to Mr. Evarts
Brussels, July 17, 1879. (Received: July 30.)
Sir: I have received from the minister of foreign affairs the following information in answer to questions previously propounded concerning gold and silver coin and bullion in Belgium.
The information desired by the honorable Secretary of the Treasury was set forth in six questions:
“1st. What is the amount of gold coin and bullion in the treasury, in the banks, and in circulation in Belgium?[Page 110]
“2d. What is the amount of silver coin and bullion in the treasury, in the banks, and in circulation?”
The National Bank in Belgium is what might be termed the State Cashier. And it is only from this source that definite information can be obtained.
The bank vaults on June 12, 1879, contained in gold (pieces of the Latin Union and others) 74,630,000 francs. In silver (5-franc pieces) 13,650,000 francs. In silver (divisionary coins at 835/1000) 12,350,000.
There are no means of determining with certainty the amount of gold or silver coin in the vaults of private banks or in general circulation. The Belgian Government and the National Bank have, following the example of the French Government during the sitting of the International Monetary Conference of 1878, caused an inquiry to be made as to the quantity of gold and silver coins of different dates in circulation. The result of this inquiry was given as a “rider” to the reports of the conference in a publication made by the French Government, and has of course been for some time in the possession of the Department. These inquiries have also been the subject of a special report, which I inclose herewith marked with red crayon A.
As to the divisional silver coins (pieces of 2 francs, 1 franc, and 50 centimes, at 835/1000) the quantity is limited to 6 francs for each inhabitant, which gives to Belgium 32,000,000 francs.
“3d. What is the amount of outstanding paper currency?”
The circulation of bank-notes has for some time past closely approximated 300,000,000 francs the amount outstanding June 12, 1879, being 302,690,000 francs.
“4th. What is the amount of gold produced annually from the mines?
“5th, What is the amount of silver produced annually?”
Belgium does not possess either gold or silver mines. A few metallurgic works in the Bleyberg and at Sclaiguaux smelt the argentiferous lead, but the quantity of silver thus collected is not considered of sufficient importance to note.
“6th. What is the amount of gold annually coined, imported, exported, and consumed in the arts and manufactures?”
I inclose a table of statistics (marked in red crayon B) which gives in full the minting of national specie from 1832 to 1878, inclusive.
In addition to the sums mentioned in this table the mint has turned out on account of foreign governments 31,500 kilograms of fine silver, amounting to 7,000,000 francs, in crowns of five francs or pieces of 25 grams, at 900/1000, and 5 k. 971,896 fine gold, amounting in value to 20,580 francs in pieces of 20 francs.
The Belgian laws do not even approximately estimate the consumption of gold and silver in the industrial arts, but I give you, however, a statement of the weights of the objects submitted to be marked since the year 1870, under the regulation of the law declaring free the manufacture of ail objects of gold and silver (see inclosure marked C) and abolishing the obligatory mark of the state.
The following table, marked D, presents the movement of gold and silver for the past ten years:
D.—Statement of the quantities of gold and silver imported and exported from the year 1868 to 1878.
I applied to some of my personal acquaintances here among the leading bankers for the benefit of their knowledge on the above subject, but, after receiving their replies and comparing them with the above, I found they were so incomplete and inadequate that I have thought it best not to transmit them at all. I think it is safe to conclude that the information I now send you is as full and reliable as it is possible to obtain.
Trusting that it will prove satisfactory to you and entirely meet the requirements of the honorable Secretary of the Treasury,
I have the honor to be, &c.,