Milling coins was another ball game, entirely different to hammered coinage. Milled coins were not hammered but pressed between two dies into the metal. The lifetime of these dies was extended over that seen for hammered because the mill slowly impressed the die onto the metal. This gentle coming together in a consistent way led to much longer die life. Also this process was a single act so no double strikings and of course the orientation of the dies was part of the setup of the equipment. There was also a second process where the edge of the coin was pressed with a message. This was deemed necessary to deter owners from edge clipping or filing metal away from the edge before passing a coin on at it’s full value but now under weight. So a much higher quality of coinage but at a higher price and a lower rate of production.
Pierre Blondeau was invited over from Paris to demonstrate what was possible. The engraver Thomas Symonds was commanded to produce dies to make, halfcrowns, shillings and sixpences, around 300 pieces in total which could then be evaluated along with costs. The mint under the direction of Ramage competed with their own milled coinage but were only able to make 12 pieces. In the end the mint was able to argue that the excessive costs of milling coinage were just too high to bear and that the hammer should continue.
The Symonds dies were leading edge in that the engraving incorporated the highest level of image resolution to prove what the mill process could achieve. The Irish harp was given not 7 but 13 strings. The cross hatch was of a very fine variety, The inner beading was extra fine usually reserved for “fine work dies”. The outer beading was deep and strong to protect the centre of the coin from wear and tear. On the obverse for the first time leaf veins were incorporated into the design probably to monitor die wear. These were top quality dies produced to test both the engraver and the mill Process. Both Symonds and Blondeau rose to the occasion suggesting that they were a match winning team. Notice also that the shilling and sixpence had no stops at the mintmark which is a common variant seen on hammered dies.