Dick Johnson submitted this entry from his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. Thanks. What could be more foundational - what does it mean to be a coin?
(1) An object created to pass for money – originally cast but later struck – with a design and inscription indicating authority and denomination. Coins are most often called by their denomination or their type; occasionally their name is a combination of both. With the continued use by many people, coins are often given nicknames or slang terms. An example: Lincoln head is a type of United States cent (denomination); it is often, but incorrectly called a penny (a slang term).
Because a coin's function is to circulate, it becomes worn or abraded (see abrasion). Thus coins appear in a wide range of abradedness (which numismatists call condition and the act of determining condition is called grading). A somewhat imprecise terminology exists to described various conditions. While condition affects the object's collector value, it does not lessen the function of a coin to circulate.
Coins are removed from circulation more so as souvenirs or collectible objects rather than their becoming unfit to circulate – worn so smooth they are not identifiable – (or, in extremely rare instances, being demonetized). Thus nations which issue coins are required to constantly replenish the stock of coins in circulation. Even so, coins far outlast paper money in their function as a medium of exchange.
Prior to the 20th century coins bore an intrinsic value close to their bullion value. Since 1920, when Great Britain went off the sterling standard, coins have taken on more of a token value in comparison to their face value. Following that, many coin-issuing countries have sought cheaper metal compositions in which to strike their circulating coins yet retain many of the beneficial factors of typical coinage metals (bronze, silver, gold).
The major article coins and coining in this book explores the history and technology of coins and coin making. Numerous articles herein cover the design of coins and the terms used in their describing and cataloging. The article on coin collecting covers the collecting aspect.
1) Value (Denomination).
2) Authority (Authentic).
3) Image (National symbols).
4) Nationality (Jurisdiction).
5) Design (Devices).
6) Lettering (Inscriptions).
7) Familarity (Recognition).
8) Hardness (Permanence).
9) Bilateral (Two-sidedness).
10) Longevity (Long lasting).
Book lovers should be word lovers as well.
Looking for the meaning of a numismatic word, or the description of a term? Try the Newman Numismatic Portal's Numismatic Dictionary at:
Or if you would like a printed copy of the complete Encyclopedia, it is available.
There are 1,854 terms, on 678 pages, in The Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology. Even running two a week would require more than 19 years to publish them all.
If you would like an advance draft of this vital reference work it may be obtained from the author for your check of $50 sent postpaid. Dick Johnson, 139 Thompson Drive, Torrington, CT 06790.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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