World of Coins

Modern European coins except the euro => UK and Ireland => Regular circulating decimal coins => Topic started by: <k> on May 01, 2017, 01:24:15 PM

Title: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 01, 2017, 01:24:15 PM
In May 1979 Mrs Thatcher's government came to power in the UK. The Royal Mint contacted the Treasury at an early date to discuss the future of the UK coinage. The discussions went through various phases. Early suggestions included the introduction of a 25p coin; bronze 20p/25p and 50p coins; and the possibility of a 2 pound note. Predictably the Treasury did not like the idea of bronze 20p/25p and 50p coins, as it would suggest the depreciation of the currency.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 01, 2017, 01:25:52 PM
I will post images of some of the early suggestions, as taken from the documents of the time.

The demonetisation of the 1p coin, without a simultaneous demonetisation of the 2p coin, is of course ridiculous, if you still retained a 5p coin.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 01, 2017, 01:26:59 PM
More. The suggestions changed, in some cases, as the discussion progressed.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 01, 2017, 01:27:44 PM
More.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 01, 2017, 01:29:06 PM
A 2 pound note was eventually ruled out. That, of course, would have been a matter for the Bank of England, not the Royal Mint.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 01, 2017, 01:30:03 PM
See also: UK pound coin design sketches of 1979 (http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,38868.0.html).
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: FosseWay on May 01, 2017, 01:53:43 PM
Very interesting that they already in 1979 were planning for the removal of the penny. Also very strange that they were planning to remove the penny before the twopence. It strikes me as obvious that you've got to either remove both, leaving the 5p as the lowest denomination, or neither, or just the 2p (which, if accompanied by a change to the penny (e.g. minting in aluminium) would reduce the total weight of the coinage). Removing the penny but not the twopence just ends up with people giving change for change. No sum is arithmetically impossible to tender, but it is needlessly complicated for retailers and customers. Is there anywhere that has had a 2-unit coin without also having a 1 and/or 3?

The predictions for introducing the £1 and removing the sixpence and the halfpenny were pretty accurate. On the other hand, the resizing of the 5p and 10p actually occurred 5 or more years after the prediction. Given the low total mintages of those coins between 1981 and 1990/92, it seems clear that a change was needed. So why did it take till 1990 to sort it out?
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: Figleaf on May 01, 2017, 02:12:18 PM
The discussions above lead me to think that there were at least two tribes of officials:
Typically, the first tribe would be elder officials, theoretically inclined, deciders in last instance and brilliant in the art of covering their backs, while the second one would be younger, practice-oriented and more energetic pen-holders, unaware they were sticking out their necks, setting the tone by making proposals, only to see them decimated by their overlords. "Yes (prime) minister" could have made an episode on this, with Sir Humphrey Appleby wanting a 5/6th new penny to ease the transition. :)

The contrast with the introduction of the euro coin series is great. In that instance, the re-thinkers beat the traditionalist. Easy enough if you are dealing with many different traditions.

Peter
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 01, 2017, 08:08:50 PM
The contrast with the introduction of the euro coin series is great. In that instance, the re-thinkers beat the traditionalist. Easy enough if you are dealing with many different traditions.

You're not contrasting like with like there, though. The decimal system kept the 5p and 10p at the same respective sizes as the shilling and florin, to aid the transition. In addition, in 1979 the sixpence was still circulating. The Mint had to negotiate various constraints. In the event, the new coins were very successful, because everybody knew what they were and they were easily distinguishable, despite the very few millimetres difference in their diameters from other coins It would have been interesting to see what they would have done with a clean slate, such as the euro had.

Maybe some of our members would like to say how they would design a totally new UK coin set from scratch, if they had a free rein to decide size, shape, metal, denominations and design.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 01, 2017, 08:11:04 PM
the resizing of the 5p and 10p actually occurred 5 or more years after the prediction. Given the low total mintages of those coins between 1981 and 1990/92, it seems clear that a change was needed. So why did it take till 1990 to sort it out?

I have no answer for that. I first saw various options presented in the Royal Mint bulletin (sent out to coin collector customers) of Christmas 1985. Then I waited, and waited, and waited.  :-X
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: FosseWay on May 01, 2017, 09:13:38 PM
I have no answer for that. I first saw various options presented in the Royal Mint bulletin (sent out to coin collector customers) of Christmas 1985. Then I waited, and waited, and waited.  :-X

Yes, I received (and still have) the same booklet. I can understand that a consultation begun in 1985 would take until 1990 to start to be implemented on the ground. The new information in the research you've shown in this thread is that this was all already being talked about in 1979. My question is therefore not why it took five years after publishing the options, but rather why it took them six years to publish the options in the first place. Even decimalisation barely had that kind of lead time, and the euro certainly didn't.
Title: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: Alan71 on May 01, 2017, 09:21:14 PM
An 18.5 mm 10p.  That's surely almost as radical as some of the possibilities later revealed!

Are we surmising that the slow-down in inflation made some of these changes less pressing?

