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dryice82

Thinking of building coin-collecting software. Should I?

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I’ve been a coin collector for most of my life, and I’m also a programmer. I think I can build a free tool for collection management that’s better than what currently exists, but I’m trying to decide if it would be worth my time to do so (I don’t want to spend a few months building something that only I would use).

 

My girlfriend (she’s a programmer too) and I put together a short video of what I’d like to build. The video is at 43copper.com. I’m interested in finding out whether or not a free, full-featured coin management system would be something people would use, and also what features would be the most important to build into it.

 

Any feedback, thoughts, ideas, and advice would be appreciated. If it seems like there’s enough interest in the idea (based on feedback here on CP, conversations with collectors I’ve been reaching out to, and people signing up for an email list at 43copper.com), I’ll get to work.

 

Thanks so much,

 

Jack

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I like the presentation and I am looking forward to more...

Each coin would be coded into this program by the collector using country / area of circulation, date, face value / name, grade... would this be a version of numista or would it have other functionalities like to let me know there is an ebay auction with a coin I am looking for?

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The video presentation is certaily top notch. One thing you have to decid is US only or other as well. It would make sense to just to US to start and then branch out reusing the same patterns. For me to use something new I'd need the following:

 

Formatting of the pictures I upload (standard size obverse/reverse with an ability to zoom)

Data kept in the cloud (web and mobile access)

Easy to add data

Pricing data available in the tool

Availability of the standard numismatic information (size, composition, designer, description etc.)

Checklist, Want List creation

Inventory ability with security to hold purchase information

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I say, if you have the time, go for it! :rockon:

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I like the presentation and I am looking forward to more...

Each coin would be coded into this program by the collector using country / area of circulation, date, face value / name, grade... would this be a version of numista or would it have other functionalities like to let me know there is an ebay auction with a coin I am looking for?

 

Thanks for the feedback. I like certain aspects of Numista, and it's probably the best online tool that's currently out there. But I also think certain aspects of it could be much better than they currently are. Off the top of my head, I think the user-interface design can be confusing, the grading options it gives are limited, and while it lets you add coins to your collection, it doesn't really allow for the adding of much information that's specific to your coin (pictures, where you bought it and for how much, etc.). It also doesn't have any built-in tool to estimate the value of your coins / your collection. It's not that numista isn't a good tool for a certain type of user, it's that it's an incomplete tool (which is my challenge with most of the tools out there right now - they're good for certain use cases, but not for others).

 

As for the ebay idea, I personally like that idea a lot. I'd have to see how structured the searchable data is in ebay, but that's one type of feature I think lots of people would find useful.

 

Thanks again,

 

Jack

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The video presentation is certaily top notch. One thing you have to decid is US only or other as well. It would make sense to just to US to start and then branch out reusing the same patterns. For me to use something new I'd need the following:

 

Formatting of the pictures I upload (standard size obverse/reverse with an ability to zoom)

Data kept in the cloud (web and mobile access)

Easy to add data

Pricing data available in the tool

Availability of the standard numismatic information (size, composition, designer, description etc.)

Checklist, Want List creation

Inventory ability with security to hold purchase information

 

THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!!

 

Seems like we're thinking the same way about everything jlueke - those are pretty much the features I've been considering to be the most essential too. And it's likely that US coins would be the starting point, but then it could branch out from there. Thanks so much for the feedback,

 

Jack

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I'd say don't bother. So many people use Excel for coin programs, yours would be just one more of the many others out there that sort of fade away. One of the big problems with any new or different coin sorting, detailing, etc. program is the versatility of Excel. By that I mean you can make a Excel listing of your coins and then take it with a flash drive almost anywhere on Earth and use it on someone's computer. So many people have Excel it makes it really versatile. There are already many other coin type programs out there and so many try to use them and then find out sort of a waste of time and go back to Excel. Also, many people are now using thier cell phones to make lists of thier coins or coin needs so at a coin show, they can just look up what they need or want. Sort of replacing that old piece of paper we all used to carry.

Any coin program is OK but after you've accumulated thousands of coins, you would find it takes more time to play with a computer program than playing with your coin collection.

