Making Celtic coins for fun

Forging, smelting, bronze, silver, gold smithing....

Making Celtic coins for fun

Postby Jeff Scharp on November 6th, 2008, 9:33 pm

Over this past weekend at a Celtic Festival, we had an exhibit of the process of making ancient Celtic coins. We took turns striking them, and probably gave away 200 of these coins to children that came by to see what we were doing.

We weren't able to do any casting on site because of fire prohibitions. Last Thursday Folkert and I cast all the blanks ahead of the festival.

How we make coin blanks:
The metal we used for these coins was soldering wire: lead-free, flux-free, almost 100% tin. We cut 3 inches of wire per coin, coiled the short length and placed them in an open mold. The mold was nothing more than a 3/4 inch diameter by 1/2" deep hole in a non-flamable block. The coils of wire were heated in the mold to melt into a disc, and dumped into water to cool fast so as to anneal them. The heat source is a portable MAPP gas torch.

The coin blanks were a little rough from being cast in the open. Each one had to be hammered a little on the anvil to smooth them out before being struck with the design. The anvil you see there is a copy of a British Iron Age type (looks like a boot).

The dies were made from mild steel rescued from my scrap pile, and the design was formed with a Dremel tool and some punches. I learned from doing this that most of the designs seen on Celtic coins could easily be done with olny puches. The design we chose was that of an actual Corieltauvi coin. The dies we used show no wear, but the sledge hammer now needs to be redressed.

Some pics:

Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
Jeff Scharp
Site Admin
 
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
 
Posts: 823
Joined: June 26, 2005
My Location: Temple, Texas
Tribe: Corieltauvi
Region: East Midlands, UK
Time period: Late Iron Age Britain
aka: Lugorix

Re: Making Celtic coins for fun

Postby Steven B on November 6th, 2008, 11:36 pm

Was tin generally used for coins? I haven't done any research into the subject, but that just somehow strikes me as a little strange. And that anvil is really neat looking! Did you make it yourself?
You may see other Germans proceed equipped to battle, but the Chatti so as to conduct a war. ~Tacitus
User avatar
Steven B
 
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
 
Posts: 146
Joined: October 17, 2007
My Location: Huntsville, AL
Tribe: Chatti
Time period: 100BC - 100AD

Re: Making Celtic coins for fun

Postby Andrew Malcolm on November 10th, 2008, 7:16 am

Jeff, what can you not do? You are amazing, and inspiring *wink*
A brave man is a free man.
User avatar
Andrew Malcolm
 
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
 
Posts: 296
Joined: February 26, 2006
My Location: Natimuk, Victoria, Australia
Tribe: Island of Rhodes
Region: Biblical Christianity
Time period: 490BC Greece
aka: Ikaros

Re: Making Celtic coins for fun

Postby Dan Crowther on November 10th, 2008, 11:24 am

Well done on the dies, that's a lot of detail!

I see all the wood stumps and stuff are nicely smoothed, that's very cool. I'm surprised how much that improves the looks.

Now you've gone and raised the bar again! Thanks! :)
User avatar
Dan Crowther
 
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
 
Posts: 278
Joined: July 13, 2005
My Location: Valley Falls, NY - USA
Tribe: DalRiadan
Time period: 400CE
aka: Cormac McInnean

Re: Making Celtic coins for fun

Postby Jeff Scharp on November 10th, 2008, 2:52 pm

Steven B wrote:Was tin generally used for coins? I haven't done any research into the subject, but that just somehow strikes me as a little strange. And that anvil is really neat looking! Did you make it yourself?


Yes, tin is a little strange! This style would have been struck in silver, but we thought tin was a fair substitute, especially since these were being given away.The metal is quite soft and makes for easy coins. Someone tried a copper penny and did turn out quite nice, but I imagine it would wear the die faster.

There were coins made from a "high-tin alloy bronze" called potin, but I don't know how high the tin content was. Potin is the french worrd for bronze, and this term usually refers to certain coins that were cast rather than struck. Still not a tin coin though.

The anvil is something I made. I modified a huge tinsmith stake, basically sculpting it. It's nealy a perfect copy of a British one, complete with swages and all. I reserve it's use for soft metals (not iron/steel). Hopefully some day I can domonstrate making fubulas with that. The swages are ideal for making the pins, rolling the spring, etc.
User avatar
Jeff Scharp
Site Admin
 
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
 
Posts: 823
Joined: June 26, 2005
My Location: Temple, Texas
Tribe: Corieltauvi
Region: East Midlands, UK
Time period: Late Iron Age Britain
aka: Lugorix

Re: Making Celtic coins for fun

Postby Will Marshall-Hall on November 17th, 2008, 5:57 pm

jeff, what a fantastic show you guys put on there, if only I could have been there!
I am so impressed! Well done! Brilliant
User avatar
Will Marshall-Hall
 
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
 
Posts: 651
Joined: March 9, 2007
My Location: Wales, UK
Tribe: Ordovician
Region: North Wales
Time period: 250BC - 80AD
aka: Cwnogenus

Re: Making Celtic coins for fun

Postby Jeff Scharp on November 18th, 2008, 10:13 pm

This was a hit at the festival. The university had asked if we could do a demo like this earlier in the year, but I had to really dig into the research to find how it was actually done. Making Celtic coins is a whole lot simpler than I once imagined! Thanks for the compliments! *biggrin*
User avatar
Jeff Scharp
Site Admin
 
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
 
Posts: 823
Joined: June 26, 2005
My Location: Temple, Texas
Tribe: Corieltauvi
Region: East Midlands, UK
Time period: Late Iron Age Britain
aka: Lugorix

Re: Making Celtic coins for fun

Postby Dave Peters on June 22nd, 2014, 11:16 am

Very nice set up and die work! Did you hand engrave the dies or use power tools? Celt "silver" coins were generally a mixture of copper and silver. The % of copper could vary quite a bit. John Hooker reports, in a 2002 study of Coriolosite coins from the Isle of Jersey (Celtic Improvisations), that the silver content of most coins varied between 15 - 40%. Most were in the 20 -30% range. There was considerable variability within classes of coins.
"Vae victis." Brennus
User avatar
Dave Peters
 
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
 
Posts: 4
Joined: August 1, 2011
My Location: Washington state
Time period: 4th century BC
aka: Arion the Wanderer


Return to Ancient crafts: Working with Metals

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest