World of Coins

Research and reference => Coin and medal production technology => Topic started by: andyg on June 11, 2018, 10:19:41 PM

Title: Milled coins
Post by: andyg on June 11, 2018, 10:19:41 PM
In the UK Eloye Mostrelle (a Frenchman) made the first milled coins in the 1561 - as he threatened the jobs of other employees at the mint he wasn't popular, he was dismissed in 1572 and milled coins ceased to be issued.  Milled coins made another appearance in 1631 under the direction of Nicholas Briot - this experiment lasted until 1639.  Finally in 1658 milled coins were introduced for a third time and the last hammered coins issued in 1662.

My question - when did other European countries turn over to milled coins?
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Figleaf on June 11, 2018, 11:11:57 PM
Interesting question, but English is so imprecise. In principle, milled means made in a mill. This, in turn, implies a) machinery and b) a non-human source of energy (this does not cover a source of heat). Here is an enlightening quote from Craig* (page 123):

He (Mestrell) appears to have brought in machines of the screw type, worked by horse and by water power, for cutting blanks and for stamping coins, but no rolling mills.

Milled can thus be defined as utilising at least one machine driven by non-human energy. Craig argues that Mestrell's coins were much more neatly finished than the hammer-struck pieces. However, Spink's catalogue** lumps all silver coins of the period 1561-1577 together, while Mestrell was turned out of the Mint in 1572. It is reasonable to conclude that it is hard to separate hammer-struck and machine struck coins of this period. The mint master argues that production of milled coins was ten times slower than that of hammered coins, but there are no subtype that reflect this in their price in Spink. It follows that it is reasonable to conclude that it is impossible to separate hammer-struck and machine struck coins of this period. Whether a coin is milled or not depends on documentation, not on how the coin looks like.

Peter

* Sir John Craig, The Mint ISBN 9780521170772
** Coins of England and the United Kingdom, ISBN 9781907427190
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Figleaf on June 11, 2018, 11:25:43 PM
I would argue that in Spain, the first milled coins were those made in the Segovia mint. There is a thread on this mint here (http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,27525.0.html). It used several machines, driven by water power and started doing so in 1583. The knowledge was gleaned from the Hall mint in Habsburg Austria.

Peter
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Figleaf on June 11, 2018, 11:28:53 PM
In Sweden, machines were used to stamp plate money starting from 1644, but engravings show a human source of energy. See the picture here (http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,3481.msg39983.html#msg39983).

Peter
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Figleaf on June 11, 2018, 11:31:28 PM
In the Netherlands, the argument that milled coins were slow to be made stopped the introduction of machines until somewhere in the 1790's.

Peter
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Figleaf on June 11, 2018, 11:46:59 PM
In France, there was an experimental water driven mint, the Monnaie du Moulin des Etuves in Paris that operated from 1551 to 1554 within the Ile de la Cité, where the royal palace stood. This is where Mestrell came from. The technology came from Augsburg, but it was not used for minting there. The German emperor tried to get the same technology. We know from the construction of the Segovia mint that the emperor did acquire this or a similar technology and introduced it in Hall (Tirol). More details here (http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,3481.msg40225.html#msg40225).

Peter
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Figleaf on June 11, 2018, 11:56:13 PM
The invention of the screw press is claimed by Italy and assigned to Donato Bramante (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donato_Bramante), a medallist. Wikipedia is silent on this claim. I am not aware of any coins minted with the screw press in Bramante's time. Moreover, a screw press is usually driven by human power. Leonardo da Vinci invented mint equipment and knew about water power, but his drawings were not put to practice.

Peter
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: andyg on June 12, 2018, 12:15:36 AM
Whether a coin is milled or not depends on documentation, not on how the coin looks like.

A milled sixpence,
(http://www.coins-of-the-uk.co.uk/pics/hamm/eliz/6d/6d62.jpg)

A hammered sixpence,
(http://www.coins-of-the-uk.co.uk/pics/hamm/eliz/6d/6d69.jpg)

Pictures from Tony Clayton's site (http://www.coins-of-the-uk.co.uk/pics/six1.html)
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Figleaf on June 12, 2018, 06:09:31 AM
A nice and well-chosen pair, but is it representative for the population? Consider the amount of detail in Spink. If the difference were really always that clear, wouldn't they have listed it as a separate sub-type?

