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Obverse die, puncheon for bust and silver crown of the Old Pretender as James III

 

Diameter: 41.000 mm ((coin))
Length: 54.000 mm ((die))
Length: 54.000 mm ((die))

CM BMC 279;CM BMC 280;CM 1872,7-9,900

Room 68: Money

    Obverse die, puncheon for bust and silver crown of the Old Pretender as James III of England and James VIII of Scotland

    Great Britain, AD 1709

    Making money for a king who never was

    These three objects were made for the exiled Stuart kings following the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688, and so were never used to make official coin for Great Britain. They were made by the engraver Norbert Roettier, the Engraver General of the English mint appointed by the exiled Stuarts. This was done to an order of the exiled James III (The Old Pretender) made just a few weeks after his failed invasion attempt of 1708. These coin dies and this coin are the only known examples of the dies and coins ordered by James III on this occasion, and may have been the only ones made.

    During the 1716 Jacobite uprising, the coin was sent by General Hamilton in Paris to James III in Scotland, and wrote to him saying 'I send a little box I got from M. Roettier, a crown piece designed for the English coin in 1709, and the impression of the crown piece that's now to be coined in Scotland'.

    The objects also illustrate one aspect of how coins were made in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. First a skilled engraver would carve the main design, such as a portrait bust, in positive, as a puncheon. As time went on, there came to be extra stages at this point in the process, to create working punches from the original punch. This was done to put as little strain as possible on the original work of the engraver, to avoid any risk of it being damaged. The working punch would then be used to create the necessary number of dies in the negative, with the inscription, date and other design features being added in around the main designs. Finally these dies were used by the mint-workers to strike the actual coins.

    N. Woolf, The medallic record of the Jac (London, 1988)

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