Browse texts by category: Pyx Trials and Analyses of British Coinage

1.

Clerical copies of various documents (juries' verdicts, officers' receipts, assorted memoranda) relating to the trial plates of 1605 and 1660.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/279-281, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00150

2.

Letter covering a copy (in the same clerical hand) of a Council order for a pyx trial, dated 11 June 1696.

Author: Treasury

Source: MINT 19/1/234, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00151

3.

'An Account of the Scotch money'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/3/2-3, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00152

4.

Holograph drafts of MINT00152 (Mint 19/3/2-3).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/3/112-13, 114-15, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00153

5.

'An Account of the weight & fineness of several pieces of Scotch money': holograph notes for MINT00152 (Mint 19/3/2-3).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/3/4-5, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00154

6.

Holograph list of weights and assays of 23 Scottish coins 1665-95.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/2/87, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00155

7.

Note further to the pyx trial of that date of the denominations and weights of the pyx coins in the London Mint and each country mint.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/240, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00156

8.

Statement further to the pyx trial of that date.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/305, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00157

9.

Holograph note on the trial of gold coin from London and silver coin from various mints on 3 August 1699.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/239, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00158

10.

'Directions about the Triall of the monies of Gold & Silver in the Pix'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/228-9, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00159

11.

Drafts of MINT00159 (Mint 19/1/228-9).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/232, 255-6, 257, 265, 266, 267 and 271-2, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00160

12.

Clerical hand: notes for MINT00159 (Mint 19/1/228-9), followed by a draft of it in Newton's hand.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/230, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00161

13.

Notes for MINT00159 (Mint 19/1/228-9).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/252, 253, 258, 270, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00162

14.

Covering letter for MINT00159 (Mint 19/1/228-9).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/236, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00163

15.

Warrant convening the pyx jury for 6 August 1701.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/231, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00164

16.

Memorandum by Newton: 'A Memoriall concerning the Trial of the monies in ye Pix by a Iury before the King or Lords of ye Council and Officers of the Mint'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/307-8, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00165

17.

Three holograph drafts of MINT00165 (Mint 19/1/307-8).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/259-64, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00166

18.

'The manner of making the standard Trial pieces'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/290, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00167

19.

Holograph drafts of MINT00167 (Mint 19/1/290).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/284, 285, 286, 287, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00168

20.

Council has ordered trial plates to be made and sent to London and Edinburgh.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/277, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00169

21.

Order to convene a jury for the forthcoming pyx trial [28 July 1707].

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/235, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00170

22.

Order to send officers to the London Mint for a pyx trial on Monday 28 July, to be attended also by officers from York, Exeter, Bristol, Chester and Newcastle.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/237, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00171

23.

Holograph note, further to the pyx trial of that date, on the amount coined and pyxed in the Tower from 7 August 1701 to 28 July 1707.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/238, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00172

24.

Memorandum by Newton: 'Of the assaying of Gold and Silver, the making of indented Triall-pieces and trying the moneys in the Pix'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/109, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00173

25.

Eight variant holograph drafts of MINT00173 (Mint 19/1/109).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MINT 19/1/243-51, 288-9, 291-2, 295-8, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: MINT00174

[1] Mint

[2]

[Note on dating: includes the remark 'now (viz anno 1697)'.]

[3]

Table of the fineness, weight and value of Scottish coins of various dates, with notes on the conversion rates of Scottish and English weights and currency, and the importance of harmonising the two systems (by making the Scots conform to the English).

[4]

Details the amount coined in the Tower from 16 July 1697 to 3 August 1699, and in each country mint from 24 June 1697 to its closure [between April and September 1698], and the amount placed in the pyx in each case.

[5]

Printed in NC, 4: 313-14.

[6]

[Note on dating: NC, 4: 373, n.2 suggests Newton wrote this draft in preparation for his first pyx trial as master on 6 August 1701. NC, 7: 422, n. 1, however, suggests that it might equally well have been drawn up with reference to discussions in 1710 about Edinburgh pyx trials, or for the benefit of Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, after he became Lord Treasurer in March 1711. Numerous references in the document to 'the King', however, make the latter two suggestions improbable, since the monarch at the time was Anne. See also Westfall, 608, who agrees with the 1701 dating.]

[7]

Printed in NC, 4: 371-3 and further discussed in NC7: 422.

[8]

Detailed account of the formal procedure for initiating and conducting a pyx trial.

[9]

At the bottom of Mint 19/1/265 are holograph notes on Dutch, German and Swedish coins and some calculations, and on the reverse holograph notes on Italian coins.

[10]

Mint 19/1/253 is in a clerical hand; the others are holograph.

[11] Treasurer

[12]

Newton's letter printed in NC, 7: 421-2.

[13]

On reverse: holograph notes on the value and weight of gold guineas and silver shillings, with several related calculations.

[14]

[In tone and content, this document is strikingly similar to those complaining about the pyx trial of 21 August 1710 (MINT00173 - MINT00180 below), but repeated reference to 'the King' rules out its having been produced during Anne's reign. Westfall (p. 609) suggests that it relates to a dispute with the goldsmiths at the trial of 6 August 1701.]

[15]

A long account of pyx trial procedure, stressing that Mint officers should always be present, that the jury, furnished by the Goldsmiths' Company, is one 'of Enquiry not of Iudgement', and that in the event of disputes the Mint officers have a right to demand a renewal of the trial.

[16]

Mint 19/1/264 has also been used for mathematical diagrams and calculations.

[17]

Details the officers whose presence is needed, the formal procedure and the distribution of the pieces once made.

[18] Goldsmiths' Company

[19]

Printed in NC, 4: 495-6.

[20] Norwich assay hall

[21]

[See Mint Annual Report (1873), 39 (on the true fineness of the plates complained of by Newton); also Craig, NATM, 77-8 and Westfall, 610.]

[22]

Printed in NC, 5: 84-90 with additions from the drafts listed at MINT00174 below.

[23]

Stresses the importance of observing consistent methods in these operations, and describes procedures for ensuring maximum accuracy. It can happen that trial plates are made finer than standard gold coin and consequently the coin is found deficient, as happened at the last trial [21 August 1710, though the deficiency noted did not exceed the remedy and the coin was passed]. The master must have authority to compensate for faulty trial plates, either by having new ones made or by adjusting the refinement of the coinage accordingly. The trial plates of 1707 and 1688 are both above standard: that of 1660 is standard.

Three (rhetorical) queries as to whether the pyx jury should (a) report any discrepancy between the assay and the trial piece; (b) submit disputed results to the deliberation of the Queen and Council, and (c) undertake a second test in the event of dubious results, especially if asked to do so by the Mint officers.

On reverse: a mathematical problem.

[24]

Mint 19/1/250 adds a passage deploring the unequal coining that was normal when Newton first came to the Mint, but which has since been largely rectified.

Mint 19/1/251 and Mint 19/1/291 recommend the use of antimony as the best way of refining gold, 'But the Refiners of this city know not how to Refine gold by Antimony'.

© 2020 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 - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

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