August 21, 2012

Peru, c.1792

Where an Ounce of platina was worth 0.7 Ozt Fine Ag in Guayaquil, (purportedly!) 1.4 Ozt Fine Ag in Lima (1788) and 1.138 Ozt Fine Ag in Paris (1791) : the European market price suggests a glut, whereas the colonial price suggests inflationary mis-pricing.

1787: 1 Troy Ounce platina (Guayaquil: Bulk) = S$ 0.54091 (~£0.1217)
1787: 1 Troy Oz. platina (Peru: Mkt) ~ S$ 1.08 (~£0.2434)

1791: 1 Troy Oz. platina (Paris: Bulk) = L.T. 8.13 

Price of Silver in Peru, 1791-3:

Where 1 Marco (= 7.40208333 English Troy Oz.) Fine Ag was paid at S$ 8.67279

1791: 1 Troy Ounce Silver (Peru: intrinsic) = S$ 1.1717 (£0.21)
1791: 1 Troy Oz. Silver (Spain: intrinsic) = S$ 1.179 (£0.2113)
1791: 1 Troy Oz. Silver (UK, Mint Rate) = £0.25833
1791: 1 Troy Oz. Silver (UK, Mkt) = £0.283784

Citation: Travels from Buenos Ayres, by Potosi, to Lima: With Notes...  Anton Zacharias Helms

Price of Quicksilver in Peru, 1791-3:

1791: 1 Troy Ounce Silver (Colombia: intrinsic) = S$ 1.1717

Citation: Travels from Buenos Ayres, by Potosi, to Lima: With Notes by the ... Anton Zacharias Helms

Where French stocking sold in France for 6 L.T. (0.84 Fine Ag) and 6 Piastres (4.6367 Fine Ag), imported French goods sold retail 5.52x higher in Peru.


European imports, 1760-1790:

Citation: Travels from Buenos Ayres, by Potosi, to Lima: With Notes by the ... Anton Zacharias Helms

Luis Fermin Capitin Vallvey (The Transport of Platina to Spain in the Late Eighteenth Century) mentions Casa de Platina payment for one odd lot, higher than typical Crown expense but half the South American market-rate in Peru.  As a commodity with poor demand and limited utility, platina was still worth less than Silver in Spanish ports.

Where Rs. 27,072 = S$ 3,384 and 423 Libras ~ 6,256.2 Ozt, or @ S$ 8./Libra

1787: 1 Troy Ounce platina (Spain: off-mkt?) = S$ 0.54091 (~£0.1217)
1787: 1 Troy Oz. platina (Peru: mkt) ~ S$ 1.08 (~£0.2434)

1788: 1 Troy Oz. Silver (UK, .999 Mkt) = £0.2904 ; 1 Troy Oz. Silver (S$ .999) = £0.2941

"This platina arrived on December 7th, 1787, and payment was made eight months later. In the “Note of expenses incurred in founding the Royal Platina Plant” payment is recorded of “twenty-seven thousand seventy-two Reals which on August 9th, 1788 were released to the proxy representing Bernardo Roca, resident of Guayaquil in payment for 423 Libras of platina” (26). This amounts to a price of 64 Reales per Libra before expenses, but if Bernardo Roca had sold the platina in Lima he could have received double the amount of money!"

Year of

Port of
117671 @ 22 Libra21.62-Cadiz
2178412,937 Castellano59.51-Cadiz
317871 @17 Li19.32--
417876 @ 4 Li, 8 Onza70.94--
5178769 Li 14 On32.14F. El PajaroCadiz
6178716 @ 23 Li194.58F. La Posta de AmericaCadiz
71789122 @ 15 Li 9 On1310.16--
817904543 Ca20.9B. El Farnoso Sevillano-
9179145 @ 6 Li520.26F. El RiojanoCadiz
101791962 Ca4.42F. El RiojanoCadiz
111791100 Li 14 On46.4P. N. S. CarmenCadiz
121795146 Li 9 On67.3V. San CarlosCadiz
1318022267 Ca 112 Tom.10.43F. Sta. SabinaCadiz
14180295 314 Li44.04F. Sta. SabinaCadiz
151802493 Li 9 On227.04F. Flor del ParaisoCadiz
16180322 Li10.12F. Sta. SabinaVigo
17180411@- 171b15o 7 0134.54B. El SerranoCadiz
1818051141b 1 4 0 ~ 5 0 ~52.77-Corunna

"A substantially different figure for the total amount of platina sent to Madrid has been reported by Chaston (18). He suggested that the quantity of crude platina which arrived in Madrid between 1786 and 1808 may have averaged 14,000 to 18,000 Troy oz per year - adding up to perhaps one-third of a million ounces (9560 to 12,320 kg) over the twenty-two year period. This amount is significantly larger than that reported here, although it must be acknowledged that smuggling could account for at least some of the difference between Chaston’s figure and my account of legal commerce."

Chaston (1980) vastly over-estimated the production of refined Platinum in Europe - in fact, crude platina (at 70% purity) landed in Europe would have been that much higher, ~622 - 801 kgs per year.  The total platina export of 1804, however, is well within that range.

"The quantity of malleable platinum turned out over the 22 years mayhave averaged 14,000 to 18,000 oz Troy per year-say one third of a million ounces in all."

A more reasonable estimate follows : the Spanish Mints likely gathered an average of 50-100 kgs of platina per year and European contraband traders 2 -4x that amount: a high estimate of the total platina exported was closer to 85 - 200 kgs, annually.   Broadly speaking, the production and price of platina should simply have followed Gold, by years and seasons and trade access to Carthagena/Guayaquil.

The 1788 price paid is identical to the insupportable high (specimen) "spot-price" cited by von Humboldt in 1801, although we might assume the price at Carthagena (as at Lima) was typically double the Source-Spot.  In Choco, bulk spot-prices to contraband traders were conceivably a third higher than the government price, most of the time.

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