Archive for the ‘France’ Category

The Premium on Gold Coins

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Some of you have been enquiring about the Premium. What is it ? What does it mean ? Here are a few answers.


Sovereign Price= Premium + Price of Gold

In the United Kingdom, the current premium is dependant on source, quantity, supply and demand and currently can range from 5% to over 40% depending on source and condition.  But what is this premium for gold coins?

The premium is the difference between the current gold value contained in the coin and the price paid for the coin and is usually expressed as a percentage. The price and premium depend on market factors at the time and are constantly changing.

e.g. a Sovereign may contain gold with a value of £160 but be worth £199 and for a newly minted proof coin £299 . The difference between these two figures, expressed as a percentage, is the premium thus a the proof coin is sold at approximately 46% premium

The premium for a coin is linked to several criteria:

· production: The smaller the coins and the harder they are to produce, the more chance there is that they will have a high premium, this principle that explains why the smaller half sovereign have a higher premium .  The quality of a proof coin usually demands a higher premium

· speculation: the premium changes to reflect supply and demand. In a period where more coins are being sold than are being bought, the premium is zero or slightly negative (in this situation, coins of moderate quality are often melted down). When there is high demand or excess speculation, the premium resulting from this speculation climbs sharply. The premium is therefore a very good indicator of the balance between supply and demand, the latter’s potential and also what actions should be taken. A negative, zero or slightly positive premium should stimulate purchases whilst a high premium of should lead to selling.


· conservation: a quality coin that has no trace of being handled will retain all its premium. Poor conservation conditions (contact with fingers, scratches, wearing…) results in a reduction of 4 – 10% and can lead to a negative premium. When this happens the coins are melted down and sold for the price of their precious metal

· collectors: some coins are rarer due to them being minted in small numbers or because they have special characteristics related to numismatic rarity criteria. In certain years where very few coins were minted a sovereign can cost several thousand pounds depending on its rarity and its condition. This value is therefore completely unrelated to the value of the coin’s gold content.

· geographical location: gold coins are not equally popular in every country and generally speaking coins that were the currency of a country are more popular in that country e.g.: Napoleons are very popular in France but are much less well known in China or the USA and people there prefer to buy local coins the exception is the Sovereign which is the most popular in the UK but also has an international reputation.

Premium differential: This the differential between the basic (normal ) premium and the highest sale price usually in times of crisis where there is great demand.

Below is some translated correspondence that occurred with our partner in France: editor and a reader about the premium:

Xavier (blog reader): Why do you consider that the ingot is “banal”? Although its premium is not high, or even zero, isn’t this the simplest means of buying investment gold at its market price? When the price goes up (very high, I hope), the deal becomes interesting. A coin currently has a high premium so is interesting if you want to sell but not necessarily if you want to buy… If you want to invest 2,000 Euros, don’t buy an ingot. Wait until the premium for Napoleons drops below 5% to develop your position.
The premium has a real lever effect. Consider the cases of buying, in a few months, an ingot or the same value of 20 FRF Napoleons with a premium of zero. If you sell when you need your capital (don’t forget that gold is an insurance against the crisis but not against life’s challenges – in this latter case, other investments are better), you will have at least 20% more for equal weights with your coins (the premium) without considering the greater ease of selling them.
In summary, starting from the principle that gold coins are an anti-crisis investment, an insurance where you get back what you pay (normally insurance is lost money), you have to take account of the concept of the premium from the start, especially the premium differential. You must buy gold coins with the greatest potential growth from their base premium (the average premium outside of crisis periods) and the highest premium recorded during a crisis. There is a differential of 5% for an ingot but 76% for a half Napoleon. Consider what this means for our investment of 2,000 Euros when we come to sell. Obviously, the coins must be in excellent condition. (Above all, avoid buying via generalist on-line auctions where about 1/3 of the coins are good for the smelter even if the photos are flattering).
Bear in mind that the only thing that should determine your gold purchase (coins or other) is its resale (when and how). Usually, you should do it quickly and at the best price. The ingot is not a winner in this type of competition…

Xavier: (…) Can the premium fall as the value of gold increases ? Trying to compare the changes in the price of gold with the premium on a Napoleon is like trying to compare the ethics of American and English bankers with those of French households. My proposition is a bit exaggerated but it is a good reflection of the fact that the criteria leading to an increase in the price of gold are not the same as those determining the premium on a Napoleon. To confirm this, look at the sharp rise in the price of gold in March 2008 and the dead calm for the premium during the same period. In March, the French only had a vague idea that a crisis was coming and continued to sell Napoleons until September 2008. You should be aware that our own bankers were using every conceivable method to try and sell gold coins to us in January 2008 whilst they had no difficulty in offering us LYXOR GOLD. In summary, we are talking about the same precious metal but certainly not the same investment instrument and the premium is an excellent indicator of the difference between the price of gold on the markets, linked mainly to changes in the price of oil and the US Dollar, and the value of gold coins sold in France, which is more linked to the moral of small investors with tangible values such as the readers of this blog.

Xavier: OK, I accept your arguments, which are logical. It’s a question of investment instruments.

