Observations concerning the Mint

Of the Assays

The Assaymasters weights are 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 12 & represent so many ounces. The weight 12 is about \16 or/ 20 grains more or less as he pleases to have his weights made. With this he weighs the silver into the fire & recconning a wast answering to two penny weight he weighs it out of the fire by the weight 11 to see if it be standard, & if it be heavier or lighter he adds in the lighter scale penny weights & if need be an half penny weight & grains to see how much it is better or wors. His scales turn wth ye 128th part of a grain, that is wth ye 2560th part of ye weight 12 wch answers to less then ye 10th part of a penny weight. They are fenced about wth glass windows to keep them from ye motion of ye air & have in them little thin brass platters to take away the weights by wthout handling the scales.

He cuts off from every Ingot a piece of ab\o/ut a drachm for two assays beats it out into a thin plate, scrapes it clean & cutts it into the ballance &c. In assaying the money he clips a little off from severall pieces of money & assays them together. The Assaydrops of the money & of the pott-assays (but not of the Ingots) are his fee. He makes two assays of every ingot, puts 13 Coppels at once into the furnace uses \the poorest/ lead separated from the \{allay} assayd {or}/ of this & silver {or}{are} {aqua quantity}\& run into bullets. A bullet is/\twice the weight of ye silver. He foliates a bullet wth ye hammer; tears it in two, wrap{s}/ /up the silver in one half, & adds a whole bullet to it, so that the lead is 3 to one\ He lets the fire cool gradually till ye silver set least by cooling too quickly the silver spring & the assay thereby make the silver seem wors then it is. When ye lead is blown off the silver looks very bright. The Assay Furnace is of copper plates luted half an inch thick within. It is about 18 inches squar{e} 10 inches high to ye grate (wch is of iron barrs) & about 15 inches above ye grate. The muffle stands upon ye grate & ye coppels are set in wth a pair of tongues upon the floor of ye grate through a round hole in ye side of ye Furnace wch is afterwards filled wth live charcoal. In a quarter of an hour the lead fume{s} away & the operation is done. The King pays for the muffles coppells & furnaces. Pottern ore is the poorest of silver & \steel ore & other/the poorest sorts {sic} ores are ye richest in silvers.          commends ye Lead of Villach as best for Assays because poorest in silver.


Of the Melting

The Melter runns from 600 \or 700/ to 800 \& of late 1000/ weight of silver in a pot & melts 3 potts a day in each furnace within the space of about 12 or 14 hours. The first pot is about 5 hours on ye fire ye two next about 4 hours a piece. When ye silver is molten he puts in the allay. For each melting he is allo (including fire, pots, \Hoops/ tongues shovels ladles ingot molds \sand/ & wages of melters & mould makers) he is allowed three farthings per pound weight & for wast five farthings & as much for melting the scissel & for its wast, that is in all 4d per lbwt\(vizt 2d for {bullion} Ingots & 2d for ye scissel Formerly he had only 312 per lwt for & 1s 1d per lwt for /. The sweep he has into ye bargain & makes it up for himself at his own charges. A pot \for 8{{illeg}|00|}/ weighs about 500wt & cost 20d per , and lasts about a month or six weeks {illeg}|or| {seven times} two months {illeg} above, that is if they be very good more or less that is about 120 meltings so that pots cost about 18d per lbwt of silver melted in them & if hoops \ingots molds/ & other utensils \{illeg}& {a} {saved}/ be added they cost less then 16d per wt. A pot in three meltings each day spends spends about 25 {stacks}\bushalls/ of coales per diem, & imploys about 10 men \at 20d. per diem each/ in making molds. {feeding}\looking to/ the fire & \filling &/ ladling out the potts. \The mens wages & coals at 6d per Bushel to 16 wt or something less./ The sweep amounts to &         & the charge of making it up to             per lwt. And the coales at 6d per Bushel to about 116 of a penny {illeg}|per| lwt. The Pots shrink in the fire by long use so that a Pott wch when new holds 800lwt, when it has been used a month or six weeks will hold but 700 or 650lwt, or perhaps less.

The Scissel if the Pot is crouded full & well charged a 2d & 3d time wasts as little (or wthout a sensible difference) as if it be filled wth Ingots, & the three meltings (if the pot be not quite so full) are done in ye same time or within a little.