(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170501/0274a681f03c0d3fa7bb801f87281cf6.jpg)
(From an old topic)
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: SandyGuyUK on May 01, 2017, 10:00:24 PM
Maybe some of our members would like to say how they would design a totally new UK coin set from scratch, if they had a free rein to decide size, shape, metal, denominations and design.

I have been having a think about this and would go for the following given completely free rein:

DenominationApprox. DiameterColour/CompositionShapeApprox. Weight
5p18mmRed (Copper-plated steel)Scalloped edge2g
10p22mmRed (Copper-plated steel)Round4g
20p20mmWhite (Nickel-plated steel)Heptagonal3g
50p24mmWhite (Nickel-plated steel)Octagonal6g
£123mmYellow/White (Bimetallic)Round7g
£225mmWhite/Yellow (Bimetallic)Round9g
£528mmWhite/Yellow/Red (Triimetallic)Decagonal11g

I've tried to think about ensuring that the system is useful, easy to differentiate by sight/feel and not too heavy.  I don't see why we shouldn't think about more use of bi-metallic or even tri-metallic (as per the old French 20Fr coin) and maybe some other shapes as well rather than just Heptagonal, Dodecagonal or Round.

I would still keep a 5p for the time being given that to lose it could be inflationary, but definitely think we should be looking for a circulating £5 coin and so have opted for a smaller size than say the Manx versions (either old or new).

Any other thoughts on this or other suggestions?
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: FosseWay on May 01, 2017, 10:09:51 PM
Hertfordian has thought along the same lines as I was doing, though I hadn't thought of an octagonal 50p. I would probably retain the heptagonal shape for both "silver" coins.

I don't really agree with the current philosophy that all coins must be as small and light as possible. Sometimes it seems that the only reason any coins are bigger than 25 mm and weigh more than 6-7 g is because of the physical impossibility of shoehorning a full range of denominations into the available spectrum (say minimum 17.5 mm). It always feels as if anything larger is made grudgingly.

Now I fully understand the desire to keep the total weight down, but in the case of a £5 coin there would never be any pressing need for someone to carry more than one, max. two, of them around. The Irish £1 coin was a handsome beast, and being quite thin it wasn't actually all that heavy. The Swiss 5 francs and the old 5 DM coins were also imposing coins and AFAIK do/did not cause the public problems.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: Alan71 on May 01, 2017, 10:16:44 PM
I'm not sure any changes are needed for now.  The 1p and 2p might go at some point but I don't see the point in changing the rest of them for the sake of it.  The Royal Mint passed up an opportunity to change the 5p and 10p again when they retained the same sizes and weights for the nickel-plated coins.  We still don't know if Isle of Man's £5 coin will circulate.  I doubt it will.  And whilst Gibraltar and Isle of Man are ignoring 1p and 2p in sets, neither have announced they will withdraw them from circulation.

If anything, these documents that <k>'s posted indicate that, whilst radical plans for the coinage existed, the actual changes were much more conservative. And the UK, in turn, has been much more radical than countries like Australia that are still using its £sd-derived coins. 
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 01, 2017, 11:07:10 PM
Any other thoughts on this or other suggestions?

In a while I'll post the current UK and euro coin specs for comparison, before making some comments. I like the idea of several shapes, but a Royal Mint doc I was reading, dated circa 1990, said that scalloped coins were not easily recognised by machines. Whether that is still the case, I don't know. Technology tends to improve over time, of course, and modern machines seem to have no problems in recognising even crumpled banknotes.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 02, 2017, 01:19:21 AM
I definitely think we should be looking for a circulating £5 coin

Interesting, because nobody voted for that in my recent poll:

Should the UK issue a circulating 5 pound coin? (http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,38839.0.html)

So, what are the options:

1] You spoilt your ballot paper

2] You fibbed in the poll

3] Somebody impersonated you

Are you the sort of person who tells the pollsters you're going to vote Toryservative and then votes Laboural Demoncat instead?

So, are you going to come clean, or should I call the police?  :o
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 02, 2017, 02:12:39 AM
I have been having a think about this and would go for the following given completely free rein:

DenominationApprox. DiameterColour/CompositionShapeApprox. Weight
5p18mmRed (Copper-plated steel)Scalloped edge2g
10p22mmRed (Copper-plated steel)Round4g
20p20mmWhite (Nickel-plated steel)Heptagonal3g
50p24mmWhite (Nickel-plated steel)Octagonal6g
£123mmYellow/White (Bimetallic)Round7g
£225mmWhite/Yellow (Bimetallic)Round9g
£528mmWhite/Yellow/Red (Triimetallic)Decagonal11g

First off, shape. The 1990-ish Royal Mint doc I was reading says that scalloped coins tend to jam in machines. Also, would an octagonal coin roll? If not, it would be no good in machines – though I do like the shape.

