A Scientific Quest for Accuracy
From 1696 until his death in 1727, Newton was first Warden and then Master of the Mint. He applied his scientific precision to the task of improving the accuracy of the coinage, making it difficult for counterfeiters
Newton also took it upon himself to bring these criminals to justice, often rooting out and prosecuting them himself. This quest brought him into contact with many criminals. One being the notorious counterfeiter William Chaloner, who eventually paid the price for underestimating the Warden when he was put on trial, found guilty and hanged
In 1717 he was commissioned to produce a report ‘On the State of the Gold and Silver Coin’. This effectively fixed the value of the guinea at twenty-one shillings and marked an important step towards the eventual adoption of the Gold Standard.
This, in turn, led to the re-introduction of The Sovereign, which has gone on to celebrate 200 years as one of the world’s most iconic and best-loved coins.
Newton endeavoured to make all coins made at The Royal Mint as accurate and reliable as possible, reducing variances to such a degree that The Royal Mint would be beyond criticism. His dedication to accurate coin production and scrupulous scientific testing meant that coins made by The Royal Mint became the most respected in the world. It is a reputation we are proud to maintain to this day.
“The proper method of inquiring after the properties of things is to deduce them from experiments.”
He refused to accept any criticism on the quality of his coins, as shown by his reaction at the Trial of the Pyx in 1710. This ceremony sees an independent jury weigh and assay a selection of Royal Mint coins. When it was reported that The Royal Mint gold coins were not quite as they should have been, Newton flew into a rage. He insisted the coins were not at fault and questioned the standard trial plate they were being measured against. Newton proved his point and the faulty plate was quickly abandoned.