Alternative Currencies are not new

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Around the world there are numerous examples of local currencies which have been introduced to promote local business, local produce, customer loyalty and awareness to trade issues and climate control. They all tend to be run in parallel to the national currency but are based on creating a thriving local, fully functioning economy incentivised by promotions and discounts. In recent years they have been launched in the UK as part of the Transitions Towns initiative and these include the Totnes Pound, The Brixton Pound, The Stroud Pound and the Lewes Pound. Lewes had previously introduced its own currency in 1789 which lasted until 1895. These pounds are obtained by exchanging pounds sterling for equivalent face value “local” pounds. Various denominations have evolved such as the 5, 10 and 21 Lewes pounds issued in 2009. There have also been schemes in the US such as the BerksShares in Massachusetts which are bought for 95 cents yet are worth $1. These are available in 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 denominations. Similarly there have been examples in Canada with the Toronto Dollar, the Calgary Dollar and also in Australia with the Baroon Dollar. Most of these initiatives have been launched since 2006 or later and may well be a local solution in the fightback against the worldwide economic problems. They are viewed as trustworthy currency with real value to the local economy and in certain cases well-meaning because of the positive impact they have on local services and prosperity. Although these models function locally they do demonstrate a widening appeal for taking control of currency and introducing stability to the functioning of an economy.
Are National Economies really functioning?
If they are then for who are they functioning- surely not the majority? What’s happened to the Utopia of Globalisation? One has to ask where we are heading with the daily drivel of mixed messages to suit the media’s demand for sound bites and politician’s short term ambitions for themselves far outweighing the long term requirements of the National interest (daily or decades of proof – take your pick!).
What can be said of today’s global currencies which are currently being prostituted by their governments in a global exchange war to meet their “protectionism” objectives by stealth. Who is controlling their value and to what end?
The “trust” in these currencies is gradually being eroded to the point that Central Banks and the big “clever” money of investors are seeking sanctuary in what may be the only true trustworthy currency – physical gold.
This is fine for the multi-billionaires of this world like George Soros who can afford vaults of the stuff but what about the smaller investor.
Is it time to think that Gold may well become the only currency we can truly rely on? It may also be time to consider exactly what is a trustworthy currency for the future and will it be issued by central banks? There is definite interest in creating a currency of confidence at a time when traditional currencies lose appeal on a daily basis in the unpredictability of an unstable economy and the ever fluctuating foreign exchanges around the world.
This theme is even more current if one observes the trend in the US where Gold is being adopted in Utah and possibly other states as a more reliable store of value and wealth. The website for the Utah Gold and Silver Depository, set up as the means of this remonetization, states:
“On March 25, 2011 history was made when Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed into law Utah HB317 [The Utah Sound Money Act] thereby monetizing precious metals in the form of Gold and Silver American Eagles and United States numismatics (rare coins dated 1792 to 1964) in the state of Utah. The Utah Gold & Silver Depository was founded on the belief that every citizen of the global community has the fundamental right to legally create, preserve and store wealth. To meet the global demand for safe, secure transactions and storage, UGSD has developed a number of depository account options from which a customer can choose and tailor to best meet that customer’s needs and goals.”
The idea is that citizens who wish to monetize their gold and silver will lodge it in an account with the Depository which will then issue them with electronic money in the form of a debit card, which stores the dollar equivalent which is debited against the gold and silver which backs it. The beauty of the Utah scheme is that the “gold debit card” is so clearly linked to the actual gold and silver, the value of which is constantly audited: the card represents the actual gold, which is also personally yours. The technology cannot trump the value or manipulate it. The gold backed debit card is analogous to the old promise printed on, say, Bank of England notes, whereby the possessor of the note was entitled to redeem the face value of the note in gold specie if he produced the note at the bank.
So, this example shows that it is desirable and possible, using modern technologies, to monetize gold making it an alternative to the so called real currencies. A Currency of Confidence with ongoing real lasting and meaningful value. A dream or reality? We shall see… when the austerity measures around Europe are judged, deficits reduced or not and belief in the status quo currency and its current custodians is ultimately maintained or evaporated.

Extract from the English adaptation of the French book : L’or, Un Placement qui (R)Assure (2011) written by Jean-François Faure,President and founder of

Buying a Vera Silver 1 ounce is possible now …

Friday, January 10th, 2014



It is all ours and it is all nice, coming from the same Mint as our Vera Valor 1 ounce but the difference is, it is made of 999,7‰ pure silver, with the same DNA as the Vera Valor. It is also QR coded on the observe as a guaranty of high security.

Unlike other coins which are legal tender such as the Philharmonic Vienna and the Maple Leaf, the Vera Silver does not depend on any arbitrary decisions coming from markets or states. Therefore, the Vera Silver protects you from any risk of lack of supply that causes higher prices.

Part of the LSP range, the Vera Silver 1 ounce is available in pack of 10, 100 and 1000.

Stored in our free zone in Geneva (Switzerland), exempted from VAT, it is actually on sale from the very beginning of January 2014.

Rather good news : why paying more money when mints are actually running out of Philharmonic Vienna or Maple Leaf silver coins ?

Silver just like gold is a safe value and just like diamonds are. These are different means to diversify your wealth.

The Vera Family is extending so please yourself by buying one Vera Silver 1 ounce.

Buying gold coins as a safe haven

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Gold coins struck for liberty

Gold is an asset able to provide real freedom of action. It has had an inherent value for over 6000 years and is still going strong. It provides the reassurance to your savings and wealth that allow you to sleep easy at night – real freedom. This concept of freedom should increase with the value of our assets but today it is so often used as just a lure of clever marketing that distorts the truth about your savings and investments without the reassurance.

The culprits? Banks, once again. Indeed, our bankers have long forgotten the fundamentals of their activity and prefer to sell us complex financial products or random diversifications like mobile phone contracts. Many contracts tie us to them day after day. They have forgotten that they were to be the guarantors of our freedom by means of the values and valuables that we entrusted to them and included the right for our investments to remain our property.

We became completely dependant on these same banks: obligatory bank accounts to cash our wages, money blocked on accounts which pay hardly more than inflation (and sometimes less), credit, risky investments, etc. With gold coins it is quite the reverse.

Gold coins as an investment

Gold coins as an investment

Today in France, as in many other countries, their holding, their transport, their purchase and their sale are free. But that was not always the case. During the Second World War, Germans prohibited the French from having more than 6 g of gold, not even a 20F Napoleon coin. To deprive the French of their gold, was also to deprive them of their freedom. Very happy were those who could rely on their treasure being locked up in vaults

in Switzerland, able to convert it into cash on the local market and return to France with the revenue of the resale. Those who could not travel abroad could obviously buy or sell some in France, but they were exposed to the risks, including theft, blackmail and denunciation. Feeling confident with this assessment, many sought to shelter their treasure in Switzerland but not having anticipated the war, they subsequently had to take enormous risks in order to

smuggle their coins across the border by using secret compartments in their walking sticks that would be stacked full of Napoleon gold coins.

Another example: between 1933 and 1975, the possession of gold was prohibited in the USA. That did not prevent Americans from being among the largest hoarders of gold currency. The Swiss vaults were then filled with Eagles, Double Eagles and Sovereigns which reappeared at the end of the prohibition on gold or which were directly converted into cash in Europe.

During the Cold War, the Americans were right and gave their pilots (or their spies) gold coins so that they could have the possibility to buy their freedom in certain countries. Proof that even the king dollar would be insufficient in some cases. In the eyes of the Vietcong soldiers for example, it was just a vulgar piece of green paper bearing the marks of an enemy culture.

A gold coin, even struck by the American administration, remains above all gold with universally recognized and accepted values.

