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Manufacturing

Economy Of The Materials Employed
77. The precision with which all operations by machinery are ...

On Over Manufacturing
284. One of the natural and almost inevitable consequences of...

On Combinations Of Masters Against The Public
376. A species of combination occasionally takes place among...

Regulating Power
27. Uniformity and steadiness in the rate at which machinery ...

Registering Operations
65. One great advantage which we may derive from machinery is...

Of Copying With Altered Dimensions
147. Of the pentagraph. This mode of copying is chiefly used ...

Of Copying
82. The two last-mentioned sources of excellence in the work ...

Of Copying By Stamping
128. This mode of copying is extensively employed in the art...

Of Copying By Punching
133. This mode of copying consists in driving a steel punch ...

Of Copying By Moulding
112. This method of producing multitudes of individuals havi...

Accumulating Power
20. Whenever the work to be done requires more force for its ...

Of Copying By Casting
105. The art of casting, by pouring substances in a fluid st...

On The Cost Of Each Separate Process In A Manufacture
253. The great competition introduced by machinery, and the ...

Proper Circumstances For The Application Of Machinery
329. The first object of machinery, the chief cause of its e...

On The Division Of Labour
217. Perhaps the most important principle on which the econo...

Distinction Between Making And Manufacturing
163. The economical principles which regulate the application...

On The Causes And Consequences Of Large Factories
263. On examining the analysis which has been given in chapt...

Copying With Elongation
140. In this species of copying there exists but little rese...

On The Duration Of Machinery
340. The time during which a machine will continue to perform...

On The Influence Of Durability On Price
197. Having now considered the circumstances that modify what...



Of Price As Measured By Money






Category: On the domestic and political economy of manufactures

201. The money price at which an article sells furnishes us
with comparatively little information respecting its value, if we
compare distant intervals of time and different countries; for
gold and silver, in which price is usually measured, are
themselves subject, like all other commodities, to changes in
value; nor is there any standard to which these variations can be
referred. The average price of a certain quality of different
manufactured articles, or of raw produce, has been suggested as a
standard; but a new difficulty then presents itself; for the
improved methods of producing such articles render their money
price extremely variable within very limited periods. The annexed
table will afford a striking instance of this kind of change
within a period of only twelve years.

Prices of the following articles at Birmingham, in the
undermentioned years

Description 1818 1824 1828 1830
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Anvils cwt 25 0 20 0 16 0 13 0
Awls, polished, Liverpool gross 2 6 2 0 1 6 1 2
Bed-screws, 6 inches long gross 18 0 15 0 6 0 5 0
Bits, tinned. for bridles doz. 5 0 5 0 3 3 2 6
Bolts for doors, 6 inches doz. 6 0 5 0 2 3 1 6
Braces for carpenters, with 12 bits set 9 0 4 0 4 2 3 5
Buttons, for coats gross 4 6 6 3 3 0 2 2
Buttons, small, for waistcoats gross 2 6 2 0 1 2 0 8
Candlesticks, 6 in., brass pair 2 1 1 2 0 1 7 1 2
Curry-combs, six barred doz. 2 9 2 6 1 5 0 1 1
Frying-pans cwt 25 0 21 0 18 0 16 0
Gun-locks, single roller each 6 0 5 2 1 10 1 6
Hammers. shoe, No. 0 doz. 6 9 3 9 3 0 2 9



Description 1818 1824 1828 1830
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Hinges, cast-butts, 1 inch doz. 0 10 0 71/2 0 31/4 0 21/4
Knobs, brass, 2 inches for commodes doz. 4 0 3 6 1 6 1 2
Latches for doors, bright thumb doz. 2 3 2 2 1 0 0 9
Locks for doors, iron rim, 6 inches doz. 38 0 32 0 15 0 13 6
Sad-irons and other castings cwt 22 6 20 0 14 0 11 6
Shovel and tongs, fire-irons pair 1 0 1 0 0 9 0 6
Spoons, tinned table gross 17 6 15 0 10 0 7 0
Stirrups, plated pair 4 6 3 9 1 6 1 1
Trace-chains cwt 28 0 25 0 19 6 16 6
Trays, japanned tea, 30 inches each 4 6 3 0 2 0 1 5
Vices for blacksmiths cwt 30 0 28 0 22 0 19 6
Wire, brass lb. 1 10 1 4 1 0 0 9
--, iron, No. 6 bund. 16 0 13 0 9 0 7 0


202. I have taken some pains to assure myself of the accuracy
of the above table: at different periods of the years quoted the
prices may have varied; but I believe it may be considered as a
fair approximation. In the course of my enquiries I have been
favoured with another list, in which many of the same articles
occur, but in this last instance the prices quoted are separated
by an interval of twenty years. It is extracted from the books of
a highly respectable house at Birmingham; and the prices confirm
the accuracy of the former table, so far as they relate to the
articles which are found in that list.