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I fomd Excel to be the most difficult programme there is, I have never been able to get used to it. If you do make a coin database great, I would love to try it. I have been looking for one and so far have not found one that I like. If the dayabase is to be useful then I must be able to enter other countries easily, the one I have at the moment is not that easy to use,

Geoff.

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Excel is rather simple. I have a simple document on there to put my coins and notes, and adds my value and who much I bought it for.

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I am developing my own coin data base. I wanted to have something that I could use to store an inventory of my coin collection in. I tried Excel, but that's rather awkward when you want to also want to store images and want to find one or more coins in your collection, based on specific properties, like e.g. denomination, composition, etc. Being a software engineer, it was easily decided to develop my own system, with the intention to make it just for myself, not to provide it to others as well.

 

For each coin, I store the following properties:

 

- Country

- Denomination

- Date

- Catalog number

- Mintage

- Minted from ... to ....

- Mint

- Mint mark

- Privy mark

- Composition

- Weight

- Diameter

- Precious metal content

- Grade

- Obverse photograph

- Obverse design

- Obverse legend

- Obverse designer

- Reverse photograph

- Reverse design

- Reverse legend

- Reverse designer

- Edge

- Edge lettering

- Remarks

- Error coin

 

Most fields I store are simple text fields, two fields are so called blobs (binary large objects, the photographs), some are number fields (like weight, diameter) and the "Error coin" field is a boolean field, (yes/no) with a check box. I added that later when I discovered that I have several error coins and I wanted to be able to find these easily. Remarks is just a text field where I can add any additional info that is worth mentioning, e.g. describing errors or other remarks.

 

Since almost all fields are simple text fields, I automatically have no limitation on countries, denominations etc. I can enter any country, denomination, year etc. that I like.

 

I designed a form to enter a new coin, it holds edit boxes for each field. Most edit fields "remember" all values for that particular field, from all other coins, and narrow down the available suggestions when I start typing. This makes entering a number of coins much faster and also reduces the risk of typing e.g. a country name differently. Photographs can be added in any resolution, I prefer the highest resolution photograph I can make of a coin.

 

In the main window, there is an overview showing all info of the selected coin, as well as some selection tools, to select country, denomination, date, composition. The two photographs are displayed, each in 450 x 450, but if the original is lager, simply clicking the photograph opens a new window with the full size hirez photograph, scrollbars are present if the photograph is larger than your screen. A selected coin or a range of selected coins can be printed, each coin on a new A4 page, with large photographs and the other info neatly arranged around it.

 

The program is still under development, the interface needs more features and some thins can be made better. I am considering adding one or two more fields, for "obtained from" and "price", but for many of my coins, that info is unknown, so that's why I didn't add it earlier.

 

 

One thing I totally underestimated when I started this, is how much time it takes to photograph ALL my coins, edit/crop the photographs to show just the coin and add all that info in my database.

 

gallery_27_23_517252.png

 

gallery_27_23_60071.png

 

 

Edited to add "Minted from ... to ..." and "Edge lettering" properties and screenshots

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What I need to do is go back and publish my data model for coins and coin information. Whether someone then normalizes that or not is up to them as is what to include but a meta model that includes all possible objects and attributes related to a coin should have some value.

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I didn't see the promotional video until after I posted here.

 

I think my database software has a slightly different aim than what the OP has in mind. I made (am making) my software for my collection, which is primarily a type set collection, one of each type and variation. For most countries, except The Netherlands, I do not collect by year, so my collection would leave a whole lot of open spots in the software of the OP.

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If you develop something that can go retail let me know... <<snip>>

Edited by Art1.2
advertising rules violation

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I've added a number of things to my database program:

 

I now also store:

 

- Thickness

- Shape

- whether a coin is a bimetal or not

 

I will soon add a field for "alignment"

 

The new fiels required small modifications in the edit screen and in the main screen, and I now also display the flag and Coat of Arms of a country.

