London: Printed by Charles Bill, 1708. Folio [25.5 by 17 cm]. 4 pages, self-covered. Paginated 417–(420). Pages lightly toned, with margins trimmed; closed tear at spine; very good. Item #6930
An early and rare British proclamation regulating the values of the coins being used in the American colonies. This 1708 Act (to go into effect in 1709) was issued in response to reports that an earlier Proclamation, issued in 1704, was not being complied with. It clarifies both the intent of the original Proclamation, and spells out in some detail the unpleasantness awaiting those who continue to ignore the Queen’s regulations. This printing includes the text of the original 1704 Proclamation, then continues: “whereas notwithstanding the said Proclamation, the same indirect Practices as are therein mentioned, are still Carried on within some of the said Colonies or Plantations, and the Money thereby drawn from one Plantation to another, in Prejudice of the Trade of her Majesties Subjects....” The 1704 Proclamation, which this subsequent Act was intended to enforce, is discussed by Crosby on pages 117 to 122 of The Early Coins of America. Crosby discusses the reaction to the original proclamation of the Massachusetts Bay colony, which struggled for ways to accommodate the Proclamation while acknowledging the difficulty of doing so given the state of the coinage circulating in America. Philip Mossman also discusses the 1704 Proclamation (pages 48 through 53 of Money of the American Colonies and Confederation), stating that “Since this regulation was initiated by the English Board of Trade the motive must be suspect. Rather than inspired by altruism toward the colonists, the authors were much more concerned that there be a stable currency to pay the English merchants.” He also notes that “Only Barbados and Maryland complied with the Proclamation, while the other colonies virtually ignored it. ... This insubordination promoted the Crown to reissue the provisions of the Proclamation as an Act of Parliament in 1707 with force of law.” The Parliamentary Act is what is being offered here: Mossman’s sources are apparently incorrect on the year of issue. In British Imprints Relating to North America, R.C. Simmons gives the actual date of printing as 1708. A very interesting and important proclamation. British acts and proclamations appear to have been published separately at the time of issue, but paginated for incorporation into annual volumes. English Short-Title Catalogue N53267. Simmons 1708 #6. The copy in our recent sale of the Syd Martin Library brought $1900 hammer.