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Best and Worse Struck coins?


Marek K. Nowak
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Hello everyone,

 

I've noticed that the quality of coins (gold coins in particular) varied quite a bit in the same period of history in between different mints of different countries.

 

For example, the following coin was minted in 1647 in Danzig (now polish city):

 

http://www.stacks.com/lotdetail.aspx?lrid=...100&fs=true

 

Compare that with even the best Zucchino of Venice at the same period (even 60 years after), they look horrible in comparison:

 

http://www.stacks.com/lotdetail.aspx?lrid=...924&fs=true

 

French royal coins of the same period (Louis XIV and XV) seems to be a middle ground.

 

What do you guys think? Which coins were the best and worse quality for the same period?

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Welcome to CP, Marek!

 

What a fascinating question that I've always wondered myself! I hope plenty of people respond with their thoughts. I have no suggestions. Personally, I would have guessed Venice with all its wealth andsplendor would have produced the exquisite coin and Poland a backwaters design. I would be wrong!

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An awful lot of the time, especially in Britain, it had more to do with the mint workers and their resistance to better minting methods. Thus, you could have lousy hammered coinage, all the while you could have milled coinage created with screw presses. Mint workers saw superior coinage with presses as a threat to their livelihood and succeed in England to keeping them out until the 1660's, when in fact they were used over a century earlier both in France and in England with the Mestrelle coinage.

 

Even the superior Nicholas Briot milled coinages were not very popular with the mint, but now only with collectors.

 

charlesicoronation1633.jpg

 

A coronation medallion struck for the Scottish coronation of Charles I in 1633, notice the superior striking compared to the hammered coinage that is ubiquitous from that era. This is a Nicholas Briot creation, and was handed out by the king after the ceremony to the crowds.

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An awful lot of the time, especially in Britain, it had more to do with the mint workers and their resistance to better minting methods. Thus, you could have lousy hammered coinage, all the while you could have milled coinage created with screw presses. Mint workers saw superior coinage with presses as a threat to their livelihood and succeed in England to keeping them out until the 1660's, when in fact they were used over a century earlier both in France and in England with the Mestrelle coinage.

 

Very interesting insight.

 

I'm guessing that the system of guilds (basically trade union cartels) that prevailed in the middle-ages until the beginning of the industrial revolution was working to prevent the introduction of new technologies to try to keep their advantages - and their jobs- as long as they could.

 

That reminds me visiting York in England, and reading a story about the guild of brick layers being in competition with the long established macon guild in the 15th century. One brick layer was assassinated by a macon angry about loosing his job, and there's still a plate remembering that story today at the location where it happend.

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Conditional aspects play into coinage also, say the mints in Spanish America, they were in pretty remote areas and did not have easy access to better minting methods, as a result they were striking fairly crude coinage right into the 18th century.

 

In contrast, continental Europe, notably Poland and the German states got on board very quickly to strike nicer coinage using milled processes. In essence it actually slowed the coining process down a bit, but made for much better and more secure coinage that was less likely to be forged. But the mint guilds in Britain of course did not appreciate that until they were forced to in 1662, over a hundred years after the first milled coins were struck during the reign of Elizabeth I.

 

qeisixpence1562.jpg

 

Yet the mintworkers won out and got a reprieve for striking hammered coins for another hundred years:

 

englands2556.jpg

 

Which was struck ca. 1582.

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Hi Marek, welcome aboard. These specimens might be later issues than your looking for, but this is to illustrate that it's not just medieval coins that had crude minting methods. Some of the later coins had the same problems. Here are a few examples.

 

1.) Coins from Moldavia & Wallachia (known as Sadagura coins) were among the most notorious for general poor quality. There were two denominations, 1 Para/3 Dengi and 2 Para/3 Kopek coins. The two specimens I'm listing are the best and worst for this area for the 2 Para/3 Kopek specimens.

 

Worst 1772 Obv.: http://s706.photobucket.com/albums/ww65/sa...-3K1772-obv.jpg

1772 Rev.: http://s706.photobucket.com/albums/ww65/sa...-3K1772-rev.jpg

 

Best 1773 Obv.: http://s706.photobucket.com/albums/ww65/sa...Kopek1773-o.jpg

1773 Rev.: http://s706.photobucket.com/albums/ww65/sa...Kopek1773-r.jpg

 

Note, that the 1772 specimen shows the typical crude minting, not just from the die quality but the planchet as well. The overall strike is weak especially on the shields, and the porous planchet which was also typical for the time. Whereas the 1773 specimen shows most of the detail very vividly which is next to impossible to find for this denomination.

 

2.) The other coins that are difficult to find in decent grade are the Kapodistrias coins (named for Governor: Ioannis Kapodistrias), issued for 1828,1830 and 1831 for Greece. Simiilar to the Sadagura coins, the Kapodistrias coins had very high relief, and typical poor planchet quality which causes them to degrade easily. The two specimens listed are the 20 Lepta 1831 (Worst) and 10 Lepta 1831 (Best).

 

Worst 20 Lepta Obv.: http://s706.photobucket.com/albums/ww65/sa...pg&newest=1

20 Lepta Rev.: http://s706.photobucket.com/albums/ww65/sa...pg&newest=1

 

Best 10 Lepta Obv.: http://s706.photobucket.com/albums/ww65/sa...pta1831-obv.jpg

10 Lepta Rev.: http://s706.photobucket.com/albums/ww65/sa...pta1831-rev.jpg

 

Due to the fact that there was little or no edge rim, the text, including the date is very weak to non-existant from wear on the 20 Lepta coin. The 10 Lepta coin, while not in mint condition, fared better in spite of all the circulation with the text and general pattern in tact.

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