Author Topic: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage  (Read 4444 times)

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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #15 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.
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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #16 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?

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
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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #17 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.
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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #18 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.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 07:22:28 AM by <k> »
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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #19 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.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 01:20:13 PM by <k> »
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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #20 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.
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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #21 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.
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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #22 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?
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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #23 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.
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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #24 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 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.

 
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 12:38:12 PM by <k> »
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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2017, 12:21:04 PM »


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
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2017, 12:23:44 PM »
The apparent reeding is an optical effect, moiré, 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

 
« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 01:35:05 PM by <k> »
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Offline eurocoin

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #27 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.

Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2017, 12:46:28 PM »
The apparent reeding is an optical effect, moiré, 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.
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Offline <k>

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Re: The Royal Mint's 1979 suggestions for the future of the coinage
« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2017, 01:10:45 PM »


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.

 
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 07:13:47 AM by <k> »
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