Dan Carey: “Locke, Money, and America”
This paper re-examines the much-discussed question about the transformative effect of money described by Locke in the chapter ' Of Property' in the Second Treatise of Government. The American setting is important to the argument, even if Locke never fully justifies the processes of accumulation made possible by money. I also connect his discussion with a number of theoretical points about money that Locke makes Some Considerations of the Consequence of the Lowering of Interest and Raising the Value of Money in 1692, a work which dwells not on the state of nature and natural law, but rather on the functioning of a mature but challenged economy in the early stages of what would become a full-blown crisis during the Recoinage. Scholars have often treated Locke’s position in these two contexts as relatively seamless, for example C.B. Macpherson in an important reading of Locke’s work. I think there is something to be gained by setting up a number of productive contrasts between them.
Joyce Goggin (with Frans De Bruyn): “Notes on a New Scholarly Edition of Pieter Langendijk’s Quincampoix or the Wind Traders and Harlequin Stock-Jobber”
This talk will take excerpts from and discuss a recent translation and edition of Pieter Langendijk’s Quincampoix or the Wind Traders and Harlequin Stock-Jobber, both of which were written and performed in 1720. The volume will be published in 2020 with Liverpool University Press and make these Dutch bubble plays available to readers of English for the first time ever. While the volume contains the translation of both plays, it also contains a translation of the introduction and critical apparatus of the 1892 edition, as well as six essays by contemporary scholars including myself, and Frans de Bruyn, Helen J. Paul, Inger Leemans, Henk Looijesteijn and Eve Rosenhaft.
Andrew McDiarmid: “The Proper Question is Not Whether Paper Money be as Good as Silver or Gold, but Whether it is Better than No Money’: The New Jersey Loan Office of 1723 from a Scottish Perspective”
During the 1680s, the landed structures of North-Eastern Scotland were transplanted to East Jersey. This occurred after the territory was purchased by a Quaker group in 1680, and Robert Barclay of Urie, a prominent Quaker theologian from Moray in the northeast of Scotland, became involved in promoting the colony. By the middle of the decade, half of the land in the colony was held by Scottish proprietors, while the other half was owned by English proprietors. Each group administered the sale of land very differently, however. English landowners sold freeholds at the price of two pence per acre, while their Scottish counterparts prohibited this, and instead only permitted the sale of properties or fractions of properties– with no sale smaller than 500 acres. The large estate therefore developed into the economic unit of the colony, and was further enforced by the prevalence of younger sons, who had been left without lands of their own in Scotland, among Scottish settlers. The importance of land then increased further as a project for a colonial loan office issuing paper notes backed by land security emerged in the 1720s. The governor at the time was Scotsman William Burnet, son of prominent clergyman Gilbert Burnet, who backed the project despite his bosses in London forbidding it. By this time East and West Jersey were united as New Jersey, where several issuances of tax-backed paper notes had been made between 1709 and 1717, after which the British authorities instructed the colony’s governor to discourage anymore bills being issued in an attempt to retire the currency. Despite this instruction, a requirement for a circulating currency remained in New Jersey, and it was this need which drove Burnet to ignore the direction coming from home. While the loan office was not Burnet’s brainchild, he promoted it vigorously. This paper will cover the formation and impact of the office, and through Burnet’s personal writings investigate his thoughts on paper money. It will tell the story of East/New Jersey’s economic development, and Burnet’s pragmatism in which he saw the hardships facing colonists and used his position to alleviate them.
Katie A. Moore: “To Counterfeit is Death? Money, Print, and Punishment in the Early American Public Sphere”
My paper explores the evolving role of print and the public sphere in making the paper money of early America meaningful. Following historians of literature, it considers the colonial currencies known as “bills of credit” as mutually recognizable “printed artifacts” that inspired belief, conferred credibility, and mediated value. As printed artifacts, paper currencies were designed to inspire confidence as much as the pamphlets and newspapers that touted their social and economic benefits. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, elected assemblies and paper money advocates used legislation and print discourse to incite belief in paper money and foster confidence in the fiscal promise that underpinned its value in exchange. Central to this project was erasing the classical distinction between metal and paper. However, the spread of the press in the second quarter of the eighteenth century—and with it counterfeiting—demanded drawing a new distinction: between authentic and inauthentic currency. Printers thus developed new technologies for telling true from false money and began giving notice of counterfeits in their newspapers. Through distinguishing genuine monetary tokens from their fraudulent counterparts, currencies and newspapers authenticated “real” paper money, in the process legitimating paper asmoney. When political or economic crises eroded or threatened to erode collective trust in paper money, on the other hand, the authorities sought to restore confidence in the monetary system by publicizing their ability to discipline counterfeiters, depicted through visual and textual representations linking monetary prerogative to violent punishment. By the mid-eighteenth century, printers were putting variations of the phrase “TO COUNTERFEIT IS DEATH” on paper money and detailing harsh punishments of forgers in their publications, rendering state power visible to increasingly abstract subjects. In the process, the foundation of the money’s value—its fiscal promise—was hidden from public view.
