First (?) US Mint medal made with a reducing lathe....
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Thank you for sharing! It appears similar technology was already in use at the Soho Mint by 1799. I can’t help but wonder what our coinage would have looked like had Boulton provided either coinage or machinery to the U.S. Mint from its onset.

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As I understand it, from the mid-1800's through the 1930's.....you made a master die on a big 12" or so mold....and then the lathe somehow "shrinks" it down to die-size while maintaining detail and the correct proportions of the fields and devices ?

I'm sure this is covered in FMTM, have to re-hit it.

I only used a lathe in 8th grade wood shop and as I recall it just held the bowl I was making while I shaved it. xD

Today, it's all digital.  Probably started to go digital 30-40 years ago, I'll bet...maybe earlier.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Posted (edited)

A reducing lathe is a complicated pantograph for proportional reduction. They are described and illustrated in From Mine to Mint. (No -- a "pantograph" does not iron your pants or print cute slogans on the bottoms of you jeans.)

Edited by RWB
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Reducing lathes were expensive and difficult to operate (note a comment in the letter, above). No US medal makers had one until George Soley built one for his use as part of the private medal business he and William Barber owned. (Both were US Mint employees thoroughly familiar with making reductions, dies, etc.) That home-made version is the only one I know of until Tiffany and later others bought a Hill's English version from the Wyons in the 1880s. Until then, diesinkers continued to cut hubs or master dies by hand. Most of the Civil War tokens were made by combining prepared portrait matrices with letter punches and ornaments.

A primary complaint about James Longacre was that he was merely a mechanic - making reductions from models - and not a real artist and diesinker.

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