The weight relationship: 5p / 10p, 2g / 4g, well, that’s quite an old-fashioned British tradition, but it increases the weight of the coinage unnecessarily. Then you go: 20p / 50p, 3g / 6g. But 20p x 2 is not 50p.  And if your £1 is 7g, then your £2 should be 14g and your £5 would be 35g.

Looking at your 20p / 50p again, you’ve got them at 20mm / 24mm. So, for your 50p, you’ve crammed half its weight into the last 4mm – that’s almost 1g per 1mm. That’s going to be one lop-sided coin. A bit of re-think is in order for parts of your system, IMO.



So which are the good points? Your smallest coin is 18mm, and in fact the actual current 5p is that size. Personally, I also like that as the smallest size. The ½p was a bit too small at 17.2mm (and light at 1.8g, being 1mm thick).

Your 5 pound coin, at 28mm and 11g, is roughly the size and weight of the old 10p and florin (28.5mm and 11.3g). I'd agree that that is the maximum size I'd want, though maybe a little lighter at around 8g would suit me better.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 02, 2017, 02:58:26 AM
Now I'll show our UK system.  I've included the decimal half penny, which was last used in 1984, just for comparison purposes.



   Denom      Diam      Metal      Shape      Weight      Thickness   
   ½p      17.1mm      Red      Round      1.8g      1.00mm   
   1p      20.3mm      Red      Round      3.6g      1.65mm   
   2p      25.9mm      Red      Round      7.1g      1.85mm   
   5p      18.0mm      White      Round      3.3g      1.70mm   
   10p      24.5mm      White      Round      6.5g      1.85mm   
   20p      21.4mm      White      7-sided      5.0g      1.70mm   
   50p      27.3mm      White      7-sided      8.0g      1.78mm   
   £1      22.5mm      Yellow      Round      9.5g      3.15mm   
   £1      23.4mm      Yellow/White      12-sided      8.8g      2.80mm   
   £2      28.4mm      Yellow/White      Round      12.0g      2.50mm   



I didn't like the half penny, as it was just too small and definitely too thin. 

Ideally, the penny could be slightly smaller, at say 19mm - but then it might get confused with the similar-sized 5p, despite its colour and milled edge.

The 2p is way too large for its worth, as everybody points out.

The 5p is just right for its worth. I wouldn't want to see any coin smaller than that.

The 10p is a bit too large at 24.5mm. I preferred the small Irish 10p, at 22mm. However, we have several UK coins at or very close to 22mm, so probably that wouldn't work.

The 20p is perfect in every way: shape, size to worth, weight.

The 50p is 27.3mm.  I'd like it slightly smaller. For me, the Cyprus 50c of 1994 was just right at 26mm.

The round pound was way too thick for my liking, but that was a concession to the blind. The new pound is a smidgeon slimmer (2.8mm compared to 3.15mm for the round pound), but not that you'd notice with the naked eye. The old threepence came in at 2.5mm thick. 7g instead of 8.8g would be better. Why must it be SO heavy? Again, to satisfy the blind, I think.

The 2 pound coin is a bit too big at 28.4mm. 26mm would be better. I don't see why any coin should weigh more than 7g, but the 2 pound coin is 12.g. That's excessive, IMO.



So, that's what I do and don't like about our current system. I'll have to think about what I'd choose from scratch. Certainly I liked 7-sided coins - they are excellent vehicles for commemoratives too. After the 20p and 50p, I like the 5p. The 12-sided pound is very smart, but I'm still getting used to it.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 02, 2017, 03:13:15 AM
For comparison purposes, I'll list the euro system:

   Denom      Diam      Metal      Shape      Weight      Thickness   
   1c      16.25mm      Red      Round      2.3g      1.67mm   
   2c      18.75mm      Red      Round      3.1g      1.67mm   
   5c      21.25mm      Red      Round      3.9g      1.67mm   
   10c      19.75mm      Yellow      Round      4.1g      1.93mm   
   20c      22.25mm      Yellow      Sp. Flower      5.7g      2.14mm   
   50c      24.25mm      Yellow      Round      7.8g      2.38mm   
   1 Euro      23.25mm      Yellow/White      Round      7.5g      2.33mm   
   2 Euro      25.75mm      White/Yellow      Round      8.5g      2.20mm   



What do I like about it? The widest coin is 25.75mm. The disadvantage of that is that the width gap between coins is small. Can the blind distinguish them as easily as the UK coins? But the sub-families are well thought out: three red, three yellow, two bimetallic. Nice!

What do I dislike? There are not enough shapes. The Spanish flower, well, it's not quite as distinctive as our 7-sided coins. And the smallest coin is a bit too small at 16.75mm. I go for our 5p as the minimum, at 18mm.

Design-wise, I dislike the stars on the outer rim, that take up so much space and detract from the design. However, it is also very functional, as it gives the coin a uniform look, which is important when you have so many different (national) design types. So, function must come first, reluctantly, for a design hound such as me.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 02, 2017, 10:15:18 AM
I don't really agree with the current philosophy that all coins must be as small and light as possible. Sometimes it seems that the only reason any coins are bigger than 25 mm and weigh more than 6-7 g is because of the physical impossibility of shoehorning a full range of denominations into the available spectrum (say minimum 17.5 mm). It always feels as if anything larger is made grudgingly.

