§ A vote of 3,703l. to defray the expense of several branches of the establishment of the Mint, was proposed.
§ In answer to a question from Mr. Clay,
§ Mr. Labouchere
greatly regretted to state, that according to the general opinion of English artists, the execution of the medal for her Majesty's coronation did not answer the expectations entertained from the well-merited reputation of Signor Pistrucci. To show, however, how capable that artist was of elegant design 38 and able execution, he (Mr. Labouchere) need only refer to the coronation medal of George 4th. And though he fully admitted, that the late coronation medal was not executed in the manner that might have been expected from Signor Pistrucci, yet he believed, that the imperfection was entirely owing to an unfortunate circumstance, by which he had been almost totally deprived of sight for two weeks previous to the completion of the work. Signor Pistrucci was as sensible as anybody of the imperfection of the medal, and wrote to him (Mr. Labouchere) to state his regret and explain the cause.
§ Mr. Hume
thought it a great pity that these coronation medals could not be put into the pot and remelted. He was sorry for the misfortune of Signor Pistrucci, but he thought that if ever there was a case in which the credit of the Master of the Mint was involved, that something worthy of the British Mint should be put forth it was that of the medal struck for the late coronation, and he thought that corresponding efforts ought to have been made. Why, some of the medals that were selling in the streets for 1d. a-piece were as well executed as the reverse of the gold medals in question, and for the honour of her Majesty's Mint, they ought to be called in and re-melted. He must say, that he could not excuse his right hon. Friend, the Master of the Mint; he, or his deputy, ought to have seen that something better than this was executed. Before he sat down, he wished to know, as they had silver fourpenny pieces in circulation, which had been found very convenient, why they should not have threepenny and twopenny pieces of silver in general circulation also. These pieces were authorized by law and ancient custom; they would prove exceedingly convenient, and he did think that the public ought to have them.
§ Mr. Labouchere
would be very sorry to see omitted the coinage of these small silver coins, which was usual at the beginning of each reign. The practice had never been omitted, he believed, since the Conquest. The series of silver pennies was the most perfect of any class of our coins; but, he could not think that any public benefit could arise from the circulation of silver coins lower than 4d. One word more with respect to the coronation medal. He thought it ought to be borne in mind, that on occasion of the coronation of George 4th., the whole expense of 39 the execution of the medal was paid back to the public from the proceeds of the sale of that medal, which was executed by Signor Pistrucci; he mentioned this to show, that if the late coronation medal had not answered the expectations of artists and the public, its imperfection was not to be attributed to any want of zeal or ability, but entirely to the unfortunate accident which he had mentioned.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, the right hon. Gentleman had been understood to hold out hopes at the beginning of the Session, of the re-appointment of the committee, which sat last Session on the Mint, and especially the engraving department, and he thought it very possible, that if that re-appointment had taken place, this imperfect production would not have appeared. He believed, that if the matter had been fully gone into, it would have been found, that the nation paid most extravagantly for the works designed and executed in the engraving department. With respect to a coinage of silver three-pennies, he thought such a coin would be xtremely convenient.
§ Mr. Labouchere
said, he had been most anxious for the re-appointment of the committee of last year on this subject, but, at the same time, he had felt it would be useless to re-appoint unless they could be expected to come to a report in the present Session. This, however, he did not feel justified in expecting, because, the state of health of one of the principal officers of the department, whose evidence and suggestions as to improvements in the present system, it would have been most important for the Committee to hear, was such as not to permithis attendance.
§ Mr. Warburton
had no wish to derogate from the real merits of the managers of the Mint. He thought, the greatest possible improvement had taken place in the coinage of the country, as would be seen by comparison of the present with the coins some years back.
§ Vote agreed to.