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Polish Numismatic News

Cost-Saving Minting Technology: Recurrent Overstriking of Bracteates

Journal Article
Svensson, Roger (2022). “Cost-Saving Minting Technology: Recurrent Overstriking of Bracteates”. Polish Numismatic News LXVI(1), 215–229.

Roger Svensson

Leaf-thin bracteate coins were minted for several hundred years during the Mid[1]dle Ages. The existence of hundreds of small independent currency areas with their own mints in central, eastern and northern Europe and the strong link between bracteates and periodic recoinage explain the large number of bracteate types. A special minting technology linked to goldsmithing technology was required to produce the bracteates. A soft material was placed under a flan, and the motif was created by bending the flan rather than pressing the motif into the flan. This study analyzes how bracteate technology could save costs in the minting proce[1]dure compared to traditional coinage technology. The bending characteristic of the bracteates together with the flat hammering of old bracteates imply that the size of the flan remained almost unchanged after recurrent overstrikes. Thus, the bracteate technology saved one of the costliest steps in the minting procedure: the time-consuming production of the flan. In contrast, overstriking of biface coins using the traditional coin technology could only be per[1]formed a few times, since it caused a stepwise thinner and larger flan. The latter phenomenon explains the existence of biface half-bracteates.

Roger Svensson

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