Some metals are considerably more expensive, now that most of the "low-hanging fruit" has been picked:





And to mine ore in the  first place, you need energy - usually provided by oil. See the attachment. Also, google "oil shortage 2020". So size does become important, when you are supplying coins to millions of people.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 05, 2017, 01:03:42 PM
I have been having a think about this and would go for the following given completely free rein:

DenominationApprox. DiameterColour/CompositionShapeApprox. Weight
5p18mmRed (Copper-plated steel)Scalloped edge2g
10p22mmRed (Copper-plated steel)Round4g
20p20mmWhite (Nickel-plated steel)Heptagonal3g
50p24mmWhite (Nickel-plated steel)Octagonal6g
£123mmYellow/White (Bimetallic)Round7g
£225mmWhite/Yellow (Bimetallic)Round9g
£528mmWhite/Yellow/Red (Triimetallic)Decagonal11g

I said I'd have a go, and you reminded me recently about it. I haven't forgotten and am still thinking about it. However, I am finding it a more challenging proposition that I imagined, as there are many constraints to think about.

I have read in Royal Mint documents of the 1980s and 1990s that the Royal Mint likes to maintain a diameter gap of 3mm between coins of the same family (same shape and colour). to aid recognition, and especially for the blind. Back in the 1980s, the Mint wanted to give both the 20p and the round pound a diameter of 22mm, but the vending machine manufacturers explained that their machines needed a minimum of 1mm between any two coins in order to recognise them. Whether that still holds, I don't know, but the Mint changed the planned diameters in response. Does anybody read the current technical info, with regard to vending machines?

So, I have to recognise constraints. After taking those into consideration, I can develop some preferences. My preference is for smaller rather than larger coins. However, my starting point is the size of the current 5p - I wouldn't like to see any coin smaller than that. I've mentioned that I preferred the size of the reduced Irish 10p (22mm) to our somewhat larger current one, and I also preferred the size of the 7-sided Cypriot 50c (26mm, mid-1990s) to our somewhat larger current 50p. However, if I want to go "smallest possible" (or "feasible"), then these coins (10p, 50p) may turn out to be even slighter smaller than my admired templates. And a 50p smaller than 26mm would not please me, because of the fact that I like the 50p commemoratives, and these must be large enough to allow room for a detailed design; anything smaller than 26mm would not satisify me.

Beyond that, I also have my favourites, size-wise, among our existing coins: the 5p and the 20p. However, as the first in a family (shape and colour), the 20p at 21.4mm is slightly larger than strictly necessary. It could perhaps feasibly be reduced to 19.5mm - but then would I like it so much? So I find functionality and aesthetics clashing with one another - in part because I am burdened with prior knowledge.

I also need to decide what the diameter of the largest coin should be. Should it be 26mm or 27mm or 28mm? Which should be the largest? Would the public find a system where the largest coin was only 26mm less easy or satisfying to use? Then there is the question of weight and thickness. Deciding these things for one coin is an easy matter, but when the coinage is taken as a whole, do these weights and thicknesses help the public to distinguish the coins? Then there are the edges. Should they be smooth or milled, or a mixture of both? Should they have a security edge with inscription? Some edges are very different - the edge of the Irish punt coin, for instance. There must be a technical name for the properties of that particular edge shape, but I don't know it.

Then there is "family" (shape and colour). How many coins should there be, maximum, in each family? Currently the UK has no more than two coins in each family: red and round (1p and 2p); white and round (5p and 10p); white and 7-sided (20p and 50p). The 12-sided bimetallic pound and the round bimetallic 2 pound coin each form their own one-member family. However, in the 1960s the sixpence, shilling, florin and half crown formed a four-member family, and these coins were still easily distinguishable.

As for shapes, which shapes are desirable? Are several one-family shapes acceptable? And how do you decide which denominations are suitable to be polygonal? Would the public accept a shaped red coin of low denomination? And how about bimetallics? How many do we really need? With only 6 or 7 coins to an acceptable system, can't we design it without the need for bimetallics? But, of course, bimetallics are pretty. The public and collectors like them. But is there a real need for them? They are usually high value coins, so it is essentially a matter of security. But why does the 50p not deserve to be maximally secure?

Staying with shapes, which shapes can be accepted in vending machines? They need to roll, and we know that 12-sided and 7-sided coins do roll. I would surmise that square coins don't. What about 5-sided, 6-sided, 8-sided, 9-sided, 10-sided, 11-sided? I did read in some Royal Mint document that scalloped coins are prone to become stuck in vending machines.

The ultimate size of coins is also related to the cost of producing them. When the Royal Mint reps met Chancellor Geoffrey Howe in 1979 to present him with their plans for a 20p and pound coin, he expressed his dislike of such a small pound coin at 22mm. The Deputy Master of the Mint explained that he himself would have liked a pound coin of around 28mm, but the government had given him a tight budget, and to stay within that budget meant accepting smaller coins! I should have made a note of which doc I found that in, but I've been whizzing through masses of them at speed, and I don't always remember to do this, first time round.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 05:17:52 AM
DenomDiameterMetalShapeEdgeThicknessWeight
5p18.0mmRedRoundMilled1.6mm2.8g
10p19.5mmRed12-sidedSmooth1.6mm3.4g
20p21.0mmWhiteRoundAlternate smooth-milled1.6mm3.9g
50p22.5mmWhite7-sidedSmooth1.8mm5.0g
£124.0mmYellowRoundSecurity groove1.9mm6.0g
£225.5mmYellow10-sidedSmooth2.2mm7.5g


So here it is, my minimalist UK coinage system. I have based it on functionality - not aesthetics. The system starts at 5p and ends at £2. The supermarkets will price to the penny but round the total bill to the nearest 5p at the till. The 5 pound note will remain - there is no need yet for a coin.

There are only 6 coins, so there is no need for more than three "colours". Bimetallics are not necessary.

I have gone for minimal size and weight, within certain constraints. The thinnest coins are 1.6mm thick; in the current UK system, the penny is 1.65mm thick, whereas the old decimal half penny was too thin at only 1mm thick. The maximum thickness in my system is 2.2mm, same as the 2 euro coin and the old half crown. That compares to the current maximum thickness of 2.8mm for the 12-sided pound, while the old 2 shillings was 2.5mm thick, as was the brass threepence.

Currently, the UK's three heaviest coins are the 2 pound coin (12g); the 12-sided pound (8.8g); and the 50p (8g). In my new system, the heaviest coin will be 7.5g, which is slightly heavier than the current 2p (7.1g). In a six-coin system, there is no need for a coin to be heavier than 7.5g. The Irish punt coin was 31.1mm wide but weighed only 10g, due to its meagre 1.9mm thickness.

As for shapes, scalloped coins jam easily in machines, but I am assuming 10-sided coins do "roll".

There is a minimum gap (difference in diameter) of 1.5mm between any two coins of different denomination, compared to 1.1mm in our current system. This is partly to aid the blind. There is also a minimum 3mm gap between any two round coins of different denomination and between any two polygonal coins of different denomination. Again, this is to aid recognition, particularly for the blind. Additionally, the coin denominations ascend in clearly distinguishable shapes: round, polygonal, round, polygonal, round, polygonal. All the polygonal coins of different types have a different number of sides, but all have smooth edges. However, all the different round coins have different edges from each other - again, to aid the blind. Also, even any sighted person should be able to distinguish the coins in the dark.

In terms of thickness, my new system starts at 1.6mm and ends at 2.2mm, whereas the current system starts at 1.65mm and ends at 2.8mm. Bear in mind that the old 2 shillings was 2.5mm thick, and the half crown was only 2.2mm thick. Remember also that the Irish punt, at 31.1mm wide, was only 1.9mm thick. Meanwhile, the euro system starts at 1.67mm and rises to 2.38mm.

My system leaves room for a 5 pound coin of 27mm. This could be yellow with a "Spanish flower" grooved edge or else bimetallic. I have not mentioned security measures for high denomination coins, but there are plenty available.

When the 20p was trialled in the early 1980s, the trial coin was given reasonably sharp corners, and the blind were happy with it. However, the issued coins had much more rounded corners, and so the blind sometimes confuse the 20p with the penny, which is of a similar size, and both coins have a smooth edge. My proposed system avoids such confusion by paying attention to both shape and edge type.

So, any comments?
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 05:27:25 AM
Incidentally, when I mentioned a security groove (edge), I was thinking of the Irish punt, and the Hong Kong $5 of the 1960s. The punt edge below is courtesy of coinz.eu (http://coinz.eu/irl/2_iep/13_pound_1_1990_2000_irish_coins.php).
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 11:19:08 AM
Out of interest, I'll show the edges of the euro coins, to see how well they aid identification. Yes, it looks as if the blind are well served.

See the relevant coinz.eu web page (http://coinz.eu/deu/1_eur/index_1_eur_en.php) and click on the links. Coinz.eu had the excellent idea of showing the third side of the coin: the edge.

Below are some reduced images of the edges, so you get a quick comparison.

1c - plain.
2c - plain with a groove.
5c – plain.
10c – reeded.
20c- plain with seven indents (Spanish Flower).
50c – reeded.
1 euro - three plain and three reeded sections.
2 euro - reeded with concave inscription.

Above are the edge descriptions, as shown on coinz.eu.

Actually,  the 5c edge looks reeded to my eyes. UPDATE: apparently this is due to "moiré", an artefact cause by compression of the image. The edge is in fact smooth.

 
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 12:21:04 PM
(http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=26382.0;attach=43448;image)

Trial 12-sided pound coin.



I just looked at one of my 12-sided pound coins and remembered they were going to include the year on the edge. In fact, there is just a plain smooth edge where the year was going to be. When was this change decided on?

Also, you can see here why coins with an even number of sides/edges are harder for machines to recognise:

New £1 coin gets even (https://plus.maths.org/content/new-1-coin-gets-even)
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: Figleaf on May 08, 2017, 12:23:44 PM
The apparent reeding is an optical effect, moiré (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moiré_pattern), resulting from low resolution.

The series has size differences of 2.5 mm between coins of the same colour. The number was chosen because it was scientifically determined that it is sufficient for the blind.

Peter

 
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: eurocoin on May 08, 2017, 12:39:07 PM

I just looked at one of my 12-sided pound coins and remembered they were going to include the year on the edge. In fact, there is just a plain smooth edge where the year was going to be. When was this change decided on?


Short after they released that computer drawing (so very early in the process). It was very dumb of them to include that as they did not take into account that in future years the date in roman numerals would contain much more roman numerals and would likely no longer fit on the edge.

The minted trial pieces that were handed out to businesses did not have that edge lettering. The only piece that may ever have been minted with it is the trial strike that was minted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the Royal Mint in 2014.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 12:46:28 PM
The apparent reeding is an optical effect, moiré (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moiré_pattern), resulting from low resolution.

Thanks, I have updated my original post.

Quote
The series has size differences of 1.5 mm between coins of the same colour. The number was chosen because it was scientifically determined that it is sufficient for the blind.

I'd read the same thing in Royal Mint documents, which is why I left a 1.5mm gap between coins in my ideal system, above. However, the current UK system is less than ideal, in that respect. This is a legacy problem. The original UK decimal system did not start with a clean slate, because it was decided to make the 5p the same size as the shilling and the 10p the same size as the 2 shillings. The shilling and 2 shillings coin circulated until the 1990s. In addition, the old pre-decimal sixpence was retained (as the equivalent of 2½p) until 1980. These decisions were made to ease the transition to the decimal system for the public. They certainly did ease the transition. However, they left the system with a legacy problem. With hindsight, probably it would have been much better to start the decimal system specifications from scratch and ignore what went before. The problems with confusion between the 1p and 20p reveal the weaknesses of those decisions, because they left a limited range of size slots for subsequent coins.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 01:10:45 PM
(http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=3231.0;attach=73841;image)

Look at this 5p trial from the 1980s. (The 10p is also a very small trial).



In my ideal system, I did not consider the inner rim. I like the raised rim on the 20p - it looks good. However, if some blind people still confuse the 20p with the flat 1p (which has a conventional round rim), then I would suggest that raised rims, wide rims and shaped or polygonal rims add nothing in terms of functionality. They look pretty and are interesting to collectors, but I stated that my ideal system, posted above, is based on functionality, not aesthetics.

 
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 01:14:10 PM
Short after they released that computer drawing (so very early in the process). It was very dumb of them to include that as they did not take into account that in future years the date in roman numerals would contain much more roman numerals and would likely no longer fit on the edge.

The minted trial pieces that were handed out to businesses did not have that edge lettering. The only piece that may ever have been minted with it is the trial strike that was minted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the Royal Mint in 2014.

Thank you, eurocoin. I didn't know that. Strange that I just noticed it now, but I have been busy lately.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 01:24:17 PM
   Denom      Diam      Metal      Shape      Weight      Thickness   
   1p      20.3mm      Red      Round      3.6g      1.65mm   
   2p      25.9mm      Red      Round      7.1g      1.85mm   
   5p      18.0mm      White      Round      3.3g      1.70mm   
   10p      24.5mm      White      Round      6.5g      1.85mm   
   20p      21.4mm      White      7-sided      5.0g      1.70mm   
   50p      27.3mm      White      7-sided      8.0g      1.78mm   
   £1      23.4mm      Yellow/White      12-sided      8.8g      2.80mm   
   £2      28.4mm      Yellow/White      Round      12.0g      2.50mm   

The current UK system.



DenominationApprox. DiameterColour/CompositionShapeApprox. Weight
5p18mmRed (Copper-plated steel)Scalloped edge2g
10p22mmRed (Copper-plated steel)Round4g
20p20mmWhite (Nickel-plated steel)Heptagonal3g
50p24mmWhite (Nickel-plated steel)Octagonal6g
£123mmYellow/White (Bimetallic)Round7g
£225mmWhite/Yellow (Bimetallic)Round9g
£528mmWhite/Yellow/Red (Triimetallic)Decagonal11g

hertfordian's proposed system.



DenomDiameterMetalShapeEdgeThicknessWeight
5p18.0mmRedRoundMilled1.6mm2.8g
10p19.5mmRed12-sidedSmooth1.6mm3.4g
20p21.0mmWhiteRoundAlternate smooth-milled1.6mm3.9g
50p22.5mmWhite7-sidedSmooth1.8mm5.0g
£124.0mmYellowRoundSecurity groove1.9mm6.0g
£225.5mmYellow10-sidedSmooth2.2mm7.5g

<k>'s proposed system.



