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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 43, October 22, 2006, Article 14

ON ELECTROTYPES

Bob Lyall writes: "In the article about copies, reference is made to
'When cast by electrolysis they are called "electrotypes." '

Electrotypes are not casts, they were produced by coating a genuine
coin in a thin film of oil, and passing a current from a bar of silver,
thru a bath of a chemical (I am not sure what chemical, maybe silver
nitrate) to transfuse the silver onto the original coin which was the
other terminal in the bath; this coin was protected by the oil.
There formed a silver skin on the genuine coin which was carefully
cut away, making two halves of a coin, these being put together and
filled so they made a near perfect copy of the original, the weight
being one "give away" usually.

Sometimes the surface is "oily", often the edge was countermarked
RR (incuse) for Robert Ready, the British Museum electrotypist in
the mid 19th century who is regarded as the most skilled of such
electrotypists.  They can be exceedingly deceptive but the weight
is often a give away but not necessarily so with hammered and ancient
coins; sometimes traces of the edge join can be seen, but not always.

One of the "commonest" in the UK are electrotypes of the Charles I
Oxford crown.  Many years ago I was told that the British Museum
stopped making them to order when they bought one of their own
electros as a genuine coin!  I don't know if this is a fact or
just a nice story!  But beware; they can be very deceptive indeed."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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