The Publications of Thomas Violet – Gary Oddie

Thomas Violet was a goldsmith and writer on trade. He published several books and tracts, especially during the Commonwealth. One of his works “The Mysteries of the Mint” (1653) provides the earliest printed reference to the coinage trials of 1651 between David Ramage and Peter Blondeau. The recent publication by Amos Tubbs “Thomas Violet, A sly and dangerous fellow” revealed a colourful story of an interesting character and cited 15 works authored by Violet. This note provides a brief introduction to Violet and tracks down a further 9 tracts and provides links to where almost all of them can be found online either as pdf or plain text copies. The British Library catalogue gives Thomas Violet as the author of “The Great Trappaner”, which was certainly not the case as it is a stinging attack on the man himself and his activities! It is hoped this bibliography will be of use to others working in this interesting period of numismatics and economics.

2 thoughts on “The Publications of Thomas Violet – Gary Oddie

  1. As Gary Oddie notes, Sir John Wollaston, a goldsmith and a prominent member of the city of London’s business community, was “in charge of silver melting at the mint” at the time Thomas Violet got worked up about the export of silver to the European continent in 1652-3, and Wollaston had in fact held the melting contract since as far back as 27 November 1626 (C.E.Challis, Mint Officials and Moneyers of the Stuart Period, BNJ 59, 1989, 177). It is not however the case that “Violet … replaced Wollaston at the Mint”, for Wollaston was paid up to 31 May 1653, and was immediately succeeded by George Brett, who acted as the Mint’s melter between 1 June 1653 and 30 September 1659 (Challis, op.cit., 161). It may be helpful to add, since information of this kind fell outside the parameters of Christopher Challis’s very authoritative article, that Brett was a former apprentice of Sir John Wollaston, his apprenticeship commencing on 19 July 1633, and that at the expiry of his apprenticeship in 1640 Brett had taken up the freedom of the Goldsmiths’ Company. What thus happened in 1653 was that the position of Melter at the Mint passed more or less seamlessly from one experienced melting professional to another, and this shows that even in the tricky conditions of the Commonwealth period the Mint authorities had more sense than to entrust the melting contract to such a difficult and unreliable individual as Thomas Violet !

    • Hugh is quite correct, for which many thanks and it now makes much more sense.
      My source was the 2004 ODNB entry for Thomas Violet, by Anita McConnell, which gives: “He (TV) did not recover his post as surveyor of gold and silver wire, but, on successfully charging Wollaston with defrauding the king of revenue, was appointed to succeed him as melter at the Royal Mint.” The ODNB entry appears to rely a lot on Horace Stewart’s 1891 “History of the worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers” on p44 TV’s “re-appointment to the offices of Surveyor of the Manufacture of Gold and Silver Wyer and Thread, and of Master-worker and Melter at the Mint . . .” There are other aspects of the ODNB entry which also seemed odd.
      Primary sources are always best. Mea culpa.

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