   Denom      Diam      Metal      Shape      Weight      Thickness   
   1c      16.25mm      Red      Round      2.3g      1.67mm   
   2c      18.75mm      Red      Round      3.1g      1.67mm   
   5c      21.25mm      Red      Sp. Flower      3.9g      1.67mm   
   10c      19.75mm      Yellow      Round      4.1g      1.93mm   
   20c      22.25mm      Yellow      Round      5.7g      2.14mm   
   50c      24.25mm      Yellow      Round      7.8g      2.38mm   
   1 Euro      23.25mm      Yellow/White      Round      7.5g      2.33mm   
   2 Euro      25.75mm      White/Yellow      Round      8.5g      2.20mm   

The euro system.



By including the euro system, I am not comparing like with like. However, it was a logical system that was developed from a clean slate, and it shows how you can have a generally smaller and lighter system of coins. By contrast, the UK decimal system did not have an entirely clean slate: it incorporated the 5p and 10p at the same respective sizes as their predecessors (the shilling and 2 shillings) and even retained the sixpence coin as a 2½p equivalent. As a result, the minimum gap between coins is not the recommended 1.5mm but only 1.1mm in around three cases.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 01:51:48 PM
I would criticise hertfordian's choices, because he has only a 1mm gap between four coins, and two round coins have only a 1mm gap between them. This would confuse blind people. So, I think my system is superior in terms of functionality, but his would look prettier than mine. If we had a forum poll, probably most voting members would choose looks over functionality.  :-\
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: chrisild on May 08, 2017, 02:22:49 PM
By including the euro system, I am not comparing like with like. However, it was a logical system that was developed from a clean slate, and it shows how you can have a generally smaller and lighter system of coins.

Just a quick side note, off-topic but not totally OT in the context of your post. ;) The specifications for the euro coins were modified in February 1999 (a few months after some mints had started the production, oh the joy) due to requests of the vending industry and blind people. The weight of the 50 cent coin went up from 7.0 to the 7.8 grams you list, and the edge of the 10 and 50 ct was changed from "coarse milled" to "shaped edge with fine scallops" ...

Christian
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 05:24:22 PM
Thanks, chrisild, I never knew that. No doubt some examples escaped into private hands before they were all melted.

The bronze coins followed by brass-coloured coins in the euro system reminds me of the Federal Republic coin system, of course. How many other European systems started with bronze, brass? The higher euro denominations are bimetallic, but pre-euro Germany never had bimetallics. Who was the first European country to have standard circulating bimetallics? France? Italy?
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 05:44:25 PM
   Denom      Diam      Metal      Shape      Weight      Thickness   
   1p      20.3mm      Red      Round      3.6g      1.65mm   
   2p      25.9mm      Red      Round      7.1g      1.85mm   
   5p      18.0mm      White      Round      3.3g      1.70mm   
   10p      24.5mm      White      Round      6.5g      1.85mm   
   20p      21.4mm      White      7-sided      5.0g      1.70mm   
   50p      27.3mm      White      7-sided      8.0g      1.78mm   
   £1      23.4mm      Yellow/White      12-sided      8.8g      2.80mm   
   £2      28.4mm      Yellow/White      Round      12.0g      2.50mm   

The current UK system.



DenomDiameterMetalShapeEdgeThicknessWeight
5p18.0mmRedRoundMilled1.6mm2.8g
10p19.5mmRed12-sidedSmooth1.6mm3.4g
20p21.0mmWhiteRoundAlternate smooth-milled1.6mm3.9g
50p22.5mmWhite7-sidedSmooth1.8mm5.0g
£124.0mmYellowRoundSecurity groove1.9mm6.0g
£225.5mmYellow10-sidedSmooth2.2mm7.5g

<k>'s proposed system.



Looking at my proposed UK system again, and comparing it with the current system, you'll see that collectors would not be pleased. My 50p, though still 7-sided, falls by around 5mm in width, ending up only 1mm wider than the current 20p. This would not please collectors of the commemorative 50p, which has a nice amount of space to display thematic designs. Really only my proposed £2 coin is wide enough to carry a decent-sized commemorative theme. So the cost of collecting commemoratives would go up. The round pound had different designs, but at 22.5mm it was only good for heraldry and symbolism, though the bridge series did work well. It's interesting to remember that in pre-decimal times, the UK used an especially large non-circulating coin, the crown (5 shillings, 38mm), for commemoratives. Australia, however, issued a few 2 shilling commemoratives, whereas New Zealand preferred the half crown for that purpose. Australia didn't have a half crown, of course.

