Archive for the ‘Goldsmith’ Category


Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

By Mark Rogers

I have discussed in Gold is Money, and the previous Gold Standards I and II the advantages of understanding that gold is not a commodity, that it is money that serves the usual purposes of money, as a store of value and a means of exchange, but with the vital difference that it also serves as a standard unit of measurement. The latter function is owed to its intrinsic qualities.

However, in Paper Money Collapse, Detlev Schlichter expounds Carl Menger’s view that gold, like all other things that people have found a use-value for, can indeed be considered a commodity, at least in historical terms. (I have looked at this book twice before in Gold Money A Currency of the Past and What Are Banks For?)

How does this argument work? Menger, says Schlichter, that “money could only have come into existence as a commodity”. It was not the creation of the State, there were no issuing authorities; money arose from mutual trading activities in which all commodities had a use-value. Without that use-value, no commodity was worth anything. Schlichter explains:

“For something to be used, for the very first time, as a medium of exchange, a point of reference is needed as to what its value in exchange for other goods and services is at that moment. It must have already acquired some value before it is used as money for the first time. That value can only be its use-value as a commodity, as a useful good in its own right. But once a commodity has become an established medium of exchange, its value will no longer be determined by its use-value as a commodity alone but also, and ultimately predominantly, by the demand for its services as money. But only something that has already established a market value as a commodity can make the transition to being a medium of exchange.”

Gold the Supreme Embodiment of Value

This anthropological-historical understanding of the emergence of money puts the market, trading, at the heart of the valuation process. Which, in turn, reminds us that the ultimate source of value, what something is worth, is its value to the parties, few or numerous, who engage in the transaction. So what in turn is required of a monetary medium, a currency, is a value that as far as possible stands outside that arbitrary subjectivity. Money itself, whatever its currency embodiment, is an attempt to render value objective in that the currency can be used in any exchanges, unlike bartering.

So in turn, the more objective the currency can become, the more it can become a standard (and this is where it is easy to see why it therefore becomes a unit of measurement), the more reliable, the more valuable that currency unit becomes.

And again, in turn, it is easy to see why gold quickly established itself as the supreme embodiment of exchange value: “it is no surprise that throughout the ages and through all cultures, whenever people were left to their own devices and free to choose which good should be used as money, they most always came to use precious metals.”

Gold is Money

Historically then we can enlarge Turk’s and Rubino’s contention that gold is not a commodity, not at least a commodity like oil or eggs, by allowing that the currency standard will have had a life as an object with use-value until other properties lead people to realise that it may have a value above its use-value. People have become familiar with these properties until it is singled out in use as being dominated by these properties and becomes money.

And the dominant characteristic of gold is its stability: soon all other characteristics were subordinated to this one, thereby changing not its nature but its purpose.

Of course, gold can be re-commodified as jewellery or ornament, as Jocelyn Burton, gold- and silversmith, demonstrates in her extraordinary work. People will always have these uses for gold, which are not intrinsically opposed to its properties as money: jewellery after all carries a premium and can, somewhat philistinely perhaps, be regarded as a form of storage, but then this form of storage shares with gold coins the property of portability.

And money can be re-subjectivised, in the past by mutilating it, clipping and shaving gold and silver coinage; and in the present of course the rolling of the printing presses with paper money has made money supremely subjective, its value becoming volatile and it storage properties destroyed.

It may be objected that we have little ancient anthropological evidence for this process, but we do not need to rely upon this as merely an explanation of what “must have happened”, we need only look at how those living in a territory with a devalued currency deal with the depredations of their government: in the twentieth century they have singled out dollars. When I asked an acquaintance from Zimbabwe how Zimbabweans coped with all those noughts, he laughed and said: “We just use dollars.”

The idea that money, and gold as money, emerged from the free trades of people going about their ordinary business also helps explain the deep disdain for gold in today’s political establishment: the idea that people are incapable of looking after themselves has become rooted in modern political thinking.

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


Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

JOCELYN BURTON is an award winning Silversmith specialising in Gold, Silver & Bronze. In 1969 she opened her studio at 50c Red Lion Street, Holborn, London WD1, where she has lived and worked ever since. The first major retrospective of more than 40 years of her work was held at Bentley & Skinner, 55 Piccadilly, London W1, from 14th November to 8th December 2012. The exhibition went well and served to bring her name and her work before a new audience.

In her own words:

‘I hope that my work embodies the best of old and new. I have welcomed technical innovation, but bow to traditional techniques and conventions where they are necessary for the strength, integrity, and quality of a piece. The press have often commented on the exuberance of my subject matter. The world is my oyster in the sense that I am fascinated by the beauty and complexity of nature. I revel in the challenge of large scale work and the opportunity to make extravagant and even opulent pieces, but there is always room for humour and even a touch of irony. I pay great attention to detail, often incorporating precious and semi-precious stones and finely chased figurative decoration. Overall, I strive for timelessness and boldness of concept and form.’

In 1974 Jocelyn Burton become one of the first skilled female Freemen at the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, at which time she also became a Freeman of the City of London. Her work can be found in many notable institutions including the Victoria &Albert Museum, St Paul’s Cathedral, Goldsmiths’ Hall, 10 Downing Street, York Minster, the Fitzwilliam Museum  and the palace of the Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum of Dubai.

Jocelyn Burton’s commissions are many and varied and include pieces for:

The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers
The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers
The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths
The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers
The Worshipful Company of Painter Stainers
The Worshipful Company of Vintners

She has also executed commissions for the Royal Families and Nobility of these shores and others.

The beauty and complexity of the natural world as understood through human initiative and creative appreciation are the hallmarks of Jocelyn Burton’s work, a marvellous blend of flora and fauna with man-made objects that reveals a close observer and a technically supreme craftswoman. The sureness of her grasp of theme and technique ensure that her work endures.

For her online exhibition/catalogue go to: