The E-Sylum:  Volume 7, Number 40, October 3, 2004, Article 3


  Dick Johnson writes: "We are glad Dan Gosling is back from
  his five-week dream vacation enumerated in last week's
  E-Sylum and is now asking questions. To answer his inquiry
  on Taylor & Challen coin presses, he need go to only one
  source: Chapter 14 of Denis R. Cooper's book "The Art and
  Craft of Coinmaking; A History of Minting Technology." Dan
  will find there a picture of a Taylor and Challen press on page
  153 and the reason they were so popular at mints around the
  world ? they employed the knuckle-joint action to efficiently
  strike coins and could do this at a rapid rate (at the same
  time inserting the blank and ejecting the struck piece). All
  coining presses today that are not hydraulic employ this
  knuckle-joint action.

  Perhaps a capsule history of the coining press would be
  useful for Dan (and perhaps all E-Sylum readers!).The first
  diestruck coins were made by hammer and anvil - no press.
  Similar hammered techniques continued for more than a
  thousand years. Leonardo da Vinci drew a press for striking
  coins, medals and seals in his notebooks in 1500. Da Vinci
  recognized you need a blank to strike so he put two presses
  back-to-back - one to blank, one to strike the design (with
  the same blow!). But da Vinci?s press was never built (until
  20th century - IBM had one build from da Vinci's drawings,
  it is now in the Smithsonian Institution).

  In 1506 an Italian, Donato Bramante (inspired by a fruit press)
  built a screw press but only did blanking on it. In 1550 Max
  Schwab of Augusburg built a workable screw press which
  could both blank and strike, and made other equipment (as
  rolling mills to roll metal strips for blanking). He tried but failed

  to sell this equipment to mints in Germany and Italy. He
  succeeded, however, with the French who imported his
  equipment but met with resistance from French moneyers
  (who still made hammered coins).

  By 1641 the screw press was finally in use at the Paris Mint
  but the same thing happened in England, where the first screw
  press arrived but was prevented to strike coins. England
  overruled the moneyers and had a screw press in use at the
  Royal Mint by 1652.  [America obtained its first screw
  press for the 1652 Pine Tree Coinage]. The screw press
  was in universal use (and remained so until 1892 when it was
  entirely replaced by hydraulic presses).

  It was a German mechanic, however, who revolutionized
  coining. Diedrich Uhlhorn (1764-1837) invented the
  knuckle-joint action press in 1812. He patented his invention
  (1817) and built a factory to sell his presses to national mints.
  He called his invention a "lever press" and sold 57 such
  presses to nine European mints by 1847.

  In 1835 a Paris machinist, last name Thonnelier, also perfects
  a knuckle-joint press (similar to Uhlhorn's technology). He
  does not build these presses, instead he sells drawings and
  plans to build his style presses. The U.S. Mint bought
  Thonnelier's plans in 1833, and their first such press was built
  by Merrick, Agnew and  Tyler; in1840 Franklin Peale
  rebuilds it.  In each case the mints either had to build their
  own or hire "constructors." In 1858 an engineer at the U.S.
  Mint, David Gilbert, rebuilds their Thonnelier press for greater
  strength.  Morgan & Orr was one of these constructors at the
  Philadelphia Mint. Joshua Morgan and Arthur Orr built these
  over three decades including a heavy duty coining press in
  1874 (to accommodate a new steam engine installed at the

  The Paris Mint?s Thonnelier press was built by J.F. Caili et
  Cie, who act as agents and build these for European mints.
  Thus every Thonnelier press has a different nameplate,
  the name of the constructor (never "Thonnelier").

  Meantime in 1862, at the Second International Industrial
  Exposition in London, two coining press manufacturers
  exhibited - Uhlhorn's sons, then in charge of the Uhlhorn
  factory, and Ralph Heaton, flush from acquiring all the
  Soho Mint equipment, purchased at auction in 1850 (who
  then used the name "Birmingham Mint"). As often happens
  at trade expos, these two press makers met and formed a
  consortium. Heatons get permission to build presses using
  Uhlhorn's technology. Heatons build presses for the
  Mandalay Mint in Burma by 1865 but build 12 Uhlhorn-style
  presses for their own Birmingham Mint.

  Now Taylor and Challen were also coin press manufacturers,
  founded 1850 by Joseph Taylor, competitors to Ralph
  Heaton. They stepped up their activity and developed an
  improved coining press. This is what is shown in Cooper in
  chapter 14. They could supply complete press room
  equipment (as they did for the Sydney Mint, Australia).

  Early in the 20th century, another German firm, Schuler,
  enters the manufacture of coin presses. Schuler presses are
  now in use around the world. They developed a new
  technology - instead of the dies on a vertical axis going up
  and down with blanks fed horizontally, one style of Schuler
  press uses a horizontal axis with gravity fed blanks vertically.
  They also developed "indexing" and a method of double
  striking (as for proof coinage).

  In anticipation of tremendous need for new coins for the
  decimal conversion in the British Empire technicians at the
  Royal Mint in 1950 build 12 Uhlhorn-style presses in
  their workshop, still utilizing this 140-year old technology
  but with modern improvements.

  Today coining presses are made in Germany (by Schuler,
  Grabenel), in Austria (by Reinhard & Fernau), in England
  (by Heaton, Taylor & Challen and Horden Mason &
  Edwards, now a division of America's Cincinnati Milacron),
  in Belgium (by Raskin), and in Sweden (by Arboga). Both
  national mints and private mints buy these presses as
  coining technology expands universally."

  [Many thanks to Dick for his detailed submission.  Every
  numismatist should become familiar with the basic history
  of coin presses.   -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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