As for the cost of commemoratives, back in around 1999 or 2000, Richard Lobel of Coincraft (London) sent a letter to Coin News (UK), complaining that our commemorative 50p coins made collecting too expensive for young people. He suggested we should use 10p coins for that purpose instead, to bring down the cost and come closer to the US practice of issuing commemorative quarters. That was back in the early days of more regular circulating commemoratives. You will remember how in the 1950s there were so many rabbits in some countries that the disease myxomatosis had to be introduced (or did it just happen?) to control their population. Perhaps the UK could end up having the same problem with coin rabbits.  :-X

Anyway, my functional system fails somewhat on aesthetic and collector grounds. Also, my system of "round coin, polygonal coin, round coin, polygonal coin", to aid the blind, is somewhat counter-intuitive. Different countries have different coin system traditions, and people tend to regard their own country's system as the norm.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: chrisild on May 08, 2017, 06:53:40 PM
Both Germany and the Netherlands had "copper" for the low value coins, but NL did not have brass. Belgium did have brass coins but used nickel-plated steel for the 1 fr coin (lowest denomination in the 90s), and Spain had brass for the 5 pesetas (lowest den.), then nickel.

Slovakia had a "German style" setup (again, appearance wise) before the euro: The 50 halierov coin was "copper", the 1 koruna was "brass", the 2 and 5 were "nickel" ... and then the brass 10er ruined it all. ;) Slovenia had aluminum (low den.), brass (mid range) and nickel ... and so on. (The words copper, brass and nickel refer to the appearance; the actual compositions were different.)

Italy started issuing bimetallic coins in 1982; I think they were the first ones in the world. France followed in 1988; between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s they had heavy brass-style 10 francs coins, then the mint tried small nickel coins with the same denomination (which were too close to the half franc), and then came the bimetallic piece ...

Christian
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 07:24:10 PM
Both Germany and the Netherlands had "copper" for the low value coins, but NL did not have brass.

Interesting. You know that if a pop star A's song contains something that sounds a little like pop star B's song, then pop star B can sue and win damages. I would therefore like Germany to sue the EU and donate me some of the damages for suggesting the idea.  8)

As for aluminium, I did not include that metal in my proposed system. Back in November 1979, I was standing in an East Berlin street on a grim day, inspecting the East German (GDR) coins that I held in my hand. Then came a gust of wind, which blew a couple of the aluminium ones out of my hand. Yet quite a few West European countries did use that metal - and even zinc too, in Denmark and Austria, as I recall.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: SandyGuyUK on May 08, 2017, 10:47:50 PM
I would criticise hertfordian's choices, because he has only a 1mm gap between four coins, and two round coins have only a 1mm gap between them. This would confuse blind people. So, I think my system is superior in terms of functionality, but his would look prettier than mine. If we had a forum poll, probably most voting members would choose looks over functionality.  :-\

That's a fair point re: the 1mm difference - what I realised I *didn't* do in my table is think about the edges which you have done :-)

It's certainly harder than one would have imagined trying to come up with something from scratch! :-)
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 08, 2017, 11:33:42 PM
It's certainly harder than one would have imagined trying to come up with something from scratch! :-)

Well, you're the one who posed the question, and it's one that would never have occurred to me, but I enjoyed tackling it. I did find it tough, though. And even the options I chose don't quite satisfy me. There are minor variations on them that would still work well, I reckon.
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 09, 2017, 02:22:30 AM
Here is evidence from 1979 that the Treasury (under Mrs Thatcher's first government) and the Mint would have preferred a round pound with a larger diameter, namely a brass coin of around 28mm. The story behind this is that the plan was to replace the large 10p, which had a diameter of 28.5mm, with a smaller 10p coin. That size slot could then have been filled by a large pound coin. However, the Treasury had given the Royal Mint a very tight budget, and it would not have been possible to keep to the budget if a large pound coin had been produced. That's the law of unintended consequences for you!
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 09, 2017, 02:51:02 AM
Mrs Thatcher and the chocolate money.  :-X
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: Figleaf on May 09, 2017, 09:38:53 AM
 :D :D :D
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 09, 2017, 05:42:03 PM
Here is a reminder of my proposed "ideal" 2 pound coin:

£2   25.5mm   Yellow   10-sided   Smooth   2.2mm   7.5g

Now I see that the German 2 Mark coin had the following attributes:

Metal   Copper-nickel clad Nickel
Weight   7 g
Diameter   26.75 mm
Thickness   1.79 mm
Shape   Round

So at 1.25 mm wider than my proposed £2 coin, it is still 0.5 g lighter.  :o  Though my proposed coin is very slightly thicker. But maybe I haven't been ambitious enough with my proposals.  :(  Still, I mustn't obsess about it.  :)

 
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: <k> on May 09, 2017, 07:04:37 PM
Mrs Thatcher and the chocolate money.  :-X

Just as well chocoholic chrisild wasn't there. He would have tried to eat it.  ;D
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: chrisild on May 09, 2017, 07:48:17 PM
Quite possibly so. ;) And that first letter is definitely an interesting and "amusingly well" written document ...

Christian
Title: Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
Post by: andyg on May 09, 2017, 09:06:46 PM
Either the chocolate money letter was written by <k> last April or it's a script for a proposed episode of Yes Minister - I've not decided yet.

Wonderful find btw :)