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The Great Numismatic Debate


Ætheling
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I saw the other postings as well. I think it has to do with your own age and frame of reference. Personally, I think the Modern era starts with the Lincoln cents, Mercs, SL quarters, WL halves. I would put the Barber series, Morgans, and Liberty gold in the Pre-Modern area. Others think

clad coinage is modern, silver coinage as old. Still others think it has to be pre 1900. It`s all a matter of your own frame of reference.

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Guest Stujoe

When I think modern, I think of the current base metal/clad coinage era. That pretty much goes for any country. I do not think that is the 'accepted' definition, though, especially among older or long time collecters.

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Alot of collectors that say 1950. Which is not too unrealistic considering that archaeologists and people in forensic sciences, particularly the field of radio carbon dating consider 1950 as 'Modern', hence why objects when radio carbon dated are dated going back with 1950 as the baseline. Not unfeesible to say that 1950 is therefore the beginning of all that is modern.

 

 

Although some US collectors might say 1964 is when coinage turned modern.

 

Some have argued 1933 (the year the US went off of the gold standard as the first shift towards a modern currency, modern meaning a fiat currency).

 

German collectors might argue modern as being 1948.

 

 

The date invariably differs from place to place and from denomination to denomination.* I did say on a different forum that modern could arguably be the year 1500, since this is the year that most historians in Europe consider to be the change from medieval Europe to Early Modern Europe, Early maybe but modern none the less.

 

 

 

*The denomination argument.

 

Take British coins for this example;

 

Copper collectors will argue that modern coinage begins in either 1797 (steam presses) or 1860 (the switch to bronze).

 

Bronze collectors might argue for 1900 (more properly 1901 as this is the first year of the 20th century), 1902 (Edward VII starts) or 1936 (End of George V).

 

Silver collectors might argue 1901, 1902, 1920 (silver reduced from .925 to .500) or 1946 (base metals)

 

Gold Collectors might argue 1901, 1917 (end of London mint gold coins, except for the one off 1925 issue) or 1932 (end of gold standard).

 

 

Others might argue it to be 1662 (the beginning of modern milled coinage and the end of hammered), 1816 (the new milled coins from steam driven presses). 1968 (the first decimal coins) or even 1971 (full scale decimalisation).

 

 

All those dates come from just one country, and many of you are familiar with all the alternatives from the US that collectors will regard as modern or not.

 

 

Quite a fluid term me thinks.

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This is a debate that started on another forum but due to the complex nature i thought it might be useful and intriguing to bring it up on this forum too.

 

What date do you consider to be the cut-off point between old and modern coins?

William IV onwards, so around 1840ish. I'd consider uber-modern as George VI onwards.

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William IV onwards, so around 1840ish.  I'd consider uber-modern as George VI onwards.

 

 

Bang there's another different date. Beginning of William IV (1831 issue) or end of (1837 issue)? :ninja:

 

Liz II must be post-modern.

 

 

My own personal preference is following;

 

US coins - 1934 (first year without gold) Although i accept the case for 1950.

 

UK coins - 1816 (for milled), 1500 (for hammered).

 

France - End of Louis XVI in 1792.

 

Germany - debatable but i'd say 1948.

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In my thinking anything 20th Century and beyond is modern, regardless of the materials or manufacturing processes used. :ninja:

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I think that modern US coins are the coins with the presidents on them. In 1909, when Lincoln took over the penny, it led the way for more coins to switch from the, then modern, to the now modern.

 

 

That's another school of though i like. Do you include Benjamin Franklin in modern or not? Personally i would.

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Hum... a pretty difficult question really... I mean, you have to keep in mind that each country first minted coins in different time frames. I mean, you can go as far back to Roman coins in Europe, but there weren't any coins for other countries at that time. Eventually the whole world got used to the idea of using coins as a mean of payment. Of course, the whole world originally did not use circular coins, or even metallic metals as a mean of payment, which you can probably call it primiative "coins".

