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1792 Coinage Act

by Trace Mayer, J.D. on January 18, 2008 · 17 comments

Reading time: 8 – 13 minutes

The 1792 Coinage Act had an interesting provision under Section 19.

SEC. 19. And be it further enacted, That if any of the gold or silver coins which shall be struck or coined at the said mint shall be debased or made worse as to the proportion of fine gold or fine silver therein contained, or shall be of less weight or value than the same ought to be pursuant to the directions of this act, through the default or with the connivance of any of the officers or persons who shall be employed at the said mint, for the purpose of profit or gain, or otherwise with a fraudulent intent, and if any of the said officers or persons shall embezzle any of the metals which shall at any time be committed to their charge for the purpose of being coined, or any of the coins which shall be struck or coined at the said mint, every such officer or person who shall commit any or either of the said offences, shall be deemed guilty of felony, and shall suffer death.

____________  FULL TEXT OF THE ACT ____________

Excerpts from the Coinage Act of 1792
Act of 2 April 1792, 1 Statutes at Large 246 CHAPTER XVI. – An Act establishing a Mint, and regulating the Coins of the United States.

 

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, and it is hereby enacted and declared, That a mint for the purpose of a national coinage be, and the same is established , to be situate and carried on at the seat of the government of the United States, for the time being; and that for the well conducting of the business of the said mint, there shall be the following officers and persons, namely, –a Director, an Assayer, a Chief Coiner, an Engarver, a Treasurer.

* * * * *

SECTION. 9. And be it further enacted, That there shall be from time to time struck and coined at the said mint, coins of gold, silver, and copper, of the following denominations, values and descriptions, viz.,

EAGLES – each to be of the value of ten dollars or units, and to contain two hundred and forty-seven grains and four eights of a grain of pure, or two hundred and seventy grains of standard gold.

HALF EAGLES – each to be of the value of five dollars, and to contain one hundred and twenty-three grains and six eights of a grain of pure, or one hundred and thirty five grains of standard gold.

QUARTER EAGLES – each of be of the value of two dollars and a half dollar, and to contain sixty-one grains and seven eights of a grain of pure, or sixtyseven grains and four eights of a grain of standard gold.

DOLLARS or UNITS – each to be of the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current, and to contain three hundred and seventy one grains and four sixteenth parts of a grain of pure, or four hundred and sixteen grains of standard silver.

HALF DOLLARS – each to be of half the value of the dollar or unit, and to contain one hundred and eighty-five grains and ten sixteenth parts of a grain of pure, or two hundred and eight grains of standard silver.

QUARTER DOLLAR – each to be of one fourth the value of the dollar or unit, and to contain ninety-two grains and thirteen sixteenth parts of a grain of pure, or one hundred and four grains of standard silver.

DISMES – each to be of the value of one tenth of a dollar or unit, and to contain thirty-seven grains and two sixteenth parts of a grain of pure, or forty-one grains and two sixteenth parts of a grain of standard silver.

HALF DISMES – each to be of the value of one twentieth of a dollar, and to contain eighteen grains and nine sixteenth parts of a grain of pure, or twenty grains and four fifth parts of a grain of standard silver.

CENTS each to be of the value of the one hundredth part of a dollar, and to contain eleven penny-weights of copper.

HALF CENTS – each to be of the value of half a cent, and to contain five penny-weights and a half penny-weight of copper.

SECTION 10. And be it further enacted, That, upon the said coins respectively, there shall be the following devices and legends, namely: Upon one side of each of the said coins there shall be an impression emblematic of liberty, with an inscription of the word Liberty, and the year of the coinage; and upon the reverse of each of the gold and silver coins there shall be the figure or representation of an eagle, with this inscription, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and upon the reverse of each of the copper coins, there shall be an inscription which shall express the denomination of the piece, namely, cent of half cent, as the case may require.

SECTION 11. And be it further enacted, That the proportional value of gold to silver in all coins which shall by law be current as money within the United States, shall be as fifteen to one, according to quantity in weight, of pure gold or pure silver; that is to say, every fifteen pounds weight of pure silver shall be of equal value in all payments, with one pound weight of pure gold, and so in proportion as to any greater or less quantities of the respective metals.

