Should 'collectors coins' be considered as coins?

Started by Offa, December 22, 2021, 12:03:08 PM

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Offa

Apart from the one in the proof set I buy every year, I never buy £5 coins. In my opinion they are just tokens with little or no numismatic appeal.
All coins are equal but some are more equal than others

Figleaf

JUST tokens? There's no way that stuff qualifies as a token and tokens and token collectors have pride. ;)

Peter (who has more tokens than coins)
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Figleaf

I think that pieces mentioning a silver content or a weight after say 1916 cannot possibly be coins, as the metal content of coins was no longer important after 1816, so it was rational to diminish precious content and weight as much as possible.

Not having been minted for circulation anywhere and being shipped out of the country by the mint are among a host of secondary reasons why I think this is not a coin. WoC aims to be a serious numismatic site, so let's not use the word "coin" to describe them.

In view of the weight and fineness mentioned, these pieces may have been intended as "bars" for retail silver speculators. In view of the design, the further intention was to sell the silver at such an agio that no serious investor would consider them investable. The bottom line is that they are aimed exclusively (to throw a well-worn marketing term back at the make-believers) at the "get-rich-quickly" crowd.

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

FosseWay

Quote from: Figleaf on December 22, 2021, 05:04:08 PM
I think that pieces mentioning a silver content or a weight after say 1916 cannot possibly be coins, as the metal content of coins was no longer important after 1816, so it was rational to diminish precious content and weight as much as possible.

I dunno, well into the postwar period, several South American countries were very fond of putting the weight and/or fineness on coins that were definitely intended to circulate and did so. I'm sure I've got some even made of base metal with weights on.

Figleaf

The date is not important. Propose another one if you want. What's important is that 2021 is way too late.

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

eurocoin

It is very simple: they are legal tender, so coins. I find it a pointless discussion though as unfortunately certain collectors have different views on this matter and nobody will ever admit that the other is right anyway. It has in the past been discussed at length on the forum and I therefore think that it is better to not waste any further time on this. The same applies to discussions about what a token/medal etc. is.

chrisild

Quote from: Figleaf on December 22, 2021, 09:14:11 PM
What's important is that 2021 is way too late.

Why? On some German collector coins you will find the text "Silber 925". The silver €20 coins from this year, and also pieces dated 2022, have it. ;) Of course they are not made for circulation; so what? We have been through this before and will not be able to find "the" universally accepted definition ...

A fairly strict rule could be that only pieces which are issued at face, and can be used throughout the currency area they are issued in, are actually coins. That would – if we look at euro issues for example – turn all collector coins, and quite a few commemorative €2 coins, into "non-coins". ::)

Catalogs should be as comprehensive as possible – that is, list all pieces that were or are legal tender. What the individual coin collector considers to be a coin is, ta-daa, up to the individual coin collector.

Christian

Tirant

By definition, any piece with face value is a coin. But obviously nobody is going to pay with a 50 euros gold piece that costs more than 500. I dont't collect them, they're not for me, but anyway i consider them coins; not the kind of coins used for circulation, but still coins.

Figleaf

Suppose you are a serious art collector, instead of a coin collector. One day, an offer rolls into your email box. A well-known Chinese trading house offers you a collection of modern art objects. You observe that the art objects are in fact polished porcelain Christmas decorations without a trace of artful inspiration, soulless and meaningless and really, really overpriced. Intrigued, you call the trader. You are informed that the government of Farawaystan has officially declared these trinkets to be art. You ask if the objects are any cheaper in Farawaystan. No, is the answer. They are all shipped out of the country.

You are not yet happy. All your trinkets are made of porcelain. Nobody makes Christmas decorations in porcelain any more. Most are plastic, a few are wood ... We are reviving a proud tradition, you are interrupted, people like porcelain Christmas decorations. Our art is all marked "100% fine porcelain".

