Volume 11 Issue 11 INTERNET EDITION - Established 1996 November 2006
The name 'Tasmanian Numismatist' is used with the permission of the Executive Committee of the 'Tasmanian Numismatic Society' however, any comments published in this privately produced newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the 'Tasmanian Numismatic Society', its Executive Committee or its members. Bearing in mind our public disclaimers, the Internet links selected by the authors of this newsletter are usually provided as a complimentary source of reference to the featured article in regard to: (1) Illustrations and, (2) to provide additional important information.
Any notices of concern to 'Tasmanian Numismatic Society' members will be included in the 'Society Snippets' section.
We trust that this issue of the 'Tasmanian Numismatist' (Internet Edition) newsletter will continue to provide interesting reading.
TASMANIAN NUMISMATIC SOCIETY
Anyone who wishes to apply for membership to the non-profit making organization, and who is prepared to abide by the rules of the Society and its aim of promoting the study and enjoyment of the hobby of numismatics, should contact the following address for an application form and details of subscriptions:
Tasmanian Numismatic Society.
G. P. O. Box 884J
T.N.S. MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTIONS 2007
NOTE: Subscriptions and donations should be forwarded directly to the Secretary at the address above.
Please note that any interested International non-member reader, who cannot normally attend Society gatherings in Hobart, Tasmania, can assist in reducing the expenditure of providing our newsletters by making a donation of US$10 or current equivalent. This donation will also procure an official Tasmanian Numismatic Society (Associate) membership for one year.
Contact addresses (including email address if any), details of hobby interests etc. should be also forwarded directly to the Secretary and NOT to the Editor on a copy of our Membership Application Form
by Graeme Petterwood © 1996 - 2006
Remember - be astute when you are handed change - not all the wonders of numismatics have been discovered yet - and they don't have to be shiny and new! This edition again features an assortment of 'trivia' that I think is of interest and I trust it will prove educational and entertaining to you as well.
All or any prices quoted in articles in this newsletter, unless stipulated, are estimates only and they should not be considered to be an offer to sell or purchase any of the items mentioned or used as illustrations. Please note that the photoscans of numismatic items are usually not to size or scale, but - wherever possible - they are from the authors' own collection or the extensive picture library of the 'Tasmanian Numismatist - Internet Edition.
LESSONS for LEARNERS
Part 3- Medals and Medallions
by Graeme Petterwood © 2006
By now all our new collectors have learnt that the collection and studying of coins and banknotes - or vitually anything else related to money - is called numismatics and they are known as numismatists. (That word is still hard to say - isn't it - so if you feel more comfortable being called coin and banknote collectors stay that way. At least everyone knows what your hobby is)
Things like medals, medallions, tokens and private issues of paper or plastic money, lottery tickets, advertising 'money' - and even money boxes - also comes into our range of collectables - because the limit to numismatics is only as narrow as we allow it to be.
Whilst we may not concentrate on these items, it pays to know a little bit about them. Let's take another step forward and look at medals and medallions.
Don't forget - if you have any questions - please ask me and I will try to explain it in a way that might make it easier to understand.
What is the difference between a medal and a medallion - you well might ask?
In fact, not a lot in some instances - but in others, a world of difference, so an explanation is definitely needed.
There has always been an overlap of their purposes - but I will try to keep it reasonably simple.
Generally speaking, medals are official personal awards of a limited number, for a deed or a dedication to military or civic affairs, that can be publically worn by a person - while a medallion is basically a memento or a recognition of an important event, however, it can be a personal award, on occasion - like a special prize or a gift and may even have a medal loop and a short ribbon tuft.
Medallions are not usually designed to be worn but to be displayed like a boxed Proof coin and, in comparison to the number of official issues of medals, the limit on medallions is 'unlimited'. Medallions can be produced in 'appropriate' (or otherwise) numbers, in base or precious metals or alloys, for sporting, social, commemorative or commercial occasions and they are either presented as an award or sold (often to raise money for an organisation) to whoever is interested in buying such a memento.
Is is fairly obvious, from a numismatic point of view, that we medal and medallion collectors would, probably, collect everything if we could afford to - however, my advice is that collect only those items that strongly appeal to you.
As far as investment potential is concerned, any of the multitude of medallions being produced each year - unless they are a limited release (and possibly of a precious metal) - are not as popular as coins and their rate of appreciation is a lot slower than it probably should be. A true hobbiest rarely takes investment into consideration, but, it should always be part of the equation when we are spendind money to acquire an object that we personally didn't earn.