Prices of 1812 and 1832
Reduction
per cent in
price of
Description 1812 1832 1812
s. d. s. d.

Anvils cwt 25 0 14 0 44
Awls, Liverpool blades gross 3 6 1 0 71
Candlesticks, iron, plain 3 103/4 2 31/2 41
screwed 6 41/2 3 9 41
Bed screws, 6 inch square head gross 7 6 4 6 40
flat head gross 8 6 4 8 45
Curry-combs, 6 barred dozen 4 01/2 1 0 75

Reduction
per cent in
price of
Description 1812 1832 1812
s. d. s. d.

Curry-combs, 8 barred dozen 5 51/2 1 5 74
patent, 6 barred dozen 7 11/2 1 5 80
8 barred dozen 8 63/4 1 10 79
Fire-irons, iron head, No. 1. 1 41/2 0 73/4 53
No. 2 1 6 0 81/2 53
No. 3 1 81/4 0 91/2 53
No. 4 1 101/2 0 101/2 53
Gun-locks, single roller each 7 21/2 1 11 73
Locks, 1 1/4 brass, port. pad 16 0 2 6 85
2 1/2 inch 3 keyed till-locks each 2 2 0 9 65
Shoe tacks gross 5 0 2 0 60
Spoons, tinned, iron table gross 22 6 7 0 69
Stirrups. com. tinned, 2 bar dozen 7 0 2 9 61
Trace-chains, iron cwt 46 91/2 15 0 68

Prices of the principal materials, used in mines in Cornwall, at
different periods [I am indebited to Mr John Taylor for this
interesting table]

ALL DELIVERED AT THE MINES

Description 1800 1810 1820 1830 1832
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Coals wey 81 7 85 5 53 4 51 0 40 0
Timber (balk) foot 2 0 4 0 1 5 1 0 0 10
(oak) foot 3 31/2 3 0 3 6 3 3
Ropes cwt 66 0 84 0 48 6 40 0 40 0
Iron (common bar) cwt 20 6 14 6 11 0 7 0 6 6
Common castings cwt 16 0 15 0 8 0 6 6
Pumps cwt 16s. & 17s. 17s. & 18s. 12s. & 15s. 6 6 6 10
Gunpowder 100 lbs. 114 2 117 6 68 0 52 6 49 0
Candles 9 3 10 0 8 9 5 11 4 10
Tallow cwt 72 0 84 0 65 8 52 6 43 0
Leather lb. 2 4 2 3 24 22 21
Blistered steel cwt 50 0 44 0 38 0
2s. nails cwt 32 0 28 6 22 0 17 0 16 6


203. I cannot omit availing myself of this opportunity of
calling the attention of the manufacturers, merchants, and
factors, in all our manufacturing and commercial towns, to the
great importance, both for their own interests, and for that of
the population to which their capital gives employment, of
collecting with care such averages from the actual sales
registered in their books. Nor, perhaps, would it be without its
use to suggest, that such averages would be still more valuable
if collected from as many different quarters as possible; that
the quantity of the goods from which they are deduced, together
with the greatest deviations from the mean, ought to be given;
and that if a small committee were to undertake the task, it
would give great additional weight to the information. Political
economists have been reproached with too small a use of facts,
and too large an employment of theory. If facts are wanting, let
it be remembered that the closet-philosopher is unfortunately too
little acquainted with the admirable arrangements of the factory,
and that no class of persons can supply so readily, and with so
little sacrifice of time, the data on which all the reasonings of
political economists are founded, as the merchant and
manufacturer; and, unquestionably, to no class are the deductions
to which they give rise so important. Nor let it be feared that
erroneous deductions may be made from such recorded facts: the
errors which arise from the absence of facts are far more
numerous and more durable than those which result from unsound
reasoning respecting true data.

