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Are US Coin Denominations Difficult To Determine?

 
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Pillar of the Community
United States
6949 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  3:41 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add numismatic student to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I spent the last month traveling abroad, and one surprising thing that people outside the country indicated to me was that it was difficult to tell the denomination of U.S. coins.

They are marked one cent, five cents, one dime, one quarter, half dollar or x dollars.

People abroad wanted arabic numerical depictions of value such as 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, 1 dollar etc.

We used to do that early on, but moved away to writing the word for the number which appears to be confusing abroad.

Would it be clearer to mark coins with the numerical denomination in large numbers?
Pillar of the Community
United States
504 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  3:53 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jst1dreamr to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
As a veteran who once swore to protect the ways of our country it is IMO that we should do ours the way we wish to and let other countries do theirs the way they wish to. It makes our coins unique to our country. America was strong before we started changing our ways to please people from other countries.
Edited by jst1dreamr
09/03/2018 3:57 pm
Pillar of the Community
United States
1493 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  3:54 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Alpha2814 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The current phrasing could hardly be less clear, and it has always bugged me. Cents and nickels get a pass because they give the denomination spelled out. But there's no reason why a non-English speaker should know what a "dime" is. Even words like "quarter" and "half" are not necessarily going to be understandable like "one" and "five" are.

Numerical depictions don't necessarily have to be large. If we can read "one dime", we should be able to read "10". The shorter length would mean it wouldn't necessarily look good around the rim, so it could go somewhere else in the design, like on the Native American dollars.
Working on: Peace dollars (two to go), US type (early Bust era), Indian quarter eagles, Chinese pandas, and San Francisco tokens.

"Fear is the enemy of will. Will is what makes you take action; fear is what stops you, and makes you weak."
-- Sinestro to (my avatar) Hal Jordan, "Green Lantern" (2011)
Pillar of the Community
United States
6949 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  4:47 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add numismatic student to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I am all for protecting our ways, but it seems to me that one of the primary functions of money is to make commerce easier. I don't know how that objective is furthered by confusing people who want to spend our money about how much it is worth.

This is decidedly not a large consideration these days as the amount of commerce conducted with coins is relatively small, but it was probably larger earlier, as this issue of confusion has probably been around since the denominations were changed to words during the era of bust coinage with some exceptions along the way.
Bedrock of the Community
United States
12452 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  4:50 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add basebal21 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:

Would it be clearer to mark coins with the numerical denomination in large numbers?


The dime is the only one where I can see how a foreigner might not be able to figure that out. That said basically everyone has internet access on their phone and it takes 3 seconds to find a face value so I don't see a need to change anything for the sole reason of making it easier to understand
Pillar of the Community
United States
6949 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  4:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add numismatic student to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Notably we don't do that with paper money. In the U.S. paper money of different denominations are the same size, whereas in other countries larger denominations often are printed on larger bills.

Imagine the confusion that would result if we didn't have numerical denominations on our paper money, labeling it: one dollar, five dollars, ten dollars, twenty dollars, fifty dollars, one hundred dollars without the numbers at the corners or as a huge number on the reverse indicating the denomination.
Pillar of the Community
United States
6949 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  5:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add numismatic student to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It seems unreasonable to require a google search to determine the denomination of a coin when making a purchase. If a coin's denomination is not clear to most people at first sight, then I would think there is a design issue for the intended function of a coin to be used in commerce. Money should not need to be decoded in order to be used. Seems like an unnecessary impediment to commerce.
Valued Member
United States
160 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  5:08 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add bzookaj to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I think some of the backlash falls into the "this is what I'm used to" thought. When you're raised with a certain way, it can be hard to realize the difficulty of others, whether foreign or American. The notes being the same size, for example, has been an issue for the blind community for years.

Personally, I like the way the euro is done. Coordinated colors and sizes, with obvious numbering, so they are clearly marked and differentiated. They have to convey the same information to people of varous background and language, and do it well.
Edited by bzookaj
09/03/2018 5:09 pm
Pillar of the Community
United Kingdom
5587 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  5:19 pm  Show Profile   Check NumisRob's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add NumisRob to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
As someone who has worked as a tour manager, occasionally escorting groups of British tourists around the USA, I'd agree that the dime confuses some people - they don't understand that it's worth ten cents, and they expect it to be worth less than the larger, chunkier nickel.
Pillar of the Community
United States
6949 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  5:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add numismatic student to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I wasn't aware of the issues in the blind community. Thanks for pointing that out.

To bring it back to classic coins, when I was looking at collector coins online, I bid on a bust half thinking it was a bust quarter and overbid by several hundred dollars. Bust quarters are generally scarcer and more valuable than halves.

In hand, a bust quarter is smaller and not easily confused with a half, but online, it is difficult to see the relative size of the coin. The designs are also identical except for the written denomination in the reverse of QUAR. or HALF. Yes, I should have been more careful, but when you are juggling bidding on a few dozen coins in rapid-fire fashion, I always worry that I will make this mistake again.

