Author Topic: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century  (Read 8601 times)

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Offline <k>

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Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« on: February 25, 2013, 12:00:08 AM »
I want to confine myself here to trends affecting circulation coins. No doubt there are trends involving collector coins, proof and mint sets, marketing gimmicks, etc., but they belong in the “Coin collecting” board.

Some of these trends started in the last decade or two of the 20th century but have since become more widespread and visible. In every case, there are also examples that go against the trend, but by definition they are fewer than those following the trend.

Offline <k>

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2013, 12:01:11 AM »
The first trend I have noticed is that there are fewer humans on coins: not generic humans, such as those depicted riding a horse, or driving a tractor, or whatever else, but known personalities. A good example is Latin America, where, back in the late 20th century, almost every country used to include portraits of their national heroes and liberators – generally high-collared military men of the 1800s, often with side whiskers – on their circulation coins.

The liberation of Latin America from its mainly Spanish rulers took place roughly between 1810 and 1830. It was occasioned by Napoleon’s invasion and conquest of Spain and Portugal. He made his own brother king of Spain, whilst the whole Portuguese royal family promptly sailed to Brazil and set up court there. There are still plenty of Latin American countries that honour their national heroes on their coins, but we have seen both Uruguay and Colombia adopt thematic wildlife designs in recent years – 2011 and 2012 respectively. We must assume that, as time has passed, these countries are feeling more secure in their nationhood and no longer feel the need to hark back to their old heroes. However, outside Latin America, the most noticeable country bucking this trend is Jamaica, which used mainly wildlife designs in the 1970s but has switched to national heroes since the 1990s.

Offline <k>

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2013, 12:01:54 AM »
A special case is Fiji, which dropped the Queen from its coins just this year. This was long overdue, as Fiji has been a republic since 1987. Now Jamaica is talking of becoming a republic. Since Jamaica’s coins do not show the Queen in any case, this would make no difference in numismatic terms, but I expect this to become an accelerating trend after the death of Elizabeth II.

I do not expect that so many countries or territories will be keen to carry the portrait of King Charles III (or whatever he will become) on their coins. Probably the British overseas territories will still carry the royal portrait, but in 20 or 30 years’ time it is likely that the coins of Australia and Canada will be monarch-free. The various portraits of QEII have graced billions of coins worldwide; I expect that never again will any individual come close to matching her record.

Offline <k>

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2013, 12:02:50 AM »
Another continent that is slowly ditching human personalities from its coins is Africa. After World War 2 decolonisation gathered pace, and by 1980 it had mostly been completed. It was of course important for the newly independent countries to honour their founding fathers, so portraits of Nkrumah (Ghana), Kaunda (Zambia), Kenyatta (Kenya) and Nyerere (Tanzania) were all to be found on circulating coins, both during their presidencies and after. Tanzania’s coins still carry Nyerere’s portrait, but coats of arms have replaced presidential portraits on the circulation coins of Ghana, Gambia, Malawi and Zambia, and Kenya is planning to follow suit. Though it is generally the rule that reigning monarchs, in contrast to presidents, always appear on their national coinage (not just in Africa but worldwide), it is interesting to note that, unlike his father (or Mswati III, reigning king of Swaziland), Letsie III of Lesotho has never had his portrait depicted on the coinage.

The USA, by contrast, has long had a tradition of honouring its former presidents (though never a current president, of course) on its coinage and, since it is such a conservative country, that is unlikely to change any time soon, so the trend will never be universal. I am talking here only about standard circulation coins of the world: human personalities, of past and present, will always be in demand on commemorative circulation coins.

Offline <k>

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2013, 12:03:10 AM »
The second trend I have noticed is that allegorical figures are less common on coins. They were to be found on the coins of Italy and Portugal before those countries adopted the euro, but no longer. Marianne still lives on, and can be seen on the coins of French Polynesia and New Caledonia also, but since 2008 even old Britannia has disappeared from the new coins of the UK - though the older ones continue to circulate, and she still graces the eponymous gold Britannia coins. Can anyone think of other countries where the national allegorical figure has been retired?