Medallions produced for commercial purposes
Evandale Penny Farthing Annual Championships - very limited issue (100) for sale
'Kodak' Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race 1994 - Silver (limit 100 & numbered) and Bronze medallions and brass medallion key-chains (common)
Medallions produced as limited issue Commemoratives
Authorized medallion issued for the Investiture of Prince Charles at Caernarvon Castle, Wales on July 1 1969
Medals, on the other hand, are freely awarded for the reasons that are given in this article.
They are specifically designed to suit the act they are being awarded for and for that reason they will always be in limited supply - even the more common ones are limited to the number of recipients.
The collection of medals - particularly military medals - can be expensive, but the research you will undertake to get the history will be rewarding to such a high degree that the cost will not really matter that much.
Think of the deed, or sacrifice, in whatever field of endeavour that the medal represents - and you will appreciate it even more.
Not all medals are commercially highly prized, but may be a link with the past that remains firmly implanted in our minds.
I recommend that you hunt around until you find an illustrated book, about the main medals of the major countries of the world, so you know what the facts about medals really mean. It will be an asset in your library one day.
Who, What, Why and When - not always in that order - should always be among our questions in any area of collecting - and sometimes the answers are fascinating
The best way to show this difference is to discus some examples of each. ..... and remember, any numismatic item should be treated with due care, just like your valuable coins or notes. The first step is to know how to treat your item, because, like most medals, it will be passed on eventually with its story.
One of the numismatic 'Truths of Life' is that you must realise that we are really only temporary custodions of our collections - so it is our duty to make sure that the next custodion gets an item that is no worse that it was when it came into our possession.
Typical economic pocket-sized colour illustrated Medal text books.
GRADING and VALUES
Grading of medals, in particular, and medallions may not seem to be quite as important or as easy as coins, but condition must always play a commercial part if need be. Due to the fact that medals are a personal thing and meant to be worn on display by the recipient, it also means that they can also be subject to wear and tear over a long period.
Medals are usually be-ribboned and it is desirable that the ribbon should be clean and well preserved - not creased or missing altogether. If the existing ribbon is tattered or faded - please consider why before replacing it - for instance - was the medal awarded during a time of conflict on the battle-field, or afterwards when times were less dramatic .New ribbon can be obtained from a medal restorer and suggestions can be obtained on how to treat such items. - but don't risk throwing away history. If you have joined a club by this time - ask your fellow members if you are not sure where to start or what to do.
Medallions are usually boxed, or bagged in some sort of presentation pack, and the box or pack will afford a protection against wear and tear. However, the containers should also be kept in as good a condition as possible - or the item should be wrapped in a non-scented or chemically-impregnated tissue and put into a protective sleeve or envelope. In both cases - medals or medallions - the condition of the item is the prime concern in the end.
The estimated value on medals and medallions is based purely on the item concerned. The rarer the item the more it is worth on the commercial market.
For instance, a military Victoria Cross is worth far more than a Military Cross or Military Medal - yet all are awarded for valour.
The importance of the deed that earned the award is very important.. Medals are worn in a special order of importance that is listed in a 'protocol' document that states the correct order that medals shown be put together for display. Refer: http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-medals/medals-mount.htm
British Commonwealth Military Medals
Victoria Cross - For Valour (Outstanding gallantry) by all ranks.
Military Cross - For Gallantry - awarded to Captains and below, down to Warrant Officers.
British Military Medal - For Bravery on the Field - awarded to N.C.O's and men.
Distinguished Conduct Medal - awarded to all ranks for distinguished service, gallantry and good conduct.
Foreign medals are also likely to be found seperately, or at the far end of a national group, and should be checked out especially if you can't read the language or wish to know the purpose of the medal - so, go to the library and ask to see a medal catalogue - most major libraries have something on their shelves. Don't miss out by not checking it out!
Prussian and German - Order Pour le Merite (the famous Blue Max)
This order now has civilian recipients as well as military awardees and there are several varieties.
Groups of medals are very desirable, particulary if a high award medal is included amongst them. Most of these more important pieces have been inscribed with the name of the awardee - and, if the story (often called the 'provenence') of the awardee and the medal(s) is of interest this will greatly add to its value.
The medals of the late Lt. Colonel Henry William 'Harry' Murray VC
Medals can be made of any suitable metal (as a rule) from lowly Iron and Bronze up to Silver and Gold.
Precious metal does play a part in value but, in most cases, the medal is worth far more to the recipient than any intrinsic value and will usually be retained for life.
