but if any are a little too light, they must be melted over, and run into bars again.
When the blanks are of just the right weight, the next thing is to pass them, one by one, through the stamping machine, by which the letters, figures, and whatever else we see on the sides of the coins, are printed upon them.
This stamping machine has two pieces of steel ; on one piece is engraved the die or stamp for one side of the coin, and on the other piece is the die for the other side. A great number of blanks are poured together into a hopper, and the machine itself slips them, one at a time, on to the lower piece of steel, and just at that instant the upper piece is brought down upon it with a sudden and forcible pressure, so as to stamp both sides of the coin at once ; and just at the same time a little circular collar slips up around the edge of the coin and mills it, that is, gives it those little ridges which are seen around the edges of most new coins. Some of the older coins, instead of being milled, have letters stamped around the edges. This was done by rolling them like a wheel between two bars of steel, on which were engraved the letters to be printed on the edges of the coin. The gold and silver money which is now made is milled. The edges of cents are neither milled nor stamped.
When the pieces come from the stamping machine they are finished; they are now coins or money.
The machine which stamps and mills the coins works very rapidly. The moment one piece is stamped it is slipped out, and another slipped in. As many as sixty pieces are in this way stamped in a single minute. This certainly is making money pretty fast. A single machine would in one day, if kept at work ten hours, produce thirty-six thousand pieces ; and if all the pieces stamped were eagles, the value of the whole made in one day would be three hundred and sixty thousand dollars.
How much money would, at this rate, be made in a whole year ? Let the young reader estimate it. Remember to take out all the Sabbaths in the year for money-making is very unsuitable work for the Lord's day.
Now let us look at a few of the coins which are made at the United States Mint, and examine their size, their value, and the devices stamped upon them. There are eleven different coins made in this country ; five of them are gold, five are silver, and one is copper.
The gold coins are the double eagle, the eagle, the half-eagle, the quarter-eagle, and the dollar. The silver coins are the dollar, half-dollar, quarter-dollar, dime, and half-dime. The cent is the only copper coin that is made ; formerly half-cents were coined, but they are now very seldom seen.
The double eagle is worth twenty dollars ; the eagle is worth ten dollars ; the dollar is worth ten dimes, and the dime is worth ten cents. But why is the eagle so much smaller than the silver dollar, if it is worth ten times as much ? Gold is more difficult to obtain than silver, and the quantities found in the mines are much smaller. And besides this, gold is a more beautiful metal, and is much used in jewelry. Hence it is more valuable. If you have a piece of gold and a piece of silver of the same size, the gold will be worth between fifteen and sixteen times as much as the silver. If a coin worth ten dollars were made of silver, it would be so large as to be quite inconvenient to carry. The eagles, half-eagles, and quarter-eagles are therefore made of gold : and recently the mint has issued gold dollars. The silver dollar is the largest coin in size that is made, except the double eagle, and the gold dollar is the smallest ; but in value they are just alike.
One side of every coin is called the obverse, and the other side the reverse. On the obverse is seen the head or figure of a person. In monarchical countries this head is generally a likeness of the sovereign. But in this country we have no monarchs to rule us. The people govern themselves by the principles of republican liberty. Liberty has therefore been represented as a person ; and the head on our old coins is called the head of Liberty. A capation and the word LIBERTY is inscribed across the forehead. The silver coins recently made, instead of a head, have the whole figure of Liberty. It resembles a female in a sitting posture, clad in a loose robe, and holding her cap on the end of a staff. The name LIBERTY is inscribed across a shield which leans against her side. The obverse has also thirteen stars around the figure of Liberty. These stars denote that when the United States became an independent nation, there were thirteen States united in the general government.
There are now more than twice that number of States, but the number of stars remains the same.
The reverse of the coin contains, near the outer edge, the name of this great and happy nation UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Within this, some coins have the Latin words, E PLURIBUS UNUM. The meaning of these words is, One out of many; and they denote that our nation is composed of many States. In the center is an eagle with his wings partly spread, as if he were about to soar away.
In most countries the figure of some bird or beast is placed upon the national banner. Some have a lion, some a dragon, some a vulture ; but our national ensign and our coins bear the eagle, the king of birds.
In the talons of his right foot he holds an olive branch, while those of the left foot grasp three Indian arrows; and his breast is protected by a shield.
The olive branch is a symbol of peace, the shield of defense, and the arrows of war. From these emblems we learn the policy which our government intends to pursue towards the other nations of the earth. The olive branch signifies that we are friends of peace, and will preserve it so far as we can with propriety ; the shield indicates that we will defend ourselves against all invaders ; and the arrows denote that we will assail our enemies whenever it may be necessary for the protection of our just rights.
But we should always remember that our country owes her greatness,- and wealth, and the happiness of the people, much more to peace than to war. War destroys the lives of the people, and consumes the wealth of the nation ; but in times of peace the people live in safety, and enrich themselves by quietly pursuing their various occupations. In war, idleness, vice and irreligion triumph; but in peace, industry, piety, and everything good are promoted.
The dimes, half-dimes, and three-cent pieces recently made, and also cents, are destitute of the eagle on the reverse; but have simply the name of the coin in the center, encircled by an olive wreath.
We have a great many coins in circulation that were made in foreign countries ; but as théir names, their values, and the devices upon them are so very numerous, I shall not attempt to describe them.
Bank bills, or bank notes, are not properly called money. They are only the representatives of value, or a promise that the banking company will pay the money to any- person who shall present the bill and demand payment. These bills are elegantly printed and ornamented with pictures and other devices, so as to render it difficult for rogues to make counterfeit bills like them. They are used in buying and selling, the same as money, because they are lighter and more convenient to carry than gold and silver, and because it is well known that the coin can be obtained for them whenever they are presented at the bank.