Adam Smith's Simplified Wealth of Nations, Book 1, Chapter 11k: Rent, Digression -- 2nd period (1570-1640) & 3rd period (1650-1700)

Chapter 11k, Digression: Rent - 2nd period (1570-1640) & 3rd period (1650-1700)

Second Period (1570-1640)

135 The opinion on the progress of silver value from 1570-1640 is unanimous.

136 From 1570 to 1640, the proportion of silver and corn values were opposite.

137 The discovery of the abundant American mines was the sole cause of the reduction of silver value relative to corn.

138 From 1595 to 1620, the average price of the quarter of nine bushels of the best wheat at Windsor market was 498 pence from the accounts of Eton College. 139 From 1621 to 1636, the average price of the best wheat at the same market was 360 pence.

Third Period (1650-1700)

140 Between 1630 and 1640, the discovery of American mines reduced the value of silver. 141 From 1637 to 1700, the average price of the quarter of nine bushels of the best wheat at Windsor market was 612.33 pence.
  1. 142 The civil war, which:
  1. 143 The bounty on corn exportation granted in 1688.
  1. 144 The great debasement of the silver coin by clipping and wearing.
    • It did not cause any corn scarcity.
    • This evil began in the reign of Charles II and continually increased until 1695.
145 In the present century, the silver coin was at its lowest standard weight than at present. 146 The value of silver rose in proportion to the value of corn during the present century. 147 In 1687, the price of the quarter of nine bushels of the best wheat at Windsor market was 302 pence 148 Mr. Gregory King was an expert on wheat prices. 149 In 1688, the parliamentary bounty on corn exportation was granted. 150 The value of silver probably rose before the end of the 17th century and continued to increase for most of the present 18th century. 151 In plentiful years, the bounty: 152 In years of great scarcity, the bounty was suspended. 153 In years of plenty and scarcity, the bounty unnaturally raises corn prices. 154 But without the bounty, the state of tillage would not have been the same.

155 Instead, this variation in the average money price of corn is the effect of the gradual rise in the real value of silver in Europe, than of any fall in the real average value of corn.

156 People suspected that the real value of silver still continues to fall in Europe because of the high price of corn during the past 10-12 years. 157 Between 1741 and 1750, the bounty must have hindered the price of corn from naturally falling so low in the home market. 158 An account of those 10 years is at the end of this chapter. The year 1740 was a year of extraordinary scarcity. 159 The money price of labour in Great Britain rose during the 18th century. 160 After the first discovery of America, silver sold at its former price. 161 In 1504, the tax of the king of Spain was reduced to 20% of the silver registered. 162 The silver prices in Europe might have fallen still lower.
Next: Chapter 11l, Digression, Changes in Silver Demand