A Man of Medals 2006 - with both Civic and WWII Military medals (Court mounted)
Australian Anniversary of National Service Medal 1951-1972 and its miniature (showing reverse)
A single or small group of medals or miniatures may be worn loose (but Swing mounted) if protocol degrees it is acceptable
There is also a small group of medals - in my opinion - that are incorrectly refered to as 'badges' - but I leave the definition to those who choose to collect them. Judge for yourself. - LEST WE FORGET.
Female Relatives Badge (One Gold Bar for each relative - usually a husband, son or daughter who was actively involved in the WWI effort.)
Deprived Mother or Widow's Badge WWI (One Gold Star for each member of the family K.I.A. or on Service)
Female Relatives Badge (One Gold Star for each relative - usually a husband, son or daughter who was actively involved in the WWII effort)
Deprived Mother or Widow's Badge WWII (One Gold Star for each member of the family K.I.A. or on Service)
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING
'Digger History' (all sections) - http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-medals/medals-mount.htm
NEXT MONTH - 'Lessons for Learners' (Part 4) - Tokens and other Exonumia.
GRIPES THAT BOTHER NOVICES - AND OTHERS!
Dictionary definition of 'Gripe' - A complaint or grumble.
Whilst it's very nice enough to get a dollar coin that normally would not be available singly - it is a bit frustrating for novices, in particular, to note that the re-packaging of broken pairs/sets by some numismatic companies can be so similar to an 'official' dollar fold-over Mint pack that it could be construed as having originated from that source. These days. original Mint packaging is taken into value consideration, as we all know.
In 2005, the RAM - in conjunction with N.Z. - produced a 'Living Icons' pair of packaged Australasian dollar coins featuring the Kangaroo from Australia and the Rowi (a Kiwi species) from New Zealand.
A sample of the 2005 Australian 'Living Icon' coin in its privately prepared, quality commercial packaging is shown below.
With a limited release of only 20,000 sets of these two iconic coins it means - presumeably - that, either, Mint sets had to be dismantled after purchase to obtain stock for the repackaging, or, the Mint had a quatity of loose stock left over after they had supplied their customers.
For details of the original Mint sets - Refer: http://www.peterstrich.com.au/oz_coins/new_issues/2005.htm#icons_aust_nzi
Personally, I have no real problem with entrepreneurial effort and - now - I just look a bit closer at these unusual coin offerings to satisfy myself of the origin - but I wish that I would not keep seeing re-packaged stuff on dealers shelves right amongst official Mint-packaged products and then getting second-hand gripes from some unsuspecting new collectors who feel that they have been 'turned around a couple of times' when making their purchase.
As I have said, it's nice to get the coin - but it would be nicer to see items, such as this, kept seperate, and identified, as a privately produced item to save the eventual confusion when a novice collector attempts to establish a value from the usual catalogues and can only find details of the officially paired coins.
I must admit I have had the experience on two occasions - but, sometimes, we all get that rush of blood when we see a nice new coin and forget to check the origin of the packaging.
It raises a question that Australian cataloguers may care to consider once again. Some commemorative coins - both pre-decimal and decimal - already fall into this category and a few have been duly noted in catalogue foot-notes but with no real indication of value to assist novices.
These specially prepared offerings have had value added in the form of decorative and protective packaging so, would it be feasible to list more of the commonly recognised 'repackaged' coins - such as those that have been authorised to be sold through banks, and those produced, in relatively substantial numbers, for other retail establishments or institutions as they come to light.
At least, could someone - with more expertise than this writer - give an indication of any premium - (or otherwise) - that might be applicable in comparing this sort of merchandise with the official unpackaged, uncirculated items?
1988 Australian $5.00 Uncirculated Al. Bronze coin sold by the Commonweath Bank (Actual size 38.74mm. Weight 28 grms.)
Privately repackaged 2005
'Living Icons' Al. Bronze Dollar coins (Actual size 38.74mm. Weight 20 grms.)
There is another little gripe that our younger collectors have to learn to live with when buying 'cheap' numismatic items that have eye-appeal and a bit of a shine. In fact they may not even care at the start of their hobby career.This is one gripe that will eventually disappear as our novice starts to 'learn the ropes'.
For those who are not familiar with Middle-eastern coinage, Arabic numbers or any other foreign numeric dating systems, the following little purchase would not have set them back too much, I wouldn't think, as it would probably be priced to sell quickly to the beginner who is probably numismatically uneducated..
However, there are exceptions to that pricing rule so be always alert - especially if buying coins at ordinary old public markets..
