English mathematician, astronomer, and physicist, Sir Isaac Newton is one of the most famous scientists of all time. He is renowned for producing the single most influential book on physics ever written, The Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, but not many people know that discovering why apples fell from trees and changing the way we understand the universe were not the only problems he dealt with…
Newton and the Counterfeiter
In 1695, The Royal Mint discovered that a large number of the UK’s circulating coins were fake. In fact, 10% of England’s coinage was known to be phony. Unable to keep up with the increasing intelligent counterfeiting methods they turned to England’s ‘brightest mind’ for help.
Sir Isaac Newton was appointed warden of The Royal Mint, with a sole purpose of enforcing laws against counterfeiting.
Most counterfeits were easy targets for Newton, but one man in particular kept eluding his grasp – William Chaloner.
Chaloner was a nail maker by trade but found a more worthwhile application for molten metals. The counterfeiter’s self-made wealth enabled him to pose in a way that matched his intellect.
Newton wanted nothing more than to finish Chaloner. He went into full detective-mode.
Newton constructed a strong case, using his network of informants and spies around London in a systematic way to form a complete representation of Chaloner’s actions. He even went undercover himself to obtain evidence from witnesses at pubs around the city. By the time the trial came, he had gathered eight witnesses.
The treason charge stuck – on March 3rd 1699, William Chaloner was sentenced to hang.
Later that year, Newton was made the Master of the Mint, a position he would hold until his death in 1727.
Master of the Mint
Newton took up his duties with effect from Christmas Day 1699. Immediately his active involvement in the affairs of The Royal Mint became undoubtable, he took the role very seriously before retiring from his duties at Cambridge in 1701.
He survived the political upheavals of those distressing times and in 1705 he was knighted by Queen Anne, making him just the second scientist ever to be knighted.
The first gold standard
During his role as Master of the Mint, Sir Isaac Newton wrote a report to the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury, as a result the relationship between gold and silver coins was forever changed by Royal proclamation at the end of 1717. It forbid the exchange of gold Guineas for more than 21 silver shillings. This meant that silver coins were being used to pay for imports, subsequently Britain saw a silver shortage – effectively moving the country from the silver standard to its first gold standard.
His Legacy to our coinage
As a result of Newton’s vision, coins struck by The Royal Mint remain unrivalled in their accuracy and purity. He helped to make Britain’s currency one of the most respected and admired in the world. As one of the most famous figures to ever hold the role of Master of the Mint and author of the single most influential book on physics ever written it is entirely appropriate he is celebrated on a UK coin.
If you’re interested…
A brand new UK 50p coin has just been issued by The Royal Mint to commemorate the 375th anniversary of Sir Isaac Newton’s birth and his outstanding legacy.
You can own one today.
Each year, The Royal Mint marks important British anniversaries, events or accomplishments on our coins and today we are pleased to reveal UK’s new coin designs for 2017.
Scroll down and I’m sure you’ll agree 2017 is set to be another significant year for coin collectors, with some exceptional designs that are sure to look resplendent when struck to the ‘collector’s favourite’ Proof finish…
The Sir Isaac Newton 50p
The 50p coin commemorates the revolutionary scientific and mathematical genius, Sir Isaac Newton and his remarkable legacy. He discovered the laws of gravity and motion and remains one of the most famous men in history. This coin really needs to be seen in real life as the concentric design cleverly catches the light differently from every angle.
The Jane Austen £2 Coin
2017 sees the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death – and this £2 has been specially designed to commemorate one of the most famous authors of all time. Featuring an unusual ‘cameo’ design and Austen’s signature, this coin is sure to be highly sought-after.
The First World War Aviation £2 Coin
The latest in The Royal Mint’s series of two pound coins commemorating World War I, this particular issue pays tribute to the role of the air force in the conflict. Designed by tangerine the striking aerial perspective is a first for a UK £2 coin.
The House of Windsor £5 Coin
100 years of Royal tradition are honoured with this exceptional £5 coin – commemorating the Centenary of the House of Windsor. In 1917 King George V changed the name of the British Royal Family from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the now familiar Windsor. The coin’s pleasingly traditional design features Windsor Castle.
The King Canute £5 Coin
In a nod to Britain’s storied history, the second 2017 £5 coin marks the 1,000th anniversary of King Canute’s accession to the throne. Most famous for his attempts to prove his power by turning back the tide, Canute is also hailed as the first ‘king of all England.’
Some of these designs are really exceptional, and they are certain to become more sought-after in years to come. Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments!
If you’re interested…
You can now own all the new 2017 coins in the DateStamp™ UK Specimen Year Set. Each coin has been struck to Brilliant Uncirculated quality and encapsulated alongside a 1st Class Stamp officially postmarked by Royal Mail with the issue date – 1/1/2017. Click here for more details…