Author Topic: Sweden: 10 öre 1973 – is there one or two varieties?  (Read 315 times)

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Offline Vincent

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Sweden: 10 öre 1973 – is there one or two varieties?
« on: June 10, 2019, 05:27:27 PM »
After having done a decent effort to learn more about modern Swedish varieties, there was one sticking point left that I felt a need to understand better. I have seen casual references on the internet to the existence of two different weight classes among the 10 öre coins of 1973. I don’t see any such differences noted in catalogues or, for that matter, any attention being paid to any differences in weight among the copper-nickel 10 öre coins of 1962-91 generally speaking. I even have a catalogue, which states that all of the 10 öre coins from 1962 to 1991 weigh the same, namely 1.35 g.* The alternative contention is that some of the 10 öre coins from 1973 weigh 1.44 g. So, which is it? Are there two different weight classes or not?
   As of 1973, the legal framework for the issuance of coins was the coinage law of 1970 (SFS 1970:1028 for short), which took effect January 1st 1972. (The 1970 coinage law was not least significant for replacing the 1873 coinage law, thus doing away with the last vestigial elements left over from the old Scandinavian Monetary Union). The weight of the copper-nickel 10 öre coin (issued since 1962) was 1.35 g at the time when the new coinage law was passed. When the first official mint set was issued in 1973, the specifications given by the set itself indicate a weight of 1.44 g for the 10 öre coin. The same is true for mint sets of subsequent years. So, apparently, a change in specifications had happened at some point between 1970 and 1973.
   When in 1986 the coinage law of 1970 was amended (through SFS 1986:90), the authority to mint coins was transferred from the government to the central bank. (Simultaneously, the “mint master’s initials” on the coins went from being the initials of the director of the mint to being those of the director of the central bank). At the same time, the specifications of the coins were included explicitly in the law itself, which had previously not been the case. Before 1986, the specifications were announced by the government through decrees. In order for the mint to have a legal footing for changing the weight of the 10 öre coin, there would need to be a decree from the government authorising such a change – such decrees are published in an official gazette called Svensk Författningssamling (or SFS for short). On a recent trip to Gothenburg I thought I might as well go to a library and see if I could dig it up. And I did find it – it is decree no. 860 of 1973 (SFS 1973:860). The decree changes the standard for the 10 öre coin from 1.35 g to 1.44 g. The decree was authorised on the 23rd of November 1973, but states that it will take effect one day after publication. It was published in the gazette on December 4th and thus went into effect December 5th.
   One might wonder why such a miniscule change would be thought necessary. The decree doesn’t explain why the change was made. A hint may be provided by the report of the 1966 coinage committee, Nya mynt – Ändring av myntserien och lagförslag (known as SOU 1969:17 for short), released in 1969 in preparation for the 1970 coinage law. On p. 27 there are some concerns raised with regard to the 10 öre coin: the coin – being very small and light – would occasionally jam the mechanics of vending machines. It was often used in phone booths. The old silver 10 öre coins, issued until 1962, were still in circulation, and they were struck to a standard of 1.44 g. Most likely, the government decided that the weight of the copper-nickel 10 öre coin could be increased to the same standard as the silver 10 öre coin, thus obtaining the benefits of the coins not jamming vending machines so often, while avoiding the costs (incurred by necessary changes to vending machines) that would be associated with a more radical change to the specifications of the 10 öre coin.
   The question that arises from a collector’s perspective would then be whether or not it is actually possible to identify specific coins from 1973 that belong to either weight class (assuming that there are indeed two different varieties from 1973). In 2006 I bought a bag of circulated Swedish copper-nickel 10 öre coins and took some notes regarding their weight. Ten coins from 1965-71 weighed 1.38 g on an average, the extremes being 1.34 g and 1.40 g. 41 coins from 1978-90 weighed 1.43 g on an average, the extremes being 1.41 g and 1.46 g. I also had six coins from 1973. Five of them weighed 1.44 g on an average, the extremes being 1.42 g and 1.46 g, thus falling within the same bracket as the 1978-90 coins. One coin from 1973 weighed 1.39 or 1.40 g, but I wasn’t sure what to make of that.
   The existence of a “heavy” 10 öre 1973 should be uncontroversial in the light of the official mint sets giving the 1.44 g weight standard, combined with the above measurements. Considering that the decree referred to above implies that any and all 10 öre coins minted during the first eleven months of 1973 would have been of the 1.35 g standard, it would be very surprising if a “light” version did not also exist. Three weeks before leaving for Gothenburg, I received two specimens of the 10 öre 1973 from two different coin dealers, both coming out of mint rolls. I made sure that my scale was measuring accurately and weighed the two coins. One of them weighed 1.38 g, the other one 1.44 g. Thus, the first one has the exact same weight as the average weight of the 1965-71 coins previously measured, and the second one has the exact same weight as the official standard adopted in December 1973. I will tentatively – accepting that there’s some unavoidable uncertainty involved due to the small margins of error – accept these two coins as representing the “light” and the “heavy” variety of the 10 öre 1973.
   The “heavy” 10 öre 1973 would not have to necessarily have been minted during December 1973 only. King Gustaf VI Adolf passed away in September 1973, and any later coins minted in his name – including the “heavy” 10 öre 1973 – are posthumous. They could obviously not carry any date later than 1973, but they could have been minted after the end of that year, while the new coin types were being prepared.