Contrary to bank notes, gold does not preach politics or try to impose any lifestyle. Gold does not have a nationality, it is neutral, and does not preach a doctrinaire approach. Gold coins are thus the last obstacle against attacks on our freedom and they will always be recognized at their rightful value. This is not the case with the fiduciary currencies in the form of banknotes, coins, and today of electronic currencies, which are sometimes so difficult to get accepted from one country to another.

Geographical locations

Gold coins are not in demand in the same way in all countries. Thus, in China or in the USA, Napoleon gold coins are not so well known and investors prefer to buy local coins or Krugerrands and Sovereigns which have an international appeal. In France it would be the reverse: in a period of crisis, the Napoleon national coin will tend to see its price shoot up beyond the value of the metal content whilst coins from other countries will maintain a steady premium.

Ideally, one would want to buy coins that are less in demand in a certain country and sell them to a market with a high demand for that particular coin.

This is possible today using systems like, and which unite French, Spanish and English speaking gold investors around the world, providing opportunities for a Chinese Member to buy Pandas from a UK Member for example.

Extract from the English adaptation of the French book : L’or, Un Placement qui (R)Assure (2011) written by Jean-François Faure,President and founder of

The Australian Nugget 1 ounce

Monday, December 16th, 2013

The Australian Gold Nugget is a popular series of Gold bullion coins issued by the Perth Mint. They
have legal tender status in Australia and are one of the few legal tender bullion coins to change
their design every year, the most notable other being the Chinese Panda.


Australian Nugget 1 ounce

Australian Nugget 1 ounce

Australia issued its first Gold Nugget coins in 1986. From 1986 to 1988, the reverse of  these coins featured images of various Australian Gold nuggets, hence the name. From 1989, the design changed to feature different Kangaroos, a more world-recognised symbol of Australia. The coins are sometimes referred to as Kangaroos but the name

Nugget seems to have stuck. The coins up to 1 Toz change design each year. Each year, a Proof edition is issued and that design becomes the bullion coin design for the following year.

The coins have a unique market niche for two reasons; a “two-tone” frosted design effect and individual hard plastic encapsulation of each coin. Provided they remain as they came from the mint, the quality is maintained and thus premium.

The initial sizes offered were 1/20 Toz, 1/10 Toz, 1/4 Toz, 1/2 Toz and 1 Toz. In 1991, the 2 Toz, 10 Toz and 1 Kg sizes were added. These were created with the intention of using economies of scale to keep premiums low. The face values of the two larger coins were lowered in 1992 in order to bring them more in line with the smaller sizes.

In October 2011, the Perth Mint created a one tonne Gold coin to break the record for the biggest and most valuable, previously held by the Royal Canadian Mint. It is approximately 80 cms diameter and 12 cms thick. The face value is A$1 million but at the time of minting, the Gold price made it worth over A$53 million.

As mentioned, the reverse of the coin features in the early years a Gold nugget and thereafter a Kangaroo. It states the year of the coin, the weight and Gold fineness.

There is also a mintmark ‘P’ which signifies the Perth Mint.

The obverse features a profile view of Queen Elizabeth II designed by Ian Rank-Broadley. The portrait is surrounded by her name, the denomination of the coin and the word AUSTRALIA.

The Australian Gold Nugget coins should not be mistaken for the Australian Lunar Gold Bullion coins. Both coins are minted by Perth Mint and have 999.9‰ fineness but Lunar coins use different animals from the Chinese calendar instead of the Kangaroo.

Investment Advice

There are various grading systems in use around the world. However, the British system is as follows:

All Nugget coins are issued as pure Gold finewness, 999.9‰ and in theory have a low premium just above the value of the Gold.

However, their intrinsic beauty makes them very collectable and they attract good premiums.

As with any coin, the best quality grades will attract the best premiums. The three early years in particular will be those with the highest premium. Although the coins

were issued in Proof form, many were unpacked and have thus been damaged and are at lower gradings. The mintage figures for all sizes of Nuggets are in general quite low, thus every coin will have numismatic premium value also. All round, the Nugget is both a collectable and investable product.


Tax Free Savings

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

A Tax Free Savings Account in physical gold that you own

UK Taxpayers have a unique opportunity to save in pure gold, a real tangible asset, without paying VAT or Capital Gains Tax. Start from just 1 gram a month.

Gold Britannia and Sovereign investment quality coins offer a unique advantage to investors because they offer between 18% -28% additional benefits over other investments. Why? … because they are completely exempt from Capital Gains Tax. Furthermore, they are exempt from VAT.

Britannia 1 ounce_averse

Britannia 1 ounce averse

Gold Britannia 1 ounce coin

Britannia 1 ounce obverse

Britannia 1 ounce obverse

A beautifully struck gold bullion coin that has UK legal tender status and a face value of £100 – although its actual value is many times greater. The Gold Britannia coin was originally alloyed with Copper, but from 1990 the decision was made to alloy with Silver. This is why the earlier Gold Britannia’s have the deep Gold colour, as opposed to the lighter yellow gold colour of the Britannia since 1990. The latest 2013 coins have no alloy and are pure gold and 999.9°/oo fineness.

Sovereign Elizabeth II_averse

Sovereign Elizabeth II averse

British Gold Sovereign coin

Sovereign Elizabeth II obverse

Sovereign Elizabeth II obverse

The full British Sovereign is one of the most recognised gold coins in the world, with UK legal tender status and it can attract a healthy premium as it is always in demand, at home and abroad. Their legendary reputation comes from their use in a pilot’s survival kit by many air forces, being sewn into their jackets and used to negotiate their safe passage home if downed during a mission. The attraction was the integrity of their British origin which provided the utmost trust to their owners.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

Coins which are legal tender in the UK are exempt from CGT. The Britannia and Sovereign investment coins fall into this category. The UK Customs authority has issued a notice to accountants and financial advisors numbered CG12602 which deals with exemptions and in particular currency in sterling. It refers to:
– TCGA92/S21 (1)(b) which states “Currency in sterling is not an asset for capital gains purposes”. >Learn more
– Further notice from HMRC is given in CG78308 which states “Sovereigns minted in 1837 and later years and Britannia Gold coins are currency but, like all sterling currency, are exempt because of TCGA92/S21 (1)(b) >Learn more Value Added Tax (VAT)
Coins which are of investment quality do not attract VAT. Investment quality is defined as coins which contain a minimum of 900 one thousandths Gold. (900.000 ‰). Rather than being a specifically British rule, it is in fact from the European Union. See notice number 2011/C 351/07. The notice refers to all coins from various countries which would fulfill the investment quality criteria. >Learn more

Confidence in physical gold

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

According to and also confirmed on, the Shanghai Stock Exchange would have delivered more gold than Fort Knox in the States. Needless to say the strong impact that would have on the gold price in the forthcoming future.
Some people even expect tapering to happen again or at least at some point.

