Author Topic: Same denomination -- different specification  (Read 2966 times)

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Offline FosseWay

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Same denomination -- different specification
« on: August 31, 2011, 11:29:08 PM »
Let me try to explain what I mean.

In the modern world, where a major use for coins is in slot machines, parking meters and the like, it's important that all coins of a given denomination in use at any one time are uniform in terms of size, colour and magnetic characteristics. This is so essential that even a relatively small change, such as that from copper-nickel to Ni-plated steel in UK 5ps and 10ps is hotly debated.

Equally, there come times in a currency's history when the coins representing a given denomination need to be reduced in size to reflect their reduced buying power. In the 1990s, the UK 5p, 10p and 50p were reduced in size. Ireland and Italy did something similar before the euro. In most of these cases, the mint stopped making the old version and started on the new, allowed six months or so for the new ones to get into widespread use, and then withdrew and demonetised the old ones. (Admittedly in Italy they made a bit of a balls of this, first by introducing microscopic 50 and 100 lire coins that everyone hated, and then by going for a happy medium, without withdrawing anything, such that in 1996 there were three different sizes of each of these denominations in use!)

So far, so good. But this really doesn't explain the numerous examples in history where two radically different specifications for the same denomination have not only circulated alongside each other for an appreciable period, but have actually been produced simultaneously too. The obvious UK example is the threepence, which from 1937 to 1944 was issued in its traditional small silver form and the new chunky 12-sided nickel-brass version.

I was just messing about with the records for my German coins and noticed a similar phenomenon in 50 pfennig coins of the Weimar Republic and Third Reich. From 1927, nickel 50pf coins are made in the Weimar style (no swastika) until 1938, in which year Nazi-style coins of the same specification take over. But simultaneously there are larger aluminium 50pf coins issued, in 1935 and then again during the war years. Were both in use simultaneously?

In France at and just after the end of WW1, the transition from the old Latin Monetary Union-sized 5 and 10 centime bronze coins to the new holey copper-nickel ones was undertaken over several years.

In Sweden, silver and copper-nickel 10 öre coins were issued simultaneously in the 1940s, with rather oddly the silver eventually taking over from the copper-nickel when many other currencies were going in the opposite direction.

Are there others? What was the rationale behind such long changeovers? In the German case, I can see the logic of the Al 50pf once the war came, but why was it produced in 1935 in the midst of the standard Ni coins? Did a multiplicity of sizes etc. for a given denomination cause problems, either with automation or in general use?

Offline <k>

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2011, 11:48:45 PM »
I recently read (at the National Archives, London) an internal memo from the Royal Mint, from the early 1950s. The writer suggested that the Royal Mint consider lobbying the Treasury to allow the mint to making the 12-sided threepence in nickel instead of brass. Why? The Royal Mint were overstocked with nickel. Someone else in the Royal Mint responded that eventually all the nickel would be used up, and nickel was at the time more expensive to buy than brass. End of discussion.

My point is, then, that such decisions will partly be down to the logistics of the situation, at least from the Royal Mint's point of view. And there are other parties in the equation, of course. Probably once the Second World War started, the time and expense of collecting in silver threepences could not be contemplated.
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2011, 12:50:24 AM »
In the case of France, I think the reason was fear. copper-nickel was a new coin metal and people had rejected copper-nickel coins before as they looked like silver to them, notably the 25 centimes 1903 and 1904 (Patey). The powers that be were apparently not at all sure the Lindauer (holed) types would be accepted, so they hedged their bets on the 5 and 10 centimes.

An additional reason may have been use of French coins in their colonies. The one case we are sure about is the 5 centimes 1921 bronze (Daniel-Dupuis), which was minted exclusively for use in Madagascar.

One case of different specifications is Belize. The reason is that while the normal coins continued to circulate, Franklin Mint produced different coin series for the US collectors market. They did not circulate in Belize.

Peter
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translateltd

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2011, 01:53:40 AM »
A recent example is NZ, where the circulating coins made for us in Canada in the UK are now of a different weight and composition to the "collector set" coins of the same design produced in Utrecht.  This started in 2010 and was repeated in 2011.  The "cents" coins in circulation are the sandwiched steel structure to which the Canadians hold the copyright, so to save costs the uncirculated and proof sets contain coins of pure copper and cupro-nickel for these denominations; likewise the Cu-Ni-Al $1 and $2 coins made in the UK are replaced in the sets with examples in a Cu-Zn brass alloy.

So we've gone from having minor die differences occasioned by the use of different mints for the collector vs. circulation series to an entirely "symbolic" set in which none of the denominations meet the requirements set down for circulating coins.



Offline chrisild

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2011, 01:53:53 AM »
I was just messing about with the records for my German coins and noticed a similar phenomenon in 50 pfennig coins of the Weimar Republic and Third Reich. From 1927, nickel 50pf coins are made in the Weimar style (no swastika) until 1938, in which year Nazi-style coins of the same specification take over. But simultaneously there are larger aluminium 50pf coins issued, in 1935 and then again during the war years. Were both in use simultaneously?

The two types of the pure nickel 50 Pf coin both ceased to be legal tender on 1 Aug 1940. The nazi government began taking them out of circulation earlier, as they wanted the metal. As for the two aluminum types, both were first issued on 11 Dec 1939 and stayed in circulation during WW2 and the Allied occupation. I guess that the government had "experimented" with the alu piece in the mid-1930s, and then discarded the plan until they started the war. And instead of destroying the ones without the swastika, they just issued them along with the newer type.