In this instance, the only thing remotely close to the date on the label is that they were probably bagged and heat-sealed about then.
Incorrectly labelled set of Iraqi Fils. Collectable - but certainly not valuable.
The little bar-code sticker clearly shows the range was supposed to be Iraq 2005 coins in the Fils denominations - yes! they are old Fils, but are all dated 1981 or 1990. These pre-war issues should not cost more than a few Australian dollars in total - if that - just for handling them. The old coins are virtually worthless except as scrap metal - and the newer ones, showing an outline map of Iraq as its main feature, are nearly as bad.
Current exchange rate: 1,000 Iraqi Fils = 1 new Iraqi Dinar - so that means for AUD$1.00 you could buy about 1,114 Iraqi Dinars (or 1,114,000 Iraqi Fils).
New post-war coins have been issued in Iraq, Afghanistan and some other countries in the region.
YOU MIGHT THINK YOU HAVE SEEN IT ALL - BUT..
I think that most banknote collectors, both serious and novices, realise that inflation often does funny things to the number of 'noughts' placed on banknotes by some Governments - and that some very serious 'nought' adding was undertaken by Germany during the period 1922 - 1924.
This period of rampant inflation in Germany is well documented in previous editions of this newsletter, on the Internet - and elsewhere - so I do not intend to repeat the various political and economic reasons this occurred. Let us say that the results eventually helped shaped the destiny of the whole world.
However, if your hobby has lead you in this direction and, if you are still learning about the period and are trying to understand the scope of the problem - just imagine our Government authorizing scores of printing businesses around the nation to churn out paper money, as fast as their presses can work, in values that have up to 12 noughts after the first number and, then, the notes becoming so worthless - in just a few hours - that they are being used to light the fire because they are not as expensive as wood.
In Germany, notes were also used as wallpaper for the same reason - and some towns and villages were also printing and using their own local currency called Notgeld or Gutschein, because the official Reichbanknotes were becoming valueless before they could be banked or used - but that is another well-documented story. These privately produced Gutschein notes were basically 'tokens' and used to assist local barter and, because they were usually backed by regional products and services, they held buying value - at least for a slightly longer time - more efficiently than the government Reichbanknotes.
The first early morning's wages - employees demanded time off after they were paid to buy essentials before the notes lost value.
Buying a cabbage - a shopping basket of notes from the buyer and a vegetable basket for the seller - who would need to use them fast.
Cheaper that sticks - millions of Marks used to get the stove going. Money being baled in 1923 as waste paper for recycling.
For those lovers of numismatic varieties, the challenge of German paper banknotes at this time, 1922 - 1924, would send them into raptures.
Due to the fact that notes were being printed simaltaneously in various places, it meant that a number of printing plates had to be used - and slight differences have been noticed in designs. However, this may have been a deliberate system to enable controllers to ascertain where a note was printed.
Some of the most obvious differences in any particular value German banknote of this era are things like varying paper watermarks, serial number style varieties, minute design variations (usually only noticed under magnification), colour changes, and - on occasion - some very noticeable additional artwork. These notes have been signed by the same people, have the same value and the same issue date.
A few of my own easily noticed examples are shown below but, regretably some details are not identifiable from these scans.
However, if you are browsing the markets or shows for cheap European notes - particularly Germany of the 1920's - keep an open mind and check more than one note, if they are available ....... and, bear in mind, that Germany was not the only European place that has had mega-inflation.
Two varieties of Reichbanknote 5000 Mark
dated 19th November 1922 (Lower note - in-filled with woven coloured latticing.)
(Actual size 190 x 110mm)
Two varieties Reichbanknote 100,000 Mark. (Lower note - minor design variations, serial number style, colour and paper watermark.)
(Actual sizes approx 190/192 x 115mm)
In some other instances, either an overstamp of some description was used to rename and revalue older banknotes instead of adding all those obvious 'noughts' that tended to frighten the German people as they saw their money loosing value as each zero was added and new designs were coming out faster than the old ones could be spent. Sometimes words only were used and, sometimes, the actual denomination value number was written in a way to lessen the impact, older lower notes were used up and printing was done on one side only on any new notes to save costs and time.
August 1923 - 100,000,000 Mark uniface Reichbanknote note showing value as '100' in large numbers
September 1923 - Eine Milliarde (1,000,000,000) Mark overstamp in Red on old December 1922 1000 Mark Reichbanknote.
Privately produced and hand-signed regional notes - rather well handled.
The Tradesmen and Agricultural Bank in Landau issued a 500,000 Mark note - dated August 1923.
