Saturday, March 17, 2012

Thomas Levenson's Newton and the Counterfeiter

I have been too busy to post. Mostly learning Ruby, not collecting unfortunately.

Anyway, I wanted to mention Thomas Levenson's Newton and the Counterfeiter. Amazon has the hardcover at $10 and the paperback at $6.

If the historical Isaac Newton had never become mint master the theme of this book would have been ridiculous. A 17th century 'police procedural' with the world's greatest scientist abandoning physics and become a proto-detective in London's underworld is really too silly for fiction. Yet it happened.

The book lacks photographs. Pages and pages are spent discussing hammered coins, why they could be clipped, and how they are different from milled coins. I would have appreciated a few photos but at least I know what the coins look like so it wasn't hard to follow the discussion. Levenson also explains the differences between good and poor quality fakes of hammered and milled coins, and discusses fake currency ('malt tickets'). I have never seen a fake English coins from this period and I've never seen a malt ticket, real or fake; photos of these would have been especially welcome.

I recommend the book highly.