Dick Johnson submitted this entry from his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. Thanks. Bibliophiles will appreciate this one.
Numbering System. A plan by which numismatic items are assigned a catalog number once they have been identified and
arranged. A variety of systems have been used in numismatic literature including such number systems as straight numerical, open numerical, outline,
straight decimal, consecutive decimal, letter-number combination, numerical coding for data processing (often with zeros in front of integral
numbers), or a variety of alpha-numeric combinations of these. The choice of the number system is always that of the cataloger (who should chose the
best system to accommodate the numismatic items being cataloged). Numismatic items with a lot of varieties require a different system, for example,
from that with a run of one-of-a-kind items.
Problems for all number systems exist by the appearance of newly found items which should be included in the number scheme. These can be inserted
if numbers were left unassigned (called open numeric), or by adding a suffix of some kind. Those that appear at the end can easily be
added (called open ended).
Because of the two-sided nature of numismatic items and the ease of muling, some numbering systems have more than one element. Multiple-element
numbers can incorporate obverse and reverse designations or other sets of data. A tip for multiple-element numbers: no spaces between the elements.
Connect the elements with a dash, slash, or even periods.
Museums use assession numbers to identify objects in their collections. These are a type of numbering system. They often incorporate the last two
digits of the year when the item was received but creates a problem when the institution becomes over 100 years old.
Citing Catalog Numbers
Using the numbers assigned by numismatic authors to specific catalog varieties – with or without their name or initials attached – is not a violation
of their copyright. It is not necessary to obtain the author's or publisher's permission to cite these reference numbers in any numismatic
Copyright technically is the arrangement of wording. In common usage these catalog numbers are a single word and no one can copyright a single
word. They are in public domain and can be used by anyone at any time.
Book lovers should be word lovers as well.
The Krause-Mishler "KM" numbers for world coins are one popular numismatic numbering system. In U.S. Large Cents the Sheldon
"S" numbering system reigns supreme. Nearly every numismatic book author creates or references some sort of numbering scheme to provide a
shorthand reference to items. -Editor
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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