November 21, 2011

France, 1820s: Gold Premium

France, 1820:
The Spanish peso/piastre apparently traded at 10% premium, against the 5:1 par. 



November 7, 2011

Colombia, 1810-14: Platina Price Collapse

Colonial Escudos were counterfeited in Colombia as early as 1763, more common in the 1770s.  Purportedly "contemporary counterfeits" (c. 1806-1811?)

The Gold 8-Escudo should weigh 27.0674 grams. A fair example from 1807 weighed
27.04 grams. 

 8-Escudo Platinum Counterfeit: 36.5 mm x 1.5 mm; 26.68 Grams in almost uncirculated condition. 

Gilded, it should weigh slightly more: 185.95 Grains Gold would be required to weigh true.

A 2-Escudos coin in Gold should weigh 6.7668 grams.  This well-worn Platinum counterfeit, presumed contemporary and dated 1805, weighs 6.78 Grams.

This 2-Escudos Platinum forgery, dated 1801 and uncirculated weighs 6.72 Grams.

Assuming a Platinum metal weight of 6.75 Grams, the intrinsic value of a 2-Escudos Platinum forgery on 6/25/2009 was ~USD$ 255.; the numismatic premium was 361%.

The 1801 contemporary counterfeit 2-Escudos (Madrid Mint; FM assayer) Lot 42, Schaumburg Sale 6/25/2009 which sold for $1,092.50


From an 1825 source, von Humboldt describes the appearance of platina in the Mint at Popayan, circa 1809/10.  This may reveal a major discovery, an oversupply event, and/or  hint that colonial Platinum counterfeits were especially pernicious at that time.
Citation: Annalen der erd, völker- und staatenkunde ..., Vol. 7; Heinrich Karl Wilhelm Berghaus, Karl Friedrich Vollrath Hoffmann, Alexander von Humboldt p. (1826)

After 1810, the price of platina collapsed with the regional anarchy of insurrection, whereby individuals could freely dig and sell the mineral wealth of their lands.  Cuoq & Couturier imported large quantity of Spanish platina into France c.1811, and the price of refined Platinum fell by -50%. 

Citation: L'Europe et ses Colonies en Decembre 1819, Vol. 1; M. Beaumont de Brivazac (1820) p.219

Citation: Des métaux en France: rapport fait au jury central de l'exposition ...  Antoine-Marie Héron de Villefosse, Antoine-Marie Héron de Villefosse (1827) p.52

Russia, 1824-30: First Stage of Russian Platinum Production

Even to contemporaries, the valuation of Platinum in 1824-28 was problematic, uncertain, sometimes incorrect. In the comment about the St. Petersburg Price Drop, the Russian Platina Price Peak may be dated to November-December, 1825.

1825/6: Assuming the Colombian platina ban was somewhat effective, the large French consumption in 1825 & 1826 can be explained by early Russian platina export.

Citation: Aperçu sur les monnaies russes et sur les monnaies étrangères ..., Vol. 1; Stanislav Shoduar(1836) p.147

1822-1823: Platina was found but not yet fully identified.

In early 1826, von Humboldt calculated the 1824 Oural mine output in Francs (@ Fr 19,500,000/ 5700*32.15.) and it appears that intrinsic Platinum was implied or inferred to the Price of Gold at the monopolist St. Petersburg Mint.

Decades later, authors mistakenly continued to cite this as an actual Russian market 'Gold Price' for the period. It is nowhere evident nor established that unrefined or refined platinum (platina) in Russia ever sold at an intrinsic rate equal to Gold.

The Paris Price for refined Platinum was also not so high, perhaps 2/3rds the Gold Price (in December, 1825) according to Breant's table. However, on other markets this confusion may have advantageously favored speculators as Paris Platinum rose episodically & stratospherically on rumors and shortages.

Citation: Le globe, Volume 3 (1827), p.478

An unconfirmed expert opinion looking back ~80 years. This is may be an erroneous forex calculation (in Paper Rouble rates), the discrepancies below noted.

1) Among contemporary observers, however, the highest Paris-reported period Price for Russian platina was ~ Fr 32. (<£ 1.50), nearly matching a London Price for Colombian ore circa 1825, ~£ 1.55.

