Page images

11th May 1535. The coinage was at first carried on by contract by several individuals, to whom the government had farmed it out. Their lease was not renewed in 1733. Since that period all the works are under the direction of government officers, on the government account. The number of workmen employed in this mint amounts to 350 or 400; and the number of machines is so great, that it is possible to coin, in the space of a year, without displaying an extraordinary activity, more than thirty millions of piastres, that is to say, nearly three times as much as is generally performed in the sixteen mints which exist in France. At Mexico there was coined in the month of April alone, in the year 1796 the sum of 2,922,185 piastres; and in the month of December, 1793, more than 3,065,000 piastres At Paris in the year 1810, the strongest month of coinage was the month of March, when there was coined'in pieces of five francs, the value of 1,271,000 piastres. Between 1726 and 1780, the coinage of gold and silver amounted to

[ocr errors]

In the sixteenī In the Mint Tibor Mints of France *. of Mexico.

12,446,000,700 liv. 13,364,138,060 liv.

* Necker, de l'admin. des Finances, T. iii. p. 59.

To give an idea of the activity of the mint of Mexico, we shall insert here one of the tables which the government orders every year to be printed for the information of the public respecting the state of the mines, that are considered as the regulator of the public prosperity. I shall select the year 1796 when the coinage amounted to 25,644,000 piastres * although it had been 24,593,000 in 1795, and was 25,080,000 piastres in 1797.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

January -
February -

2,078,958 March - 246,578 2,071,001 April ...

2,922,185 May - 252,240 2,538,847|| June

1,907,980 July - - 117,008 2,028,327 August •

1,551,143 September 161,312 2,257,900 October - - - 2,455,057 November 110,112 | 2,685,903 December 410,544 1,849,467

M 2,078,958


01 | 2,260,011

[ocr errors][merged small]

Total 11,297,794/24,346,772

of 25,644,566


The works of the mint of Mexico contain ten rollers (laminoirs) moved by sixty mu es, fifty-two cutters, (coupoirs) nine adjusting tables (bancs d'ajustage) twenty machines for marking

+ 45,385,200 Sterling. Trans.. VOL. III.

2 1


the edges (à creneler) twenty stamping presses, (balanciers) and five mills for amalgamating the washings and filings called mermas. As one stamping press can strike in ten hours more than 15,000 piastres, we are not to be astonished that with so great a number of machines they are able to manufacture daily from fourteen to fifteen thousand “marcs of. silver. The ordinary work however does not exceed from eleven to twelve thousand marcs. From these data which are founded on official papers, it appears that the silver produced in all the mines of Europe together would not suffice to employ the mint of Mexico more than fifteen days.

The expence of carriage, including the salaries of the officers, and the loss occasioned by the mermas, 'amount to a real de plata or 13 sous per marc. This loss from the mermas which was formerly computed at one third per cent, is now reduced to the half; for instead of three marcs they do not lose more than one mare and three ounces in each thousand marcs coined. With respect to the profit derived by the king from coinage, it is estimated in the following manner: if the coinage does 'not exceed fifteen 'millions of piastres per annum, the profit is only six per cent. of the quantity of gold and silver-coined; when it amounts to eighteen millions of


piastres, the profit is 64 per cent ; and it rises to seven per cent. when the produce of the mines is still greater, as was the case during

the last twenty years. We shall afterwards · see that the mint of Mexico, and the house

of separation (maison du depart) make an annual profit of nearly eight: millions of francs *. "The house of separation (casa del apartado) in which is carried on the 'separation of the gold and the silver, proceeding from the ingots of auriferous silver, formerly belonged to the family of the Marquis de Fagoaga. This important establishment was only annexed to the crown in 1779. The building is very "small and very old; and it has latterly been "rebuilt in part at a greater expence to the

government than if its place had been supplied by a new house, not situated in the middle of the town, and in which the acid vapours would have been better directed. Several persons înterested in the works of the apartado remaining in their present situation, maintain that the vapours of nitrous acid which are diffused through the most populous quarters of the town, serve to decompose the miaśmata of the surrounding lakes and marshes. These

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

v. ideas met with a favourable reception after acid fumigations were used in the hospitals of the Havanah and Vera Cruz. · The casa del apartado contains three sorts of works which are destined, 1st. to the manufacture of glass ; 2d. to the preparation of nitrous acid; and 3d. to the separation of the gold and the silver. The processes used in these different works, are as imperfect as the construction of the glass-work furnaces, used for the manufacture of retorts, and the distillation of aqua fortis. The substance of the glass (pasteladura) is composed of 0.46 of quartz, taken from the veins of Tlapujahua, and 0.54 of soda, which the Indians of Xaltocan and the Peñol procure from the incineration of the Sesuvium portulacastrum of several new species of Chenopodium, Atriplex, and Gratiola, which will be described in the .. Flora Mexicana of M. M. Sesse and Cervantes, and of the Salsola soda of Europe, which is cultivated in the valley of Mexico, both to be eaten as a root, and to be reduced to ashes. This soda of Xaltocan is mixed with a good deal of sulphate of potash and lime; so that the carbonate of soda, which is every where found in efflorescence in clay grounds, would be much better adapted for the manu facture of glass. This pasteladura is not melted in earthen pots as in Europe, but in crucibles

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »