‘The science of money: Isaac Newton’s mastering of the mint’
Alice Marples (University of Oxford)
From 1696 until his death in 1727, Isaac Newton worked at the Royal Mint, first as Warden (to 1699) and then as Master. He played a vital role in major economic and financial events such as the Great Recoinage (1696-99), the amalgamation of the English and Scottish mints (1706-7), the fixing of the value of the guinea in 1717, and the fall-out from the South Sea Bubble of 1720. This paper uses Newton’s employment at the Mint to explore the wide-ranging intersections between monetary history and the history of science in the first half of the eighteenth century. It examines how he handled various practical aspects of money-making, from metallurgy and metrology to the management of artisanal workers and the improvement of machines. Finally, it places these activities within broader commercial and bureaucratic contexts.
The History of Science, Medicine and Technology Seminar is convened by Erica Charters (Wolfson College), Rob Iliffe Linacre College), Catherine Jackson (Harris Manchester
College), Rob Bailey (University of Oxford) and John Lidwell Durnin (Linacre College)