2) If otherwise correct, an extraordinarily circumstance occurred: refined Platinum sold at market in Paris for less than the "Ural Price for Crude" cited below at the Peak (December, 1825.) Those traders purchasing w/gold or silver would have paid higher 'metallic equivalent rates' at a Peak - an exceedingly poor (and unlikely) trade at the Troy Ounce, indeed.   Therefore, dubious estimations, 1819-27.

1825: 1 Troy Ounce platina (ore, @ Silver Rouble rate) = £ 2.10 (USD$ 10.14)
Citation: The Mineral industry, Volume 17 (1908), p.718

Official Russian estimation (1824-34)

1824-36: 1 Troy Oz. Platinum (est. avg.) = 22.30 Banco руб (USD$ 4.31)

Citation:Handels-Geographie: Ein Handbuch für Handels-, Gewerbs-, Real- und andere... ; Adolph Nischwitz (1835) p.641

The platina demand in France 1824-1826 exceeded Russian production by ~20%; it seems likely Russian platina exported to Paris.

1822-31: Russian platina production and French platina imports, in Troy Ounces

1918 Historical Platinum Production Summary:

Citation: Traité de chimie appliquée aux arts; Jean-Baptiste Dumas (1833) p.432

The early Platinum years coincided with increasing Russian bond market volatility, with notably higher bond prices (& speculative activity?)

Poud, in English Troy Ounces and Marcs, etc.

As late as the 1860s, this sort of transport from the Ural placers was common. The caravan journey took 5 months?

November 6, 2011

Germany, 1830


Citation: Handbuch der Material- und Droguerie-Waarenkunde ... (1831) 

The 3-Rouble was the same size as the 5-Silbergroschen (= 1/6 Taler des Königreichs Preußen mit dem Bildnis Friedrich Wilhelms IV., Münzstätte Berlin, Silberprägung 5.216 g; 23 mm) which was not comparable by weight/purity.

Quotes dated European Platinum prices, but raises interesting questions about valuation.

About the application of Platinum to Coin.
By Government Councilor and Professor Hagen from Königsberg.

As far as we know from ancients and contemporaries, only gold, silver and copper have been used for coin, of when and for whom their application for this purpose came first, even Sages are vague and even lack of news that should have mentioned except for the three metals, nor ever tried a different material to the real coin notwithstanding the great variety used at different times and in different countries means of exchange and mint marks. It is all so strange, both in history as State-Economic relationship, that a new coin, which is now struck in pure Platinum, comes from Russia.

The same gave rise to the discovery of rich Platinum deposits in the Ural Mountains. Soon after the year 1819, when local gold-washings were established, one noticed partly squarish, partly lenticular metal grains of white color, which were recognized as Platinum in 1823 and, as we had become more attentive to the same, are found in a wide range at the eastern declivity of the Urals, found in Serpentine and in such abundance, so that the local yield in Platinum now seems to surpass even that which the New World alone so long provided.

But the Chamberlain Demidov, who leases several mines in the local areas of the Urals, which were previously only built on iron and copper, could a few years ago call for bids once several hundred pounds to Sell, and the imperial mines and washings also provided so much of this metal that in the past, limited only to the production of small chemical implements, USE it was anticipated that the reserved pictures exceeding the needs of infinity, and the price of Platinum would thus sink deep. To prevent this and to the Russian mines in the Platinum yield to obtain a new source of revenue and profit full, they took on a deployed application of this metal wisely, and tried it as a coin to make a tool of traffic. On 24 Apr. 1828 appeared an imperial. Russian Regulation, according to which

In 1830, the global price of platina was supposedly one-fifth the Price-of-Gold but the data was old (republished data, English source.)

Notwithstanding this right after the metal gold, half of its value is made, it is nevertheless not well suited for coinage by the amount seignorage (after a memoir of Prof. Hagen Pölitz yearbooks, 1830 Jan.) to 37%. In 1830, the Platina was five times cheaper than gold, but more costly than silver.

Citation: Handbuch für kaufleute... John Ramsay McCulloch (1835) p.507

November 4, 2011

Spain, 1840

At a coinage rate equivalent to ~Fr 32. per English Troy Ounce, c.1840.


