Coin flipping

by Nick

Adventures in the British Museum archive, part 96. Here are some interesting blueprints for coinage during the Protectorate and the Restoration. They are both by Thomas Simon, who had been appointed chief engraver at the Royal Mint in 1649 under the mastership of Aaron Guerdon. First is a proposed design for coins in 1656:

Protectorate coinage

AN327426001, © The Trustees of the British Museum

The Protectorate Council’s papers record the decision thus:

Approval of the stamp and superscriptions prepared by Thos. Simons for the gold and silver pieces, according to his new invention, as also the motto of Oliva. D. G. R. Pub. Ang. Sco. et Hib. Protec. on one side, and Pax quæritur bello, on the other side—and the 2 inscriptions for the edge, viz., Has nisi periturus mihi adimat nemo, and Protector literis, literœ nummis Corona et salus.

Here is an example of how the coins actually turned out:

Oliver coin

After the restoration of Charles II, Simon squared regime change with his conscience. Although h seems to have lost his position as chief engraver, he carried on working at the mint, producing designs for the monarchy. Here is a warrant from Charles II for the production of an angel, with a strikingly different choice of iconography:

Restoration coinage

AN327431001, © The Trustees of the British Museum

In 1662, Simon lost a contest with Dutch engravers, the Roettier brothers, to design the first milled coinage. To try to restore his reputation, he submitted a design known as the Petition Crown to Charles II, with the following legend around the edge:

THOMAS SIMON MOST HUMBLY PRAYS YOUR MAJESTY TO COMPARE THIS HIS TRYALL PIECE WITH THE DUTCH AND IF MORE TRULY DRAWN & EMBOSSED, MORE GRACE FULLY ORDER’D, AND MORE ACCVRATELY ENGRAVEN, TO RELEIVE HIM

Here is Simon’s design for the piece:

Charles II crown

AN327430001, © The Trustees of the British Museum

And here is how it turned out:

Pattern crown