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Are modern coins really THAT boring?


gxseries
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When you look at a lot of the coin posts, some people lament that modern coinage is a joke which range from artistic design to the current cheap metal content.

 

I however would like people to challenge the thought that modern world coins especially after WWII in particular after 2000 can be still exciting and not recycled from old designs. You must be asking me why after WWII or after 2000. My main reason is because this is the time when a lot of precious metals or even copper have been slowly fazed out for cheaper and tougher metals. On the other hand, some that were thought to be impossible became common these days such as bi-metal coins or even tri-metal, plated, clad, various shaped coins such as 3 sided coins, shallop shaped, and so forth.

 

To make it realistic for everyone, I avoided commemorative coins unless they circulated as they are often expensive and priced too high unless you believe it's worth to be mentioned.

 

First up, when you think of New Zealand, you think of kiwis. Or that's just Australians who call them kiwis. If you haven't heard of what happened there, a horrifying underground coal mine trapped 29 men followed by several explosions. Not the best time of the year for their families and friends.

 

Nevertheless, I believe this coin reflects how hard the coin has gone through such a small country:

 

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Small coin, gone through a fair bit of circulation but it certainly reflects well of the country.

 

"Peace dude"

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I found this coin to be quite hilarious to be honest. While it seems that the coin tries to reflect peace, at the same time when India produces billions of these coins with hard steel planchets at a fast pace, these coins are often struck weakly. It just seems to reflect of the stability of what's going on in India... :)

 

Coming from Australia is the lethal weapon where everyone carries a few example of:

 

929508.jpg

 

Interesting 12 sided coin but at the weight of 15.5 grams or close to half an ounce (unfortunately nickel-copper). Having too many of these in your wallet will weigh you down or it's perfect for hitting someone. Hard to imagine why it's so heavy. At one stage when nickel and copper price were at their highest price couple of years ago, the 5, 10 and 20 cents metal scrap value were pretty much the same as the current market price.

 

Out of all Euro coins, Italy deserves to be mentioned as famous Italian arts are featured instead of a common reverse like most European countries. In particular, Italy's 1 euro coin gets my attention:

 

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This coin is very symbolic as not only does it feature Leonardo da Vinci's work and nudity, the real intention of it is explained as follows:

 

The choice of the design of the coins was left to the Italian public by means of a television broadcast where alternative designs were presented, letting the people vote by calling a certain telephone number. However, the 1 euro coin was missing in this election, because Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the then Economy minister, had already decided it would sport the Vitruvian man of Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo's work is highly symbolical as it represents the Renaissance focus on man as the measure of all things, and has simultaneously a round shape that fits the coin perfectly. As Ciampi observed, this represents the "coin to the service of Man", instead of Man to the service of money.

 

More can be read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_euro_coins

 

I'll leave it just here but I'm sure everyone has a lot more to contribute. :)

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A brief comment before I sign off:

 

First, great discussion. I look forward to everyone's opinions. This might be a good poll.

 

Second, my problem (with US issues) is that I can tell they are designed with computers. They lack the life and relief of pre-computer age coins. Its not the designs, its the deadness of them.

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I would have to agree with thedeadpoint on that one. Starting in phases between the 70s and 90s, nearly all US coins have been struck on shallower and shallower-relief dies. While they do show more detail, these coins simply do not age well at all. This seems to be the case with a very large number of other countries as well. It's not that the designs are necessarily "bad", just that the coins are worn out to the point of being garbage within 10 years.

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Personally I've always thought that Australian decimal coins have as a rule had very good designs.

 

On top of the 50 cent piece posted earlier, there are the below standard issues (pics not to scale)

 

$1 - Standard "Mob of Roos" design

 

803350_techA_large.jpg

 

10 cents depicting a Lyrebird

 

aus-k64-1966--1.jpg

 

5 cents depicting a echidna

 

aus-k63-1966--1.jpg

 

 

20 cent depicting a platypus

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$2

australia-2005-2-dollar.jpg

 

And the now out of circulation 1 & 2 cent pieces featuring a possum & a frilled neck lizard

 

aus-k61-1966--1.jpgaus-k62-1966--1.jpg

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I'm inclined to agree with thedeadpoint there, too. American coins were deeply sculpted, with beautiful concave fields that really showed off the designs. Now they can't even be bothered to strike proofs that way, and they have all the relief and appeal of washers. Imagine the SHQs struck with the depth and relief of the commemorative halves of the 20s-50s... I mean, jeez. That would've been some serious pocket sculpture.

 

This isn't to say there's no good design work being done out there. Polish coins are almost always striking. The new Shield cent is a small step in the right direction (and again, imagine that design with the depth of a strike from the 50s or 60s!). But even a good design suffers if it's not well presented.

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There is nothing wrong with modern coins and some have very interesting designs, especially the various Euro coins.

 

But I like the mystery that a 100+ year old coin/token/medal has.

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I have to agree with the others in saying that it's not the bad art as much as it is the bad execution of it by making the coin shallow and over detailed. They age horribly.

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For US coins it is rather obvious that the populace is loosing interest. Possibly the most boring is the Jefferson Nickel followed closely by the Roosevelt Dime. The Penny (cent)is only popular due to they are so cheap every kid can save them. That is probably why those are still popular as a collecting item. The State Quarters started an entire new type of collector that just, so to speak, jump on the band wagon. They are put into Folders, not Albums, for something to do. Our Mint continues their production of coins like the baby sized dollars that no one wants for anything. We all must realize that the Mint does know what people like since they make so many commemoratives of the Buffalo Nickels.