Offline <k>

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2013, 12:03:38 AM »
The third trend I have noticed is that thematic sets are becoming more common. By thematic sets, I mean sets with representational designs depicting wildlife, ships, architecture, etc. I have already mentioned the recent wildlife sets of Colombia and Uruguay, but Morocco is another recent example. Formerly such countries were more likely to have rather old-fashioned designs incorporating wreaths, symbolic devices or elaborate patterns. The United Emirates, which introduced a thematic set in the 1970s, was an early exception among Arab states, but Algeria was the next to issue a thematic set (of beautiful wildlife designs) in the 1990s. Many countries of sub-Saharan Africa have long produced design series depicting wildlife, but this has not usually been the case in the deeply conservative North African, Arab and Middle Eastern countries.

Offline <k>

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2013, 12:04:01 AM »
The fourth, very noticeable, trend, is that coins are getting smaller, thinner and lighter. Artists complain that the relief is lower, so that it is technically more difficult to produce a satisfying design. This all comes down to cost. As metals rise in price, so mints want to use them in smaller quantities, or else they use cheaper metals, which are then plated in order to produce coins of the desired colour. Some countries resist this trend, notably mineral-rich Australia, whose 50 cents coin still measures 31.5mm in diameter and weighs just over 15 grams, despite the fact that it buys you very little these days.

Offline <k>

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2013, 12:05:36 AM »
The fifth trend is perhaps related to the fourth – or perhaps not. While polygonal coins are still popular in some countries (e.g. the seven-sided 50p and 20p in the UK), in other countries, such as Fiji, East Caribbean States, the Solomon Islands, Swaziland, they have been replaced by coins with an inner polygonal rim. Such coins seem polygonal at first glance, but on closer inspection it is apparent that they are round. Is this trend a product of fashion or function? It is hard to say.

Some say that as coins become smaller and lighter, it becomes correspondingly harder for vending machines to recognise polygonal coins. I am not so sure about this, since technology generally improves significantly over time. By contrast, countries that have bucked the trend in recent years are Malawi and Samoa.





Fiji, 50 cents, 2009.





Fiji, 50 cents, 1994.





Malawi introduced a seven-sided 5 kwacha coin in 2012.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 12:21:23 AM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2013, 12:06:42 AM »
Staying with the fifth trend, should the “Spanish flower” be regarded as polygonal or not? The shape is an integral part of the euro series, and Malaysia has recently adopted it for its new 50 sen coin.





Malaysia coin set of 2012.

Offline <k>

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2013, 12:07:33 AM »
The sixth trend is the continuing rise of the bimetallic coin. It has a long history, but as a circulation coin it was really only commonly seen from the end of the 1980s onwards. The French adopted it for their 10 francs coin, and even Russia briefly introduced a couple of circulating bimetallic coins in the early 1990s.

Here is the latest example, due to be released in Singapore in mid-2013. Not only is it bimetallic, but it has an inner polygonal rim!







Bimetallic coins are more expensive to produce, therefore they are restricted to the higher denominations, since it is important that these coins are not counterfeited. That is the main reason for their existence, but they are also easy to distinguish visually from other coins. They are also highly attractive, being supermodels among coins, so they are avidly sought by collectors, which means more profits for mints. Everyone wins!

Offline <k>

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2013, 12:08:41 AM »
The seventh trend is the increasing use of latent images and laser marks. Like bimetal, these features help protect coins against forgery. In the near future perhaps all high denominations will include such features. In this hi-tech age, it should be possible to place forgery beyond the capabilities of the amateurs.





Canada, 2 dollars, 2012.  Latent maple leaves (top), laser marks (bottom).

