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The Soho Mint, the Engravers

The first of Soho Mint’s foreign engravers

Jean-Pierre Droz 1746-1823

The story of Soho Mint is both fascinating and complex. It features the inventions and developments of the mechanical processes involved in the production of coins and tokens, but it is also the story of the people involved.

Alexander Pope stated that ‘the proper study of mankind is man’ and such a study is essential to understanding the whys and wherefores of Soho.

Matthew Boulton, that eminently practical man, was determined that the products of his mint should not only be technically as perfect as he could make them, but that they should be seen, too, as works of Art. To this end, he employed a succession of engravers who produced work of a quality unmatched by any of Soho’s competitors, but at a considerable cost to Boulton in terms of trouble and strife as well as money.

This section looks at his four principal foreign engravers: Droz, Dumarest, Ponthon and Küchler.

Droz Dumarest Ponthon Kuchler
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Jean Pierre Droz - Employed 1788-1791

Boulton’s first foreign engraver was Jean Pierre Droz, a Swiss mechanic and engraver of whom Boulton had great expectations. Much information survives concerning the relations between the two men, and the story is told in this section.

Rambert Dumarest - Employed 1790-1791

Recruited by Boulton and arriving at Soho even before Droz’s departure, Dumarest was by training an engraver of decorations on high quality muskets and pistols but he produced a number of excellent designs during his time at Soho.

Noël-Alexandre Ponthon - Employed 1791-1795

Recruited by Boulton to replace Dumarest who, feeling rather homesick, wished to return home to France. Ponthon was responsible for a considerable number of Soho’s ‘tradesmen’s token’ issues from the golden age of token issuing.

Conrad Heinrich Küchler - Employed 1793/1795-1810

Boulton’s fourth and, arguably, most successful foreign engraver was Conrad Heinrich Küchler, who started to produce piece works for Soho in 1793 before becoming a full-time employee in 1795. He remained at Soho until his death in 1810.

Droz
Dumarest
Ponthon
Kuchler