204. The great diminution in price of the articles here
enumerated may have arisen from several causes: 1. The alteration
in the value of the currency. 2. The increased value of gold in
consequence of the increased demand for coin. The first of these
causes may have had some influence, and the second may have had a
very small effect upon the two first quotations of prices, but
none at all upon the two latter ones. 3. The diminished rate of
profit produced by capital however employed. This may be
estimated by the average price of three per cents at the periods
stated. 4. The diminished price of the raw materials out of which
these articles were manufactured. The raw material is principally
brass and iron, and the reduction upon it may, in some measure,
be estimated by the diminished price of iron and brass wire, in
the cost of which articles, the labour bears a less proportion
than it does in many of the others. 5. The smaller quantity of
raw material employed, and perhaps, in some instances, an
inferior, quality of workmanship. 6. The improved means by which
the same effect was produced by diminished labour.

205. In order to afford the means of estimating the influence
of these several causes, the following table is subjoined:

1812 1818 1824 1828 1830 1832
Average Price of L s d. L s. d. L s d L s. d L s d L s. d
Gold. per oz 4 15 6 4 0 3 17 61/2 3 17 7 3 17 91/2 3 17 10 1/2
Value of currency. per cent 79 5 3 97 6 10 100 100 100 100
Price of 3 per cent consols 591/4 781/4 935/8 86 893/4 821/2
Wheat per quarter 6 5 0 4 1 0 3 2 l 3 1 1 10 3 14 6 2 19 3

English pig iron at Birmingham 7 l0 0 6 7 6 6 l0 0 5 10 0 4 l0 0

English bar iron at Birmingham 10 10 0 9 10 0 7 15 0 6 0 0 5 0 0
Swedish bar iron in London, excluding duty of from L4 to L6 10s
per ton 16 10 0 17 10 0 14 0 0 14 10 0 13 15 0 13 2 0


As this table, if unaccompanied by any explanation, might
possibly lead to erroneous conclusions, I subjoin the following
observations, for which I am indebted to the kindness of Mr
Tooke, who may yet, I hope, be induced to continue his valuable
work on High and Low Prices, through the important period which
has elapsed since its publication.

'The table commences with 1812, and exhibits a great falling
off in the price of wheat and iron coincidently with a fall in
the price of gold, and leading to the inference of cause and
effect. Now, as regards wheat, it so happened that in 1812 it
reached its highest price in consequence of a series of bad
harvests, when relief by importation was difficult and enormously
expensive. In December, 1813, whilst the price of gold had risen
to L5, the price of wheat had fallen to 73s., or 50 per cent
under what it had been in the spring of 1812; proving clearly
that the two articles were under the influence of opposite
causes.

'Again, in 1812, the freight and insurance on Swedish iron
were so much higher than at present as to account for nearly the
whole of the difference of price: and in 1818 there had been an
extensive speculation which had raised the price of all iron, so
that a part of the subsequent decline was a mere reaction from a
previously unfounded elevation. More recently, in 1825, there was
a great speculative rise in the article, which served as a strong
stimulus to increased production: this, aided by improved power
of machinery, has proceeded to such an extent as fully to account
for the fall of price.'

To these reflections I will only add, that the result of my
own observation leads me to believe that by far the most
influential of these causes has been the invention of cheaper
modes of manufacturing. The extent to which this can be carried,
while a profit can yet be realized at the reduced price, is truly
astonishing, as the following fact, which rests on good
authority, will prove. Twenty years since, a brass knob for the
locks of doors was made at Birmingham; the price, at that time,
being 13s. 4d. per dozen. The same article is now manufactured,
having the same weight of metal, and an equal, or in fact a
slightly superior finish, at 1s. 9 1/4d. per dozen. One
circumstance which has produced this economy in the manufacture
is, that the lathe on which these knobs are finished is now
turned by a steam-engine; so that the workman, relieved from that
labour, can make them twenty times as fast as he did formerly.

206. The difference of price of the same article, when of
various dimensions at different periods in the same country--and
in different countries--is curiously contrasted in the annexed
table.