Krumbach State 500,000 Mark Gutschein issued by the Krumbach Municipality in September 1923
NUMISMATIC ITEMS IN NEED OF IDENTIFICATION
"THE X - FILES!"
Note - This is an Internet literary assistance file only -- so, please, do not send actual numismatic items to me for identification.
If you have coins, medals, medallions or tokens that I might help you identify please feel free to ask me (by email) to try - within my limited resources.
In some instances, items may already be documented elsewhere and a pointer in the right direction may furnish more answer than I can.
Due to work-load committments, I cannot promise immediate attention to all requests - and, certainly, I cannot always guarantee success - but at least, we may both learn a little about a particular subject by way of our mutual search for information.
Please note - In some instances, results of interesting numismatic searches may eventually be published - bearing in mind our disclaimers - and, even negative results may be noted in print and assistance sought from our readers and colleagues. This should be seen as a required implied condition when asking for assitance, from the Editor of this newsletter, in the identification of any numismatic item.
Please note - For those who wish to ask questions about any mysterious piece, it would be handy to have a little more than a detailed description or even a brief note with an email scan to work from. A good quality scan or digital photo attachment is very informative of course - but it cannot convey size, weight, obscured numbers or lettering that can only be guessed at under magnification, thickness or any of the opinions about the way it has been made - and from what - that sometimes provide a worthwhile clue.
Combining all the pieces of evidence into one comprehensive communication makes it more likely that I might be able to reach a conclusion on your behalf.
Some X-file items items would test Sherlock Holmes - and I'm certainly not in that category, especially as I cannot physically handle the object.
SOME EXAMPLES OF 'X-FILE' UNKNOWNS
If anyone has a clue to what these items (shown below) are - or any other information relevant to identifying them - please contact the Editor.
1. Chancery Hotel 1/ Brass token (Reader's request for location information)
2. Grafitti address on CSA $50.00 (Presumeably a Philadelphia address - a 'Northern' address on a 'Southern' note?)
3. H. Evans & Co. Shanghai - Brass Bread token (Author's unsuccessful search for further details.)
The scan below is of a rather worn, pitted and of unknown origin medallion (?) submitted by a reader. A search of world coin catalogues back to 1600 has not revealed a similar styled item that might aid in identifying this piece.The information is as supplied by the inquirer - however, after my own examinatination of the scan I believe the effigy 'shape' appears more female and the jewelled coronet, hairstyle and veil is reminiscent of the mourning Queen Victoria - although it may not be her - and, as a general rule, truly Arabic items do not usually feature human effigies nor any form of a 'cross'.
"I have tried my local numismatists and some
from overseas, they have all said they do not know the origin. The ornate figure
8 also may be the infinite symbol ? I am almost certain that the sex of the
person is male. There also seems to be an Arabic style writing just to the left
of the drill hole on the head
side. It appears to be cast. It is very thin (1millimetre) and 24 millimetres in diameter.
The outside edge is rather unusual in that it has been finely reeded on a 45 degree angle."
4. Unknown bronze medallion - (Scan supplied by reader - enlarged for viewing - Actual size 24 mm. diameter )
The following article by Ian Hartshorn explains a little more about the THIRD side of a coin.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN
by Ian Hartshorn © 2006 (TNS Associate Member)
Author of "Australian POCKET CHANGE - Varieties & Errors" 2005
Some of the terms used for the serrations on edges have changed over time, a common term in the past was a milled edge, this being a misnomer as it was taken from the term "milled coin" which was designated to coins produced from a machine. The proper term at the time was grained edge or graining.
It was in the 16th century when coins produced from machines (screw press) for circulation were termed 'milled coins', as opposed to the 'hammered coins' which came before them. Today the term reeded edge or reeding for the serrations has come to the fore.
The rim of a coin is
often cited as the edge, and the more a beginner sees this, the more they
are likely to carry this on.
So, where or what is the edge?
Above - The edge is that section at right angles to the obverse and reverse of the coin (top arrow). The rim is the raise section on the face of the coin (lower right arrow). The border abuts or is just inside the rim (lower left arrow)
Three pre-requisites for a perfectly round edge on a coin are, a round blank, a retaining collar to locate the blank and sufficient pressure from the coining-press to force the metal of the blank to spread to the retaining collar.
Blanks in early times
where cut from sheets of metal hammered close to the required thickness, then
cut into strips to the approximate width of the coin, the strips cut into
squares, then trimming the corners off to produced near round blanks. Another
method was to cut blanks from roundish bars. As the metal value was related to
the demonination, these blanks where often trimmed or filed to the required
weight, and the shapes of the blanks where irregular due to them being hand cut.
