Magazine article The Spectator

Making a Mint

Magazine article The Spectator

Making a Mint

Article excerpt

Send George Osborne to the Tower, then he might learn that currency manipulation rarely ends well. Coins and Kings occupies fou r small rooms in a Yeoman Warder's house on the site of the old mint, which was established by Edward I in the 1270s in response to endemic counterfeiting, coin clipping and general skulduggery.

This permanent exhibition progresses through the Middle Ages to Elizabeth I's attempt to restore confidence after her bankrupt father had debased the currency and caused inflation, r iot s and m i sery (on d i splay i s an Elizabeth I half pound coin, above).

The Reformation saw traces of continental popery being removed from coins, and the crown take even greater prominence as the nation state began to form . We watch how Sir Isaac Newton's scientific methods developed over his 28-year career as Master of the Mint, and observe the influence of fledgling industrial technology on minting. …

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