Comparative price of plate glass, at the manufactories of
London, Paris, Berlin, and Petersburg

DIMENSIONS LONDON PARIS BERLIN PETERSBURG
Height Breadth 1771 1794 1832 1825 1835 1828 1825
in inches in inches L s d L s d L s d L s d L s d L s d L s d
16 16 0103 0101 0176 087 076 081 0410
30 20 146 232 2610 11610 1710 0106 1210
50 30 24 2 4 11 5 0 6 12 10 9 0 5 5 0 3 8 13 0 5 15 0
60 40 67 14 10 27 0 0 13 9 6 22 7 5 10 4 3 21 18 0 12 9 0
76 40 43 6 0 19 2 9 36 4 5 14 17 5 35 2 11 17 5 0
90 50 84 8 0 34 12 9 71 3 8 28 13 4 33 18 7
100 75 275 0 0 74 5 10 210 13 3 70 9 7
120 75 97 15 9 354 3 2 98 3 10


The price of silvering these plates is twenty per cent on the
cost price for English glass; ten per cent on the cost price for
Paris plates; and twelve and a half on those of Berlin.

The following table shews the dimensions and price, when
silvered, of the largest plates of glass ever made by the British
Plate Glass Company, which are now at their warehouse in London:

Height Breadth Price when silvered
Inches Inches L s. d.

132 84 200 8 0
146 81 220 7 0
149 84 239 1 6
131 83 239 10 7
160 80 246 15 4


The prices of the largest glass in the Paris lists when
silvered, and reduced to English measure, were:

Year Inches Inches Price when silvered
L s. d.
1825 128 80 629 12 0
1835 128 80 136 19 0


207. If we wish to compare the value of any article at
different periods of time, it is clear that neither any one
substance, nor even the combination of all manufactured goods,
can furnish us with an invariable unit by which to form our scale
of estimation. Mr Malthus has proposed for this purpose to
consider a day's labour of an agricultural labourer, as the unit
to which all value should be referred. Thus, if we wish to
compare the value of twenty yards of broad cloth in Saxony at the
present time, with that of the same kind and quantity of cloth
fabricated in England two centuries ago, we must find the number
of days' labour the cloth would have purchased in England at the
time mentioned, and compare it with the number of days' labour
which the same quantity of cloth will now purchase in Saxony.
Agricultural labour appears to have been selected, because it
exists in all countries, and employs a large number of persons,
and also because it requires a very small degree of previous
instruction. It seems, in fact, to be merely the exertion of a
man's physical force; and its value above that of a machine of
equal power arises from its portability, and from the facility of
directing its efforts to arbitrary and continually fluctuating
purposes. It may perhaps be worthy of enquiry, whether a more
constant average might not be deduced from combining with this
species of labour those trades which require but a moderate
exertion of skill and which likewise exist in all civilized
countries, such as those of the blacksmith and carpenter,
etc.(1*) In all such comparisons there is, however, another
element, which, though not essentially necessary, will yet add
much to our means of judging.

It is an estimate of the quantity of that food on which the
labourer usually subsists, which is necessary for his daily
support, compared with the quantity which his daily wages will
purchase.

208. The existence of a class of middlemen, between small
producers and merchants, is frequently advantageous to both
parties; and there are certain periods in the history of several
manufactures which naturally call that class of traders into
existence. There are also times when the advantage ceasing, the
custom of employing them also terminates; the middlemen,
especially when numerous, as they sometimes are in retail trades,
enhancing the price without equivalent good. Thus, in the recent
examination by the House of Commons into the state of the coal
trade, it appears that five-sixths of the London public is
supplied by a class of middlemen who are called in the trade
Brass plate coal merchants: these consist principally of
merchants' clerks, gentlemen's servants, and others, who have no
wharfs of their own, but merely give their orders to some true
coal merchant, who sends in the coals from his wharf: the brass
plate coal merchants, of course, receiving a commission for his
agency.

209. In Italy this system is carried to a great extent
amongst the voituriers, or persons who undertake to convey
travellers. There are some possessed of greater fluency and a
more persuasive manner who frequent the inns where the English
resort, and who, as soon as they have made a bargain for the
conveyance of a traveller, go out amongst their countrymen and
procure some other voiturier to do the job for a considerably
smaller sum, themselves pocketing the difference. A short time
before the day of starting, the contractor appears before his
customer in great distress, regretting his inability to perform
the journey on account of the dangerous illness of a mother or
some relative, and requesting to have his cousin or brother
substituted for him. The English traveller rarely fails to
acquiesce in this change, and often praises the filial piety of
the rogue who has deceived him.

NOTES:

1. Much information for such an enquiry is to be found, for the
particular period to which it refers, in the Report of the
Committee of the House of Commons on Manufacturers' Employment, 2
July, 1830.





Next: Of Raw Materials

Previous: On The Influence Of Durability On Price



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