Faber & Faber £9.99 (318pp) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Newton and the Counterfeiter, By Thomas Levenson
Friday 20 August 2010
By 1695, Isaac Newton was increasingly obsessed with odd theology but the towering genius was called on to solve a national crisis. Due to coin-clipping and forgery, His Majesty's coinage was increasingly debased.
Appointed Warden of the Royal Mint, he organised the Great Recoinage, a restamping of England's silver money. Though making £15,000 of coins per week was thought unattainable, he attained that three times over.
Equally importantly, he hunted the counterfeiters who threatened his efforts. In a duel reminiscent of Holmes versus Moriarty, he pursued William Chaloner, a forger who had ambitions to take over the Mint himself. The forger's road to Tyburn is a fascinating story, brilliantly told.
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