I did some more research into the origin of the screw press. It is possible that Bramante invented it (https://www.jstor.org/stable/43573569?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents), though I have not found credible confirmation, but he didn't turn it into machinery. That development took place in German mines. The machinery was apparently used for crushing ore. What made it suitable for coining was to find a balance between power applied and the ability of the machine to withstand its own strength. Due to insufficiently precise moving parts, the machine was still clanking and shaking and parts wore quickly. This probably explains why the production process was so slow: the machine had to be maintained often and still broke down.

Peter
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: andyg on June 12, 2018, 07:46:21 PM
Consider the amount of detail in Spink.

The Elizabeth I coinage is sloppily catalogued - just try to find a list of dates the coins were issued...
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Henk on June 12, 2018, 08:29:14 PM
In the Netherlands, the argument that milled coins were slow to be made stopped the introduction of machines until somewhere in the 1790's.

Peter

Mechanisation of the mints in The Netherlands started much earlier than in teh 1790's. According to van Gelder in his book "De Nederlandse Munten" The mint of Holland in Dordrecht was mechanised in 1670 followed in 1671 by the mint of Zeeland in Middelburg. This latter mechanisation was described in detail by H.W. Jacobi in "De mechanisatie van het Zeeuwse muntbedrijf in 1671, Archief van het Zeeuws Genootschap der Wetenschappen (1982) 150-176". This article can be found here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/256923274/De-mechanisatie-van-het-Zeeuwse-muntbedrijf-in-1671-door-H-W-Jacobi
This article has some nice drawings of the different machines used.
The other mints in the Netherlands certainly followed not much later. 

Van Gelder describes three main activities in the Mints: Preparing tins of the correct thickness, Cutting of Planchets and Striking the Coins. Each requires special machines that not necessarily were available, or used, at the same time so there exist machine struck coins using planchets that were hand made. An illustration of such a coin, copied from: http://wiki.muntenenpapiergeld.nl/index.php?title=Munttechniek, is attached.
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: andyg on June 12, 2018, 09:12:54 PM
I've re-written the first paragraph a little.

Nicolas Briot was also active in Scotland, producing machine made coins using a mill and screw press during the period 1637-1642.
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Figleaf on June 12, 2018, 10:48:08 PM
That's why I wrote the post on defining milling. In my mind, there is a difference between screwing (using a screw press) and milling (producing in a mill). That difference is the source of energy. The Dutch mints used human energy until steam presses became available. I am not even sure they started using non-human energy in the 1790s, but it is a logical date and the coins of the 1790s do look better and are much more often found in higher grade than earlier coins (disregarding off-metal strikes and quarter guilders here, as they were not struck for circulation). The designs were not too different, but the coins are more often perfectly round, well centred and deep struck.

Indeed, the 16th century milled coins (Mestrell in England) are mostly failed experiments. The second wave of milled coins, in the 17th century, using horse power (Briot in England) stayed on. I would argue that Segovia was the turning point. It did not close its milling production line, but for a long time, it remained the only Spanish mint producing milled coins. During that time, milling went from luxury and artsy to the mainstream coin production method.

Usually, the minters and their guilds are blamed for the early failures, but French and English mint masters are on record opposing milling also. I think it is far more likely that the early machines had much downtime, making them uneconomical. Later machines were more precise and therefore cheaper to operate and producing faster.

I have been looking for data and evidence of Russian use of water power for coinage. So far, all I have is a vague memory of reading they did. There may yet be a surprise coming from Russian history.

Peter
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Filat on June 13, 2018, 12:12:03 PM
Figleaf: "… I have been looking for data and evidence of Russian use of water power for coinage. So far, all I have is a vague memory of reading they did. There may yet be a surprise coming from Russian history ..."

