Dad's Memories - VENTURE SMITH

- 18 November 98 - 22 November 98

VENTURE Smith - A Real Haddam Neck Legend 

and Author of

A NARRATIVE -of the- LIFE AND ADVENTURES -of- VENTURE A NATIVE OF AFRICA, But Resident Above Sixty Years in the United States of America RELATED BY HIMSELF 

Originally Printed in 1798

VENTURE'S Story is presented here with commentary from many sources - both print and "web" 

Compiled by R.E. Langdon

FROM: UNCHAINED VOICES - An anthology of Black Authors in the English Speaking World of the 18th Century, ...c 1996, by The University Press of Kentucky, Vincent Carretta - Editor



Before the British monetary system was decimalized in 1971, British money was counted in pounds Sterling ( £ ), shillings ( s. ), pence or pennies ( d. ), and farthings.

One pound sterling = 20 shillings;

5 shillings = 1 crown;

1 shilling = 12 pennies;

1 farthing = 1/4 d.

One guinea (so called because the gold from which it was made came from the Guiinea Coast of Africa) = 21 shillings.

The colonies each issued their own local paper currency, and a colonial pound was worth less than a pound sterling, with the conversion rates for the currencies of the various colonies fluctuating throughout the century. Because of restrictions on the export of coins from England, the colonies relied on foreign coins, particularly Spanish, for local transactions. The basic Spanish denomination for silver coinage was the real ("royal"), with the peso (piece of eight reals), or pieces of eight, known in British America as the dollar. Hence, 2 reals, or bits, became known as a quarter. Spanish reals were preferred as spedie because their face value was equivalent to their intrinsic silver value. The Spanish pistareen, on the other hand, had a face value of 2 reals, but an intrinsic value of only 1/5 of a Spanish Dollar. The spanish doubloon was an 8 escudo gold coin worth, in 1759 pounds sterling , 3 £ 6s. 0d. At the same time, a Spanish dollar was worth, in local currency, 0 £ 7s. 6d. in Philadelphia, and 0 £ 8s. 0d. in New York Conversion charts showing the value of foreign money in colonial currency and pounds sterling were frequently published throughout the eighteenth century. Also in circulation were coins, like copper ones Equiano was forced to accept, which had neither face nor intrinsic value.

To arrive at a rough modern equivalent of eighteenth-century money multiply by about 80. In mid-eighteenth-century urban England a family of four could live modestly on £40 sterling a year, and a gentleman could support his standard of living on £300 sterling a year. A maid might be paid (in addition to room and board, cast-off clothes, and vails, or gratuities) around 6 guineas per year; a manservant, around 10£ per year; and an able seaman, after deductions, earned 14£ 12s. 6d. per year, in addition to room and board. The price of a four pound loaf of bread ranged from 5.1 to 6.6d. between 1750 and 1794, when Oluadah Equiano was charging 5s. for a copy of his Interesting Narrative. Samuel Johnson left his Black servant, Francis Barber, an annuity of 70£ sterling a year; the Duchess of Montagu left Ignatius Sancho a sum of 70£ sterling and 30£ sterling a year; Sancho's widow received more than 500£ from the sales of his Letters; and Equiano's daughter inherited 950£ sterling from her father's estate.

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