This article challenges the claim that Great Britain solved its ‘big problem of small change’ (the problem of keeping decent low-denomination coins in circulation) by embracing Matthew Boulton's steam-based coining technology. Evidence from Great Britain's commercial token episode (1787–97) shows that a successful small change system depended, not on the motive power employed in coining, but on the quality and consistency of coin engravings and on having means for systematically withdrawing worn coins. The Tower Mint failed to solve Great Britain's small change problem, not because its equipment was old-fashioned, but because its policies and constitution were flawed.