From: Michael Everson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Jun 08 2004 - 10:27:11 CDT
Here is a long off-line discussion put back where it belongs.
At 11:23 +0000 2004-06-06, James Kass wrote:
>Old Italic is relevant. A while ago, I discussed numismatic marks
>with some people who are interested in Unicode for numismatic
>databases. Some of the ancient Roman mint marks and so forth are
>variants, as you probably know, and these numismatists want an
>explicit way to get the correct glyph to appear where appropriate.
You'd want to be more specific. Are these logos? On the other hand we
did encode the turned-Q signature mark.
>Michael Everson wrote,
>I don't know much about numismatics.
I know a bit. I'm more into modern issues, but specialize in tokens,
like "store cards" and gaming tokens. But, I've been uninvolved
with any of this for the past several years. Lack of time.
>German euro coins in my pocket have D or F on them.
D = Munich, F = Stuttgart. A coin "board" or coin folder would
have separate slots for, say 2002-D and 2002-F. The mint mark
is a part of the coin's identity and differences can represent
radically different market value.
Catalogs like Krause list the mintmark in the "date" column. For
example the 1921 dime minted at Denver is shown as "1921D".
(By the way, Doug, I recovered two 1921D dimes with the help
of a metal detector when they were building Triangle Square
down in Costa Mesa.)
> >Modern French coins use letters for mint marks, but also have what
> >are known as "privy marks", like "tree", "mortar", "half fleur-de-lis",
> >and so forth.
> And ancient French coins?
I don't know.
> >Privy marks can probably safely be considered graphics, but these
> >ancient coin marks aren't considered privy marks. Privy marks
> >actually are the logos of the person who cut the individual die(s)
> >used for stamping the coins.
> I think the French euro coins have the initials of the artist on them.
This is a fairly common practice. Often the designer's initials will
be "hidden" or somehow worked into a design feature.
> So this is a hugely open set of makers' marks, considering all the
> coins in the world?
It's pretty much a finite set, modern issuers aren't out there making
up new glyphs and, as far as I can tell, just use normal letters. So,
it seems to be only the ancients that are of concern.
Numismatics can be considered a science or discipline just like math.
And, numismatists share and exchange information, some of which
seems to involve the use of letterlike symbols. However, I've not
been able to find examples of the ancient coin marks used in running
text, but, once again, ancients aren't my specialty and I really don't
have many references here.
J. Marcos, designer of the ALPHABETUM font, is apparently doing
something with the PUA. A discussion group was set up about a
year or two ago, and I, unfortunately, have not kept in touch due
to time constraints. But, I remain interested in this.
At 23:44 -0700 2004-06-06, Doug Ewell wrote:
James Kass <jameskass at att dot net> wrote:
> I know a bit. I'm more into modern issues, but specialize in tokens,
> like "store cards" and gaming tokens. But, I've been uninvolved
> with any of this for the past several years. Lack of time.
I know quite a bit of this too, although lack of money AND time have
slowed my collecting activities as well. (Something to do with
engagement, kids, home ownership, etc.)
Mint marks, such as the ones James showed in his attachment, are indeed
commonly listed in numismatic guides and other plain-text applications.
U.S. coins have always employed ordinary Latin letters as mint marks (C,
CC, D, P, O, S, W), but coins from other countries have often used other
symbols and combinations of letters, especially in pre-20th century
One of the best-known historical mint marks that cannot be represented
in Unicode without combining marks is the Mexico City mint mark, a
capital M with a small o above it. This has been in use for centuries
and is perhaps most famous for its appearance on the Spanish milled
dollars or "pieces of eight" of the 18th century that were the direct
prototypes of the American silver dollar. This mint mark is still in
use today. It could be encoded with combining characters as <0045,
0366>, but if single precomposed characters are preferred for currency
symbols, they would appear to make sense for mint marks as well.
I would not consider mint marks to be logos, certainly not in the
corporate sense of the McDonald's Golden Arches or the Nike swoosh.
Governments have operated mints and used mint marks for probably over a
thousand years, but have only recently used modern advertising and
marketing techniques to sell their products to collectors.
> Catalogs like Krause list the mintmark in the "date" column. For
> example the 1921 dime minted at Denver is shown as "1921D".
> (By the way, Doug, I recovered two 1921D dimes with the help
> of a metal detector when they were building Triangle Square
> down in Costa Mesa.)
James, that is an awesome find. Congratulations! (For those who care,
the 1921D dime is one of the "semi-key" coins in the "Mercury" dime
series of 1916 through 1945; it isn't THE most valuable in the series,
but one of the top four or five.)
>>> Modern French coins use letters for mint marks, but also have what
>>> are known as "privy marks", like "tree", "mortar", "half fleur-de-
>>> lis", and so forth.
>> And ancient French coins?
> I don't know.
Privy marks as used on the coins of France and French colonies probably
do fall into the realm of logos, as James said. I wouldn't recommend
encoding them, even if they do sometimes appear in the same catalog
listings as mint marks.
> It's pretty much a finite set, modern issuers aren't out there making
> up new glyphs and, as far as I can tell, just use normal letters. So,
> it seems to be only the ancients that are of concern.
I agree. Mint marks of today tend to be plain letters, or constructs
like the Mexico City M? carried over from the past. Designers are now
identified by their initials or name, while the mintmaster or chief
coiner isn't identified at all.
I could provide more information on this if needed.
At 22:19 -0700 2004-06-07, Doug Ewell wrote:
> Mike Ayers (/|/|ike) wrote:
> Sometimes the artist mark is also listed in the catalogs. Probably
> the best known example of this is the 1909S VDB penny - VDB being the
> initials of the artist who designed the Lincoln penny. Only a few
> such pennies were issued before the initials were removed, and thus
> pennies with the initials are amongst the highest valued collectible
> American coins.
Fortunately, the 1909 VDB (no S), which tells the same story about
jealous Mint Director Charles Barber, was made in rather large numbers
(almost 28 million) and is very affordable.
There are actually quite a few collectible American coins more valuable
than the 1909S VDB -- even within the Lincoln series, the 1914D is worth
more in high-enough grades -- but few collectible coins have the same
legendary aura about them.
From: email@example.com (James Kass)
Doug mentioned the Mexico City mint mark. It's true that the mintmark
is an upper case "M" with a small "o" centered above.
Krause (1985) shows the mint mark in plain text only at the beginning
of the modern section (1905 and newer) and they use a typewriter-like
solution, but clearly they capture the essense of the glyph. However,
as Mexico City was the only mint operating in the modern era, the listings
for individual coins by date don't actually include the mint mark.
But, in Mexican coins from before 1905, there were several mints in
operation. Krause gives the Mexico City mint mark in the listings
here as "Mo", even though the specialized glyph appears in some of
the illustrations. The Hermosillo mint, for example, uses in some
cases an "H" with a small centered "o" above, and in other places
just uses the plain "H". But, in the text listings, Hermosillo mint
appears either as "H" or as "Ho".
From: "Doug Ewell" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> James Kass <jameskass at att dot net> wrote:
> Krause gives the Mexico City mint mark in the listings here as
> "Mo", even though the specialized glyph appears in some of the
I noticed that ASCII kludge but decided not to mention it. :-)
Krause used "Mo" because there was no other plain-text way to show
M-with-o-above. Hint hint.
See http://www.sycee-on-line.com/Pillar1.jpg for an illustration of this
mint mark, at roughly 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock on the coin. More
illustrations could be easily found.
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