So who buys these items? You wonder. People who buy our catalogue of famous art of the world, you are informed. Some just make marks in our catalogue. Others hope to get rich quickly by selling at even higher pricers than those in our catalogue to the mark makers. However, the mark makers already have almost all the trinkets, so the price actually goes down and everybody gets stuck with useless, artless stuff that never even sees a Christmas tree, because they damage easily. That sounds like fraud, you counter. Now they get really angry. Hey, you can't tell people what to collect and besides, you are insulting Farawaystan and damaging our legitimate business,  so don't you tell anyone they are not art, you stupid know-it-all. People disagree with you, so you need to shut up, if only for the sake of our balance sheet.

That couldn't happen in reality, now could it? :-X

For the record, anyone using "legal tender" as a qualification for a coin disqualifies all coins struck before say 1816, when the term hadn't been invented yet. I take those older coins for COINS. So there. :P

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

Alex Island

I started collecting coins in 1989, and I held the traditional view that coins are legal tender. A few years later, I began to collect the topic that I have continued to collect now - the topic of "islands". Then I started to encounter various strange items, such as when I bought the "1 puffin" token for Lundy Island. While developing the topic, I was forced to constantly rethink these questions about "coins / tokens / medals" as I came across such categories as "wooden nickel", "pressed oblong cent", and other categories. Indeed, it is hardly possible to reach a consensus here. Unless, to invent new generalizing categories of collecting.
All islands around the world & islands coin

FosseWay

Quote from: chrisild on December 22, 2021, 11:44:14 PM
Why? On some German collector coins you will find the text "Silber 925". The silver €20 coins from this year, and also pieces dated 2022, have it. ;) Of course they are not made for circulation; so what? We have been through this before and will not be able to find "the" universally accepted definition ...

Yes, I would tend to agree that the presence or absence of any given text is not pertinent to this discussion.

QuoteA fairly strict rule could be that only pieces which are issued at face, and can be used throughout the currency area they are issued in, are actually coins. That would – if we look at euro issues for example – turn all collector coins, and quite a few commemorative €2 coins, into "non-coins". ::)

That's an approach that I'm reasonably happy with, but I'd tweak it slightly. I don't see a problem regarding as coins those circulation-specification pieces that happen not to circulate. Way before this issue became the epidemic problem it is today, many countries issued annual proof or BU sets of their standard coinage, but did not necessarily mint the coins en masse for general use every year. A 50p from 1972 is IMO just as much a coin as one from 1973, even though you never saw the former in circulation and the latter were very common. So all the standard-spec €2 coins that happen not to see circulation would "count", as would all the sets-only 1c and 2c coins. I'd also include commemorative coins that are not in a format that can easily circulate, but which are obtainable for face value. Otherwise no UK crowns since probably 1902 would be regarded as "coins", since AFAIK they very rarely if at all circulated.

But ultimately what people mean when they say this is a coin but that isn't, is that they choose to collect this but not that, or that they collect both but file them differently.

FosseWay

Quote from: Alex Island on December 23, 2021, 10:33:39 AM
I started collecting coins in 1989, and I held the traditional view that coins are legal tender. A few years later, I began to collect the topic that I have continued to collect now - the topic of "islands". Then I started to encounter various strange items, such as when I bought the "1 puffin" token for Lundy Island. While developing the topic, I was forced to constantly rethink these questions about "coins / tokens / medals" as I came across such categories as "wooden nickel", "pressed oblong cent", and other categories. Indeed, it is hardly possible to reach a consensus here. Unless, to invent new generalizing categories of collecting.

For what it's worth, this is how I divide my collection. I'm not suggesting I'm "right" and others "wrong", or that it's the only way to do it.  ;)

Coins are pieces intended according to their specification to circulate generally within a given territory. Apart from territorial limitations and limitations on how many small-denomination coins you can use at once, there are no restrictions on who can use them or for what purpose or kind of payment: they are generally current. Who issued them is of less importance: I'm not bothered, for example, by the distinction made in law and by many catalogues in UK issues of the early 19th century, where Royal Mint issues are regarded as "coins" and Bank of England issues are regarded as "tokens", or by similar distinctions around the same time in Denmark and Sweden. As far as I'm concerned, they're all coins according to the criteria above.

