Life Outside BIT: Dawson Lewis

Coins
Dawson Lewis, a member of Development Team 6 and the point of contact to DOT, likes to make money the old fashioned way on weekends. The REALLY old fashioned way. As in hand striking coins the way it was done 1000 years ago in Saxon England.

Dawson is a member of the local chapter of Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA). The SCA is a living history group with 30,000 members around the world. The focus of the SCA is to allow members to recreate aspects of life in the Middle Ages. Whether armored combat; spinning yarn (and yarns!); dyeing cloth, recreating  historic clothes; calligraphy; casting pewter; bread, cheese or wine making; blacksmithing or (in Dawson’s case) making coin dies and striking coins: if it was done in the Middle ages there is probably someone doing it in the SCA.  

Dawson got involved in the SCA a little over seven years ago because of his interest in collecting coins and wanting to show his son’s history classes how coins were made. “A friend said, ‘you need to come meet this guy over in Minnesota who is making his own coins,’” Dawson relates. “Soon I found myself at an event with two or three hundred other people dressed in a variety of styles covering hundreds if not 1000’s of years.  There were warriors in Japanese samurai armor, knights in mail and plate armor, and men dressed as Roman senators or traveling Troubadours. Women were dressed as Viking ladies; members of Queen Elizabeth’s court (the 1st Elizabeth!), ladies who would have been at home in Renaissance Florence or Venice, and women dressed in armor fighting with the men!  It was really cool and I was hooked right away.”

“My particular craft, die making, involves first making the tools to make the coin dies. Small punches that are just the parts of letters. So for example, a straight line and a large crescent combine to make a letter D.  The dies themselves are made from round steel bars about 1” in diameter and 4” long.”

Coin Die

“Of course there are two dies for each coin, a ‘heads’ and a ‘tails’ die. One is held in a 40 pound block of metal. A coin blank - aluminum, copper, pewter or even Sterling silver - is put on the bottom die, the top die held in place by hand and then hit with a 4lb hammer to stamp the die image onto the coin.”

When asked what type of person would fit in with the SCA, Dawson responded, “I would say the SCA is for anyone who is interested in history before 1600 (The SCA endpoint) AND who wants to try doing history. The SCA is really about being hands-on. Whether learning to fight like one of the three Musketeers with blunted swords or using rattan poles to fight like Crusader knights or learning a hand craft like making beer or your own paper or creating iron starting with raw ore and a pile of charcoal.” 

If anyone is interested in knowing more they can contact Dawson or go on line at PierreSCA.org.

Dawson Lewis striking coins with a very young assistant!

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