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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


268 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street. and retaining traces of the heraldic blazonry with which it was originally adorned. Two large and handsome windows, above the archway leading to Toddrick?s Wynd, give light to this once magnificent hall, which is said to have formed the council-room where the officers of the Mint assembled to assay the metal, and to discuss the general affairs of the establishment.? It may surprise readers now to hear that much of the gold coined in this establishment, and its predecessors, was native produce. The first historical notice we have of gold in Scotland is the grant by David I. to the Abbey of Dunfermline, in 1153, of all the gold accruing to the crown from Fife and Fotherif. About a century later Gilbert, Bishop of Caithness (afterwards canon- THE OLD SCOTTISH MINT. (Affwa Drawingby James Drurnnaond, RSA ) Wilson wrote this in 1847, thirty years before the old Scottish Mint was doomed to total destruction. In the reign of Charles 11. other buildings were added to the edifice of 1574, forming a stately quadrangle, and there the national coin was produced till the Union, when a separate coinage was abandoned in both countries; but to gratify prejudice, and the hope that many clung to, of having the Union repealed, the offices were maintained even though they were sinecures. This court, with its buildings, was, like the royal mews at the end of the Grassmarket-a sanctuary for persons prosecuted for debt ; and a small den near the top of the building OX 1574, lighted by a little window looking westward up the Cowgate, was used as a gaol for debtors and other delinquents, condemned by the officers of the Mint. ised as St. Gilbert), is credited with the discovery of gold in Sutherlandshire; but it was not until the 15th century that gold-mining in Scotland became of sufficient importance to warrant its regulation by the Legislature. Thus, in 1424, Parliament granted to the Crown all the gold mines in the realm, and also all the silver mines, that yielded three halfpennies of silver to the pound of lead. The disaster at Flodden prevented immediate advantage being taken of the gold mines discovered on Crawford Muir in the reign of James IV. ; but in 1524 the famous Albany medal was made from gold obtained there j and it is apparent that much of the coin of James V. was minted of native metal. Miners were brought from Germany, Holland, and Lorraine, and they worked under the care of John Mossman, goldsmith, who made a
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High Street.] SCOTTISH COINAGE. 269 ~~ ~ ~ ~~~ ~ ~~~ crown for Mary of Guise, and inclosed with arches the present crown of Scotland. The early .gold coins of Mary?s reign were of native ore, and, during the minority of James VI., Cornelius de Vos, a Dutchman, who had licence to seek for gold and silver, obtained considerable quantities, according to the records relating to mines and mining in Scotland, published by Mr. Cochran-Patrick. The oldest gold coin found in Scotland bears - ~~ under pain of death. The coins current in Scotland in the reign of James 111. were named the demi, the lion, the groat of the crown, the groat of the fleur-de-lis, the penny, farthing, and plack. English coins were also current, but their value was regulated by the estates. From ?Miscelleanea Scotica? we learn that in 1512 Sir Alexander Napier of Merchiston found gold in the Pentland Hills, and from the Balcarres MSS. (in the Advocates? Library) he and his son figure conspicuously 3 2 RELICS OF THE OLD SCOTTISH MINT. I, Delicate Set of Balances, 2, Dies ; 3, hnch : 4. Implements for Knarling the Coins : 5, Large Tiding-pin of the Great Door : 6, Roller for Flattening the Silver; 7, Key of the Mint Door. (From Origiwlr am ia fhr ScottW Antiyuarzizn Musrum.) the nameof Robert, but which of the three monarchs so called is uncertain. Gold was not coined in England till 1257. The first gold coins struck in Scotland were of a broad surface and very thin. There is some doubt about when copper coinage was introduced, but in 1466, during the reign of James III., an Act was passed to the effect that, for the benefit 6f the poor, ?there be cuinyied copper money, four to the (silver) penny, having on the one part the cross of St. Andrew and the crown, and on the other part the subscription of Edinburgh,? together with JAMES R. The same monarch issued a silver coin containing an alloy of copper, which went under the name of black money, and to ensure the circulation of this depreciated coin the parliament ordained that no counterfeits of it be taken in payment, or used, in connection With the Mint, of which the latter was general for some years after 1592. In 1572 the Regent Morton coined base money in his castle at Dalkeith, and by proclamation made it pass current for thrice its real value ; and having got rid of it all in 1575, by paying workmen in the repair of Edinburgh Castle and other public places, he issued a council order reducing it to its intrinsic value, an act of oppression which won him the hatred of the people. In the reign of James VI., all the silver coin, extending to two hundred and eleven stone ten pounds in weight, was called in, and a coin was issued from the Mint in Gray?s Close, ?in ten shilling pieces of eleven pennies fine,? having on one side his effigywith the inscription, JZZU~US YI., Da? Gratia Rex Scofomm, on the other the royal arms, crowned. In hisreign
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