When Sir Isaac Newton came to The Royal Mint Britain's finances were approaching crisis, with up to one in ten circulating coins believed to be forged. His vision of matchless quality led him to root out and prosecute notorious counterfeiters, improve assaying techniques (the way coin quality is checked), and refine weights and measures to standards never seen before. In 1699 Newton became Master of the Mint. After overseeing the new coinage for the accession of Queen Anne in 1702 he also supervised the huge task of bringing Scottish coinage into line with English coinage, following the Union of England and Scotland in 1707. Thanks to Newton’s vision, Royal Mint coins remain unrivalled in their accuracy and purity to this day.
A Pure Vision
Sir Isaac Newton was born in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, on 25 December 1642. At this time England was a chaotic and turbulent country, torn apart by civil war, religious unrest and the threat of plague. When Newton became a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1661, undergraduates still studied the work of ancient authors such as Aristotle and Plato. However, by this time, their doctrines were being seriously questioned by inquisitive minds like the young Isaac.
Although Newton initially studied the work of these great figures he was one of a new breed of ‘natural philosophers’ whose approach to science was defined by the use of rigorous experimentation and mathematics. His work was built on the belief that:
“Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend but my greatest friend is truth.”