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Sovereign Changer


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On 24/12/2023 at 18:54, Hotdog said:

attached photograph shows a change machine where full or half sovereigns could be entered to receive 20 or 10 shillings. Apparently they were used in large shops; though I don't know how the  Sovereigns would have been verified for fakes. 


Automatically validating sovereigns was a fairly mature technology in the 19th century - they were allowed about 60mg of wear by law and then they were returned to the Bank of England, which would exchange them for new ones and send the old ones back to the mint for recycling.  By the latter part of the 19th century the banks all had machines that could automatically weigh sovereigns by their thousands and sort out underweight ones, and could do so very accurately.  I dare say they would reject most fakes as well, unless it had been done with great fidelity.  Most fake sovereigns would fail on dimensions and/or weight as this was well before the days of tungsten cores. However, I have no idea how accurate changing machines like the one depicted above really were.

Here's a 19th century engraving of the machines at the Bank of England.  I think it's worth noting that a substantial amount of R&D went into the sovereign - the technology to mint them by the million to precise specifications, and all the infrastructure that went around circulating them.  They were quite a major innovation in their day.



Edited by Silverlocks

The Sovereign is the quintessentially British coin.  It has a German queen on the front, an Italian waiter on the back, and half of them were made in Australia.


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