Don't know why the US coins can not be more like they used to be.

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I've mentally redesigned American coinage several times. It needs it so badly that even my clumsy input has the potential to be an improvement -- although most of the current designs would be fine if they'd go back to higher-relief strikes.

 

Somewhere I have images of renders of my complete reworking, changing the denominations (1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cent and $1, $2 and $5 pieces). I kept Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, but the other coins received various national symbols -- the SCOTUS building, Congress and the White House on the 10c, 20c and 50c; the flag, the Statue of Liberty and an eagle on the $1, $2 and $5. I made a mental rule that no president should be on a coin until at least 50 or 60 years have passed since their last year in office -- usually by then, history has rendered a less partisan and more scholarly decision on their administration -- and then threw out the idea of putting any presidents other than the Big Three on them, outside of circulating commemoratives.

 

Oh yeah, that was another rule I settled on: if it's worth a commemorative coin, then it's worth a circulating commemorative coin. No more NCLT (bullion-only issues like silver, gold and platinum eagles don't count, they have a different purpose).

 

I know it'll never happen, but it's a fun project to play with.

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Modern coins don't have to be boring. I think many of the old coins had poor designs too. But, for me, the thrill is to hold an old coin in my hand and think of its history, who before me held it, its story so to speak.

 

Nevertheless, I don't particularly like the modern US coin designs. I feel the coins are too 'crowded', not enough space is left blank in the fields. The Canadian coins seem much nicer [admittedly, being a Canadian I may be biased]. The US had some beautiful designs in the past - the Walking Liberty half and the Saint-Gaudens double eagle to name just two. The US designs have too many words/letters. It distracts from the central picture. This is especially true on the reverse of the [standard] Lincoln penny and Jefferson nickel.

 

Also, the mint has been releasing too many products. Do we really need dollar coins of the presidents' wives?

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Also, the mint has been releasing too many products. Do we really need dollar coins of the presidents' wives?

Well, I think the better question is, do we need coins that don't circulate? I've always thought that if it's worth commemorating, it's worth everyone getting to commemorate it, not just collectors.

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For me any coin struck after about 1820 is modern. The dies last forever and if they're replaced for any reason the differences are so important that there's whole collecting themes around the number of feathers on an eagle or some similar distinction. Varieties existed prior to 1820 but are expected. After all each die was individually engraved and many countries continued to use hand presses even after the introduction of steam. Planchet weight varied so much that children and women were hired to scrape the excess off leaving us with AUNC that looked like this:

 

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While this isn't as extreme as some examples the first word in the reverse has been deliberately defaced to lighten it. You just don't get that sort of story with modern pieces... But it's nice to know they had jobs that didn't harm children.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would not have thought that such a fascinating array of examples could be assembled so quickly.

 

988346_a.jpg988346_b.jpg

 

Strongly criticized when issued, the obverse has not aged a day, though we are all 30 years older. The Apollo XI reverse makes the coin.

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I really like the current circulating UK coin designs. I may be in a minority here though!

 

See here...

 

I personally think the lower relief is greatly counterbalanced by the striking designs, a modern and detailed take on a traditional coat of arms theme, and the nice clean lines the coins have especially since the border beading was done away with. I love the novelty factor that although each coin only contains a small portion of the overall design, if you get one of every denomination (1p to 50p) you can arrange them (like a jigsaw) into the full shield design (as depicted on the £1 coin). That I think is really, really clever and innovative. The 5p has to be my fave of them all (I actually hated the coin before the redesign, being too small and fiddly, but the design is so cool and striking it gives it a redeeming quality).

 

Although I am biased because I really didn't rate the old designs that ran from 1968/71-2008, most were frankly boring, the 1p in particular was a very dull and uninspired design.

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Hi Dan...Going to FUN?

 

 

Hi Art!!

 

Yep, planning a big trip this year, probably going up on Thursday, Friday & saturday. No NGC lunch invite so I took PCGS up on theirs for Friday. Debating about submitting my 1889-CC morgan to get it out of it's ICG holder and get it into one of the big 2. hate to spend that on a submission when I can buy a coin with it.

 

Are you attending this year?

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For me, it's really all about the history behind the coins and their design. I guess I haven't really been collecting long enough to notice a difference in the coins' aging... Although, when you think about it... Doesn't making cheaper coins right now only solve the cost problem in the short term? Because if they are defaced a lot easier, they will have to mint more coins in the future to make up for the damaged ones they take out of circulation... In the end, the costs might even out... It would be a good study to consider and might give us back some better quality coins :P

-jekkoh-

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@gxseries: I don't think the Indian coin in your initial post denotes Peace. That is a provision for people who are not able to read (less-literate) numbers/words. One can count on fingers though. For example, the 1 Rupee coin has just the thumb up. (Linked image)

 

The thumb up doesn't really mean "Everything's Alright!" or "Great Job" or whatever other connotations the sign may have.

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  • 2 months later...

Just for my own taste, US coins past the Peace dollar are indeed boring. Ditto most post WWII world coins. Fiat coins in general are boring to me, especially current designs worldwide. I've never been bitten by the "Full Set" bug and simply have no interest in coins which depict politicians. Current US coins in general are deadly boring to me, even the bullion eagles, which make the early US coin designs they copy look cartoonish. The Chinese and Australian bullion coins are nice, IMO.

 

My taste runs to precious metal coins of 1920's and earlier vintage.

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