designed to refute the claims by Jean-Pierre Droz that the
performance of Soho Mint was a result of his inventions
Soho’s Coinage - A Striking Achievement
By 1802, Matthew Boulton was becoming seriously concerned that credit for the powers
of the Soho Mint was being attributed to his discharged engraver and mechanic Jean-Pierre
Droz - with the assumption that it was Droz himself, now resident at the French Mint
in Paris, who was the source of the stories. So Boulton commissioned his own response,
in the form of a medal, which was to have been published ‘all over the world’ and
which set out exactly what the Soho Mint was capable of. Perhaps significantly, the
description on the medal was in French. It reads:
(400) M: BOULTON ERIGEA A SOHO ANGL: 1788 UNE MACH: A VAPEUR PR: FRAP: MONN: (480)
1798. IL ER: UNE BIEN SUPERIEURE A 8. BALANCIERS NOUVEAUX. (560) CES CERC: & CHIF:
MARQ: LE DIAM: & NO: DE PIECES FRAP: P: MIN: (640) P: 8 ENFANS SANS FATIG: DU PL:
PET: OU PL: GR: VOLUME. (720) OU DE 8. DIFF: GRAND: ENSEMBLE. ON PEUT (800) AUGM:
L’EFF: AU DEG: NECESS: (920)
Which translates as: Matthew Boulton erected at Soho, England, in 1788, a steam powered
machine to strike coins. In 1798 he set up a much better one with eight new presses.
These circles and numbers indicate the diameter and number of pieces struck per minute
by eight children without fatigue, of the smallest or greatest volume. With 8 combinations
one can increase efficiency to the necessary degree.
The numbers indicate the number of coins, of that diameter, which the eight presses
of the Soho Mint could strike per minute in total.
While the medal had been prepared during the rather surreal period following the
Peace of Amiens in October 1801, and was intended for distribution in France, the
renewal of the war in 1803 rendered the whole project pointless, but left us with
a fascinating insight into Boulton’s thinking.
From this page, we have divided up ‘The Coins’ into three separate sections. The
first of these ‘Coins Great Britain’ deals with the Soho copper coinages of 1797,
1799, 1806/7 and the Bank of England Dollars of 1804-11.
The second section ‘Coins Ireland’ deals with the exemplary coppers of 1805-6. In
time, it will also include the Isle of Man pieces of 1798 and 1813 - appropriately
as many of the Isle of Man pieces apparently found their way to Ireland in trade.
The third section is ‘Coins World’ and basically includes everything apart from the