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Am I the only one who uses Access for keeping track of the coins? I understand the functionality of keeping all those data fields, including the photos, but I do not really have the time and energy to scan every single coin but rather prioritize. The only fields I keep in the Access db is year, country, region, denomination, metal content, total gold or silver weight and purity of coin, rough estimated value according to the NGC coin db, and US currency value (i.e. an old dime would be $.10). The catalog value is not exact and fluctuates (and is really a shot in the dark) so I do not pay as much attention to it as I do to the absolute values, years, metal content, etc. I shy away from giving grades but do leave a notes field if something is holed, in poor condition, etc. I am thinking of adding a KM field in the future to help in ID'ing coins. What I like best about Access is I can run different queries that are updated constantly, including the sums of the numerical fields (gold and silver weight, rough estmiated collection value, and US currency value). I can also do queries on all silver coins, all gold coins, bronze coins, US coins, coins prior to 1900, and coins from particular areas such as Europe, North America, etc. And I can export all fields into Excel and reuse the database in any computer that also uses Access, which is most Windows comps.

 

That being said, one thing I have not been able to do is create a db for my small exonumia collection, primarily because I am not quite sure of a way to accurately break them down. Does anyone have a db for exonumia? Does anyone else use Access?

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I have no experience with Access at all, never used it.

 

The program I'm developing uses SQL underneath, so I can query whatever I like. There's no universal query field yet, where I can neter a query and execute it, but that's on my to do list.

Also not present yet, is a way to export things, except to a printer. Exporting is also on my to do list.

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I have many of my coins in the PCGS and NGC databases - not just the slabbed coins but frankly I have way too many coins to do this kind of comprehensive database that would include them all. For example I have 6 boxes of 2x2s for my UK coins and a large box of UK stuff that's never been sorted or put into holders. By large I mean about 12" long x 6" wide x 3" deep. My safe-deposit boxes are pretty much filled with anything that has value including my junk silver. I've been thinking of getting rid of one of them and selling off the stuff that's in it just to save the rental fees. I might even get rid of two.

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I have no experience with Access at all, never used it.

 

The program I'm developing uses SQL underneath, so I can query whatever I like. There's no universal query field yet, where I can neter a query and execute it, but that's on my to do list.

Also not present yet, is a way to export things, except to a printer. Exporting is also on my to do list.

 

I guess you can call me a Luddite but I am not sure what SQL is... I have been using Access now for several years with my jobs and so building dbs with that program comes naturally to me. I have a simple db that is purely data only but it is in three different formats (form, table, and queries) and can not only be exported into Excel or pdf but also into Word. Queries can be set up for multiple fields and date ranges... so say I want to know exactly what Indian Head pennies I have in my collection so as to avoid getting duplicates I can run a query for "United States" "Cent" and "1860-1909" and it will give me a quick printout of everything I have with notes included.

 

Art it might take forever to go thru everything but I think you would quickly find that as you go thru the coins one by one it would be worth your while. I know I have found a rare issues West German coin (believe it was a 2 or 5 Mark) that had a rare mint mark "G" that was actually illegally made by a mint worker and had a really good value to it... that coin would be sitting in a drawer somewhere or given away had I not taken the time and trouble of going thru everything. In my opinion coming from an archival/museum background one of the key components to keeping physical control of a collection is maintaining an accurate and precise inventory of your holdings. In worst case scenarios where theft is involved, you need to be armed with information to provide the police. I also make sure my family/next-of-kin is aware of what I'm doing so if I were to drop dead tomorrow they would know exactly what I have, where to locate it, and some basic idea of what to expect for it. Most of us who have been into coin collecting can spot good coins, have an idea of their value, rarity, etc. but most of us myself included have next-of-kin family members with zero idea about values or what to expect.

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I'm kinda like Art, that would take me a while to do.

But I do agree with the fact that it needs to be done

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@Wabnoles: SQL is short for "Structured Query Language". It's the language that is used by most database systems to query information from a database.

 

e.g., when I enter the following query:

SELECT * FROM coins WHERE country = "United States of America" AND denomination = "1 cent" ORDER BY date

it will give me all USA 1 cent coins in my database, ordered by date. And this query can easily be expanded to include more fields I want to select on. You probably use it too, not knowing it's called SQL.

 

I totally agree with you that it's a lot of effort to get your coins entered, but that is't definitely not "lost time". Since I want to add quite some infomration to a coin, I need to do research on my coins and the high resolution pictures I take reveal things I never noticed before.It turns out I happen top have quite some coins with mint errors like die breaks or coins that had partially filled dies. Or I discover varieties I never knew of.

 

 

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