Half Pound: Elizabeth I (obverse); Crowned Shield of Arms (reverse)

Half Pound: Elizabeth I (obverse); Crowned Shield of Arms (reverse)

1558-1560

Part of a set. See all set records

Gold

Diameter: 3.3 cm (1 5/16 in.)

Weight: 5.726 g (0.2 oz.)

The Norweb Collection 1969.187

Location

Did you know?

The technology of the French screw press allows greater detail to be viewed, such as the queen's bejeweled dress and long locks flowing out of her crown and down her back.

Description

This is a fine example of a rare piece, produced by a new process. In about 1560 an attempt was made to introduce coins made with the French screw press. The coins are called mill money, a term derived from the use of water and horse mills used to supply power. The machinery included a rolling press, driven by the mill, a cutting punch, and a screw press for stamping the design on the coin. While the screw press coins are far superior to hammered coins in the point of accuracy of shape and weight, the workmen at the mint put up every possible objection because they were afraid their livelihood was in danger. Eloye Mestrell, who brought the press over from France, was a scoundrel who had once worked for the Paris mint. He was an easy prey to hostility and finally ended up on the gallows, having been convicted of counterfeiting. No more is heard of the screw press until the reign of Charles I when a greater Frenchman, Nicholas Briot, was given employment in the government mint. The workmanship on these milled coins of Mestrell was excellent and the coins are beautifully detailed.

See also
Collection: 
MED - Numismatics
Department: 
Medieval Art
Type of artwork: 
Coins
Medium: 
Gold
Credit line: 
The Norweb Collection

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