Some here may also remember when I purchased an 1857 Half Cent thinking it was an 1857 large cent online.
Edited by numismatic student
09/03/2018 5:27 pm
Bedrock of the Community
10197 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  5:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Crazyb0 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Ya know, just for who's use was this money made? Francois? Muhammad? I would venture to say it was very much according to the American way of things. I for one could give a rat's posterior what a foreigner may think, they need to do what we do to adapt to their weird names and denominational division. We learn it, and don't complain about it, well most of us older folks don't .
Edited by Crazyb0
09/03/2018 5:25 pm
Pillar of the Community
United States
6949 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  5:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add numismatic student to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Ya know, just for who's use was this money made? Francois? Muhammad?


Maybe this is the reason why banknotes have clear denominations?


Quote:
According to the St. Louis Fed:

What percent of US currency is outside the US?

Although some U.S. currency has flowed out of the United States since before the Second World War, outflows accelerated during the 1970s. Today, the Treasury and Board of Governors staffs estimate that nearly 60 percent of all U.S. banknotes in circulation, or close to $500 billion, is held outside the United States.
Pillar of the Community
Sweden
1033 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  5:41 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add X2an to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
But there's no reason why a non-English speaker should know what a "dime" is.


When I was a kid, not only did I not speak English, neither did I know what a dime was, and I could not say it was 10 cents. To me at the time it could easily have been 5 cents, obsolete coinage or even a different name for cent. I'd never come across a currency that has more than one subunit. So indeed it becomes confusing and needs a bit of explanation.

I highly oppose not using numerals for denomination purposes. English might be the dominant world language but that doesn't mean everyone speaks it. Figuring out the denomination requires a closer look when you're not familiar with the coin, assuming you know the language. Also, large and clear numerals does this incredibly efficient across language barriers, which is important when many people use the coin. There's a reason so many countries do that.

These examples are not so clear what they are to English-only speakers.


I also have to give big thumbs down to the UK regarding the introduction of the 'royal shield puzzle' series of 1 to 50 Pence, where the numerals were removed. This was in 2008.

"Always assume the lowest in value for best possibilities"
Bedrock of the Community
United States
12452 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  6:23 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add basebal21 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
It seems unreasonable to require a google search to determine the denomination of a coin when making a purchase. If a coin's denomination is not clear to most people at first sight, then I would think there is a design issue for the intended function of a coin to be used in commerce.


I would be a one time search then it's their own fault if they can't remember. That search is going to happen anyway to figure out approximate values in their own currency. It's not any different than going to England where Pence and Pounds may confuse some people

It just really seems like lowering the bar even more than we have to redo the dime just to put 10 on it
Pillar of the Community
United States
1493 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  6:44 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Alpha2814 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I don't think anyone is going to bother converting currencies for coins, especially if they already have a ballpark figure in their head for the primary unit. And there are a good number of people who, even though they may have their phones with them, don't know how to use it for this purpose. My husband is lucky he can even use the actual "phone" feature. Anything other than that and messaging is beyond his grasp.

Technical skills should not be a prerequisite for international commerce. I'll grant that once you learn what a dime is you should remember it. But I wouldn't want to be behind someone in line who's looking up their change to see what they have at the counter.
Working on: Peace dollars (two to go), US type (early Bust era), Indian quarter eagles, Chinese pandas, and San Francisco tokens.

"Fear is the enemy of will. Will is what makes you take action; fear is what stops you, and makes you weak."
-- Sinestro to (my avatar) Hal Jordan, "Green Lantern" (2011)
Pillar of the Community
United States
6091 Posts
 Posted 09/03/2018  7:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Earle42 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
As a veteran who once swore to protect the ways of our country it is IMO that we should do ours the way we wish to and let other countries do theirs the way they wish to. It makes our coins unique to our country. America was strong before we started changing our ways to please people from other countries.

First - THANK YOU for your service. People like you are why we can voice our opinions.
Second - you are spot on.

What the younger generations have not been taught is that America was strong b/c she was a leader and did things her own way. And the rest of the world saw how far we could go and tried to emulate our culture.

We don't need this globalism garbage that is killing our nation at its roots by trying to lower our standards and freedoms to to meet the rest of the worlds'. Why is it eliminating the cultural ways of every other country is seen as bad, yet some moderns want America to change to suit everyone else?

Let them do their coins their own way and we will do ours the way we like.

I don't recall anyone ever saying that during WWII (and after that) people of other lands had trouble identifying our money. They loved to use it and would take all they could get. I saw this even into the 90s when in Europe.


Quote:
Ya know, just for who's use was this money made? Francois? Muhammad? I would venture to say it was very much according to the American way of things. I for one could give a rat's posterior what a foreigner may think, they need to do what we do to adapt to their weird names and denominational division. We learn it, and don't complain about it, well most of us older folks don't .


Now c'mon Butch, you act like Chinese coins use Chinese characters or Russian coin use Cyrillic, and ... oh ...

Besides that, and as has been pointed out many times on this forum...just how much is change used anymore in populated US areas anymore ...let alone our coins being used in daily commerce overseas?







- When I value " being right" more than what IS right, I am then right...a fool.
- How much squash could a Sasquatch squash if a Sasquatch would squash squash?
- Real men play Fizzbin.
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