Skeptical and Natural Philosophy

Francis Bacon and the Scientific Revolution

Was Isaac Newton rewarded for his scientific discoveries?

Relatively poor and without family wealth or a patron, Newton finally received the comfortable position as Warden of the Mint in 1695. He administered the complicated project of recoinage with expertise, echoing Copernicus’ (1473–1543) contributions to recoinage in Poland about a 170 years earlier. (Recoinage involved calling in all of the coins in circulation and exchanging them for new ones.)

Perhaps like Copernicus, and also having the benefit of Gresham’s Law (that bad coinage drives good coinage out of circulation), Newton knew that the presence of bad coins meant that people were hoarding the good ones. This was a serious economic problem at the time because England was an economy based on cash, and transactions depended on having enough physical money, or coins made of silver, in circulation. Newton’s recoinage required calling in all of the silver coins that had been clipped for their metallic value (chunks literally cut out of them around the circumference) and reissuing milled coins that could not be clipped. Newton also advocated that counterfeiters be hanged!


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