Die details

Die processing


The quality of a coin depends to a large extent on the quality of the die. Your work begins when the die is produced and you put the finishing touches to it, right?

Andrea Zolles: At the beginning, the in-house engravers give us precise instructions about which surfaces of the die should be brought out by polishing. We receive a technical illustration that shows the motif in various shades and shows us which areas of the motif should be gloss and which should be matt. Afterwards, we discuss as a team how we can best implement the engravers’ concept. 

Monika Scharner: We always take into account who in our team has developed the best approach for the specific requirement and thus benefit from each other. We use different tools for processing, some of which we helped to develop ourselves. Sometimes it’s a simple wooden tool, sometimes it’s different pastes in different compositions. The individual execution steps always proceed from the coarse to the fine. Each paste requires its own baton with which the finest nuances are worked out. At the end of our process, a small felt pad is used to perfect our work. 

So, you get the die, with the working instructions in the form of a technical illustration, then get started, or are you also involved beforehand?

Monika Scharner: The engravers usually involve us in the design stage of the new motif.

Stempelbearbeitung zwei Mitarbeiterinnen

Specifically, I remember the design featuring a sculpture set with coloured gemstones. This led to the question: How do we create the illusion of gemstones without using actual stones? Special polishing was our approach to the solution in this case. We worked the die in such a way that the shades of the gemstones became visible and the sculpture was reproduced in 3D.

Does it also happen that you cannot implement something or that you make suggestions about how to make the coin look even better?

Monika Scharner: Although we are motivated to try to achieve the impossible, we have our limits. It is important to us that our efforts are respected and that our results are understood.

Andrea Zolles: Fortunately, this is a situation that only rarely occurs. In such a scenario, methods are adjusted until the result satisfies everyone. In the case of the first coin in The Language of Flowers series, we were faced with the challenge of the lettering being placed too closely together. In collaboration with the engraving and the toolmaking departments, we tested different solutions and were eventually able to give the coin the green light.

As a die is a very small surface, does your work require the highest level of accuracy and care?

Monika Scharner: Concentration and an extremely steady hand form the basis of our activity. Polishing a variety of images on the smallest of surfaces is always a challenge. Due to the additional covering of the surface with film, our working area is reduced to a minimum. The required precision takes place under a high-resolution microscope, just like in a surgical procedure. At the beginning, we consider which tools we can use to polish these small surfaces. It’s not always easy, but we work at the world's leading mint.

Do the dies last for different lengths of time?

Monika Scharner: The service life of a die depends on various things. The motif, material, print and, of course, the number of coins struck from it all play their part. If there is the slightest deviation from the required quality, the die is returned to us and brought back into shape.

In such cases, scratches or traces of material residue are removed by using our tools, for example. If this is not sufficient, a general ‘makeover’ in the form of another polishing is required. Given the staffing and machinery challenges involved in the minting process, this activity is increasingly demanding for us.

What do you think accounts for the success of Münze Österreich?

Monika Scharner: Enthusiasm, attention to detail, attachment to the product and the knowledge that we make products that are unique in the global market. Manual labour is the secret of everything precious in this world and we do this day after day. Another of our team’s secrets is "if you make something with love, it will turn out perfect". Many of us share this enthusiasm and we have spent most of our careers working here together.

You can read the entire interview in the 2022 Annual Report.

2022 Annual Report

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