Introduction by W. A Shaw, 1896link


[Dorso.] SIR ISAAC NEWTON [ON SWEDEN'S RIX DOLLARS] (Read 12th April 1720).






To the Rt. Honble. the Lords Commrs. of His Majties Treasury.
In obedience to yor Lordps Order of Reference signified to me by Mr. Tilsons letter of the 5th instant, that I should report the value of Imperial Dollars both intrincecally & by the way of Exchange with Sweden: I humbly represent that the specie Rix dollars are coined of several values by several Princes of the Empire from 4s. 4d. to 4s. 8d. But in books of Exchange the Rix dollar is valued at 48 Schellngs Lubs of Hamburgh, at 48 styvers of Antwerp, at 50 Styvers of Amsterdam, & at 4s. 6d. English. There is also a Common Dollar of the Empire in respect of which the Gulde or Guilders is usually marked 2/3 to signify that is two-thirds of this Dollar. The Gulde is 24 Marien grosch, the Common Dollar 36 Marien Grosh, & the Rix Dolar two Gulden, so that the common Dollar is three quarters of the Rix Dollar. The difficulty is to know whether by the Imperial Dollar be meant the Common Dollar of the Empire or the Rix Dollar.

If any payments have been made to Sweden since the Treaty of 6/16 January 1700, the Precedent is to be followed as the best interpreter of the Treaty. If none; I am told that the Imperial Dollar is sometimes taken for the common Dollar but more usually for the Rix Dollar, & that the word Reichs or Rycks Thalere signifies Imperial Dollar. But I am not skilled in the German language.

In the weekly Tables of Exchange with London, the number set over against Hamburgh signifies the number of Bank Schelling and Deniers to be paid or received at Hamburgh for one pound sterling at London, & 3 5/9 Schellings are at a par with one pound sterling. How the exchange is between London & Stockholm I do not find in the Tables. But by the Treaty the money is to be paid at London to the Order of the Crown of Sweden. He is to receive at London 288,000 Imperial Dollars, & if these be Rix Dollars they amount unto 64,800 pounds sterling.

All wch is most humbly submitted to yor Lordps great wisdome.


MINT OFFICE, 12 Apr. 1720.

[Newton's report is followed by an extract in Latin and French from the treaty of peace between Great Britain and Sweden, 6/16th January 1700, containing the subsidy referred to in this report.]



Treasury Papers,vol. ccxvii. No. 31. In Newton's hand throughout.

Html-edition after William A. Shaw's edition in: William A. Shaw, Select Tracts and Documents Illustrative of English Monetary History 1626-1730 (London: Wilsons & Milne, 1896) [reprint: (New York: Augustus Kelley Publishers, 1967)], p.172-173 — webdesign: Olaf Simons, Sep. 2004.