Offline <k>

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2013, 12:11:54 AM »
The eighth trend is the decreasing use of coins. If I travel by bus or train or Tube, I never use cash: I simply swipe my personal travel card (the Oyster card, as it is called here in London). When the balance on my card falls below a certain amount, it is automatically topped up from my bank account. At supermarkets, you can use your credit or debit card, but I still prefer to use cash at the self-service checkout, for two reasons: 1] I can easily get rid of all my small change, happily feeding far more pennies to the machine than I would ever tender to an assistant; 2] I like to receive coins in change, as sometimes I pick up a circulating commemorative that I don’t already have. There are frustrations, though – my last bill came to GBP 19.96, so I poured three 2p coins down the slot and fed in a twenty pound note. The machine duly spat out FIVE 2p coins for my 10p change. I could have kicked that machine – I’d been trying to get rid of those 2p coins for a fortnight.

Because of my dislike of small change, I would like the UK to switch to a version of “Swedish rounding”. Everything could still be priced to a single penny, but at the till the total would be rounded up to the nearest five pence. As trends go, I don’t know whether Swedish rounding is spreading or not. Any ideas? Or have you noticed any other trends that I haven’t mentioned?

I suppose it’s possible that in 20 years’ time coins will no longer be needed – at least in the technologically advanced countries. I have read that stamp collecting is in decline because fewer people use stamps in the age of the email. How long before technology sends coins along the same path?

Offline malj1

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2013, 12:47:53 AM »
Quote
I would like the UK to switch to a version of “Swedish rounding”. Everything could still be priced to a single penny, but at the till the total would be rounded up to the nearest five pence.

This happened in Australia way back in 1991 - twenty-two years ago; the next to go will be the five cent. Prices for goods are still marked, for example, $9.99 and it looks cheaper but you will of course have to pay $10. However cheques are still written with the odd cents included. This also applies to credit cards.

The Australian 1 and 2 cent coins have not been de-monetised and are still considered to be legal tender and can be deposited in banks.

According to the Australian Currency Act of 1965, 1 and 2 cent coins are legal tender if, when submitted for payment, they do not exceed a combined value of 20 cents. There may be problems in getting a business to accept them however.
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Offline Pabitra

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2013, 10:59:15 AM »
The fifth trend is perhaps related to the fourth – or perhaps not. While polygonal coins are still popular in some countries (e.g. the seven-sided 50p and 20p in the UK), in other countries, such as Fiji, East Caribbean States, the Solomon Islands, Swaziland, they have been replaced by coins with an inner polygonal rim.

Australia too retains polygonal coin whereas Maldives has recently removed non circular coins.

Another continent that is slowly ditching human personalities from its coins is Africa. After World War 2 decolonisation gathered pace, and by 1980 it had mostly been completed. It was of course important for the newly independent countries to honour their founding fathers, so portraits of Nkrumah (Ghana), Kaunda (Zambia), Kenyatta (Kenya) and Nyerere (Tanzania) were all to be found on circulating coins, both during their presidencies and after.

A country which has gone against this trend is Bangladesh which never had portrait of its founding father, Sheik Mujibur Rehman. It has gone in for the same recently.
Interestingly, it followed its earlier principal, Pakistan, which traditionally avoided human figures due to its interpretation in line with Islamic traditions.
Pakistan not only introduced the image of its founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah on its circulation coins but even used effigy of Benazir Bhutto, only case of famale effigy on coins in Islamic country.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 01:47:52 PM by <k> »

paisepagal

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Re: Numismatic Trends of the 21st century
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2013, 12:32:46 PM »
Come to think of it.... Taking the examples of sets from malaysia, euros, India, Brazil and quite a few others...I notice the lowest nominal coins are either in stainless steel/ copper nickle ("silver" coloured coins). Mid Level coins gravitate towards Aluminium bronze ("gold" coloured coins) while the top denomination(s) will be bimetallic. Moreover, if there are two bimetallics, it'll often be the case that the outer-inner ring will be Silver-gold colour combo for the higher value and Gold-silver for that of the lower denomination (à la 2€ & 1€ and 5zl & 2zl). However, if there is just one bimetallic, it used to be Silver-gold (eg 500lire, 10Bhat etc)...though now it tends to be Gold-silver (eg Indian Rs10, Brazil R1)