Coins were made of pieces of gold, silver, or bronze, known as blanks, which were cast or cut to specific weights. To make a coin, a blank was sandwiched between a pair of dies with engraved designs. This was then struck, or hit with a hammer, the force of which impressed the designs into the coin on both sides. Because the technique was used to produce legal currency, the methods employed by mints were highly protected. This video illustrates one way that the Art Institute of Chicago's coin depicting Alexander the Great might have been made.
This video was produced with the generous support of a Long Range Fund grant provided by the Community Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was created for LaunchPad, a program of digital interpretive materials that supplement the viewing of works of art on display in the Art Institute of Chicago's galleries.