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Eighteenth Century Minting Technology & Techniques

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51 minutes ago, Rob said:

Having the broken punch in the inventory as serviceable and it actually being used are two separate things. Company inventories frequently have items in stock which are defective, but not written off for whatever reason (usually financial).

It most closely resembles the first crown bust, but the hair is rendered differently to the one illustrated in Spink. The punch looks a little frosted, which means it could be a proof or pattern bust, or it may be a medal punch, both of which would allow a degree of freedom by the artist when engraving the faulty section. Unfortunately the link doesn't indicate the size or denomination to which it could be applied.

This punch has 10 leaves with a possible 11th at the top. Perusing Hocking gives a couple of possibilities. No. 64 is a crown master puncheon (upper part of head broken away), laureate bust to right, resembling Type ii, but the right leaf is quite hidden. The second is a halfcrown, No. 75 which H says is similar to no. 72 - laureate bust to right resembling the type ii crowns, the tie ends are straight; no.74 says similar to no.72 but there is a tip of an eleventh leaf visible above the head; no.75 says similar to last (broken at upper part of head). I have pictures of Hocking 70-75 and can confirm that none of these resemble the bust you displayed, and in any case the break on no.75 cuts across the forehead and laurels. Neither these two nor any others mention a break at the bottom of the bust. I can only assume Hocking didn't know about this one. The hair relative to the drapery clasp would be more in keeping with a crown punch, as smaller denominations tend to have the hair directly above it.

The mint has a number of punches that can't be assigned to anything in particular. The attached is a punch (Hocking 104) that is in the RM's halfcrown punch tray. It has clearly been used, but is not known for any halfcrown. It does mention a resemblance to the Christ's Hospital medal by John Roettier (MI 1.p.558, n.220), but I don't have this, so perhaps someone else can help here.

Maybe a more detailed study of the first and second bust crowns could shed a little light on this - anyone?


You're saying that it's ill considered speculation on the part of the Mint Museum employee to make those comments? Could you please provide evidence to confirm or deny your speculation in regards to the odd marks in the "I"?  Can you think of any examples of similar marks in lettering on legends?  This would be extremely helpful.  



Edit - By the way, who is Hocking?

Edited by Madness

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On 8/10/2018 at 9:22 AM, Madness said:

Thanks @1949threepence.

I've started my own catalogue here of BNJ that is searchable by author, title and subject with a direct link to the relevant article.  Started at 2014, but have only gone as far back as 2007 so far.

Looks very useful.

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The quote from the RM site said it was recorded as serviceable in the inventory, so that isn't speculation, but the level of wear, or rather lack of it on the punch suggests it wasn't used extensively before, or even at all after it broke.

Hocking catalogued two volumes concerning the inventory of the RM archived material. Volume 1 in 1906 recorded the coins and tokens, whilst volume 2 in 1910 recorded the dies (including punches), medals and seals.

This 1711 shilling has the F of FR with an unusually long bottom. The bottom right serif starts to expand as it would on an E punch, and also extends beyond the centre arm which I can't find any examples of where the F is perfectly formed. Whatever, it is not a clean punch.The question is this. Is it a defective E punch, or has the bottom been reinforced using only a fraction of a punch in the form of a partial bottom limb only of an E? It is also possible that they started with only an I punch, with all limbs added subsequently. Up to the 1700s, there is frequent use of composite letters made from a few punches which muddies the water somewhat.

In the somewhat chaotic circumstances of the Civil War, there is a defective T or L(?) punch which doubles for T, L, I and the uprights of H. It's movement can be traced around the various mints, helping to establish the chronology of various issues.


04843 - Copy.jpg

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On 8/10/2018 at 7:21 PM, Madness said:

What would cause the two strange lines on the letters below?

Y2IMTab.jpg   NTjJRMK.jpg

I have another theory in regards to the formation of the funny line on the "I". 

Doing a bit of hobby woodwork and home renovations there are times when I find it quicker to repair a gouge in wood with wood-filler (or "builder's bog") rather than replace the entire section.  After the filler dries I sand it back flush with the surface and in most cases all is fine.  Occasionally, though, when I sand it back I discover that I hadn't entirely filled the gouge and there is small depression remaining, often running along the edge of the gouge.  The surface is smooth, but the defect is still obvious.

Can you see where I'm going here?  Whoever created the die might have initially punched a "D" instead of an "I".  Rather than throwing it away and starting again he used some "filler" for the curve of the "D"and filed this surface back to form an "I".  However, the curve of the "D" wasn't perfectly filled and left a small thin depression along the side of the edge.  When coins were made using this D, this imperfection showed itself as a very narrow curve that's slightly inconsistent in depth.  

Do you think this hypothesis has any credibility?  Is anyone aware of dies being repaired by some sort of filling agent?  

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First question is whether the profile of the curve follows that of the D elsewhere on the die.

Letters were often punched in error and subsequently corrected. Sometimes the underlying character is strong, sometimes weak depending on how many times or how hard the wrong punch was struck. As a rule, the legend errors were simply overcut, but dies were also filled and recut on occasion, particularly when changing the date. For an example of this see the 1675/3/2 halfpenny where the 2 was filled and recut to a 3, then subsequently modified to make a 5 over 3. It would take a few blows to fully enter a character, so introducing another variable. It doesn't necessarily have to be cut and filled.

Taylor also used this method to change the 1806 broken jewel proof halfpenny obverse die to 1807. Again see the unlisted varieties section.

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