Christian

Offline asm

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2011, 03:34:22 AM »
A couple of years back, we had this experience in India. When metal prices hit the roof, all the CU-Ni issues were withdrawn and similar issues were issued in FSS from the same dies...........this was for commemorative issues........So we have a long list of commemorative coins issued in Cu-Ni and then in FSS (the Cu-Ni were the first lot of coins struck to commemorate the function and then found its way out of the mint) while the FSS coins were minted later to complete the order (very usual for mints in India). The Rs 5 circulation coin was changed from Cu-Ni to Al-Br with the same design - so we have very similar looking coins in Cu-Ni & Al-Br.

Amit   
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Offline FosseWay

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2011, 09:39:35 AM »
My point is, then, that such decisions will partly be down to the logistics of the situation, at least from the Royal Mint's point of view. And there are other parties in the equation, of course. Probably once the Second World War started, the time and expense of collecting in silver threepences could not be contemplated.

That explains why the older type wasn't withdrawn. In fact, you don't need a war or similar major problem to make logistical decisions like this drop down the priority scale -- I mentioned the multiple 50 lire coins in circulation in Italy earlier. But it doesn't explain why they continued to produce the silver threepence for seven years alongside the brass ones. If they just couldn't be bothered to do anything about the remaining silver ones, they could have adopted the same stance used later for the sixpence after 1971.

On the public acceptance thing, especially in the French context: I see what you mean. But the same question arises as with the threepence -- why did it take four (I think? no books with me) years to decide that the public had accepted them? I'd have thought one would have been more than enough.

Christian -- thanks for the 50pf explanation -- that means that technically these were withdrawn and introduced in the normal way of things. I had wondered why the Nazi version of the nickel 50pf was apparently so valuable, looking at the prices in KM -- if they were soon withdrawn for their nickel content, that explains it.

Offline <k>

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2011, 10:47:40 AM »
But it doesn't explain why they continued to produce the silver threepence for seven years alongside the brass ones. If they just couldn't be bothered to do anything about the remaining silver ones, they could have adopted the same stance used later for the sixpence after 1971.

It's possible that they had plenty of stocks of silver but not enough of nickel brass. And after the war had started, some deliveries would have been at risk of being sunk. Logical, but I'm only surmising, of course.
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2011, 10:52:00 AM »
No, one year may not be enough, though four may be ample. Democracy is chaotic. There will always be voices in favour or against anything and the loudest (front page old fogey grumbling in The Times) may not necessarily be the most representative. You need stats to show acceptance and building a time series take time. Monthly request figures give you 12 data points, but if the numbers are low, they'll go all over the place. Quarterly uptake figures are probably much better, but even after 2 years, you have only 8 data points. A good statistician will be able to show more with some time correlation calculations, but if the bureaucrat doesn't understand them, he'll still want a few more data points before taking a decision.

Then, there's 'crat inertia. Which reminds me of the story of what the US army did after the second world war with its large surplus of drab olive green paint: it was used to maintain US mailboxes. It took a very considerable time and many new paint orders before someone questioned the practice. Likewise, around 1910 the French army ordered all cars (a relatively new invention) in France to have yellow headlights to distinguish them from German cars. It took them almost 90 years to rescind that order.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline villa66

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2011, 03:45:37 PM »
...I guess that the government had "experimented" with the alu piece in the mid-1930s, and then discarded the plan until they started the war. And instead of destroying the ones without the swastika, they just issued them along with the newer type....
My understanding is that the 1935 coinage was actually a deliberate stockpiling of replacement coins should it suddenly be necessary to withdraw the nickel coinage for re-use of their metal.

 :) v.

Offline villa66

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2011, 03:52:55 PM »
...But it doesn't explain why they continued to produce the silver threepence for seven years alongside the brass ones....

Surely the continuing colonial use of the silver threepence must have figured into its slow-motion retirement.

 :) v.

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2011, 04:14:27 PM »
Surely the continuing colonial use of the silver threepence must have figured into its slow-motion retirement.

I wouldn't have thought so. The colonies in question were all a long way away and in any case all of them persisted in using the small threepence for much longer than the UK. I'd imagine the percentage of South African/Australian/New Zealand etc. 3ds (or any coins) in circulation in the UK in the 1930s/40s would have been tiny.

translateltd

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2011, 09:46:12 PM »
I wouldn't have thought so. The colonies in question were all a long way away and in any case all of them persisted in using the small threepence for much longer than the UK. I'd imagine the percentage of South African/Australian/New Zealand etc. 3ds (or any coins) in circulation in the UK in the 1930s/40s would have been tiny.

I think this was intended the other way round - rather than colonial coins being used in the UK, the British silver 3d was used in colonies (Caribbean, from memory) that didn't have coinage of their own and wasn't really intended much for homeland use after 1937.


Offline FosseWay

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Re: Same denomination -- different specification
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2011, 09:52:26 PM »
Oh, I see what you mean, sorry. I can see that point for 1944 and possibly 1943 threepences, which were minted in lower quantities and are relatively uncommon. But I'm pretty sure 1937-42 silver 3ds were minted for and used in the UK as well as elsewhere.