Shanghai stock exchange
Shanghai Stock Exchange

The dollar is being printed on such a large scale that it leads to a complete devaluation of the US currency. That may be a satisfaction to the American to have more bank notes printed out but on the other side this does not help other countries like China who is presently sitting with some $3.7 trillion of foreign exchange reserves – other countries are actually in a pretty similar case with lesser quantities but still the concern remains …

Kingworldnews visited the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2009 and said that they had delivered some 8655 tons of gold since 2009. The Chinese bought something like 1.700 tons of gold in the first eight months of this year. It means that gold is actually feeding the Chinese’ foreign exchange reserves. We know that the renminbi is already the second largest currency used in global trade … How long before the dollar becomes fully obsolete ?

Let’s have a closer look at the dollar :

Well, one should be scared when looking at that 14 year perspective published on

a 14 year perspective for the de-dollarization

a 14 year perspective for the de-dollarization

In our article published on Nov 19th 2013 – China remains the world’s largest gold consumer in Q3’13 – we were actually talking about the lack of confidence in the global financial market and systems altogether. As Jim Sinclair was saying ‘Credibility speaks to Confidence and Confidence speaks to Gold’.

Soon we may have part of our savings confiscated. How trustworthy are the banks? 

Investing in physical gold has never been so important. Making it affordable to everybody is our main concern and feasible thanks to our LSP.

For further information with regards to the confiscation in the USA, please read our article The Great Confiscation : Gold ownership was illegal in the USA from 1933 to 1975.

The Krugerrand 1 once

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The Krugerrand is probably the original Gold bullion coin. It was introduced in 1967 as a vehicle for private ownership of Gold whilst also being circulated as currency, hence being minted in a durable alloy. From 1980, further sizes were introduced. See specification table overleaf.


pict krugerrand 1 ONCE The history of the Krugerrand begins with the South African Chamber of Mines which had the inspired idea to market South African Gold by producing a one Troy ounce bullion coin to be sold at a very low premium over the intrinsic Gold value. It was intended to be circulated as currency, hence it was minted in a more durable alloy and contained 2.826g copper to resist scratching and thus giving the coin its golden hue. At the time of launch, the Krugerrand was the only accessible Gold investment opportunity for the everyday buyer and this thought came through from the inception. It was the fi rst coin to contain exactly 1 Troy ounce of Gold.
Despite the coin’s legal tender status, economic sanctions against South Africa made the
Krugerrand an illegal import in many Western countries during the 1970s and 1980s. These sanctions ended when South Africa abandoned apartheid in 1994 and the Krugerrand once again regained its status as one of the worlds’ leading bullion coins.
In 1967, only the one ounce coin was available. From 1980, the fractions were available, namely, one half ounce, one quarter ounce and one tenth ounce. The name is derived from a combination of Paul Kruger, a well-known Boer leader and later President of the Republic and the Rand, the monetary unit of South Africa. The obverse side features the Otto Schultz image of Kruger along with the name of the country “South Africa” in the two languages, English and Afrikaans. The reverse side, designed by Coert Steynberg features the image of a Springbok Antelope, one of the national symbols of South Africa.
By 1980, the
Krugerrand accounted for 90% of the Gold investment coin market. For example, it is estimated that between 1974 and 1985, some 22 million coins were imported into the United States alone. Although it is not a beautiful coin, many millions have been sold since its introduction due to the policy of selling with a very low premium. The success of the Krugerrand led to many other Gold-producing nations minting their own bullion coins, such as the Canadian Maple Leaf in 1979, the Australian Nugget in 1981, the Chinese Panda in 1982, the US Eagle in 1987 and the British Britannia in 1987.
Krugerrand is interesting in that the government of South Africa has classed the coin as legal tender although it has no face value. It therefore fulfills VAT-free criteria for investment coins.

Investment Advice

There are various grading systems in use around the world. However, the British system is as follows:

investment advice krug
Essentially, the bulk of
Krugerrands are produced in a non-proof form although the South African Mint produces limited edition Proof quality Krugerrands as collector’s items. These coins in particular attract a healthy premium and are priced well above the value of the bullion alone. However, non-Proof coins also have a premium above the value of the bullion.
The Proof and non-Proof coins can be distinguished by the reeding, that is, the number of serration on the edge of the coin. Proof coins have 220, non-Proof have 180.

key facts krugerrand

Krugerrands are made of an alloy of Gold and Copper – this effect also being known as Crown Gold as it has long been used for the British Sovereign coins. Due to the popularity of the Krugerrand, there are also many fakes in existence and the investor should be wary. Copper alloy gives a much more orange appearance than silver alloy. Likewise copper is very durable and coins should be in good condition always.
The best marker of authenticity is the weight and this should be checked carefully using the table below since the Gold weight and total weight are known. Check also the reeding.


specs krugerrand
All investment coins sold by are EF quality or above.

For further information: +44 (0)203 318 5612

The Panda 1 ounce

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

The Chinese Gold Panda is a popular series of Gold bullion coins issued by the People’s Republic
of China in Proof-like, brilliant uncirculated quality. They are issued in a range of sizes between
1/20 Oz and 1 Oz with larger 2 and 5 Oz coins being additionally issued in some years.

panda 1 onceChina issued its first Gold coins bearing the Panda design in 1982. These were limited
to sizes of 1/10 Troy ounce along with 1/4 Toz, 1/2 Toz and 1 Toz. From 1983, the 1/20 Toz size was added and additionally a 2 Toz and 5 Toz coin is sometimes issued.
These strikingly beautiful coins are always issued in Proof-like brilliant uncirculated quality and prove very popular.
A different design was issued each year until the 2000. When the 2001 edition was announced, so too was a freeze of the design and thus the 2002 Panda is identical to the 2001. Collectors spoke up on behalf of the annual change and China responded by reversing their policy so that from 2003 onwards, the designs again change each year.
However, on the reverse side, it always features the endangered Giant Panda. It also features the size, Gold fi newness and monetary value.
The main design on the obverse of the coin has hardly changed, save for minor detail changes in the image. It features Beijing’s famous Temple of Heaven (Tien Tien) in the centre with Chinese characters on the top saying “Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo” meaning People’s Republic of China and at

the bottom the year of issue. If it is a commerative issue, the theme will also be marked here.
There was an adjustment of the face values of the coins in 2000/2001 – please see
the table overleaf for details.
The Chinese mints usually do not employ mintmarks. In certain years, there have
been minor variations in items like the size of the date, the style of the temple and
so on. These allow the numismatist to identify the originating mint. In some years,
but not all, other marks and Proof marks (signifi ed by a ‘P’) have been added. The
four mints involved in the production of the Panda are Beijing, Shanghai, Shengyang
and Shenzhen.