November 1, 2011

Germany , 1833

Where the Cologne Marc = 233.856 g.; 7.52 Ozt. and 3-Rouble Coin weighed 2902 Richtpfenning: 280.128 Richtpfennigs correspond to 1 Gram; 8,712.955 Richtpfennigs per 1 English Troy Ounce, and where the 3-Rouble Coin = 10.35954992 Grams; 3 Coins per Ozt.

100,242 Richtpfennings in the Nuremburg Marc (11.505 Ozt.), 34.542 Coins per Marc.
100,449 Richtpfennings in the Cologne Marc (11.529 Ozt.), 34.614 Coins per Marc.

Where 22.73 5-Rouble Coins = 1 Cologne Marc (11.529 Ozt.) of Fine Gold (???)

The 3-Rouble Coin = 10.36 Grams was worth 2.833 Thaler; the USD$ 5. Half Eagle Coin = 8.02 Grams was worth 6.76 Thaler

1833?: 1 Troy Ounce Fine Gold (US Coin) = 26.215 Thaler
1833?: 1 Troy Oz. Fine Platinum (Ru Coin) = 8.507 Thaler

c. 1833/4:
Citation: Handbuch für kaufleute; John Ramsay McCulloch (1834) p.311

Russia, 1835: Iridium

In 1835, Davy's Catalogue retailed Iridium for 22.5x the Platinum price.  

1835:  1 Troy Ounce Iridium (UK: refined, retail) = руб Banco 881.3
1835: 1 Troy Oz. Iridium (UK: ore, retail) = руб Banco 180.3  
1835: 1 Troy Oz. Platinum-Black (UK: hypothetical, retail) ~ руб Banco 135.22 (£ 6.0)

1835:  1 Troy Oz. Iridium (London Retail: ore) ~ руб Banco 192.0
1835:  1 Troy Oz. of Platinum (USA: semi-mfg, sheet, mkt.) ~ USD$ 7.50

1831: 1 Troy Oz. Platinum-Black (Germany: trade) ~ руб Acc. 21.13

1834: 1 Troy Ounce Iridium (StPb price) = руб Banco 43.75 (Fr 39.02)
.... (£ 1.941; USD$ 8.76) 

1834: 1 Troy Oz. Platinum-Black (SPb: residue) = руб Banco 7.29 
.... (Fr 6.502; £ 0.323; USD$ 1.46)

In 1845, Menier's Catalogue retailed Iridium for 4.62x the Platinum price.  At retail, refined Iridium was 4.5x the ore price. Platinum-Black was 50% higher than Platinum.

In 1855, Chilton's Catalogue retailed Iridium for 4.47x the Platinum price. (Imported?) Platinum-Black was 100% higher than Platinum, however.
1825?: 1 Troy Oz. Platinum (Paris, hypothetical retail) = Fr 94.12  

1825?: 1 Troy Oz. Iridium (Paris, retail)= Fr 487.55 (~руб Banco 434.85)

Hypothetically, the lowest SPb wholesale bulk values local merchants paid for Platinum calculate accordingly.  This does not mean foreign merchants exported at such low rates, however.

Wholesale Platinum in Paris was only ~2x higher than the St. Petersburg scrap rate.
The US Market Price for scrap Pt was ~4.5x higher than the St. Petersburg Price.

1834: 1 Troy Oz. Platinum (StPb whols) > руб Banco 8.19 (USD$ 1.70)
1834: 1 Troy Oz. platina (78.94% StPb whols) ~ руб Banco 5.75 (USD$ 1.19)

1831: 1 Troy Oz Pt (Coined) = 11.03 руб Silver = 40.44 руб Banco

1834: 1 Troy Oz. Platinum (@ 2.5 руб Ag =3 руб Pt) ~ руб Banco 27.17 (USD$ 5.63)
1834: 1 Troy Oz. Platinum (coin, at mkt) ~ руб Banco 25.95 (USD$ 5.38)

