Criminal skill:
coining and coiners during the long eighteenth century

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This research concerns the crime, and the skill needed to counterfeit the coinage in the eighteenth century.

The threat of counterfeiting the coinage, or coining, has been a threat to the economy for centuries. The aim of this project is to discover the methods in which the everyday person could make their own money during the eighteenth century, with a wider aim to explore the reasons why people endeavoured to do so. This project will consist of an examination of the instruments used to carry out the act, for example homemade coining dyes, and of course the finished counterfeit product, held in the Museum’s collection.

The Department of Coins and Medals at the Museum holds an extraordinary array of objects that were used as currency, covering from the pre-Christian era to the modern day. A small number of these objects, however, are forged – made by the everyday person. Carrying out research into both the Museum’s collection, and using a variety of contemporary source material, it is hoped that we can gain a clear insight into the skills and methods used by these people, while also investigating the response of the authorities and the perceptions of the public towards those counterfeiting the coin. Where these people providing a service to the community, or criminals – operating for their own financial gain?

The research is on-going; it is hoped that an exploration of the crime of coining will provide a clear historical insight into the state of the coinage and the threat that counterfeiting had on the economic stability of the state. The project ultimately aims to discover how the crime was committed, what skills did the everyday laymen need in order to produce his own coins, instead of working for a wage or earning a living?