Sean Moore: “How Early Americans Got Coins: The Atlantic Slave Trade and Specie”
Working from evidence from my new book on slavery and libraries, it would demonstrate that the loss of specie to Britain in the American pursuit of metropolitan consumer culture was supplemented by Caribbean coin flowing North through the Atlantic slavery economy, which itself was then used in the pursuit of such culture. Citing manuscripts from merchant ship owners in the mainland North American colonies requesting that their captains bring coin North in exchange for their African cargoes, this paper will attempt to explain how silver and gold underpinned North American consumption.
Anne Murphy: “Polite Banking: A Journey Through the Bank of England’s Banking Hall”
The daily schedules of many of London’s merchants, financiers and business-owners began early and the busiest part of their day was the morning which might be spent ‘scrutinizing accounts and giving orders to their clerks, book-keepers and other staff’ before ‘embark[ing] on a perambulation of the key sites within the City’. For many, the morning routine would have encompassed a visit to the Bank of England’s banking hall, the place where all ‘Money Matters, Notes, Bills, Drafts &c. are transacted’, as well as being one of the sites where the temperature of the wider economy might be taken. The purpose of this paper is to understand what the Bank’s customers would have experienced when they visited the banking hall. It will provide an overview of the cashiers at work, through the lens of an Inspection conducted in 1783 and with particular focus on the processes for discounting promissory notes and bills of exchange. These processes illustrate the nature of the work undertaken by the clerks and its connections with the wider economy. Discussion will then turn to the experiences of those who used the Bank. It will be argued that the banking hall was a site of polite sociability, albeit one that was, at times, compromised by the press of business and the ways in which gifting and gratuities shaped the attention of the clerks.
Leo Shipp: “Covent Garden 1767-68: Theatre Ownership, Profit, and Risk”
In 1767, four men bought ownership of Covent Garden theatre for £60,000. Two of them, Thomas Harris and John Rutherford, were merchants with no prior experience of the theatrical world; their only motivations were the prospect of financial profit and (allegedly) the chance to approach actresses. The other two, George Colman and William Powell, were experienced theatre personnel who believed that all day-to-day theatrical business should be left in their hands. Within a year of the purchase, a furious struggle for control broke out between Harris and Colman. The case was battled out physically (between armed partisans in the theatre), legally (in the Court of Chancery), and by means of the written word (each side publishing its arguments in pamphlets and newspapers). All the while, ownership of Covent Garden fluctuated: Rutherford sold his quarter share at a £3500 profit to two other merchants, and Powell’s share passed to his widow upon his death. Eventually, Colman sold out too, and Harris became majority sharer of Covent Garden.
In this paper, I will examine the print publications and financial accounts pertaining to Covent Garden in these tumultuous years. I will consider how the theatre operated as an institution, particularly in light of the widespread contemporary belief that it existed to provide a public service; how questions of ownership and finance were debated in print; and what financial risks and rewards were involved in eighteenth-century theatre ownership.
Stephen A. Timmons: “The Financial Revolution in the West Country”
This conference paper will serve as an outline, a thought piece for a much longer, more heavily developed monograph that draws together material already presented at or prepared for previous Money, Power, and Print Colloquia, as well as from supplemental sources. The argument of the entire work will address the intersection of state fiscal policies in England in the late seventeenth century with a wide variety of economic phenomena: "projecting" for Devon and Cornwall, regional financial markets, overseas and domestic trade, local sources of wealth, and use of new financial instruments generated in the capital. The Financial Revolution in the West Country developed from two disparate trends--the rebuilding and restructuring of the region's economy after disruption from the Civil Wars and Interregnum, and recent fiscal innovations imposed by the demands of war during the 1660s—1680s. The result was that newly created or heavily revised financial and fiscal organizations overly or replaced existing informal networks of credit maintained by goldsmith bankers, merchants in overseas trade, shipmasters, business owners of workshops, domestic industries, and mines, and substantial landowners. From a regional perspective, the Financial Revolution was neither an event orchestrated by the country's leaders, nor a natural outgrowth of the development of a national economy, but a paradigm shift in which one influence played upon and depended upon the other. 1688 was only one point in an arc of developments lasting several decades; by the 1690s pre-existing economic factors and conditions had been reshuffled into a new financial and fiscal order.
