barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


In addition to coins and seals, the Barber Institute Coin Room also houses a small selection of paranumismatica (things like or associated with coins). These provide useful teaching aids and in some cases supplement a historical understanding of coins by providing information about their creation and use in markets. In particular, the Coin Room houses a pair of reproduction dies, which demonstrate the technology for making pre-modern die-struck coins.

Coin dies

Before the use of modern minting machines coins had to be hand struck by placing a blank piece of metal (flan) between two hand-carved dies. These were then struck with a hammer to imprint the image (carved into the dies in reverse) into the metal. The Barber collection also contains a selection of weights, often carved or struck with designs as well as their official weight. These would have been used by merchants and officials to determine the weight of goods including metals, spices, herbs and, for heavier weights, even staple goods like grain or flour.


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