Coin designs are drawn up here in the engraving department. The pictures and writings that you see upon coins are created by patterns of relief, ups and downs that you can feel under your finger. The shading that the designer applies with her pencil represents just how the coin should look when the picture is pressed into the metal in three dimensions.
The drawing is handed over to an engraver, she skilfully cuts every tiny detail into a block of plaster. In years gone by the plaster model was used to make a hard metal copy known as an electrotype. The pattern on the electrotype would then be reduced on one of the mints magnificent old Janvier machines. As the electrotype rotates the design is traced by a fine metal point fixed to one end of a pivoted bar, at the same time the movement of the tracer is scaled down onto the tip of a tiny spinning cutter. Over the course of several days the cutter produces a reduction punch from which working dyes will be made, reversals such as this made very hard and used in the presses.
After more than one hundred years of service the Janvier machine has now been replaced by more modern technologies, here a round ruby tipped probe is scanning an original plaster model, a digital recording of every tiny movement is transferred into the memory banks of a computer, the record of the scan can be used at any time by this cutting machine, it's faster than the Janvier but what a terrible racket.