Investment Advice


All Panda coins are issued as pure Gold fineness, 999.9‰ and in theory have a low premium just above the value of the Gold.
However, their intrinsic beauty makes them very collectable and they attract good premiums.
As with any coin, the best quality grades will attract the best premiums. The early years in particular will be those with the highest premium. Although the coins were issued in Proof form, many were unpacked and have thus been damaged and are at lower gradings. The mintage figures should be carefully examined – the number originally minted is quoted but it has been found that production continues for various years, hence the total mintage may be quite a bit higher some years after.




All investment coins sold by

are EF quality or above.

For further information: +44 (0)203 318 5612

How much does 1 gram of pure gold cost ?

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Who said that only wealthy people could afford buying gold ?

  • Save from 1 gram of gold per month
  • Secure storage in Swiss vaults – FREE*
  • No administration or signup fee
Sign up for the LSP for free

Gradually build your wealth by simply buying each month a minimum of 1 gram of physical gold, for your LinGOLD Savings Plan (LSP) and benefit from freestorage in Swiss vaults outside the banking system.

How to save with the LSP?

  • Connect to your LinGOLD account or create a new account
  • Signup free to the LSP programme
  • Buy each month a minimum of 1 gram of pure gold
  • The gold you have bought is fully referenced : bar code, photograph, certificate of ownership
  • The gold is stored in a Swiss vault outside the banking system
  • You are free at any time to increase or reduce the amount of your savings, or you can unsubscribe from the LSP with no charge or prior notice.
Minimum Purchase 1g pure gold per month*
Maximum Threshold Unlimited
Storage Charges Free*
Signup Fee None
Availability Immediate Resale
Minimum Engagement None

*The storage charges levied on your gold stored in the LSP are FREE, on the condition that you buy a minimum of 1 gram of pure gold per calendar month, before the last day of each month. If the minimum monthly purchase is not made, storage charges will be applied, currently £4 per month per 200g total weight stored.

What are the products that fall within the LSP?

  • All the fractions of pure gold (1 g, 10 g, 100 g) issued from bars or gold investment coins (Britannia, Sovereign, Napoleon 20F, Napoleon 10F, Panda, Vera Valor, etc)
  • A whole coin : Vera Valor 1 ounce
  • A 1kg bar of pure gold

For further information on the LSP.


Friday, May 3rd, 2013

The role of the Dollar in the Bretton Woods Agreement

The decisive change that led to the Jamaica agreement was President Nixon’s suspension on 15 August 1971 of the convertibility of the dollar into gold. Until then this had been the keystone of the financial system created in July 1944, the Bretton Woods Agreement, the chief architects of which had been Lord Keynes (despite his distrust of gold) for the British and Harry Dexter White for the Americans.  On 1 October 1971 the general assembly of the IMF asked the board of trustees to study and propose a comprehensive reform of the international money system.  This would be adopted by member States during a meeting held in Kingston, Jamaica on 7-8 January 1976, and included a set of provisions which put an end to the reign of gold.  The decisions taken focused on two main points:

1. The new exchange rate system

Member countries had to refrain from manipulating their exchange rate for competitive reasons and had to choose between three possibilities:

1. Not to assign parity to their currency which was to float freely on the foreign exchange markets;

2. To fix the value of their currency by pegging it to another currency or a Special Drawing Right* not to gold;

3. To link the value of their currency to one or various other currencies as part of cooperative mechanisms.

2. The role of gold

The solution presented was a compromise between the French argument that pushed for gold to remain part of the organization and running of the international monetary system and the American policy that had for a long time wanted gold to be withdrawn from its supreme position.  The agreement withdrew the status of the IMF and all references to gold and replaced it and its core functions with SDR whose dollar value is posted daily on the IMF website.  The consolation for gold was that central banks were given back the freedom to carry out transactions with metal without restrictions on them or the market.

This desire to remove gold as the standard of parity and to abolish the official price of the metal was completed by abolishing obligatory payments in gold for operations between the IMF and member countries and obliging the IMF to get rid of a third of its gold holdings (50 million ounces) by returning half to member states at the old price ($35 an ounce) and by selling the other half through public auctions.

Again we must add that the abolition of the official price of gold resulted in central banks being able to carry out transactions at a price derived from the market and to reassess metal stocks in their possession (as was very quickly the case with France and Italy).

Even if the United States made it known that they would continue to assess their reserve at the old official price of $ 42.22 an ounce and even if the first auction by the IMF lowered the price of gold on the world markets, at least for short periods, we can say that in the fact the results expected by the American policy and the IMF were a long way from being achieved.  The price of gold and gold itself still remain important elements of a vast political game: all things considered, if gold has survived, it’s because it has not stopped being the official metal that governments didn’t want it to be and wanted to forget.

Today, the dollar struggles and the new gold giants Russia, China and India are all looking in different ways towards gold as the international medium to back commitments or in the long term to oust the dollar as the international reserve currency. Closer to home the crisis that rose to the surface in 2008 has caused us to once again look at the stabilisation that resulted in the Bretton Woods agreement, which collapsed, partially due to economic expansion in excess of the gold standard’s funding abilities on the part of the United States and other member nations.

However, the problems of currency systems not pegged to gold lead to economic problems far worse.

Both France and Britain have envisaged such a stabilization. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown were recalling the previous success and called for a “new Bretton Woods” agreement in October 2008. What Sarkozy and Brown envisaged was a new multilateral agreement to stabilize international finance in the 21st century, the way the 1944 conference, which established the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, stabilized financial relations among countries in the second half of the 20th century. The summit meeting of world leaders held in Washington, D.C., in November 2008 started a process that could lead to such an agreement. What would that take to succeed? What kind of leadership, and what kind of commitment, would be needed? History offers some useful lessons.