In later times metal ingots are rolled to a required thickness and a punch or
gang of punches press out the blanks to a uniform thickness and diameter.
When the blanks are punched out of a sheet or strip of metal, the edge takes on a different form.
Above - The edge of a
modern day bronze blank (not a planchet), the top section has the shear marks of
the punch, the bottom section has a rougher section where it has broken from the
sheet as the punch pushes it through. I have found that this occurs on most
blanks, but not all. Differing degrees of thickness are also evident on both
sections. These two sections can be found on most metals - al/br, copper,
aluminium, brass, cu-ni, etc.
A planchet has gone through a rimming/upsetting machine where the edges have been up-set to give the disc rims, after further processing the planchet is ready to be coined.
A screw press was built in
1506 by Italian Donato Bramante, this press was for blanking, not for striking
coins. It was some years earlier that Leonardo da Vinci drew a press for
striking coins. By placing two presses back to back, one could be used for
blanking and the other for striking coins. However his press was never built
until the 20th century, (as an experiment and not for the production of coins).
In 1550 Max Schwab (Germany) not only built presses for blanking and striking, but also a rolling mill to roll metal sheets or strips from ingots, ready for blanking.
There are what I consider
five types of edges, these are:-
· Edges without a retaining collar.
· Edges with a retaining collar (plain edge).
· Edges with reeding, letters or other devices (raised or incused).
· Edges that have been cut.
· Edges of error coins.
Dealing here with the basic round coin, the many varied shaped coins of today and the multi-layered (clad) coins also share the same principles. As always, when dealing with different areas of numismatics, there are usually exceptions.
Edges without a
Coins produced without a retaining collar were the earliest, around 2000 years ago to the 18th/19th century.
Above - An ancient roman coin approx. 1700 years old and a Great Britain farthing approx. 700 years old. In both cases they have an irregular shape due the blank not being round and no retaining collar.
With the advent of the screw press in the 16th century and blanks in general being round, irregular shaped coins were still being produced due to the metal not being constrained when struck, however not to the degree as some of the hammered series of coins.
Another side effect of
striking coins without a collar is the curvature to the serifs of letters or
Reprinted with permission from - English copper, tin and bronze coins in the British Museum 2nd Edition by C.Wilson Peck, F.S.A.
"It will be found that the toothed borders on these spread flans are invariably elongated in a radial direction, and that the serifs of the letters tend to curl upwards, i.e. towards the periphery of the flan. (See Pl. 14. 844.) This also occurs to a lesser degree on pieces struck with 'normal' pressure (Pl. 16, G), and is due to the fact that the outer part of the blank spreads more rapidly than the centre, especially when there is no collar to retain it. The impact of the dies on the blank is followed, almost simultaneously, by an outward movement of the metal, with the result that the impression near the edge is carried with it and so becomes slightly elongated or blurred. These letters with curled serifs were therefore an unavoidable consequence of striking the coins without a collar, and are not, as is often believed letters of a special style or type."
Above - 1674 Charles II farthing with curvature to the base and to a lesser degree the tops of the letters.
Edges with a retaining
Basically these coins belong to the modern era. The blanking press has been in operation for a number of years, as round blanks are a necessity to fit into the retaining collar.
It is believed that by 1573 a retaining collar was invented, and only a few decades ago it was assumed that all milled coins were struck in collars. Work by G. Dyer of the Royal Mint and P. Gasper of Washington University demonstrated that collars were not used on regular issue coins in the 17th and early 18th centuries in England.
permission from - Encyclopedia Dictionary of Numismatics by Richard G. Doty -
" Collar - A ring-shaped piece of machinery, devised to restrain metal as a coin is struck, and within which the obverse and reverse dies operate.
As pressure from obverse and reverse dies forces the metal in the planchet outward, the collar ensures the metal will spread only to a certain point. The result is a perfectly round coin.
Invented in the late sixteenth century, collars were first used solely for this purpose, but soon it was recognized that the inside surface of the collar could also serve as a third die."
Edges with reeding,
letters or other devices
The topic of edge reeding, lettering and decorative devices can be a subject in it self, history of machinery, apparatuses, tools and coins produced from them is fascinating. A brief trip through some of them.
Collar (Richard G. Doty -
"If a design or lettering was put in the collar in reverse, as it was in the upper and lower dies, the coin's edge could carry a raised impression as well-which might, in turn, eliminate counterfeiting and clipping. A problem immediately arose; if you use a collar as a third die, how do you release the coin once it struck? The edge devices will fill the crevices of the edge die, in effect locking the coin into place.
