The inventory project

Posted on Wednesday, December 03, 2014 by The Royal Mint Museum

Liz Botterill After various moves, an unfortunate fire, and a large influx of new material, it was evident that the Museum collection would benefit from a complete inventory that would pull together existing catalogues to create a single digital database. Funding was designated by the Trustees to employ three collection assistants for this short term project which runs separately from the existing day to day activities of the museum.

The Museum Store
The Museum store

What is the inventory project?

Over the course of a year, we aim to:
– create a fully digital database which can be used to improve accessibility and assist with research 
– identify vulnerable objects within the collection and 
– ensure the long term preservation of the items in the collection

This will be achieved by:
– ordering and recording all valuable information from the tools
– looking at each object in conjunction with existing catalogues and when appropriate cleaning affected objects and
– protecting items in the collection from future decay.

What’s in the collection?

The objects in the store relate not just to Britain but to countries from around the globe, from Australia to Zambia, spanning history from the medieval to the present day. Within the remit of this project we are focused on the dies, plasters, rubber moulds and electrotype, comprising approximately 50,000 objects. However, the nature of the collection is such that it is continually evolving and expanding, drawing from the current work of the Royal Mint.

What has been achieved so far?

In total we have 50,000 objects in the store. This comprises approximately 30,000 dies and a further 19,000 plasters, rubbers and electrotypes.

To date, we have catalogued 24,220 coin tools and 5,300 medal tools; that amounts to 29,520 objects in 4 months.

Every one of these objects have been cleaned following current guidelines, their trays have been lined with acid free tissue and Tyvek dust protectors have been created for the outside of the racking to prevent dust build up. These covers also help buffer the dies against environmental conditions in the store.

We estimate that we have another 20,000 plaster moulds, rubber moulds and electrotypes and it is envisaged that this work will be completed by the end of December.

Tools cleaned
Cleaning the tools (left). Tools cleaned, coated and in lined tray ready for storage (right).

What’s next for the project?

This will see us move into the Museum itself. Here, the seal collection, approximately 1750 items, will be numbered and catalogued in readiness for photography. From there we will be moving on to the actual coins and medals themselves. We have achieved a lot so far but there is still a long way to go!

What are the expected outcomes of the project?

By the end of this project we will have:
– Improved accessibility to the collection; benefiting the Museum’s future endeavours, researchers and those Mint departments who regularly need to refer to these objects.
– Produced a system whereby movement of objects and the integration of new material can be more easily facilitated.
– Physically protected the objects from future decay.
– Increased the potential for the Royal Mint Museum’s online presence.

This project continues to be a fascinating and rewarding process and the objects we handle on a day to day basis each tell a store, stories you’ll get to hear in future posts. Also, keep coming back for regular updates on how this project is progressing.

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Welcome to the Royal Mint Museum Blog. Here you’ll get to meet the faces behind the Museum and find out how our hard-working team cares for this exceptional and varied collection. You’ll find entries on our favourite objects, how we’re looking after the objects, and the work being done to interpret and research the collection. You may also from time to time get a sneak preview of exciting projects and future exhibitions.

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