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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


270 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Stmt. were also struck some very small copper coins called pennies, worth one-twelfth of the sterling penny, inscribed, Nemo me imjun.? lamsit; but in those days the manufacture of coins was not confined to the capital alone. Balfour records that, in 1604, ? the Laird of Merchiston, General of the Cunyie House, went to London to treat with the English Commissioners anent the (new) cunyie, who, to the great amaLement of the English, carried his business with a great deal of dexterity and skill.? In the closing days of the Mint as an active establishment, the coining-house was in the ground floor of the building on the north side of the court; in the adjoining house on the east the coinage was polished and fitted for circulation. The chief instruments used were a hammer and steel dies, upon which the various devices were engraved. The metal being previously prepared of the proper fineness and thickness, was cut into longitudinal slips, and a square piece being cut from the slip, it was afterwards rounded and adjusted to the weight of the coin to be made. The blank pieces of metal were then placed between two dies, and the upper one struck with a hammer. After the Restoration another method was introduced at Gray?s Close-that of the mill and screw, which, modified with many improvements, is still in use. At the Union, the ceremony of destroying the dies of the Scottish coinage took place in the Mint. After being heated red hot in a furnace: they were defaced by three impressions of a punch, ?which were of course visible on the dies as long as they existed; but it must be recorded that all these implements, which would now have been great curiosities, are lost, and none of the machinery remains but the press, which, weighing about half a ton, was rather too large to be readily appropriated, otherwise it would have followed the rest.? The Scottish currency was, when abolished in 1707, of only one-twelfth the value sterling, and LIOO Scots equalled &3 6s. 8d. sterling; or LI Scots equalled IS. 8d. sterling. The merk was 13s. 4d. Scots, and the plack, z bodles, equal to 4d. Scots. The ancient key of the Mint is preserved, with some other relics of it, in the Scottish Antiquarian The goldsmiths connected with the Mint appear to have had apartments either within the quadrangle or in its immediate neighbourhood, and there is no doubt that it was the professional avocations of the great George Heriot that led to his obtaining the large tenement that formed the north d Museum. side of the Mint court which, during his lifetime, he conceived to be the most central and suitable place for the erection of his future hospital, and which he describes in his will (see the Appendix to Stevens? biography) as ?theis my tenements of landes, &c., lyacd on the south side of the King his High Streit thairof, betwixt the Cloise. or Venall, callit Gray?s Clois, or Coyne-hous Cloise, at the east, the Wynd or Venall, callit Todrig?s Wynd, at the west, and the said Cope-how Cloise at the south.? His tenements there were found to be ruinous, and every way unsuitable for the purpose for which they were designed by his executors, and the buildings which afterwards formed the north side of the quadrangle were those erected in the reign of Charles 11. in 1674. On the zznd of February, 1656, during the Protectorate of Cromwell, a committee was appointed by the Commissioners of the shire of Edinburgh, for the equalisation of the assessment, ?and for the more speedie effectuating thereof, the whole heritors, liferenters, woodsetters, and other persons whatsomever, liable in payment of cess,? were ordered to appear before the said committee, at the Judge Advocate?s lodging at foot of Gray?s Close, on certain forenoons in March, according to a paper in the SrotfisZ Liferary Magazine for The door to the floors above the coining-house in the Mint bore the letters ?C. R. II., God save the King, 1674.? Here was the lodging of Archibald ninth earl of -4rgyle, during his attendance on the Parliament, after Charles 11. had most unexpectedly restored him to his father?s title. Under date November zznd, 1681, only a few days after the escape of the Earl from the Castle, disguised as his stepdaughter?s page, Lord Fountainhall records that ?Joseph Brown and James Clark, having poinded the Earl of Argyle?s cabinet forth of the coin-house at Edinburgh, for a debt owing to them by the Earl?s bond, the said cabinet having been rescued from them by violence, they gave in a complaint to the Privy Council of the riotous deforcement.? In defeuce it was alleged that the Mint was a sanctuary, and no poinding could be enforced there. It was answered that it was unknown whether it was by law or usurpation that the Mint was an asylum, and that it could protect only those in the service of the King j ?? but to extend this to extraneous persons running in there to avoid captions, much less to secure goods and plenishing, &c., is absurd. They fearing the want of this, alleged that the wright who made it (the cabinet) retained 1819.
Volume 2 Page 270
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