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Text and Fonts on Coins

Started by Galapagos, September 01, 2009, 02:29:32 PM

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As thematic collector, I like to see both text and image on a coin.

Sometimes, though, the style of the text, or the font, is as noteworthy as the the image.

On rare occasions the design consists of text only and no image.

In 2005 a UK 50 pence commemorated Samuel Johnson's "A Dictionary of the English Language".

I was annoyed when I read that the design would be all text.

When I saw it, however, I fell in love with it.

The designer, Tom Phillips, has used the various fonts to good effect.

He obviously put a lot of thought into the design.



Gothic script has been used to good effect on the coins of Danzig.

Here it is seen on a 1 Gulden coin of 1932.

UK 1847 Gothic crown.jpg

And famously we see it on the aptly named "Gothic Florin" of Victoria.

She is depicted in a style that matches the font perfectly.

It has often been said that Britain's monarchs are more German than English.

Perhaps this classic coin was making that point.


Ah, but the fonts used in the first post are quite different from those in the second one. :)  When I got that Johnson Dictionary coin (like it too), I thought of the text as a partial "photo" of a dictionary entry. (Theoretically the designer could have used ultra-tiny font sizes and shown dozens on such entries, and the idea behind the design would still have been "met".) The other two use the Gothic and Fraktur fonts for the country or ruler name, thus it's text rather than an image ...

Fraktur was hardly ever used on German Empire coins. After all it is very hard to read in all caps, and the alternative (mix of uppercase and lowercase, thus different heights of characters) does not look very balanced. Just look at the nazi coinage. The Gothic script on that florin is different; works a little better with coins.



The Federal Republic of Germany has never used "Fraktur" on coins. Again I should say for informative text on coins - sometimes it is used as a background illustration. As on this collector coin from 1983:

Of course the GDR also issued a Luther coin (actually more than one) in that year. Three of them, which show important places in Luther's life, have Fraktur text:

(Larger image of the last one, obverse)



You have to be careful with terminology, too - to a typesetter, "Gothic" is actually quite a plain form of font, and what we commonly call "Gothic" is known as "Black Letter".  "Fraktur" is the German form of Black Letter, and there are a number of minor differences between the two, as close comparison of individual letters on the Danzig Gulden and Luther commems on the one hand and the Victorian florin on the other should show.



Indonesia, 50 rupiah, 1999.

Indonesia 100 rupiah 1973.jpg

I've always admired the interplay of text and image on the modern Indonesian coins.

They're very confident and stylish in their use of different sizes of font.

Also in the way they overlay images with text or numerals.

I also like the fonts used for the "Rp" abbreviation.

For me, it is the marriage of the text and picture that gives Indonesian coins their distinctive style.

Look how boldly the denomination dominates the 50 rupiah above.

It takes up more than half the space, and yet it still looks good.


It is a 0.900 fine Silver token
It says Prosit Neujahr  (Happy New Year)
Looks German, but pretty confident it is Austrian.



Two from Germany that, on the issue specific side, are "text only" - a 10 mark coin commemorating 50 years of the Federal Republic, and a 10 euro coin commemorating the 2004 enlargement of the European Union. Images from Ritter.

So on the first piece we have a sans serif font, and the middle part of the text is a spiral. The other has a font with serifs, and several concentric circles.



UK 5 pounds 2003.jpg

Those do nothing for me, I'm afraid, Christian. Here's a UK one that's almost as bad.


Quote from: Ice Torch on September 03, 2009, 12:36:02 AM
Those do nothing for me, I'm afraid, Christian. Here's a UK one that's almost as bad...

P.S. This is from "our" Tony Clayton's site.

I do like the calligraphy on this one, though the outline effigy of HM doesn't quite look right to me.


Quote from: Ice Torch on September 03, 2009, 12:36:02 AM
Those do nothing for me, I'm afraid, Christian.

Fine with me. :)  I just wanted to show two coins from around here which (apart from the mandatory eagle) have text only. Whether the designs are magnificent, ho-hum or lousy is a different matter ... The royal effigy reminds me of this (later) Dutch commem by the way:



China 1 chiao 1941.jpg

China, 1 chiao, 1941.

As an Englishman, I feel at home with the so called Roman alphabet.

I understand only a little of the Cyrillic and Greek alphabets.

There are other scripts and alphabets that I do not understand at all.

However, sometimes I find they look beautiful despite this.

It's a purely aesthetic experience, as I can't read the meaning that the text is conveying.

Here is a Chinese coin that has that effect on me.

The positioning of the text happens to be just right.



On this Swedish öre coins of 1968, the text has been presented in an unusual way.

The text sits within a series of incuse boxes.

The engraving combines with the positioning to produce an unusual and original result.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.



The predecimal coins of Ireland used Gaelic descriptions for their denominations.

They were presented in an unusual font.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.



10 dinar, 1938.

20 dinar, 1938.

50 dinar, 1938.

The font on this Yugoslav 1938 one dinar coin is also interesting.

The coins of Yugoslavia are an interesting case.

That country was "biscriptal", meaning its peoples wrote in two different alphabets.

These were the Latin (Roman) alphabet and the Cyrillic alphabet.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.