|It is customary to say
that mints are "struck". This expression refers to the way in which coins
were produced historically. The actual striking of a coin would often only
take a fraction of a second, but this was only the final stage of a lengthy
The coin-striking process started with the smelting of metal. The metal was then made into sheets either by rolling or hammering the solid metal, or by pouring the molten metal onto an iron plate to let it solidify into a thin sheet. Blanks were made; either punched out or cut into the correct shape and weight. The cutting and weighing could be done either before or after the striking.
Before the blanks were struck, they would often be heated to soften them. A blank would then be laid on top of a lower die lying on an anvil. The upper die was then placed on the blank and struck once or several times with a hammer.
The die was made of bronze or hardened iron. Here, the whole design,
with image and inscription, was engraved as a negative. When a pair of
dies was ready, one of the dies, the lower die, would be fastened to an
anvil or a block of wood. The other die was attached to the end of a bolt
that the minter would hold in his hand.
Dies from the 1000s on a column capital of a church in northern France, St. Georges de Borcherville in Normandy.