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Circulation sets with poorly unified design

Started by <k>, December 01, 2012, 11:17:49 PM

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chrisild

Quote from: <k> on December 02, 2012, 05:34:13 PM
As for the higher denominations, the reverse of the 2 DM piece depicted a different deceased politician each year. Instead of repeating the country name on the reverse, which also appears as usual on the obverse, it would have been better to have given the politician's name. For some reason the denomination has now been placed on the obverse, instead of the reverse, so once again the consistency of the set has been spoilt.

Guess they followed the example of US circulation coins where the portrait is recognizable, period. ;)

Also, those portraits did not change very year - each of those 2 DM coins was minted for several, even "overlapping" years. As you can tell, the eagle side has the country name while the other side commemorates a jubilee. With the first two, that was 20 years of the Federal Republic of Germany 1949-69. Then came the 30th anniversary, then 40 years of the Deutsche Mark (thus the country name appears only one time), and so on.

Obverse? Reverse? Of course everyone is free to use his or her personal definition. :) For example, Adenauer is on the reverse of the 2 DM coin according to the Schön catalog, and on the obverse according to the Jaeger. There is no law here that says which side is what.

QuoteIt is likely, though, that the habit of varying the 2 Mark design developed when it still occupied the highest circulation coin and before the introduction of the 5 DM coin.

The 5 DM coin was first issued in May 1952. At that time the 2 DM coin (introduced a year before) had a look that was pretty much the same as that of the 1 DM piece. (You recently posted it somewhere around here ...) It wasn't until June 1958 that we got a human portrait, Max Planck, on the 2 DM coin.

That being said, I agree - the DM (and Pf) coins from the Federal Republic did not an overall unified design. Probably because they were issued at different times: the 1 Pf, 5 Pf and 10 Pf coins first came out during the allied occupation and said Bank deutscher Länder. That applies to the 50 Pf too, but that was the highest denomination in those BdL years, so I guess they wanted it to be special. The other three have pretty much the same look.

Once the Federal Republic was founded, the coins got a country name but kept their designs (and a matching 2 Pf was added). The 1 and 2 DM coins were initially quite similar (see above) but apparently confused people. The 5 DM was "special" also because it was silver (until 1974). So who cares about design uniformity when you can have a mighty eagle. ;D

Christian

<k>

Quote from: chrisild on December 04, 2012, 02:48:21 AM
Guess they followed the example of US circulation coins where the portrait is recognizable, period. ;)

Probably recognisable mainly only to people in the countries immediately bordering Germany.
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chrisild

Hmm, people in Germany may have been able to recognize at least some. (Adenauer and Brandt are easy in my opinion; and Erhard is not that difficult because of the Deutsche Mark hint.) As for the other statesmen, I am not so sure. And I have no idea either whether the depicted people would be recognized by anybody outside the country. Well, back in those days, DM coins were legal tender in the Federal Republic of Germany only. ;)

As for the Austrian coins, keep in mind that, when the schilling was introduced again after WW2, the set was a different one: The 1, 5 and 10 groschen zinc coins had basically the same design. Also, the 20 groschen and above coins (up to 5 schilling) had an interesting "rhythm": eagle only (0.20), eagle with country name (0.50), eagle only (1.00) etc.

In 1950 the 2 groschen coin was added, in 1951 the 10 groschen piece got a new design and composition. And in the late 1950s the other denominations got new designs. Not much left of the original design concept, but I don't consider this to be a problem ...

Christian

<k>

Quote from: chrisild on December 04, 2012, 06:13:48 PM
Not much left of the original design concept, but I don't consider this to be a problem ...

Christian

Well, no, if you don't take much notice of design. But parts make a whole, and designers should think of the bigger picture.
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<k>

If you look at existing modern coin series, you will see that they usually follow unwritten rules. Coin designs generally fall into four basic categories:

* Non-pictorial designs, which carry mainly only the denomination and/or the country name, with maybe a spray or two or a bit of a pattern around the edges.
* Heraldic designs.
* Symbolic designs, which are usually stylised and non-realistic, e.g. a star, a globe, an oak leaf.
* Non-symbolic pictorial designs: portraits, wildlife, buildings, ships, etc. These can be either realistic or somewhat stylised.

Most coin series contain two or more of these design elements. Let's list some unwritten rules for a modern design series consisting of mixed categories:

1] Designs falling within a category should be grouped together, in denominational sequence.
2] Non-pictorial designs, if present, should appear on the lowest denominations.
3] Heraldic designs, if present, should generally appear on the highest denominations.
4] Symbolic pictorial designs, if present, should be equal to or greater than the number of designs in any other category.
5] Non-symbolic pictorial designs, if present, should be equal to or greater than the number of designs in any other category.

Rules 4 and 5 mean that pictorial designs should predominate, where they exist. These rules assume that the obverse and reverse designs can be identified and treated separately. If the obverse and reverse cannot be satisfactorily identified in all cases, this is a symptom of bad design. As we have seen, if country names, denominations and dates are treated consistently with regard to the side on which they are placed, this will aid the clear identification of obverse and reverse.
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<k>

Sets that break the rules listed generally look unsatisfactory. First let us look at some good examples, which follow the rules. The German euro set follows all the relevant rules. Rule 2 is not applicable in this case.

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<k>

#21
The Malawi pre-decimal set follows all the rules. Curiously, it did not contain a three pence, but we are concerned here only with design.





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<k>

#22
The Mauritius pre-decimal set breaks the following rules and looks unsatisfactory.

1] Designs falling within a category should be grouped together, in denominational sequence.
3] Heraldic designs, if present, should generally appear on the highest denominations.
5] Non-symbolic pictorial designs, if present, should be equal to or greater than the number of designs in any other category.

