The fate of Mint-master Henrik Christofer Meyer

Above: a Frederick IV four-mark 

 This is one of the coin types minted by Meyer that was deficient in weight and silver content. 

Henrik Christofer Meyer died in a dark dungeon at Akershus Fort in Oslo at the age of forty. His back was covered with bleeding wounds from the executioner's whip and his forehead was permanently marked with a red-hot iron. 

After repeated requests, Meyer finally submitted the 1726 accounts for the coinage. According to the records he had appropriated a significant quantity of silver-alloyed copper (granaille). The subsequent investigation showed that the copper was missing. On 20 November 1727, King Frederik IV decreed that Meyer should be arrested and charged. 

Calculations showed that Mint-master Meyer may have earned approximately 40 000 riksdaler by adding too much copper to the coins during the years 1723-1727. Meyer attempted to defend himself by claiming that the debased coins must be counterfeits, probably from Holland. But by comparing the coins with preserved dies that the engraver Wiff acknowledged as his own work, it was shown that the coins with the lowest silver content were those minted in Kongsberg. 

Sentence was pronounced on 14 December 1727. It was unanimously declared that the coins, which had been tested and proven substandard, could not have been minted by anyone other than Mint-master Meyer at the Kongsberg Mint. For this offence Mint-master Meyer would have to suffer the consequences as prescribed by the law, paying for his crime with his honour, life and property. 

Before the sentence could be carried out, it had to be confirmed by the king. Frederick IV had followed the case with great interest and had made it clear that he took a very severe view of Meyer's violation of the King's regalia. Nonetheless, the king opted for mercy and a moderated sentence. Mint-master Meyer was to be granted life; he was, however, to be whipped at the whipping post, branded and sent to life imprisonment and forced labour at Akershus Fort.