THE ART OF HAMMERED BRITISH COINS
Hammered coins were made by hand by hitting two dies together with a hammer. On the inside, the dies contained the imprint for each side of the coin. Often the head of the monarch or emperor was on one side. On the other were the coin’s denomination and other designs. The motifs of these coins, especially those from the Greek and Roman world can be nothing less than spectacular.
Just like with sculpture, master craftsmen were often employed to engrave dies for Greek cities, resulting in exquisite miniature masterpieces.
Hammered British coins featured monarchs including Edward I, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Charles II. The hammer-striking process was not an exact science and coins from the ancient and medieval worlds can be somewhat off-centre. This usually adds character to the century-old coins, and also means that no two coins are exactly alike.
Well-defined and precise milled coins
The first milled coins came about around 400 years ago and were produced in large quantities from the mid 17th century onwards. Machine-made, they are more precise in definition and uniformity.
The machining of coins also enabled the introduction of serrated edges and inscriptions which helped prevent forgery and clipping. Mechanised production also came hand-in-hand with improvements in realism and style brought about by the Renaissance two centuries earlier. For the first time rulers of Europe appeared on their coins in spectacular realism.