Collection of British coins offered for sale along with a history of the British mint. Includes information about coins and coin-making in the past and present day, and current activities.
History of the Royal Mint
The Royal Mint has evolved to become a sophisticated industrial concern operating today as a government company. The 1100 or so years of its existence track the history of Britain through its wars and political upheavals, its social and economic progress, its technological and scientific advances. Its history is in short woven into that of Britain itself. Reverse view showing a section of a Silver penny of Alfred the Great Unlike institutions of more recent origin, it cannot be said that the Royal Mint was founded on a specific day in a particular year. What is known is that 1100 years ago, from the second half of the ninth century, there were reasonably robust conventions in place governing the making of coins. A glance at the uniform design of coins produced from this time is evidence of a controlling force and a deliberate policy
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Counterfeits and Cautionary Tales
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 by The Royal Mint Museum For as long as there have been coins there have been counterfeits and here at the Museum we have a particularly fine collection of forged material which goes back as far as the 17th Century. The illegal nature of counterfeiting means that the origins of these objects are almost entirely unknown, but thanks to clues left behind by previous generations and research carried out by Museum staff, a few of their names and stories have been rediscovered.
Our collection contains a pair of counterfeit sovereign dies of 1891 together with a base metal impression struck with those tools in September of that year. A provenance ticket which reads ‘Bronze Impression from counterfeit dies 28/9/91′ accompanies the coin. In 1977 the Museum’s Librarian and Curator became curious about the origin of these objects. Using the date from the provenance ticket he searched through The Times newspaper for notable counterfeit cases and was finally able to relate them to the case of Robert Schmidt.
Schmidt, a 30 year old German living in Islington, planned to use a mixture of genuine and counterfeit sovereigns to set up in business as a furrier. He was not a professional counterfeiter but had contacts in the form of ‘several friends’ who assured him that they had been making counterfeit 20 mark coins for years but had not been caught.
On 11 May 1891 Schmidt approached Emile Schrier, a die-sinker who worked for the Bank of England. He requested that Schrier make him some coinage dies, but the die-sinker was an honest man. After hearing the would-be criminal’s proposal he informed the Bank of England and the Treasury, who advised him to complete the job and set up his ‘client’ On 5 September the unfortunate Schmidt was arrested as he left the die-sinker’s office with the dies wrapped in a brown paper parcel. Old Bailey records show that William Webster, the Treasury’s appointed Inspector of Coin, presented both the counterfeit dies and the specimens struck from them at Schmidt’s trial, which gives these objects additional provenance. Ultimately the Court found Schmidt guilty and he was sentenced to six years penal servitude.