The hammered money was melted last year \at ye Exchequer with a blast in small/ in potts of 50 weight a piece, 75{w} weight of money in a pott, about 162 pot fulls each day. The potts cost 8 pence a pound & last about 30 \or 35/ meltings a pieceor potfulls a piece. So that ye potts cost 16 of a penny per lwt of silver melted in them. But ye blast makes quicker dispatch this way with perhaps less then half ye expence of fire then in ye other way wth great pots. The little pots are best for coarse silver to be refined, the great ones for standard silver because they alter the fineness least & make least wast for the melter. Mr Floyer & Mr Shales were payd 34d per lwt for melting \at ye Excheqr this Winter/ besides potts (wch {came} to weighed about 50 per pott, cost 8d per of iron {illeg}{&}\or/ 17d per lbwt of money melted in them) & Refitting of Ingots Mittens for workmen, earthen potts, sandover, baskets cartage of potts &c (wch cost about wch cost about 170 of a penny \per lwt/ or 110th of ye potts) but the potts &c should{illeg} be included in ye 34d for melting. Every pot each <11r> day takes up a bushel of coals \or above/ in the first melting \{at} each mor{ning}/ & half a bushel or less in ye rest, that is about 712 o{f}\a bushel/ {ea}{at ea}ch melting at a mean rate, that {illeg}is if coale \be 6d a/ {bush}el, about 120th of a penny per lwt. The wast {at}\the first/ melting of hammered money wth the blast in these little potts is recconn{ed} at 2d (or 23 dwt) per lwt, the sweep being allowed for in this recconning & estimated at a farthing per lwt. The Plate taken in at Chester last May proved generally about 5dwt or 6dwt \(per lwt)/ worse then standard (by reason of the soader) with a wast of about 5 ounces per ton symbol in textwt or 1dwt per lwt

Of the making the Moneys

Sixteen ounces Troy of sixpenny Blanks were blancht in 6 minutes & lost of their weight in blanching the first experimt 8gr the next 10gr ye next 7gr the next 9gr \& at a second blanching for 7 minutes of time one grain more/ at a middle recconning \they lost at one blanching/ 812 gr. Whence a pound Troy loses about 613 gr. & a pound Troy of crown blancks 3gr of 12 crown blancks 4gr & of shilling blancks 5gr. By experimt I found that a pound Troy of 12 crown blancks lost 312 gr.

A sixpenny barr weighing 16 ounces Troy lost in Nealing three times, got 3 grains in weight ye first time, lost 12 a grain ye second time & got 112 grain the third time, that is in all the three nealings it grew heavier by 4 grains. A shilling barr of 15 ounces Troy in one nealing grew heavier by 112 grain. So that Nealing increases ye weight of a \shilling/ barr of a pound weight Troy by about 1gr or 114gr & of a sixpenny barr by about 112 or 2gr. And Nealing & blanching together decrease the weight of a pound weight of sixpenny blancks by about 5gr, of shilling blancks by 4gr, of 12 crown blancks 3gr of crown blancks 213 gr. And if the sixpenny, twelvepenny, half crown & crown blancks be taken in common in ye proportion of 1, 4, 3, 2 the nealing & blanching together decrease the weight of a lwt by 5 + 16 + 9 + 42310 342310 or 312gr. If the blancks be not well nealed they will not blanch well.

The Moneyers melt their limel per se without any mixture to make it run & in melting it grows better 2dwt 3dwt or 4dwt & loses 1, 2 or 3 lwt of its weight The limel is not above the 1100th part of ye money. And if the loss in the limel be 180th part thereof by scattering & 180th by melting, the wast by the limel will be 14000th of the money that is 316 of a penny per lwt


There is also a wast in the milling by the dripping off of sand \with some particles/ which of silver & in the nealing by some blanks falling out of \the pan upon/ the hearth & lying there till they be half consumed by {the} \fire and in shreds/ {illeg} of silver scattered up & down the rooms & lost in ye {dus}t or by sticking to the workmens shoes: all wch cannot amount to 14 of a penny per lwt. So that the whole wast in the making of the moneys by the Moneyers comes not to 1d per lwt.

Two Mills with 4 Millers, 12 horses \two Horskeepers/, 3 c|C|utters, 2 Flatters, {illeg}|8| sizers One Nealer, o{n} thre {sic} Blanchers, two Markers, two Presses with two feeders & fourteen labourers the {illeg} to pull at them & some Moneyers to weigh the silver & inspect the several parts of the work can coyn after the rate of 3000 a thousand weight or 3000 of money per diem And if for the horses & men\labourers/ one with another be allowed after ye rates of 22d per diem it comes to {illeg}about 6 per diem & to Moneyers after the rate {of} 10s per diem it comes to about 10 per diem it comes to about 3 per diem, that is {illeg} three farthings per diem lwt.

So that the whole charge of coynage besides the allowance to the moneyers for their hazzard & pains comes only to about 1d1218.

© 2019 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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