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ALLOY, or ALLAY. An inferior metal, used with gold. and silver in making
coin or public money. Originally, it was one of the allowances known by the
name of remedy for errors, in the weight and purity of coins. The practice
of making such allowances continued in all European mints after the reasons,
upon which they were originally founded, had, in a great measure, ceased. In
the imperfection of the art of coining, the mixture of the metals used, and
the striking of the coins, could not be effected with, perfect accuracy.
There would be some variety in the mixture of metals made at different
times, although intended to be in the same proportions, and in different
pieces of coin, although struck by the same process and from the same die.
But the art of coining metals has now so nearly attained perfection, that
such allowances have become, if not altogether, in a great measure at least,
unnecessary. The laws of the United States make no allowance for
deficiencies of weight. See Report of the Secretary of State of the United
States, to the Senate of the U. S., Feb. 22, 1821, pp. 63, 64.
2. The act of Congress of 2d of April, 1792, sect. 12, directs that the standard for all gold coins of the United States, shall be eleven parts fine to one part of alloy; and sect. 13, that the standard for all silver coins of the United States, shall be one thousand four hundred and eighty-five parts fine, to one hundred and seventy-nine parts alloy. 1 Story's L. U. S. 20. By the act of Congress, 18th Feb. 1831, Sec. 8, it is provided, that the standard for both gold and silver coin of the United States, shall be such, that of one thousand parts by weight, nine hundred shall be of pure metal, and one hundred of alloy; and the alloy of the silver coins shall be of copper, and the alloy of gold coins shall be of copper and silver, provided, that the silver do not exceed one-half of the whole alloy. See also, Smith's Wealth of Nations, vol. i., pp. 49, 50.