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Why are the edges of the coins jagged? – El Y (A Cup of Tec) – Medium

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Take out a coin from your pocket and look at it. In fact, the edges of each coin are patterned, is it looking like jagged? But Why?

In 1696, when Newton was 53 years old, he received a letter from the Ministry of Finance. He opened it, a letter written by a former student Montagu .

Although he had not contacted Newton for a long time, Newton had heard that he has already achieved the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This student was definitely promising.

The letter was generally telling that,

Now the superintendent of the Royal Mint has to transfer to the Customs. The position is vacant. You are my teacher, my friend, and a highly respected scientist. I recommended you to the King. The Mint Supervisor is the second highest position in Royal Mint. More critically, this position offers an annual salary of more than 500 pounds per year. And there is no specific work, your time is very free, you can even continue to hold the job of Trinity College, and the position at mint will be a part-time one.

Newton accepted immediately because the money was indeed quite a lot. At the time, Newton was already a famous British scientist, but his income was not prominent. In Cambridge, professors earned about £100 a year.
This is still the seventeenth century, and the famous universities are not as rich as they are now. It is not easy to give a fixed salary to the professor at that time. Many teachers who taught at the university are unpaid lecturers. The school does not pay wages. The income depends on that if you delivered better lectures, and the students would like to come more frequently. Part of tuition fees were to given to these professors.

Newton’s treatment at that time was much better than this. The school sent him £100 a year, about 40,000 US dollars today. Although it sounds not quite much today.

Newton also lectured at the time, but it couldn’t make any money . After talking for more than ten years, almost no one came to listen. The main reason was that it was too complicated, all math related topics. The students couldn’t understand it, so there was almost no incomes from the tuition fee.

In his fifties, he could even not be able to publish a book of his own. The “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”, was sponsor by Harley — the discoverer of Halley’s comet. 500 pounds means 20,000 $ in annual salary, so Newton certainly agreed.

However, Newton did not intend to treat the job a part-time job after he joined. He used to do scientific research in the past, he did the work in the same way in Royal Mint Bureau.

At that time, the economic environment in the UK was a bit chaotic. The main currency were influenced by huge of counterfeit currency, which even made the Dutch bank reject the British silver coins.

The first thing that Newton arrived at the Mint was to go to the market to investigate and find out there were about 20% of the counterfeit currency in circulation. As far as such investigation, no one had ever done it in the Royal Mint. Although everyone known that there were counterfeit coins, and it was quite serious, no one could tell about the proportion of counterfeit money on the market.

Previously, in order to put an end to counterfeit currency, a trick was used, that is, the metal value of silver coins is basically equal to the face value of silver coins, so if someone was willing to make counterfeit coins, the price of the raw materials he bought will be the same as the price of silver coins. If including the cost of production, doing counterfeit money can only lose money.

So Newton wanted to know what the counterfeit currency was, so he carefully calculated the chemical composition of the counterfeit currency based on his own skills in alchemy. The result was shocked and found that most of the counterfeit coins were really full of silver and copper, which he initially thought that most of them were made of other inferior metals.

As you can see, when we get to this point, Newton’s way of thinking as a scientist to find evidence has completely beats all the managers of the Royal Mint. The evidence led him to find out the truth. However, what was the specific reason for the use of sufficient metal for the counterfeit currency, this couldn’t to be clarified if only sit in the laboratory by pure speculation.

Then Newton let some policemen to undercover counterfeit currency organizations, to find out how they made fakes, how to get the upstream supply channels and sales. Later, they discovered that a small part of the original metal was bought raw materials market. Most of the metal was cut from the outer ring of the real coin. Only a thin layer was cut, and then the edge was rounded manually . People could not recognize the cut coins.

So that the most embarrassing person in the year was William Chaloner, who dared to openly shout to the Royal Mint, saying that the coins we made were more than the real money you made! Because he cut the real money.

Newton personally battled against people who made the counterfeit money, and many of the leaders were put in prison. The most strenuous thing was William Chaloner. Newton vowed to send him to the gallows.

He carefully studied the history of the development of counterfeit coins, collected counterfeit coins made by different techniques at various stages, compensate to those who appeared as a witness, paid them money for the fees of transport.

William Chaloner built good relationships with both upper and lower, the first time when he was caught, he was soon released through the relationship of the upper level, very proud. Newton later took out the next wave of evidence and took Chaloner back to prison. Finally, the day before Chaloner was sent to the gallows, Newton also went to see him.When the two met, Chaloner were pleading for Newton to let him go, Newton sneered and left. The next day, the biggest counterfeit coin producer was hanged.

Then, Newton was responsible of re-casting of a new currency, this time the new coin must at least prevent the edge from being cut. Newton’s solution was to engrave a complicated pattern on the edge, so that the counterfeit currency could not be pulled from the metal. Now, this method is even used. You can now take out a coin and look at it. In fact, the edges of each coin are patterned, and they are not simple jagged, so the anti-counterfeiting function is stronger.

Therefore, the United Kingdom completely managed the counterfeit currency issue within three years. Newton was promoted to the director of the Mint Bureau after three years of supervision because of such excellent work. The salary has doubled and there are more than 1,000 pounds.

In the following years, Newton still used the evidence to make one accurate judgment after another, and helped the British establish a gold standard. It was also under his work that the British issued the British pound notes circulating to the present. Six years after the counterfeit currency, Newton was also crowned as a knight by the Queen Anne because of his excellent work in the financial system.

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