Several schemes were concocted. First if a plain, one-piece collar easily releases a coin, so does a reeded one, i.e., a collar with parallel verticle markings. Further-more, coins with reeded edges are difficult to clip, file, or counterfeit. While such coins are widely used today, they were not popular when the collar was invented, as minters believed more ornate edges furnished greater protection. Such being the case, two more collars were fashioned.
The first, still used occasionally, is known as the segmented collar (or virole birse'e in French). Dating from the 1570s, the segmented collar consisted of three or more sections, which joined as the coin was struck but could be separated by a mallet or, later, by a mechanical process, to release the coin. However, it had two disadvantages which have yet to be completely overcome. It slowed down the coining process - the antithesis of what machinery was supposed to do - and it required an accuracy in striking that was beyond the ability or patience of most coiners.
The second invention enjoyed no more success. It was a ribbon made of spring steel, engraved with the desired inscription or design. Fit inside a solid collar, it could be removed from the collar and separated from the coin once it was struck. This too was a tedious method, and demanded great concentration if it was to perform correctly.
Late in the seventeenth century both devices were generally abandoned for a totally new machine, which marked a coin's edges while it was still in the planchet stage. The edge marked planchet was then struck in an ordinary screwpress, without the benefit of a collar. In effect, one of the goals of a collar, a perfectly round coin, was sacrificed in favor of a coin with an ornate edge.
In the nineteenth century, coinage with plain or reeded edges, applied by a one-piece collar, came into vogue. How-ever, if edge lettering was needed, it was done in an incuse form while still in the planchet stage, making it possible to use the one-piece collar. Today the solid collar is almost universal, and segmented devices are usually reserved for restrikes or commemoratives."
Above - (A low grade coin used to show markings are still identifiable) Napoleon III 5 Franc 1869 with raised edge lettering, also with 3 raised lines evenly spaced around the edge, due to the 3 piece segmented collar. Inscription reads - DIEU [l] * PROTEGE *[l] LA * FRANCE [l] ***** (May God protect France) . It is known that a six piece segmented collar was trialled by M. Boulton around the 1800s.
Finding information on how
letters and devices where placed on coin edges when this process began proved to
be difficult, the following excerpt explains why. From the THE ROYAL MAGAZINE,
The full article - www.romanbritain.freeserve.co.uk/mintmachinery.htm
'The stamping … is almost instantly performed by means of an engine worked by three or four men. This engine works on a spindle like that of a printing press; to the point of which the die containing the head is fixed by a screw, and in a little sort of cup that receives it, is placed the reverse: between these dies the piece of metal, already cut round to the size, and if gold, exactly weighed, is placed; and by once pulling down the spindle with a jerk, is compleatly stamped.
It is amazing to see with what dexterity the coiner performs this; for as fast as the men can turn the engine, so fast does he supply it with metal, putting in the unstamped piece with his forefinger and thumb, and twitching out the piece that has received the stamp with his middle finger.
But the gold and silver pieces are not finished with this operation, they are taken to another apartment, where they are milled around the edges; but nobody is permitted to see this part of the process, the operation being kept secret.'
A device improved/invented by Frenchman Jean Castaing, this added the edge lettering and devices to coin edges before or after they were struck. This machine was used until collar dies were introduced which applied the edge device in the striking process. The machine had two parallel bars, one fixed the other movable with an inscription, with a blank placed between the bars a hand-wheel was turned to move the bar, whereby placing the inscription on the edge of the blank as it rolled between them.
One of the notable pieces.
The "Petition Crown" of 1663 edge inscription - THOMAS SIMON MOST HUMBLY PRAYS YOUR MAJESTY TO COMPARE THIS HIS TRYALL PIECE WITH THE DUTCH AND IF MORE TRULY DRAWN & EMBOSSED MORE GRACEFULLY ORDER'D AND MORE ACCURATELY ENGRAVEN TO RELIEVE HIM - although this was done with tiny letters, is was quite legible.
Above - A 2 Euro bi-metalic planchet with edge lettering, small bumps can be noticed on the rim adjacent to the letters and stars. The rim will be flattened once coined.
As a general rule, incused (recessed) lettering is applied before the coin is struck, raised lettering is done at the time of striking with a segmented collar die.