SECTION 12. And be it further enacted, That the standard for all gold coins of the United States shall be eleven parts fine to one part alloy; and accordingly that eleven parts in twelve of the entire weight of each of the said coins shall consist of pure gold, and the remaining one twelfth part of alloy; and the said alloy shall be composed of silver and copper, in such proportions not exceeding one half silver as shall be found convenient; to be regulated by the director of the mint, for the time being, with the approbation of the President of the United States, until further provision shall be made by law.

SECTION 13. And be it further enacted, That the standard for all silver coins of the United States, shall be one thousand four hundred and eighty-five parts fine to one hundred and seventy-nine parts alloy; and accordingly that one thousand four hundred and eighty-five parts in one thousand six hundred and sixty-four parts of the entire weight of each of the said coins shall consist of pure silver, and the remaining one hundred and seventy- nine parts of alloy; which alloy shall be wholly of copper.

SECTION 14. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for any person or persons to bring to the said mint gold and silver bullion, in order to their being coined; and that the bullion so brought shall be there assayed and coined as speedily as may be after the receipt thereof, and that free of expense to the person or persons by whom the same shall have been brought. And as soon as the said bullion shall have been coined, the person or persons by whom the same shall have been delivered, shall upon demand receive in lieu thereof coins of the same species of bullion which shall have been delivered, weight for weight, of the pure gold or pure silver therein contained: Provided nevertheless, That it shall be at the mutual option of the party or parties bringing such bullion, and of the director of the said mint, to make an immediate exchange of coins for standard bullion, with a deduction of one half per cent, from the weight of the pure gold, or pure silver contained in the said bullion, as an indemnification to the mint for the time which will necessarily be required for coining the said bullion, and for the advance which shall have been so made in coins.

* * * * *

SECTION 16. And be it further enacted, That all the gold and silver coins which shall have been struck at, and issued from the said mint, shall be a lawful tender in all payments whatsoever, those of full weight according to the respective values herein before described, and those of less than full weight at values proportional to their respective weights.

 

SECTION 17. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the respective officers of the said mint, carefully and faithfully to use their best endeavours that all the gold and silver coins which shall be struck at the said mint shall be, as nearly as may be, conformable to the several standards and weights aforesaid.

 

SECTION 19. And be it further enacted, That if any of the gold or silver coins which shall be struck or coined at the said mint shall be debased or made worse as to the proportion of fine gold or fine silver therein contained, or shall be of less weight or value than the same ought to be pursuant to the directions of this act, through the default or with the connivance of any of the officers or persons who shall be employed at the said mint, for the purpose of profit or gain, or otherwise with a fraudulent intent, * * * every such officer or person who shall be guilty of any * * * of the said offenses, shall be deemed guilty of felony, and shall suffer death.

 

SECTION 20. And be it further enacted, That the money of account of the United States shall be expressed in dollars or units, dismes or tenths, cents or hundredths, and milles or thousandths, a disme being the tenth part of a dollar, a cent the hundredth part of a dollar, a mille the thousandth part of a dollar, and that all accounts in the public offices and all proceedings in the courts of the United States shall be kept and had in conformity to this regulation.

 

APPROVED, April 2, 1792.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Trace Mayer, J.D., author of The Great Credit Contraction holds a degree in Accounting, a law degree from California Western School of Law and studies the Austrian school of economics. He works as an entrepreneur, investor, journalist and monetary scientist. He is a strong advocate of the freedom of speech, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the San Diego County Bar Association. He has appeared on ABC, NBC, BNN, radio shows and presented at many investment conferences throughout the world. This is merely one article of 240 by .
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Richard Green March 10, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Excellent information covering the Coinage Act of 1792, and why every American should be invested in Gold and/or Silver to protect their assets from inflation.

2 How Much Is Silver Worth October 4, 2011 at 5:06 am

Agree with you Richard.

Don’t think its mentioned above, but the act also denoted gold to be worth 15 times more than silver.

At that rate, silver should be worth over $100 dollars when gold hits $2000.

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