Daily Mail: Look after your pennies: microscopic pictures of world’s lowest value coins to save them for future generations

Daily Mail

Look after your pennies: Photographer takes microscopic pictures of world’s lowest value coins to save them for future generations

  • The Fundamental Units is a project by photographer Martin John Callanan
  • Used Europe’s best microscope’ to show each coin in all its worn charm
  • Comes as governments debate whether to do away with lowest value coins
  • With every battered line, scrape and knock, each coin has been rendered as individual as the many thousands of hands they have passed through.

    Now, as governments across the world debate whether to do away with their lowest value coins, one photographer is on a mission to save as many pennies as he can before they are consigned forever to history,

    Photographer Martin John Callanan is busy working on a photo project entitled The Fundamental Units – a series of extremely large prints showing the lowest value coins of countries around the world.

    He has teamed up with National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, to use ‘Europe’s best microscope’ to show each coin in all its worn charm.

    Each coin is photographed with 4,000 individual tiny exposures, and it takes three days of processing to turn the individual photos into a single composite photograph weighing 400 megapixels. Printed out, each photo measures 1.2 and 1.2 meters (~3.9 square feet).

    ‘In this sense, and in response to the dominance of macroeconomics in the discourse of the media, the artist chooses a microscopic view of the world economy.

    ‘The Fundamental Units, a series that begins with the works produced by Horrach Moyà Gallery for this exhibition, is an exploration of the lowest denomination coins from the world’s currencies using an infinite focus 3D optical microscope at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington.’

    ‘The images obtained with the microscope have been combined to form an extremely detailed large scale reproduction of the least valuable coins from Australia, Chile, the Euro, Myanmar and the Kingdom of Swaziland.

    ‘In these images the humble metal acquires a planetary dimension and is displayed as the atoms that shape the global economy.’

    There are many precedents for scrapping small coins.

    In America, the half-cent was abolished in 1857, and in 1984 the UK’s halfpenny was withdrawn.

    New Zealand and Australia abandoned the one-cent and two-cent coin in the 1990s.

    Campaigners in the US and UK also want the penny and cent coins to be consigned to history, because nothing can be bought with a one-cent or one-penny coin.

    see the full article by Amanda Williams

    Reposted on Numismatica

    Big photos of little coins: National Physical Laboratory

    National Physical Laboratory (NPL) wrote:

    Martin John Callanan of the Slade School of Fine Art at University College London contacted the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) as he wanted to put together an exhibition featuring large images of the lowest denomination coins from around the world.

    Petra Mildeova from NPL’s Advanced Engineered Materials Group demonstrated that full colour images could be taken using an infinite focus 3D optical microscope. Five coins were imaged (containing over 400 megapixels), allowing coins of less than 20 mm diameter to be printed as 1.2 m diameter images.

     

    Martin John Callanan described the images as “really stunning” and is exhibiting them at the Galleria Horrach Moyà in Mallorca, Spain, in an exhibition entitled ‘The Fundamental Units‘ (referring to the smallest denomination of coins on display and not as a result of working with NPL, the home of fundamental constants in the UK). He now hopes to enhance his exhibition by imaging a further 161 coins, one from each of the other countries around the world that use them.

     

    The images have attracted interest from the British Museum and were featured by New Scientist as their image of the day on 4 December 2012.

     

    The mapping of large areas at very high resolution is becoming a more regular requirement. In fact, the capabilities of the microscope used to produce the images of the coins were barely stretched, as they were only in 2D. Using the Alicona Infinite Focus optical microscope NPL is able to acquire 3D datasets from large areas, which can be used to study worn surfaces on a gear, drill bit or metal punch and hence produce a detailed measurement of the volume of material lost by wear of the component. Such quantified volume measurements can then be used to determine the best material or operating practice for a given material grade.

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