Die Entdeckung des Platina im Ural seit dem jahr 1824 und die spätere bedeutende Gewinnung derselben bewogen die Regierung dieser Metall reinigen zu lassen und in Geldmünze zu verwandeln. Die zu diesem Behuf im jahr 1828 im Laboratorium des Departements des Bergwesens und der Salinen vollzogen, nach der Methode des Obersten Sobolewski, getroffenen Einrichtungen reinigen das aus sämtlichen Kron- und Privatbergwerken gewonnene Platina;  das auf diese Art gereinigte Platina wird dem St Petersburger Münzhofe übergeben und zu Münze an Werth von 3, 6 und 12 Rubel Silber geprägt. Zur Verfügung des Laboratoriums verbleiben bei der Reinigung des rohen Platinas einige unauflösbare Thiele die aus einer Verbindung verschiedener Metalle bestehen und woraus das Irid gewonnen wird. Das nach Paris gestande Irid erregte bei französischen Gelehrten und Künstlern Bewunderung, und in Paris bezahlte man anfänglich für die Drachme Iridium 60 Fr. Der hohe Preis mehr aber noch die Seltenheit des Iridium waren bis jetzt einzig und allein daran Schuld, daß dieses nützliche Metall nur wenig im Gebrauche zu finden war. Der Kaiserliche Finanzminister Graf Kankrin, hat nun verordnet, das Laboratorium angehäufte Iridium und die bei der Reinigung des Platina gewonnenen unaufgelösten Theile zu mäßigen Preisen in den Handel zu bringen. Demzufolge soll der Solotnik Iridium hier zu 6 Rubel die unaufgelösten Platinatheile aber zu 1 Rubel Bco Ass. verkauft werden. Diejenigen welche diese Gegenstände zu kaufen wünschen haben sich an den Obersten Sobolewski zu wenden.  

The discovery of Platina in the Urals since the year 1824 and subsequent significant recovery of the same induced the government to clean the metal and turn it into coin.  The Laboratory of the Departments of Mining and Salt Industry was fully attracted to this purpose in 1828, adopted as a refinery to make ​​the Platinum obtained from all Crown- and private mines following the method of Colonel Sobolewski; in this way, purified Platina is sent to the St. Petersburg Mint and coined to the value of 3, 6 and 12 Rubles Silver.
Available from the Laboratory, remaining from the purification of the crude platina, in some indissoluble parts which consists of a combination of different metals and from which Iridium is obtained. To this last others confess excitement, among French scholars and artists admiration, for in Paris they initially paid for Iridium Fr 60. per drachme (= 3.83 Gr; 0.897 Zolotnik) The high price but still more the rarity of Iridium were until now solely to blame, that this useful metal was barely employed.  The Imperial Finance Minister Count Kankrin has now ordered the Laboratory to bring  instructions for refining  Platina-Black and accumulated Iridium to the market at reasonable prices. Consequently, the Zolotnik Iridium here costs 6 Roubles, the undissolved Platina-Black sold at just 1 Rouble Banco Assignati.  Those who have want to purchase these items to appeal to the Colonel Sobolewski.

Citation: Oesterreichischer Beobachter (April 1836) p.603

Citation: Augsburger Postzeitung (May 1836) p.603

Iridosmine assay:

1834: The Platinum Rouble was discounted against Silver

Citation: The merchant's assistant, or, Merchantile instructer; Georg Thomas Flügel, Francis Joseph Grund (1834) pp.

Russia: As "Gold was considered 5x more valuable than Platinum" the value of the Platinum Rouble might otherwise be valued as low as $ 0.145 - 0.16 per Rouble, in scrap. (This statement conforms with the rate indicated as Buyer's Scrap, above.)

Essentially, intrinsic Platinum Coin fell to the rate of Banco Roubles - perhaps lower at times.

Citation: Dictionnaire du commerce et des marchandises, contenant tout ce ..., Vol. 2 (p.

1835: Less informed Americans reported the platinum coin was more valuable than the market-price, deceived by earlier statements. 

