Surprise: making your own coins is a dangerous pain in the ass

Engrave a negative design in hard metal to create an impression on soft metal slugs when struck with a hammer. You cast blank slugs and stamp them after casting.
The method shown in this video… total kookery.


I watched right up until I heard him mis-pronounce “planchet”. That told me all I needed to know.

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How did he manage to know to use the nice oven, but not know he has to heat his moulds to a very high temp right before casting. Hasn’t he ever watched anyone else cast metal? Even on youtube? Makes me agree with some of the above posters that he isn’t really terribly sincere in learning “How To Make Everything”…more like “How To Fake Making Everything”


“Is that all, sir? Only we’ve got stuff to finish before our knocking-off time, you see, and if we stay late we have to make more money to pay our overtime, and if the lads is a bit tired we ends up earning the money faster’n we can make it, which leads to a bit of what I can only call a conundrum—"

“You mean that if you do overtime you have to do more overtime to pay for it?” said M oist, still pondering how illogical logical thinking can be if a big enough committee is doing it.

“That’s right, sir,” said Shady. “And down that road madness lies.”

“It’s a very short road,” said M oist, nodding.”
― Terry Pratchett, Making Money

@NovaeDeArx I just started reading Debt: The First 5000 Years, and there’s a lot of discussion about ancient money. Not sure if all of it is accurate, but if nothing else it makes clear that some ancient currency units were more “unit of account” and rarely “medium of exchange.” There are even examples of coins that were literally never minted, but nevertheless served as official units of account for centuries.


Y’all are shitting all over what he’s done in this video, and I really don’t get why. He’s obviously not trying to match the skill of the tradesmen of antiquity. He’s an amateur. That’s kinda the whole point of the series. Of course he’s going to make stupid mistakes like not preheating his mold. That doesn’t make his videos, with all their flaws, any less delightful.
It would be cool to watch a modern artisan make a beautiful reproduction of the finest of ancient coins, but it wouldn’t belong in this series at all.

I don’t mind the fact that it’s a bit cack-handed - you’re right that perfection isn’t the point. But… another part of the point is for people to try stuff like this because it’s fun and it’s a dreadful demonstration of how to make stuff safely. That stunt with the chisel has abdominal aortic dissection written all over it.


I am very surprised. In fact I think these guys just don’t know what they are doing.

Last month I watched a couple of fellas (Hi Brogan! Hi Kella!) make all the tooling to create bronze coins, and then mint over a hundred of them.

They did it in a tent campground, with no electricity, not even battery-powered tools, over the course of two days.

It’s hard for me to judge whether other people would consider any of this dangerous, but there was a fair amount of molten and extremely hot bronze involved, so probably. None of us got hurt!


There are many good casting videos on Youtube. An excellent series by myfordboy on casting aluminum in sand, about 75 episodes long. Many for lost wax, mostly about jewelry size items.


Pshaw. He’s chiseling into plaster of paris, and hits it very lightly until it bites, before giving it more. Sure, not the safest thing in the world, but any abdominal aortic dissection (chortle) would be a truly freak accident.

Yeah, fair, but it ending with him stabbing himself somewhere around the groin wouldn’t surprise anyone. Whereas if he’d made the plaster cast in yoghurt pot, peeled it off after the plaster set and then simply used the hammer to crack it open on the floor, groinal stabbing genuinely would be a freak accident.

Okay, but it’s a little brazen to call it “How to Make Everything” then, right?

I get a kick out of folks like this who think that knowing about doing something (via Google, say) is the same as knowing how to do something.


The coins’ monetary value derived from the precious metals they contained. The hours of skilled labor went into creating exquisite miniature works of art. I can’t tell if you’re seriously casting cryptocurrency in the same light as sculpture created in Classical Greece, or if you’re getting at something else.

Maybe I’m missing some implied sarcasm.

No I mean that the value of both forms of currency is defined by the cost of the effort and materials which go into the production of the currency.

I don’t intend to dismiss the artistic merit of these coins. Its just not the aspect which interests me the most.

Consider, I could make my own bitcoins, but I would need to invest money in computers and electricity against the expected value of the product.

A person 2500 years ago could make their own coins (possibly breaking the law in the process) but they would have to buy materials and hire an artist to work to the expected high standard.

It depends on the culture and period. There have been many times in different places down through history where there were coin (money) shortages and people were forced to conduct daily commerce and have their basic needs met in other ways.

Precious metals were precious because they weren’t common but people wanted them, and most of them were held as coins and in other forms by the wealthy, and not common working stiffs. In the later years of the Chinese and Roman empires low-denomination bronze and brass coins were produced in the millions and billions and used over huge geographic areas. This is why you can buy some genuine ancient coins for less than five or ten bucks apiece today

As noted in the video the Chinese produced cast coins for a couple of thousand years or more, into the early 20th century. While the coins weren’t mass-produced in a modern industrial sense they could be produced in large batches in well-staffed workshops, with many workshops around the country. It was the same with the Roman Empire except that they struck bronze blanks with hammered dies in the millions and billions. (What the ancient world lacked in industrial machinery they made up for with slave labor.)

One form of money in ancient Greece - which was cast rather than struck with engraved dies, were the dolphin coins of the city state of Olbia, located on the Black Sea in what is now Ukraine.


Go ahead and piss all over it then, I guess.
I think it’s delightful.

It’s a little more complicated than that (for example gold is the gold standard for precious metal not just because it is scarce, but also because it does not corrode, and several other reasons) but overall you are quite right.

I actually have a small collection of homemade coins, maybe 30 different pieces plus some duplicates, that I’ve gathered over the years. Some of them are quite impressive!

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Yes, I intentionally chose not to enumerate all of the reasons because I have a tendency to ramble. Thanks for doing the rambling on my behalf. :grinning:

Are the homemade coins you mentioned from SCA events/members? I first learned about the organization and its activities in the mid-1970s, but I was never in a position or location where I could participate easily.

At least a third of them were made in the SCA - maybe more. Also a bunch of Markland coins, and a fair number of oddball uniques. Including a lead bolg inspired by Chaosium’s Runequest and some silver durhams and… wait, I have some nearby… here ya go, this is nearly all of them.

All hand struck for or by people I know, who were kind enough to gift me these.


That is really freaking cool. I always enjoy your posts here!

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