The mill in Moscow on the Yauza River (see link below).

http://www.coinsplanet.ru/mints/plaschilnaja-melnica.html
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Figleaf on June 13, 2018, 12:35:31 PM
Thank you Filat. Very interesting. To sum up the article, there was a water-powered mill in the Moscow area, rolling copper sheets and cutting copper planchets in 1728-9 and producing coins in the period 1734-6. It did not have its own mint mark.

Peter
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Henk on June 13, 2018, 08:15:16 PM
In The Netherlands there were initially many problems with the production of machine struck coins. In several instances recourse had to be made to the older manual methods for one or more of the production steps. After 1720-1750 the problems were mostly solved and coins were made using machines. The next step was taken in 1818 when steam was introduced in the Utrecht Mint (by then the only remaining mint in the Netherlands) and all 40 screw presses in used were being powered by steam. This lasted only a few years as in the early 1820's Uhlhorn presses were acquired. The development in minting techniques at the Utrecht, and other Netherlands Mint is described in: C. Hoitsema and Jhr. F. Feith, De Utechtsche Munt, uit haar verleden en heden. Utrecht (1912).

So there was no change in the method of production around 1795, from say 1750 to 1818 the techniques used for minting remained the same.

The screw presses were driven by Human energy until the introduction of steam. This was not only the case in Utrecht but also at the Tower Mint in London as is shown by the below drawing of a minting scene at the Tower Mint in the early 19th century.

The problem with automating screw pressing and to provide them with non-human power is that not only the up and down movement of the dies has to be automated but also the insertion and removal of the planchet. This problem was solved by Bolton and Watt in 1786 with their steam operated coining presses.

Of course there exist other means of striking eg. by rolling a strip of metal between dies or by a rocking process using a planchet. These methods are rather difficult to use and it is also difficult to make round coins. As this methods tends to yield oval coins. This method was used in Segovia and some other mints in Austria but never became widely used.
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Filat on June 13, 2018, 08:19:57 PM
andyg: "… My question - when did other European countries turn over to milled coins? "

Dates for the introduction of mechanized processing at European mints.

(http://f23.ifotki.info/org/55cb547749a410be2d03e7b34721860e2ef20e311574016.jpg) (http://i-fotki.info/)
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: Filat on June 15, 2018, 06:14:21 PM
For information (see link below):

1560 → "Eloy Mestrelle (?-1578) developed first screw press for the Tower Mint of Elizabeth I. ..."

https://medalblog.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/art-medal-timeline-notable-medallic-art-developments/

(http://f23.ifotki.info/org/8f97e6320ac60be8d4d45b4d8f2f4bf12ef20f311741484.png) (http://i-fotki.info/)
Title: Re: Milled coins
Post by: capnbirdseye on June 15, 2018, 06:37:59 PM
Figleaf: "… I have been looking for data and evidence of Russian use of water power for coinage. So far, all I have is a vague memory of reading they did. There may yet be a surprise coming from Russian history ..."

The mill in Moscow on the Yauza River (see link below).

http://www.coinsplanet.ru/mints/plaschilnaja-melnica.html


Google  translation of Russian link: ( a powder mill was for the production of gunpowder)

Year of foundation: 1727 Year of close: 1736 Location: Moscow After the abolition of Naberezhnaya MD (Copper), the need has opened for a new temporary plant to help the remaining Moscow money courtyards to mint copper money, as the production chambers of the Kadashevsky court were virtually destroyed.
For these purposes, there was once a powder mill, rising on the river Yauza which was converted into a plaschilnu where the rolling of copper and stamping of blanks for mints was carried out. Kadashevsky or naval mint. The first copper mugs - for the manufacture of kopecks at Kadashevsky, as well as the Red Yards - appeared here in 1728. In 1729, production stopped. For five years the plaschclinja stood idle. After the recognition of the state of the Kadashevsky MD chambers is unsatisfactory, the Coffer mill was made a mint (in 1734). From now on, they produced full-value coins - polushki and dengi. The fire that destroyed in 1735. the mill itself, did not stop production - wooden barns were already attached to the mill for various production cycles. The following year was the last for the court. The yard did not have its own symbolic designation.