Last week Leon Saryan wrote:
Here's a question for the experts: Is there an accepted way to measure and report the diameter of an irregular (i.e. not exactly circular ancient or medieval era) coin?
Here's an answer from Dick Johnson. Thanks!
If you have a problem measuring odd shaped coins, imagine the problem measuring medals and medallic items. Medals can appear in far more odd shapes and often have several parts attached to each other, as badges, decorations and such.. Thus, medal catalogers have come up with some rules to make the task easier. If you wish to adapt these for coins, be my guest.
1. Stretch out the item if it has chains or a ribbon to its greatest length.
2) Measure this length in metric -- millimeters or centimeters.
3) Measure the width at its widest point wherever that may be.
In other words, imagine the item in the tightest box in which it would fit -- measure the inside of that box -- height by width.
For a freeform medal determine its precise horizontal and vertical orientation. Again, measure the inside of a box in which it would fit, still maintaining that horizontal-vertical orientation.
If the item has a loop, disregard this in any measurement.
For medals list height first using metric then its width using "mm" or "cm," separated by a lower case "x" -- then translate Metric into Aliquot and add a single "-inch." In America we think in inches, but prefer Metric for its scientific accuracy. You can list inches first if you wish, I do (and add Metric in parenthesis).
Height is always listed first in numismatic cataloging. This is opposite to philately which always gives width first.
Circular coins and medals obviously need only one measurement -- its diameter anywhere.
Use a caliper to measure any numismatic item, never a ruler (for greater accuracy -- even to one-tenth of a millimeter). But metal calipers are not recommended -- they can scratch a surface. Instead use a plastic caliper. They are cheaper and just as satisfactory as metal calipers.
There is another term of measurement -- longest dimension -- but you don't have to worry about that since it is only used in diemaking. A blank diestock must be chosen for a rectangular medallic item to accommodate it longest dimension, diagonally from one corner across to its farthest corner.
All this talk about measurements reminded me of the old Stephen Wright joke: "Some people are afraid of heights. I'm afraid of widths."
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
QUERY: HOW TO MEASURE AN IRREGULARLY SHAPED COIN
Wayne Homren, Editor
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