* Siegs Møntkatalog Norden 2017, 48th edition, 2016, p. 602. (This is a Danish publication).

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Sweden: 10 öre 1973 – is there one or two varieties?
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2019, 11:20:39 PM »
Excellent research, Vincent! It all makes perfect sense and the documentation is convincing. Thanks for posting.

I would suggest that you try to dig up one further detail, though. Usually, weights and diameters come with a bit of leeway, the remedy, to make sure that a coin that is just a little bit off its legal specification cannot be considered illegal. The remedy may be a percentage up or down or a maximum and minimum weight or diameter. Sometimes, especially for hand struck and screwed coins, the remedy is for the total of a large number of coins, but in modern times it is much more likely to be specified for each individual coin. The remedy would be known to the mint, but also to the association of vending machine makers the government is dealing with and possibly to token makers like Sporrong.

With the remedy, it is easier to distinguish the "light" and "heavy" coins, except for "heavy" but worn coins.

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

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Sweden: 10 öre 1973 – is there one or two varieties?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2019, 09:11:28 AM »
Interesting, thanks for that! I'm glad your trip to Gothenburg was fruitful too  :)

On the possibility of posthumous issues - this is perhaps particularly likely with 1973, as the new series of designs (same specifications in other respects) for Carl XVI Gustaf did not appear until 1976. No circulation coins were minted with dates 1974 or 1975, but I imagine demand for coinage was the same then as any other year, so it may well be that the 1973 coins were issued with a frozen date.

Conversely, it may be the case that the mint held off production of the 10 öre earlier in the year once they knew that the new weight standard would shortly come into force. This could explain the apparent rarity of the 1973 light version when the date of the legislative instrument would otherwise suggest that light coins should be in the majority.

I've done a quick search on Google in Swedish for weight-related variants and have found nothing about this, so you seem to be onto an interesting and previously unknown change. In the course of searching I did find this page which says that silver 10-öringar up to 1942 should weigh 1.45 g and after that 1.44 g. No explanation is given for this tiny change, but it is replicated in the figures for fine silver weight.

Offline Vincent

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Re: Sweden: 10 öre 1973 – is there one or two varieties?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2019, 11:58:17 PM »
The tolerance regarding the weight of the coins is provided in decree no. 105 of 1971 (SFS 1971:105). The tolerance is defined as maximum 2 per cent discrepancy to either side within one kilogram of coins, regardless of denomination. This decree went into effect on the 1st of January 1972, i.e. simultaneously with the new currency law passed in 1970. SFS 1973:860 was an amendment to SFS 1971:105, but the only change was the specifications for the 10 öre denomination, the other denominations and the tolerance remained unchanged.

I was thinking of adding this information originally, but I felt that I tended to go off on too many tangents. For instance, it was fun to read about how conservative MP Henrik Åkerlund protested against the new coinage law because it didn't contain any notion of the currency being tied to gold, which had been the case with the 1873 coinage law.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Sweden: 10 öre 1973 – is there one or two varieties?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 05:53:56 AM »
Interesting. Assuming that for pre-1971 coins a similar tolerance was used, the official weight brackets would have been from 1.3328 g. to 1.3872 g. for the "light" coins and from 1.4112 g. to 1.4688 g. for the "heavy" coins. No coin should weigh from 1.3872 g. to 1.4112 g.

Ten coins from 1965-71 weighed 1.38 g on an average, the extremes being 1.34 g and 1.40 g.

The average is on the high side and the maximum is above that permitted. I suspect that one or two coins, likely dated towards the beginning of the period, were pretty worn and struck on old flans. If you still have them, there could be interesting minor varieties in this little lot.

41 coins from 1978-90 weighed 1.43 g on an average, the extremes being 1.41 g and 1.46 g.

This is as expected. They are most probably all "heavy" coins.

I also had six coins from 1973. Five of them weighed 1.44 g on an average, the extremes being 1.42 g and 1.46 g, thus falling within the same bracket as the 1978-90 coins.


This is also as expected. All are highly likely to be "heavy" coins.

One coin from 1973 weighed 1.39 or 1.40 g, but I wasn’t sure what to make of that.

Unlike people, coins don't gain weight. This one is most probably a worn "heavy" coin.

So there may be coins dated 1965-1971 struck on the previous weight standard...

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