On several occasions throughout the Twentieth Century, political leaders in major countries sought international agreements on the global economic or financial architecture. Many of those efforts failed, Bretton Woods being the major exception. The central lesson that emerges from these efforts is that successful reform in response to a crisis requires three ingredients:

1. Effective and legitimate leadership combined with inclusive participation;

2. Clearly stated and broadly shared goals

3. A realistic road map for reaching those goals.

Of these desiderata, only number two, of course, is feasible: many things are easily said and agreed to, goals have a marvelous capacity for being broadly shared – at conferences. While these may be the central lessons learned by advisers and politician, because for such people diplomacy is all (as indeed witness the inability of the eurocrats to get beyond agreements and actually act to solve the eurocrisis); indeed it is possible that diplomacy in itself generates the lack of concerted action because there always has to be something to discuss at the next summit.

Gold the Real Lesson

The most obvious question to arise is: why in Kingston was a decision made to undo the successes of the Bretton Woods system? The immediate answer would probably be that the dollar was able to behave in ways that undermined other nations – but this was entirely because the gold-dollar peg was not a true gold standard even if it seemed to act like one most of the time. Nevertheless, this link did cause imbalances in favour of the United States, which the French, de Gaulle in particular, drew attention to during the sixties.

In spite of the success of Bretton Woods, that success was insufficient to prevent unilateral action by the American government, culminating in Nixon’s decision to abolish what was left of a gold standard in 1971. Henceforth, the goals and achievements of the new system, as much as what was deferred became dependant overtly on the behaviour of the participant countries. New rules in finance can only be devised by those who are the major players in the financial, industrial and emerging markets. Therefore any pretence of stabilizing the world economy was in fact abandoned in favour of powerful nations and cliques, the perfect recipe for currency wars.

In other words the lesson of Bretton Woods which ought to have been learned was that financial stability can only come about with a return to the classical gold standard (1870-1914). Kingston, Jamaica was a staging post on the way to the brink, the edge of which came into sight in 2008.

* The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement member countries’ official reserves. Its value is based on a basket of four key international currencies, and SDRs can be exchanged for freely usable currencies. With a general SDR allocation that took effect on August 28 and a special allocation on September 9, 2009, the amount of SDRs increased from SDR 21.4 billion to SDR 204.1 billion (equivalent to about $ 321 billion). It should be borne in mind that this is a paper reserve, and for that reason is liable to all the defects of paper money.

This is a revision by Mark Rogers of an article posted earlier on this site by Maurice Hall redacted from L’Or [Gold] by Jules Lepidi and an article by J.M. Boughton (IMF Historian).

For the raison d’être of these articles on read: GOLDCOIN.ORG: MIXING POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS

For background on the writer: CONFESSIONS OF A LAW AND ORDER ANARCHIST

For a series of articles on the pernicious effects of progressive tax regimes: THE MORAL DILEMMA AT THE HEART OF TAXATION

For a review of one of the most important books on the financial crisis published last year: THE MESS WE’RE IN: WHY POLITICIANS CAN’T FIX FINANCIAL CRISES


Saturday, January 26th, 2013

They must be worse than blind who cannot see with what undeviating regularity of system, in this and in all cases, they pursue their scheme for the destruction of every independent power … The design is wicked, immoral, impious, oppressive: but it is spirited and daring. It is systematic; it is simple in its principle; it has unity and consistency in perfection. In that country entirely to cut off a branch of commerce, to extinguish a manufacture, to destroy the circulation of money, to violate credit, to suspend the course of agriculture … does not cost them a moment’s anxiety. To them the will, the wish, the want, the liberty, the toil, the blood of individuals is nothing. Individuality is left out of their scheme of Government. The state is all in all.

Letters on the Regicide Directory 1796

Quoted by Christopher Booker and Richard North as the epigraph to their book The Castle of Lies: Why Britain Must Get Out of Europe, Duckworth, London 1996

For an article by Mark Rogers on the cult of the state, click here.

Readers curious as to why articles of this nature should be appearing on a gold investment website should read: GOLDCOIN.ORG: MIXING POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS

And for background on the writer: CONFESSIONS OF A LAW AND ORDER ANARCHIST

And for a review of one of the most important books on the financial crisis published last year: THE MESS WE’RE IN: WHY POLITICIANS CAN’T FIX FINANCIAL CRISES


Monday, January 21st, 2013

By Mark Rogers

The other morning a friend of mine who deals in antiques including gold and silver, rang me up to ask me whether I thought the price of gold had bottomed out or would fall further, and when and by how much it would rise.

I reflected that there is simply too much uncertainty about the euro crisis, the motives behind the Deutsche Bundesbank’s recalling of its gold from New York and Paris, and Basel III to be able to say anything about the price except be watchful. Of course there are those who are known to call the shots accurately, but even they cannot be relied upon: past performance is no predicator of future performance.

This of course is the well-known Humean scepticism, that just because something has happened before is no reason for it to happen again. In broad terms, and especially of human behaviour, this is a reasonable position to take, and it is Nassim Nicholas Taleb who has popularised this attitude in financial affairs as “black swan” events, although his own adherence to what in his hands has become a doctrine has practically paralysed him (see the essay on him in Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw).

How do we know? Let me give an example that happens to be to hand in Nudge (already mentioned here). In describing the activities of unpractised investors the authors Thaler and Sunstein note: “Their market timing was backward. They were heavily buying stocks when stock prices were high, and then selling stocks when their prices were low.”

Surely, though, this is only knowable with hindsight. At the time they were buying, presumably the investors thought or had been advised that the price was right, i.e. low, in relative terms. When that turned out to be incorrect and the prices fell, they sold, and for an equally valid reason: not to lose too much given that they now had new information.

A Gold Standard?

So where is the price of gold likely to go? One school of thought suggests that the price of gold is artificially low because of the uncertainty created in the market by paper gold, the ETFs that are so abundant – and this is surely likely to be correct. Be that as it may though, what else is going on?

At the end of the Second World War, Germany’s gold was divided into four, with one quarter being held by the Bundesbank, and the other quarters kept in London, New York and Paris. There were two reasons for this: one to have leverage on the Germans doing again what they had twice already done, and, more immediately, to prevent the Soviets from grabbing too much gold should they mount a successful invasion on West Germany.

Two and a half years ago the Bundesbank repatriated the quarter held by the Bank of England; towards the end of last year it made claims for repatriation of its gold in New York and Paris. Why? Well, one reason may well have to do with the very public argument between the Bundesbank and the ECB over the latter’s quantitative easing: the Bundesbank rightly says that QE is damaging any chance of recovery of the euro, and therefore the repatriation of the gold may well have something to do with shoring up the German position should the euro finally collapse. Remember, we noted at Christmas 2011 that Deutsche Marks were in circulation, though certainly no-one knows how many there are. But would it not be a fine irony if Germany were the first to exit the euro, with a Mark backed by gold!

