Counterfeit coinage..

As modern US markets waver.. Apparently, “one in every 50 pound coins in circulation is counterfeit”. That’s more than 30 million fake £1 coins according to the BBC. They also have some helpful tips on how to spot a counterfeit coin. It’s been worse. Notably when Isaac Newton, yes that Isaac Newton, took on the role of Warden of the Royal Mint in 1696, and then Master of the Royal Mint – more on that time here. Of course, he also prosecuted and punished counterfeiters.. notably William Chaloner – Westfall’s still the go-to-guy on this. But see also the BBC play The King’s Coiner [pdf file].

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  • joeCanuck

    Back in the days when coinage was made of real precious metals, there was also the question of the purity of coinage made by the mint. There is a fabulous description of the testing of this,(the trial of the Pyx) back when Newton was Master of the Mint, in the third volume of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque trilogy, “The System of the World”. I highly recommend the whole trilogy.

  • Pete Baker

    Possibly, Joe.

    But we’re trying to keep the discussion in reality rather than fiction.

  • joeCanuck

    Wikipedia could do with a bit of cross referencing. Try this:
    Or even better this:

    There is a great mixture of reality in the cycle. Try it, you will not be disappointed. Among the best books I have ever read.

  • Stephenson does a huge amount of research for his books, and seeing as the Baroque Cycle is, to an extent, a fictionalized representation of the actual emergence of a modern form of currency and government, it’s pretty apposite. Certainly as apposite as The King’s Coiner anyhow.

  • Fraggle

    The first of the trilogy also includes an eye-opening depiction of Prince William of Orange that I doubt the Free Ps would appreciate.