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
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.
● 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.
● 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.