In this case, 5] refers to the realistic red deer design.











There is only one realistic pictorial design (the deer on the half rupee coin), so it looks like the "odd-man-out". The two heraldic coins are separated by it, so again this looks wrong. Presumably the artist wanted to place the deer on a larger coin and considered the quarter rupee too small. In that case, I would have lost the quarter rupee design and put designs of animals on both it and the 10 cents coin. The deer could then happily have stayed on the half rupee coin.

See also: Mauritius: from British colony to independence.


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<k>

#23
Apparently the Royal Mint considered that the deer was the only indigenous animal worthy of being portrayed on the Mauritian coins - or at least the only such animal that had not already been portrayed on another coin of the Empire. In those days they did not consider portraying the same species in a different way, otherwise they would have produced more animal designs for Mauritius. Nowadays individual species, e.g. zebras and elephants, appear on the coins of several countries.




To see how an attractive set of designs for Mauritius might have looked, click on the link below:

Mauritius: 1970s proposal for new circulation coin designs

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<k>

#24
When the Royal Mint gave Australia a new design series in the late 1930s, the halfpenny and penny designs were actually the same kangaroo design, but facing in opposite directions, and the old sixpence design, with the coat of arms, was left unchanged from the time of George V. This meant that the two shillings, also with a coat of arms design, was separated by the ram shilling. So this breaks rules 1 and 3:

1] Designs falling within a category should be grouped together, in denominational sequence.
3] Heraldic designs, if present, should generally appear on the highest denominations.







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<k>

#25
The story behind the apparent Australian fiasco is that other designs were considered but rejected, leading to the unsatisfactory outcome described above.







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<k>

Returning to the pre-decimal UK set of 1937 onwards, you can see that it broke the following rules:

4] Symbolic pictorial designs, if present, should be equal to or greater than the number of designs in any other category.
5] Non-symbolic pictorial designs, if present, should be equal to or greater than the number of designs in any other category.

Rules 4 and 5 mean that pictorial designs should predominate, where they exist.


The two clearly non-symbolic pictorial designs, the wren farthing and ship halfpenny, were outnumbered by the heraldic designs: sixpence, shilling, two shillings and half crown. Possibly the Britannia penny could be regarded as semi-heraldic too. On the other hand, the threepence thrift design could be regarded as symbolic-pictorial, but the pictorial designs are still outnumbered in such a case.
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chrisild

When a mint makes collector coins - pieces that are never or hardly ever used for cash transactions - the "unified" appearance plays an important role in my opinion. Circulation coins ... not so much. Yes, coin collectors will put some of them aside and arrange them in an album or in boxes etc., but they are primarily made in order to be used in everyday life.

Which means that, if for some reason a government needs or wants to create an entirely new set, it would be great if the newly issued coins had a certain theme, much like what you explained in your "rules". But if only one denomination is replaced, other considerations may be more important. Also, what if one creates a theme set, and then one denomination is dropped? Think of the Dent designs for the UK pence ...

Christian

<k>

Quote from: chrisild on December 05, 2012, 11:12:11 AM
When a mint makes collector coins - pieces that are never or hardly ever used for cash transactions - the "unified" appearance plays an important role in my opinion. Circulation coins ... not so much. Yes, coin collectors will put some of them aside and arrange them in an album or in boxes etc., but they are primarily made in order to be used in everyday life.

You have things exactly the wrong way round. Design ALWAYS matters, and it matters all the more if sets ARE used! There is no excuse for sloppiness. Every product should be properly thought out in design terms. Form and content are of equal importance: they should match one another in quality. And you must always think of the bigger picture; don't just focus on the individual parts.

Quote from: chrisild on December 05, 2012, 11:12:11 AM
Which means that, if for some reason a government needs or wants to create an entirely new set, it would be great if the newly issued coins had a certain theme, much like what you explained in your "rules". But if only one denomination is replaced, other considerations may be more important. Also, what if one creates a theme set, and then one denomination is dropped? Think of the Dent designs for the UK pence ...

I agree with you entirely about the Dent designs. Each one is finely executed, but together they are meant to form a jigsaw. You should not make a set of designs that are SO INTERRELATED that the set will suffer if, say, the lower denominations are demonetised. So let's include that as a rule too! Somebody should have thought of that. But 99.999999% of sets are not so intricately interrelated, and that is no excuse to ignore the overall picture when producing designs, because the standards of coin design are in many cases improving throughout the world. Yes, the actual execution may regrettably be worse in many cases, because of smaller, thinner coins and lower relief. But just look at the difference between the very poor 1992/3 Azerbaijan set and the superb 2006 series.

Just because you got used to poor set design during the DM era doesn't mean you should accept lower standards. I thought a German, of all people, would accept the need to strive, always, for the highest standards! After all, you apply them to all your other products. But if you personally would be happy enough with a Trabant of a coin series, I guess that's your business.  :D  Me, I'll take the Rolls Royce every time.  8)
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chrisild

#29
Quote from: <k> on December 05, 2012, 12:03:14 PM
You have things exactly the wrong way round. Design ALWAYS matters, and it matters all the more if sets ARE used!

What I mean is, if a mint wants to sell collector coins, it will aim at a unified or hamronized appearance, so that collectors will want the entire series. That does not apply to circulation coins.

Yes, if an entirely new series is designed and the issued, you want to have a "family" of pieces. But it is not necessary, in my opinion, to always six, seven, eight new designs when one is to be renewed or replaced. If some low denomination is phased out and a new high denomination coin is introduced, does that new piece have to look like the others which may have been designed 50 years earlier? Not really. Does it mean all the others need to be trashed? Not really.

QuoteMe, I'll take the Rolls Royce every time.  8)

Just because it is made by a Bavarian company? Aw shucks. ;D

Christian