By John J. TePaske and edited by Kendall W. Brown
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Additional info for A New World of Gold and Silver
Earl J. 5 granos was ordered in 1772, and again in 1787 to 21 karats, which remained the required fineness to 1810. In any economy where gold dominated, such as in Brazil or New Granada, trafficking in unassayed, non-registered gold nuggets and gold dust was common practice, and both were used for ordinary trade and commerce. Those who did so thus avoided payment of gold registry fees and taxes. Unlike silver flakes or nuggets, which were more difficult to trade in raw form, unregistered gold dust and nuggets were used far more easily as a medium of exchange, which meant a greater opportunity for fraud in a gold economy than one dominated by silver.
Nonetheless as a careful observer he provides useful benchmarks. 40 That figure appears close to Humboldt’s calculation, but significantly it does not include output from the 1690s, when the great Brazilian gold rush began, until 1725. In 1879 Adolf Soetbeer (1802–1892) offered his calculations of Brazilian gold production for the period 1691–1875, cited in J. F. Normano’s Brazil: A Study of Economic Types. 41 At the same time Normano published his work, other analysts surveyed the economic history of colonial Brazil and wrote substantial works useful for the understanding of gold mining in Luso-America.
Unlike silver flakes or nuggets, which were more difficult to trade in raw form, unregistered gold dust and nuggets were used far more easily as a medium of exchange, which meant a greater opportunity for fraud in a gold economy than one dominated by silver. Giving a value to gold dust and nuggets was often done by weighing them or visually by rubbing them with a touchstone (piedra de toque) and assessing the smear. Most smelters also had specially 3 For a more detailed discussion of the smelting and amalgamation process, refer to chapter 3.