Brendan Twomey: “‘Follow the Money’, Lending and Borrowing in a World Without Banks: The Evidence from the Irish Registry of Deeds”
In 1716, in the middle of a complex and by-times contested public discourse in respect of proposals to initiate the first publically funded state-borrowing programme, James Stanhope averred that Ireland was ‘a country where we have no Bank nor East India Company’. The absence in Ireland of these emblematic institutions of the nascent British financial revolution does not mean that the undeveloped state of the Irish institutional infrastructure was due to any lack of knowledge of, or ideas in respect of, such matters by Irish actors. This period witnessed several unsuccessful efforts to emulate such institutions and failed initiatives included the formation of several life assurance companies and a proposed chartered bank. However, one contemporary Irish institutional innovation, which was only partially replicated in England, was the establishment of the Registry of Deeds in 1707.
This paper argues that the Irish registry can be seen both as an act of state building but also as an example of ‘credible commitment’ aimed at enhancing the collateral value of Irish land to support the development of a more robust credit market. This enhanced credibility was sorely needed in a country where destabilising land ‘settlements’, covering vast swathes of Irish land the last of which had been concluded as recently as 1703, had eroded confidence in the capacity of land to serve as a legally secure and as enforceable security for credit.
Notwithstanding that securities issued under the authority of the Irish parliament had been available since 1716, when ‘putting money out at interest’ in a world with no deposit banking, and with a very limited supply of Irish marketable/liquid interest bearing financial assets, the long-established modality of the secured person-to-person mortgage (labelled Dark Matter Credit in the ground-breaking work of Hoffman, Poster-Vinay and Rosenthal) retained a preeminent position as the asset instrument of choice for most Irish financial managers. The challenge for the economic historian has been to find a source for tracking down these transactions; the answer lay in the archives of the Registry of Deeds.
The scale of Dark Matter Credit recorded in the Irish Registry of Deeds was impressive. In the early decades of the century over 20% of all deeds registered were in respect of secured person-to-person mortgages. By 1730 several thousand such mortgages with a capital value of over £175,000 were registered each year. The scale of such a vibrant credit market sits somewhat uncomfortably with contemporary alarmist rhetoric in the respect of the shortage of money and of credit. This paper argues that an analysis of the tens of thousands secured person-to-person mortgages recorded in the Registry of Deeds provides a to date underutilised source to develop meaningful insights into the contract modalities, the ‘terms and conditions’, the social and physical geography of the participants, and the economic effects of this hidden world of dark matter credit in eighteenth century Ireland.
Megan K. Williams: “Imposing Imposts: Diplomacy and the Global Diffusion of Stamped Paper”
In 1624, desperate to fill its war-chest, the province of Holland in the young Dutch Republic printed up placards to announce a novel impost: stamped paper. Stamped paper was paper printed, watermarked or impressed with a government stamp. It was required for the issuance and authentication of most legal and commercial documents (contracts, wills, conveyances, licenses for christening, marriage or burial, ships' papers, etc.), and served as a tax on other paper products such as newspapers, pamphlets, or playing cards. These nearly-inescapable paper taxes were introduced into societies increasingly dependent upon paper, and increasingly beset by anxieties about the integrity and control of paper documents, especially paper financial instruments. Since stamped paper promised not only to generate easily-collectible revenue but also to publicly authenticate paper products, this innovation was eagerly adopted by governments across Europe and by European empires around the world in the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
This paper frames an archivally-driven case-study on the role of diplomacy and espionage in introducing stamped paper into the Venetian territories in the 1680s, with a broader call to examine paper financial instruments like stamped paper as material artifacts of political communication in a comparative, global perspective. It thereby adopts a broad, material understanding of money, power, and print, to also include the diplomacy and negotiations surrounding the introduction of these ubiquitous but often overlooked paper imposts during the Financial Revolution.
Yihuan Xu: “The Social Structure and Credit Networks of the Original Subscribers to the Bank of England”
This research stems from a big question. The earliest paper money ‘jiao zi’ appeared in the Song Dynasty around the early eleventh century. It sounds like a financial ‘Needham Question’: why ancient China with so many advanced financial instruments still fell behind the West? Comparatively, financial institutions in late medieval and early modern England were far less developed compared to those on the Continent. Why did the Financial Revolution originate from ‘backward’ England? This research outlines a broad social and cultural context prior to the founding of the Bank of England, and offers a first pass at analyzing the original shareholders as a whole. This article mainly uses their diaries, correspondences and pamphlets. It is interesting that the original shareholders included prosperous merchants, powerful politicians, professionals, and humble investors. This research attempts to explore the social structure of these shareholders by focusing on the role of specific individuals and by reconstructing the credit networks they participated in. A few typical case studies as examples include John Houblon, the first Governor of the Bank of England, a representative of the Huguenots; John Locke, the philosopher, with whom a number of physicians and publishers were closely associated; Robert Clayton, the goldsmith, who opened a bank specializing in lending to landowners. Some of the shareholders served as government officials during the reign of William III, among them Samuel Dodd, Michael Godfrey and Nathaniel Gould, the drafters of the Bank’s by-laws. Also, widows and spinsters mostly made up nearly one-eleventh of the shareholders.