Edges that have been
Over the last couple of thousand years that coins have circulated, there were times where coins have been in very short supply and/or only in high denominations, causing much hardship. Two periods being the Colonial Era and around the start of the 11th century. In both cases coins were cut into fractions for small change.
Spanish dollars (Peso)
were minted in there millions over several centuries. They were among the most
widely circulating coins of the colonial era. These were often cut into eight
"bits" or "quarters". This being the origin of the colloquial name "pieces of
eight", and of "quarter" and "two bits" for twenty-five cents in the United
These Spanish dolars were also cut to produce the Australian "Holey Dollar and Dump". It was the centre of the coin that was punched out to create two coins, the outer section valued at five shillings (Holey Dollar) and the inner piece worth fifteen pence (Dump).
Above - A cut English silver penny of King John (1199-1216)
From the Anglo Saxon period to the Plantaganet Kings (960 to 1272) in England, the only coins produced where silver pennies. The Moneyers of the day where able to cut pennies in halves (halfpenny) and quarters (farthing) by using the short cross/long cross design on the reverse. The reason for cutting these pennies as opposed to coining halfpennies and farthings, maybe due to the Moneyers being paid by the pound (weight) to make coins. To produce halfpennies would require twice as work and for farthings, four times for the same recompence.
Edges of error coins
One important part of determining the authenticity of a die variety, error, forgery, counterfeit or damaged coin is to check the edge. This does not apply to all coins nor should it be the only consideration.
The edge can tell us which is the anvil die or hammer die, has the coin been cast or struck, was the coin in the collar when struck, has the edge been ground away to make a clipped planchet or if the coin was struck twice in the collar.
Above - Two Australian $1 coins, left a 2004 (generic reverse) and right a 2005 (commemorative reverse).
Both coins have been
struck partially outside the collar (partial collar). During the coining process
things do go wrong at times, in this case the collar die was stuck out of
position. What is interesting about these coins is, the left coin has the
Obverse as the hammer die, and the right coin has the Reverse as the hammer die.
Above - Left - Australian reedless edge 5 cent.
Centre & Right - 1970 Australian reedless edge 20 cent. (images courtesy of T.N. Editor).
Both coins should exhibit reeding, these are high grade with little to no wear visible, the corners where the rim and edge meet are sharp. The probabilities are very high of an unfinished collar die or one reserved for a foreign coin, as many mints do produce coins for other countries.
Images of edges
For the average collector, taking images of coin edges without good equipment can be difficult. The camera appears to be the best way, but balancing the coin on its edge is not so easy. Some ways of holding that coin I have come across are, a small block of foam with a slit on its side, a clothes peg, a small block of wood with a V notch and a torch reflector.
By removing the reflector from a torch and placing a coin in the cone, the edge of the coin is reflected upwards and appears to be part of the obverse or reverse. If using a reflector to take images, then a note should accompany that image noting that the edge is not part of the obverse/reverse. An excellent way of displaying those letter edged coins.
The edge has played an important part of coinage, for the enterprising individuals clipping or shearing slivers of metal off to gain a profit, assisting to prevent counterfeiting and clipping, an advertising aid, and the many varied types of reeded edges to help the vision impaired. The edge is also recommended as the side to hold coins when examining them, this helps prevent finger prints and any chemical re-action gaining a hold on the faces of coins, another good reason for checking the edge, as that dreaded corrsion may have its origins in this area.
Edge - Regarded as the third side of a coin. It can be plain, reeded, with lettering or other devices (raised or incused).
Another fascinating side to Numismatics!
English Copper, Tin and Bronze Coins in the British Museum 2nd Edition by C.Wilson Peck, F.S.A.
Encyclopedia Dictionary of Numismatics by Richard G. Doty - 1982 (Permission granted to reproduce above excerpts)
Coins and Minting by Denis Cooper 1983
The Coinage of England by Charles Oman 1967
How to build a coin collection by Fred Reinfeld 1972
Coins by Howard W. A. Linecar 1962
Error-Variety News March 1981, (British Error Notebook No.2)
Money of the World by Richard G. Doty 1978
English Hammered Coinage by J. J. North Vol.1 1980
The Error Coin Encyclopdia by A. Margolis & F. Weinberg 2004
Numismatic Forgery by C. M. Larson 2004
romanbritain.freeserve (The Royal Magazine, Feb 1761 article)
wikipedia (Pieces of Eight)
coinworld.com (Edge lettering machine)
logan.com (Biographical Notes of a collector who built a scale model of the Castaing machine)
Royal Australian Mint (How coins are made)
grasshopper.com (Castaing machine)
binhost.com (Brief History of Presses)
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