Tokens are pieces that are intended to be used in exchange for something or to represent a transaction of some kind - goods, services, access to something/somewhere, permission to do something, to show evidence of ownership/occupancy of something and so on. The key difference vis-à-vis coins is that tokens are limited in their scope. They may be usable for only one kind of transaction (a bus token, for payment of the fare), or only in one (kind of) establishment (a co-op token for a loaf of bread, or a waiter's token in a named restaurant), or by certain restricted categories of person (child fare token, soup kitchen token for the poor) or a combination of these. They don't, or are generally not considered as intended to, circulate as general currency.

I then have a category called Not For Payment (I stole that term from the heading on this website  ;D) which covers various other objects, such as play money, medals recording royal visits or political events, gaming counters, Rechenpfennige, reproductions (Westair etc.), tool checks, weights and so on. These have in common that they are not used in exchange.

Clearly there are some grey areas between these categories. Firstly, "coins" that don't circulate and aren't of circulation specifications, as discussed at length in this thread. My solution is that I don't collect these, but inevitably I sometimes acquire them anyway in lots, and any I do acquire, I treat as coins.

Secondly: tokens that in practice circulate as coins, even though that was not originally their purpose, such as many UK halfpennies from the period 1770-1820 and, more recently, Italian gettoni telefonici. These I count as tokens despite their de facto wider currency.

Thirdly: Advertising tokens. There are a lot of these, mostly from the second half of the 19th century and into the 20th. They are often extremely attractive (which is why I collect them), but they universally lack any form of denomination. The reason for that is that many European countries clamped down from 1850 onwards on the use of non-standard or foreign "coins" in circulation and pursued people who produced jetons and tokens that could be mistaken for currency (e.g. that had a denomination in currency units). So all the tokens advertising Bovril, kolonialværer, drapery products, heaven knows what - they all scrupulously lack a denomination. Yet they were produced for a reason. What could that reason possibly be, other than that they gave their possessor a discount at the named shop when presented?

Fourthly, I'm a bit inconsistent regarding tool etc. checks. Ones that I can identify to a given factory/company I tend to file with tokens, often just for completeness. If I have a bunch of fare tokens from a bus company, it seems natural to file driver checks or workshop tool checks from the same company in the same place. Generic ones go in the "Not for payment" section.

So overall (a) it's up to you, and (b) even if you employ some form of personal division, there will always be grey areas and inconsistencies. Such is life!

<k>

Then there is the grey area of official collector coins that are not intended for circulation but which do circulate.

Quote from: <k> on March 01, 2016, 11:27:23 PM
Only UK currency is legal tender on Tristan da Cunha (TDC).  TDC produces its own collector coin sets, but these are not intended for circulation. However, the TDC Post Office notes that there are a few TDC 5 pound coins in circulation. Given that the population of TDC is only 267, this is presumably known about by all and tolerated as a novelty for tourists.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

CannedMeat

I asked Google to "define coin" and it said "a flat, typically round piece of metal with an official stamp, used as money". So-called "collector coins" aren't intended to be used as money.

I looked in Wiktionary. The relevant definition of Coin starts out "A piece of currency, usually metallic ...". The definition of Currency is "Money or other items used to facilitate transactions". Co-called "collector coins" aren't intended to be used to facilitate transactions.

I checked several other online and paper dictionaries and got similar results. Collector coins are considered coins by the issuers and many collectors, but don't really fit the commonly understood (outside of the numismatic community) definition of coins.

brandm24

Special issues of any kind, both those intended for circulation and commemoratives that aren't, are considered legal tender here in the US. I don't know of any that aren't off hand. In my estimation that would make them coins.

To muddy the waters some what and maybe not relevant to this conversation, counterstamped US coins are considered tokens by those who collect them. Of course they're still spendable as legal tender, but the counterstamp is the primary interest of collectors. Yes. we are a strange bunch. ;D

Bruce
Always Faithful