I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!


Actually, not really a project for the Pandemic until I ordered a new moneying stamp.

Most stamps I had were just straight rods. Then Alpha Officium started offering demonstration stamps, which are more according to what was employed at the time. Before I ordered, I made certain it was acceptable for the accuracy standards of Regia Anglorum. Having cleared that hurdle, I then spoke with James Coffman of Alpha Officium for how large it should be, the design and anything else that was important or that escaped my notice.

The stamp was a custom job. Waiting for it to be produced, I found myself thinking over the manner in which I made the penny.

In their generally laudable book, The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, authors Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger give a probably incorrect method for producing coinage which involves striking each side of the coin separately. From research and practical experience, here is the way I have learned to do it.

You will need two stamps, carved with the design of the coin, a moneying anvil that will hold the bottom stamp and a hammer of about eight pounds (though the weight of the hammer needs only to be heavy enough to make an impression and should be comfortable for the user).

The moneying anvil is the stand that holds the lower stamp. It is generally, perhaps exclusively a durable, hard wood, with a metal bolster that helps provide resistence to the minting process. The two most common types of anvil are the stump and the stand. I prefer the stand, since the moneying is often done in different places, and the stand and be more easily carried from place to place. The exact method of construction often differs.

A hole and bolster are placed into the anvil to hold the bottom stamp known as the anvil die. This is known as the reverse and will have a design carved into it, often a cross motif which is a good guide for cutting the coin into change (the later Spanish pieces of eight is a good example). This is also known as the tail of the coin.

A disk of pewter or aluminum (or actual silver) is placed on the stamp. It is generally smaller in diameter than the stamp itself, so there is so variation in coins.

The top die. Known as the hammer die, is placed upon the coin. The obverse stamp is also engraved, often with the head of the authorizing king or other authority. This is also known, of course, as the tail.

To be most accurate, either you or a volunteer must hold the two dies together. Since this can be dangerous, I use a sleeve that holds them together.

The hammer must be smartly swung onto the hammer anvil. Make certain the face of the hammer strikes the die flat on. It should not be slanted or uneven when it lands. The hammer may be swung with a single or both hands but must be swung with enough power to make a firm and solid incision. Improperly struck coins occasionally happen, and period coins often show that this is not merely a modern occurrence

We shall not deal here with making either coins or the dies, but there are many who can do this for you or teach you how to do it. That is a topic for another day!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s