Elsewhere, as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard noted in The Telegraph on 17 January 2013, the buying of gold by central banks presages a return to a gold standard. He is wary about this return, and thinks it will only work as part of a tripartite system underpinning value. Whether the latter can work is very uncertain, as it effectively puts gold in a competitive position rather than an absolute one and therefore gold would surely not operate as a brake on the ambitions of politicians, and thus in effect be no gold standard at all.

However, there is a simpler explanation for these purchases: Basel III. The latter’s revision of gold as a Tier III asset to Tier I was no secret, and so central banks having been asked by the Basel Committee to revise their attitude towards gold have done so in the only proper manner – by buying it. This ought to stimulate the price, but perhaps the reason it has not is that gold buyers and investors are waiting to see just what might happen as a result. The Basel III accords should have come into force on 1 January 2013, although there were several pleas from central banks towards the end of last year for deferment, until next year in some cases. Already the Reserve Bank of India has announced it will not implement Basel III until April at the earliest.

There therefore seems to be a degree of nervousness in relation to gold at present: but it does seem like a good time to buy.

Readers curious as to why articles of this nature should be appearing on a gold investment website should read: GOLDCOIN.ORG: MIXING POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS

And for background on the writer: CONFESSIONS OF A LAW AND ORDER ANARCHIST

And for a review of one of the most important books on the financial crisis published last year: THE MESS WE’RE IN: WHY POLITICIANS CAN’T FIX FINANCIAL CRISES

2012: Tax, the Euro and the Gold Standard: A Roundup

Monday, January 7th, 2013

By Mark Rogers


In a move practically designed to prove my assertion that the Inland Revenue is behaving more like the Stasi than a branch of democratic government, it was announced on Friday 4 January that the H.M.R.C. was publishing the names and photographs of some of the worst tax “cheats” of the previous year. Yet the lack of clarity persists: “The Government invested £917m in tackling tax evasion, avoidance and fraud in 2011-12, with an additional £77m planned over the next two years. ‘Most people play by the rules and pay what they owe, but HMRC is cracking down on those who don’t,’ said Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke. ‘We hope that publishing these pictures will help get across that it always makes sense to declare all your income, and tax dodgers are simply storing up trouble for the future.’”

While the news report does give details of an overtly criminal gang, the persistence in lumping together criminals on the one hand and dodgers and avoiders on the other is deeply worrying; the latter are people who have committed no crime. Until and unless the law is specifically changed the pursuit of those who legally avoid paying tax is a direct assault of the rule of law. And it will not do to pass legislation criminalising avoidance: avoidance only takes place because the tax code is too large, too multifarious, too unfair and too confiscatory. It would be an even graver assault on the rule of law if criminalising legal behaviour was to be the government and parliament’s preferred option rather than a serious overhaul of the tax code. But then expecting that is like expecting the EU’s commissioners, politicians and bankers to sort out the euro mess.

The Euro

Where is the promised resolution to the Euro crisis, specifically the problems in the first place of Greece? The European Stability Mechanism merely defers the inevitable, but true to form, the EU’s political class is congratulating itself that “something is being done”.

In his book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It (Regnery Publishing, Inc. Washingto, 2008), Mark Steyn makes the following observation: “The progressive Left can be in favour of Big Government or population control but not both. That mutual incompatibility is about to plunge Europe into societal collapse. There is no precedent in human history for economic growth on declining human capital – and that’s before anyone invented unsustainable welfare states.”

Thus a decline in the European demographic, which was predicated on the welfare state providing for all and giving a better standard of living which in turn is often taken to mean fewer children, is ensuring that the welfare state is collapsing while its beneficiaries demand more – see, for example, the Greek reaction to “austerity”.

But was “Europe” on any of its models ever going to be sustainable? In an interesting article from an old Encounter that I recently picked up, much food for thought suggesting that the answer was no from the beginning is to be found in an article by François Bondy, The Sick Man of Europe is .. Europe (Encounter, Vol. X, No. 6, June 1958). While he is talking about NATO, rather than the emergent political arrangements that would eventually become the EU as we know it, it must be remembered that The Europeans leapt under the NATO nuclear and military umbrella on the specific assumption that the Americans would be footing the bill; this in turn, allowed France to pursue her squalid little colonial war in Algeria, while allowing them all to begin that slide into welfarism, the effects (or rather, defects) of which are now manifest. Bondy says this of the relations that the Europeans and the Americans thought they were entering into at the time:

The truth is that, in essentials, the West Europeans have relied on the United States for their defence, and that N.A.T.O. is the instrument, not of a partnership, but of a receivership.” [My emphasis]

That note of insolvency struck right at the very beginning!

He also goes on to be very prescient about how things would fall out: “A great and present danger would arise out of an unequal division of privileges, responsibilities, and burdens among the European states; this inequality could generate new national hatreds and rivalries, and make of Europe simply a greater Balkans.”

Which is exactly how to describe the quite deliberate plan to bring this state of affairs about through the melding of the “hardcore” euro currency countries into a fiscal “heartland” for the EU. He goes on to ask: “Balkans or Switzerland? Perhaps neither goal is likely to arouse enthusiasm in the citizens of that Europe which discovered the modern world, established it, and ruled it for so long. But Balkanisation will only be the fate of those who are themselves ready for it, and prefer to be a shrunken power rather than a small state.”

And this was said in 1958.

And the gold standard, what has that to do with welfarism?

The Gold Standard

“The abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit. … The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves. This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard.” (Quoted in, The Coming Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit from It, James Turn and John Rubino, Doubleday, New York, London etc., 2004)

Well said, that man! But who was that man? No less than Alan Greenspan, whose views clearly cover the span between what he said in 1966 in an essay, “Gold and Economic Freedom”, and his own genial oversight of “an unlimited expansion of credit”, no doubt thinking the while that this was because this had to be done to counter the expansionist ambitions of the welfare statists, but with, inevitably, the same result.

But as a succinct description of what in effect has happened in the banking crisis, his first sentence is spot on, and this may yet be revealed as not only the way the crisis evolved, but of the very motor at the heart of it, the politically expedient manipulation of the LIBOR.