 

I guess you can call currency reforms to tell the difference between modern and "old" coins, but that is absolutely absurd, as there are still countries that still produce completely new coins, such as Romania and Turkey this year.

 

I guess my opinion would be that modern in my opinion strongly is reflected in the striking methods. Most certainly Britain, France and Germany were one of the first few earliest countries that had excellent minting techniques deployed in the early 1800's to differentiate the difference between crude and machine striked coins.

 

But, would such a factor determine the difference between modern and "old" coins?

 

One has to remember that the mints took a serious view on how coins had to be properly minted, as in, they cannot mint one coin a lot heavier than the other, and yet call it the same value, i.e. weight control issues. I am edging more towards the defination of modern coinage when politics had a serious view on how coins played a role in the economy, and when serious tests were conducted to make sure that coins were made so that they were not too different from each other, in terms of weight, size and alloy content. :ninja:

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One has to remember that the mints took a serious view on how coins had to be properly minted, as in, they cannot mint one coin a lot heavier than the other, and yet call it the same value, i.e. weight control issues. I am edging more towards the defination of modern coinage when politics had a serious view on how coins played a role in the economy, and when serious tests were conducted to make sure that coins were made so that they were not too different from each other, in terms of weight, size and alloy content. :ninja:

 

 

 

The days when people found counterfeiting were hung and people producing underweight coins were castrated and otherwise mutilated by having their right hand removed without anæsthetic... ah those were the good old days when money was serious business and it was generally all about protecting the intrinsic standard of the currency. Not about maximising mint profits... oh how far we have degraded ourselves.

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When I think modern, I think of the current base metal/clad coinage era. That pretty much goes for any country. I do not think that is the 'accepted' definition, though, especially among older or long time collecters.

 

That's what I regard as modern, too. I know that most of the dealers I frequent refer to anything milled as "modern" with earlier production techniques being broken into ancient, early and/or medieval.

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ah those were the good old days when money was serious business and it was generally all about protecting the intrinsic standard of the currency. Not about maximising mint profits... oh how far we have degraded ourselves.

 

 

Interesting comment.

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[q]When I think modern, I think of the current base metal/clad coinage era. That pretty much goes for any country. I do not think that is the 'accepted' definition, though, especially among older or long time collecters.[/q]

 

Older collectors often discount post 1964 coins all together. When they

use the term modern they are talking about 1934 to '65 issues.

 

There are really lots of different eras in coins and they vary from one

country to another. But it would seem the most dramatic change in

coins and the way collectors percieve them occurred in 1964 so this

makes a good dividing line to call the later ones "moderns".

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1982, the year of the George Washington commem half. Look it up. LOL!

 

Seriously, for me I would say numismatic "modern" began in 1934. In 1909, Lincoln was on the cent, but we were using Liberty nickels and Barber series coins. We were still headed toward the "golden age" of 1916. In 1932, with the Washington quarter being issued as a circulating commemorative, that was the first red flag. Then, with the decision to drop the SLQ and continue with Washington, that signalled the end. It wouldn't be long before the Buffalo nickel would be changed in favor of TJ.

 

After FDR's death in 1945, we lost the Merc and picked up the ugliest coin to that date. And since the government can't leave well enough alone, two years later we lost Walkers, arguably the best designed U.S. silver coin ever minted.

 

As a side note, I also agree with Ætheling that 1934 is also correct due to the fact that it's the first year the U.S. stopped issuing circulating gold coins.

 

Jerry

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Trying to find a precise date that applies to most countries will be impossible. In most of Europe, for example, 1945 was an important break also in terms of coinage. (Or the year of post-war stabilization; 1948/49 has been mentioned here for Germany before.) For most African countries anything post-colonial would probably be "modern" ...

 

Of course what is "modern" also depends on what other categories are available. Over here, 1999/2002 surely was an important dividing line since that is when the euro came. But if everything before those dates would then simply end up in the "old" category, I would strongly suggest shifting that line ;-)

 

Christian

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