15 Reading 35-1 16. From 1660 to 1914, with a short period of suspension during the Napoleonic Wars, England (and later the United Kingdom) was on a standard of currency value which related the pound (sovereign) to a known amount of gold. This was the “gold standard.” It gave the British economy a stability and discipline which proved too irksome for more recent politicians. Since the Bank of England stopped gold payments in 1914, the price level in Great Britain has in f ated more than 100 times. Between 1660 and 1914 the price of wheat, for example, remained static within a range which re f ected the state of trade, harvests, and surpluses, and which was free of long-term in f ation. or 50%, and for the most expensive tea, say a Hyson costing as much as £l, the duty amounted to about 8 shillings 6 pence, or 42 ½ %. As a direct consequence of high duties, about half the tea was smuggled in from the Netherlands, or sold at sea by smugglers from the private trade of ships’ of F cers on board the East India-men themselves. The revenue was being made ridiculous, the nation divided and disaffected, and the law brought into disrepute. Pitt acted boldly. Tea tax was reduced to a sliding scale of between 2 ½ pence and 6 ½ pence—about 10%. Smugglers and Dutch tea traders were outraged, but imports of legal tea doubled,
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