And the future of the gold standard? We shall see if the Utah sound money scheme catches on in other States in the U.S.A. And we shall see if the arguments for its return start stacking up in the minds of those whose minds need to accommodate it. But the really serious question is if Basel III, if, when, implemented does turn out to be a tentative restoration outside the political system, and if indeed it does turn out to be a de facto gold standard, how will the politicians react?

Basel III is difficult to interpret, and so far this year the main news about it is that the Reserve Bank of India has declared that it is to defer implementing it for at least a few months.

How strange it is that the most perceptive remarks about Europe’s decline and the warning about the welfare state’s destruction of wealth should have been made in 1958 and 1966 respectively. History indeed is a gold mine!

For more on tax go to: STARBUCKS AND ALL THAT TAX, which also contains a link to a brief summary of my arguments and a link to all the previous articles on tax.

Readers curious as to why articles of this nature should be appearing on a gold investment website should read: GOLDCOIN.ORG: MIXING POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS

And for background on the writer: CONFESSIONS OF A LAW AND ORDER ANARCHIST

And for a review of one of the most important books on the financial crisis published last year: THE MESS WE’RE IN: WHY POLITICIANS CAN’T FIX FINANCIAL CRISES


Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

THE ROYAL EXCHANGE by Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

There is no place in the town which I so much love to frequent as the Royal Exchange. It gives me a secret satisfaction, and, in some measure, gratifies my vanity, as I am an Englishman, to see so rich an assembly of countrymen and foreigners consulting together upon the private business of mankind, and making this metropolis a kind of emporium for the whole earth.

I must confess I look upon high-change to be a great council, in which all considerable nations have their representatives. Factors in the trading world are what ambassadors are in the politic world; they negotiate affairs, conclude treaties, and maintain a good correspondence between those wealthy societies of men that are divided from one another by seas and oceans, or live on the different extremities of a continent.

I have often been pleased to hear disputes adjusted between an inhabitant of Japan and an alderman of London, or to see a subject of the Great Mogul entering into a league with one of the Czar of Muscovy. I am infinitely delighted in mixing with these several ministers of commerce, as they are distinguished by their different walks and different languages: sometimes I am jostled among a body of Armenians, sometimes I am lost in a crowd of Jews, and sometimes make one in a group of Dutchmen. I am a Dane, Swede, or Frenchman at different times, or rather fancy myself like the old philosopher, who upon being asked what countryman he was, replied that he was a citizen of the world.

Though I very frequently visit this busy multitude of people, I am known to nobody there but my friend Sir Andrew, who often smiles upon me as he sees me bustling in the crowd, but at the same time connives at my presence without taking any further notice of me. There is indeed a merchant of Egypt who just knows me by sight, having formerly remitted me some money to Grand Cairo; but as I am not versed in the modern Coptic, our conferences go no further than a bow and a grimace.

This grand scene of business gives me an infinite variety of solid and substantial entertainment. As I am a great lover of mankind, my heart naturally overflows at the sight of a prosperous and happy multitude, insomuch that at many public solemnities I cannot forbear expressing my joy with tears that have stolen down my cheeks. For this reason I am wonderfully delighted to see such a body of men thriving in their own private fortunes, and at the same time promoting the public stock; or, in other words, raising estates for their own families, by bringing into their country whatever is wanting, and carrying out of it whatever is superfluous.

Nature seems to have taken a peculiar care to disseminate the blessings among the different regions of the world, with an eye to this mutual intercourse and traffic among mankind, that the natives of the several parts of the globe might have a kind of dependence upon one another, and be united together by this common interest.

Almost every degree produces something peculiar to it. The food often grows in one country, and the sauce in another. The fruits of Portugal are corrected by the products of Barbados; the infusion of a China plant sweetened with the pith of an Indian cane. The Philippine Islands give a flavour to our European bowls. The single dress of a woman of quality is often the product of a hundred climates. The muff and the fan come together from the different ends of the earth. The scarf is sent from the torrid zone, and the tippet from beneath the Pole. The brocade skirt rises out of the mines of Peru, and the diamond necklace out of the bowels of Hindostan.

If we consider our own country in its natural prospect, without any of the benefits and advantages of commerce, what a barren, uncomfortable spot of earth falls to our share!

Natural historians tell us that no fruit grows originally among us besides hips and haws, acorns and pig-nuts, with other delicacies of the like nature; that our climate of itself, and without the assistance of art, can make no further advances towards a plum than to a sloe, and carries an apple to no greater perfection than a crab; that our melons, our peaches, our figs, our apricots and cherries, are strangers among us, imported in different ages, and naturalized in our English gardens; and that they would all degenerate and fall away into the trash of our own country if they were wholly neglected by the planter, and left to the mercy of our sun and soil.

Nor has traffic more enriched our vegetable world than it has improved the whole face of nature among us. Our ships are laden with the harvest of every climate: our tables are stored with spices and oils and wines; our rooms are filled with pyramids of China, and adorned with the workmanship of Japan; our morning’s draught comes to us from the remotest corners of the earth; we repair our bodies by the drugs of America, and repose ourselves under Indian canopies.

My friend Sir Andrew calls the vineyards of France our gardens, the spice-islands our hot-beds, the Persians our silk weavers, and the Chinese our potters. Nature indeed furnishes us with the bare necessaries of life, but traffic gives us a great variety of what is useful, and at the same time supplies us with everything that is convenient and ornamental. Nor is it the least part of this our happiness that while we enjoy the remotest products of the north and south, we are free from those extremities of weather which gave them birth; that our eyes are refreshed with the green fields of Britain at the same time that our palates are feasted with the fruits that rise between the tropics.

For these reasons there are not more useful members in a commonwealth than merchants. They knit mankind together in a mutual intercourse of good offices, distribute the gifts of Nature, find work for the poor, and bring wealth to the rich and magnificence to the great. Our English merchant converts the tin of his own country into gold, and exchanges his wool for rubies. The Mohammedans are clothed in our British manufacture, and the inhabitants of the frozen zone warmed with the fleeces of our sheep.

When I have been upon the change, I have often fancied one of our old kings standing in person, where he is represented in effigy, and looking down upon the wealthy concourse of people with which that place is every day filled. In this case, how would he be surprised to hear all the languages of Europe spoken in this little spot of his former dominions, and to see so many private men, who in his time would have been the vassals of some powerful baron, negotiating like princes for greater sums of money than were formerly to be met with in the royal treasury!

Trade, without enlarging the British territories, has given us a kind of additional empire: it has multiplied the number of the rich, made our landed estates infinitely more valuable than they were formerly, and added to them an accession of other estates as valuable as the lands themselves.