Catalogue Entry: MINT00387

Model letter for Allardes to send to Treasurer Godolphin.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Mint 19/I.183, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

[Normalized Text] [Diplomatic Text]


Explains that the use of coal rather than charcoal in Scottish furnaces leads to a fiercer heat and hence a more rapid evaporation of the copper admixture. Proposes continuation of the traditional Scottish method [of adding a few grains of copper to the silver in the course of melting] of compensating for this.

Preceded by a holograph draft letter of 28 November 1706 from Newton to Prince George's Treasurer, ordering payment of £50 on the Prince's account to John Flamsteed for preparing his papers for the press [the Historia Cœlestis Britannica, printed 1707 and eventually published 1712].

On reverse: holograph draft of MINT00388 (I.187).

[On the Scottish practice of adding copper and the reasons for it, see NC, 4: 500-501, n. 2, and Craig, NATM, 71-2. Craig's account is a little confusing, however: he states that the practice had earlier been stopped on Newton's orders, giving the reference Newton MSS III.181. That, however, is MINT00366 in this catalogue and has no bearing on this matter at all. No other document issuing such an order has been identified, except insofar as it is implicit in the legislation requiring the Edinburgh Mint to conform to London practice: see MINT00353 (III.18). However, Newton undoubtedly was uncomfortable with the practice and accepted it only reluctantly: see especially MINT00452 and MINT00453 (I.181-2, 188). Craig also states that in this and the following document Newton made 'a stipulation that uniformity should again be attempted as soon as the recoinage was completed' (NATM, 72), which is something of an overstatement: what Newton actually proposed was that the Scots 'be still allowed if her Majty pleases to use their ancient Method [...] untill the present recoinage of the moneys in Scotland shall be finished'.]

Letter to Allardes printed in NC, 7: 455, that to Prince George's treasurer in NC, 4: 480. Allardes duly used Newton's guidelines to produce the memorial now in PRO, T17/1, pp. 172-3.

© 2018 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL -

Privacy Statement

  • University of Oxford
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • JISC