Circa 1834/5:

1 руб Banco = Fr 1.093;

Monnaies. La monnaie de compte de toute la Russie est le rouble, subdivisé en 100 kopek. Mais la valeur numéraire de cet empire ne consiste qu'en papier-monnaie, appelé: Assignation de banque. Les coupures de 200, de 50 et de 25 roubles, sont sur papier blanc; celles de 10 roubles, sur papier rouge, et celles de 5 roubles, sur papier bleu ; leur valeur représentative est la monnaie de cuivre, contre laquelle elles sont échangées par les banques établies dans les grandes villes. La valeur intrinsèque de ce rouble-papier, comparativement au rouble effectif en argeut, est de 200,264 roubles papier, pour 1 kilogramme en argent fin, ou 109,3 centimes pour un rouble papier. Nous justifierons cette assertion par le système monétaire des monnaies effectives nationales en circulation.

Celles en or, sont;
Le ducat, en tout conforme au système monétaire de la Hollande et de l'Allemagne, de la valeur numéraire de 3 roubles, équivalant à Fr 11, 89 cent. Les Hotels des monnaies n'en émettent plus, et depuis 1817, on ne fabrique plus que des impériales, à 10 roubles, et des demi-impériales, a 5 roubles, au titre de 86 solotnik (0,916 2/3) et a la taille de 34 2/13, et 68 4/15; leur intrinsèque est par conséquent de 417,2167 et de 834,4334 pour un kilog. en or fin, ou de Fr 41 26 cent., et Fr 30 58 cent. la piece.

En argent:
Le rouble simple, le demi et le quart, suivant on ukase du 20 Juin 1810, vieux style, au titre de 83 1/3 solotnik (0,868 et ont petite fraction), et a la taille de 19 61/81 ; leur valeur intrinsèque est par conséquent de 55,629 pour un kilog. en argent fin, ou 3 Fr 83 1/2 cent.

En cuivre:

Des pièces de 2, 1 et 1/2 kopek, en raison de 96 roubles d'an pud equivalent a 16,3624 kilog., ce qui fait ressortir le kilog. de cuivre a 8 fr. 66(?) cent. Cette valeur exorbitante est la cause naturelle de la dépréciation du papier monnaie, qui ne peut s'échanger an pair que contre du cuivre et contre des monnaies d'or et d'argent à des prix variable, qui coutent ordinairement de 380 a 390 kopek papier, pour 1 rouble en or, et de 360 a 370 kopek papier, pour 1 rouble en argent. Une ordonnance du gouvernement de (l'astrube?) 1832 a fixé cet cours, pour les droits de douane, a 380 du rouble en or, et à 360 du rouble en argent.

Par un ukase du 6 mai 1828 vieux style, les propriétaires des mines de platine de l'Ural, Demidow et Jakolew, ont été autorisés a faire fabriquer des monnaies de ce métal, du poids de 2 41/90 solotnik, 9.928 grammes pur et sans aucun alliage, et de les émettre pour la valeur numéraire de 3 roubles en argent; plue tard , le 12 octobre 1829, cette autorisation a été étendue a des pièces d'un poids double et quadruple, dont la valeur numéraire a fixee en proportion, c'est-a-dire a 6 et 12 roubles en argent. Cette monnaie est maintenant très répandue dans la circulation; elle est même préferee aux anciens ducats en or par les marchands des provinces de l'interieur, surtout par les paysans, qui leur ont donné la nom Strelkï (des Petits Gris): il y a cependant à faite observer que la valeur numéraire de ces pièces n'eu aucunement eu rapport avec la valeur vénales de ce métal, car en determinant le prix de kilog. suivant la valeur intrinsèque de 3 roubles en argent, il ressort a Fr 1,141.43 cent., ou a peu près au tiers du prix de l'or, tandis que ce dernier vaut environ cinq fois plus que le platine.

Les monnaies étrangeres ont été tarifiées par une ordonnance de ministère des finances, du mois de septembre 1834.

This currency is now quite widespread in circulation;  it is even preferred to the former gold ducats by merchants in the interior provinces, especially the peasants, who gave them the name Strelkï (Little Grey Ones) : however, it was observed that the cash value of these coins had had no connection with the market value of the metal, because by determining the price of 1 Kg and following the intrinsic value of 3 Silver Rubles, it's evidently Fr 1,141.43, or about a third of the price of Gold , while the latter is about five times Platinum.

Paris Market, circa 1832?

1835: 4,622.9 Funt = 60,865.6 Ozt.