Author Topic: Milled coins  (Read 1469 times)

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Offline andyg

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Milled coins
« 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?
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 08:52:48 PM by andyg »
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Online Figleaf

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #1 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
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 12:04:50 AM by Figleaf »
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Online Figleaf

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #2 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. 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
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Online Figleaf

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #3 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.

Peter
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Online Figleaf

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #4 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
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Online Figleaf

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #5 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.

Peter
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Online Figleaf

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2018, 11:56:13 PM »
The invention of the screw press is claimed by Italy and assigned to 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
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Offline andyg

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #7 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,


A hammered sixpence,


Pictures from Tony Clayton's site
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Online Figleaf

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #8 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, 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
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline andyg

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #9 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...
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Offline Henk

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #10 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.

Offline andyg

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #11 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.
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Online Figleaf

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #12 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
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Offline Filat

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #13 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
YV

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Re: Milled coins
« Reply #14 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
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.