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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And the Imperial Bank of Persia another million tomans


Amid

such philosophic views, business in European fashion does not promise to prosper.

Unable to attach a true meaning to words--his language is beautiful but its flowery form conduces to endless misunderstandings--casual to a degree in fulfilling work as he has stipulated to do it; such is the Persian of to-day. Whether the vicissitudes of his country, the fearful wars, the famines, the climate, the official oppression have made him so, or whether he has always been so, is not easy to tell, but that is how he is now.

Besides all this, each man is endowed with a maximum of ambition and conceit, each individual fully believing himself the greatest man that ever lived and absolute perfection. Moreover the influence of Mullahs is used to oppose reform and improvement, so that altogether the economic development of production, distribution and circulation of capital is bound to be hampered to no mean extent. On examining things carefully it seems almost astonishing that the trade of Persia should be as well developed as it is.

Another difficulty in the way is the currency, which offers some interesting lessons, and I am indebted to the author of a paper read before the Statistical Society for the following details.

Gold is not produced in Persia. Bar gold is imported in very small quantities only. Gold coin is a mere commodity--is quite scarce, and

is mostly used for presents and hoarding. It is minted principally from Russian Imperials and Turkish pounds which drift into Persia in small quantities in the course of business. Goldsmiths, too, in their work, make use of foreign coins, although some gold and silver bullion is imported for manufacturing purposes.

Silver, too, is not obtainable in Persia except in very small quantities, and the imported silver comes from Great Britain, _via_ the Gulf or _via_ Hamburg and Russia. In the year 1901 the Persian Government, in connection with the Russian Loan, imported some three million tomans' worth of silver to be minted, and the Imperial Bank of Persia another million tomans; while some 500,000 tomans more were brought into the country by other importers. But under normal circumstances the annual output hardly ever exceeds three to four million tomans. In 1900 it was something between 2,000,000 and 2,500,000 tomans.

The Mint--like all other institutions of Persia--is in a tumbling-down condition, with an ancient plant (1877) so obsolete and worn as to be almost useless. Partly owing to the insufficient production of coin, partly because of the export in great quantities of Persian silver coin into Transcaspia, and, last but not least, owing to the Persian custom of "making a corner" by speculators, the commercial centres of Persia suffer from a normal dearth of silver coins. Persian silver coin has for the foregoing reasons a purchasing power of sometimes 20 per cent. beyond its intrinsic value. In distant cities, like Yezd or Kerman, it is difficult to obtain large sums in silver coin at face value, as it disappears into the villages almost as soon as it arrives by caravan or post. New coin is generally in great demand and commands a premium.


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