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Thonnelier.  A kind of knuckle-joint coining press, modified from the earlier Uhlhorn, used by mints throughout the world. In France, Pierre-Antoine Thonnelier, a maker of printing presses with a shop in Paris, examined a Uhlhorn press in the mint at Munich. He returned to Paris and by 1832 had designed his own version of the toggle press.  His first press was built in 1833 and he modified a press in the Paris Mint the following year. He did not have a factory for the production of his presses (like Uhlhorn), instead he licensed their construction by furnishing drawings. Thus each Thonnelier press is different, since it was built by different press constructors. The nameplates on Thonnelier presses are more apt to be those of the constructor – often a local firm – Thonnelier is almost never mentioned.

The French firm, J.F. Cail & Cie, built Thonnelier-style presses for the Paris Mint. The English firm of Taylor and Challen Ltd., however, built more Thonnelier coining presses than any other firm – over 550 – and exported these to mints around the world. In America Thonnelier-style presses were first built for the Philadelphia Mint by Merrick, Agnew and Tyler from drawings brought back from Paris by Franklin Peale in 1834. By 1873, the engineering firm of Morgan & Orr began building these presses for the Philadelphia Mint. On the occasion of the completion of the new Third Mint in 1901, twelve Morgan & Orr presses were moved from the Second Mint to the new mint and electrified, to be run by electric motors rather than by steam engines for the first ever.

Thonnelier presses are still being used in some small national mints and some private mints, but in large modern mints they have been replaced by Grabener, Schuler and presses made by other manufacturers.  See presses and pressroom practice.


E3   {1902-30} Forrer 6:81-2, illustrated (same as Uhlhorn press).

C71  {1988} Cooper p 128-154 (chapters 12, 13, 14); 213, 216.

NE41 {1984} Junge p 252. 

CH64 {1992} Challis p 573.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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