Best Designs for Modern Coins?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by kaparthy, Jul 16, 2019.

  1. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    Complaining about the 2021-CC Morgan (which does not yet exist), the point was made that classic designs have more appeal than the mere historicity of the artifact.

    So, I googled Krause Coin of the Year. Wikipedia had an article (of course; here) and that took me to a PCGS Registry Set. I was underwhelmed. (So far, I like the 1988 Albania 50 Leke. The 1987 US $5 Gold Commemorative was a mess. I have no idea what the obverse is supposed to be.). But overall, the coins are just, well, coins. The best ones stand out. Nominees?
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  3. dwhiz

    dwhiz Collector Supporter

  4. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes?

    1. How do you define "modern"?

    2. Are we talking US only, or foreign as well? Regular issue, or NCLT? Bullion or no? Give us some parameters.
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  5. LakeEffect

    LakeEffect Average Circulated

    Slim pickins' but a few (besides Dolley) that I kinda like...

    2000-Leif-Ericson-Dollar.jpg Proof-2008-Bald-Eagle-Silver-Dollar-Commemorative-Coin.jpg
  6. Maxfli

    Maxfli Well-Known Member

    I guess I'd want to make the distinction between non-circulating commemoratives and circulating business strikes.

    By all rights, limited edition commems should represent the highest expression of the coin-making art, and as such should snag the majority of those "coin of the year" designations you mentioned.

    But to me, that seems like...yawn...low-hanging fruit. If you can't make a great looking commem, even in this day and age, hang it up.

    I'd find the discussion more interesting if it were focused on everyday modern circulation coinage, because — working with today's materials and contending with today's cost constraints — that's where the real challenge is.

    So with that said, I'd offer the Czech 50 Korun for consideration. I received a few of these in change two years ago during a visit to Prague. I had no prior knowledge of the coin (bi-metallic, 27.5mm), so it took me totally by surprise. The photo (obviously not mine) doesn't do it justice.

    And it begs the question: if little Czechia can make coins this interesting, why can't we?

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  7. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes?

    Can you explain what you find interesting about it, and why you consider it to be one of the best modern (whatever that means) coins produced?
  8. Maxfli

    Maxfli Well-Known Member

    Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that said:

    1) Again, the photo doesn't fully reveal it, but the detail in the lion and the castle is superior to what we see on current US coins (mostly I'm thinking about the recent and current US quarter series).

    2) The typography is elegant and clearly someone put a lot of effort into designing it.

    3) The interesting twist on the bi-metallic motif. Bi-metallics are nothing new and we've all seen many of them, but this one stands apart from the crowd.

    Lastly, I can't say it's one of the best modern coins produced, because I'm sure there are many I haven't seen. But of those I have seen that are currently in circulation, this is among the most interesting and best executed.
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  9. TheGame

    TheGame Well-Known Member

    For single, circulating coins, my vote also goes to the Czech 50 Korun. They are absolutely beautiful in hand.

    For complete series, two come to mind:

    First, Switzerland. They know they don't need to fix what isn't broken. For those not familiar, all designs except for one date from the 1870s, and the other from the 1920s.


    Second, Hungary. I like the progression of designs and composition throughout, and they're usually well-made.

    Note - the progression of designs I mentioned makes more sense when including the discontinued 1 and 2 forint.

    There are a few other countries whose current series have nice designs, but are hurt by the fact that they're made of plated steel, which usually doesn't look very good once circulated.
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  10. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    Right. She was pretty. And the coin is shiny. But the building in the background was just thrown in to fill space. We say that numismatics is about "art" but having had college classes in art history and design studio, I do not find much that could hang in a museum. Rather, coin designers seem to be talented amateurs. Maybe the problem is the "final edit" done by the Mint where the work of a talented artist is dumbed down.

    Agreed. Simple but compelling. Not bad at all.

    As much as I like Switzerland as a place, having been there once for five days, the coins remind me of the words of Frank Lloyd Wright that classical buildings stand at attention clicking their heels. Helmut Lehmann-Haupt in Art Under a Dictatorship made the same point: the fascists and communists both endorsed variants of classicism because they were bound by rules.
  11. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    Personally, I am open on the parameters. I get the fact that NCLT is not "really" coinage, but then, what is a pied fort or a medal? Mints make products. I do agree though that the ultimate winners would be actual circulating coins intended for common use. But, again, there is nothing wrong with a Mint showing its best work.

    As for "modern" I guess 1950-present unless you want to draw the line at the shift away from precious metals 1964-present.
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  12. Maxfli

    Maxfli Well-Known Member

    Agree with all of that.

    One of the few modern US commemoratives I find halfway compelling (and hence, the only one I own) is the 1982 Washington half posted above by @LakeEffect.
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  13. Jaelus

    Jaelus The Hungarian Antiquarian Supporter

    You can't assign a year across the board and call it modern. It just doesn't work. Different countries started producing modern coinage at different times, and for many countries with unclear transitions, you won't even have a consensus among collectors as to what date modern coinage started.

    For example, for the US, I would say modern coinage started in 1965. For Hungary, I would say it started in 1946. Likely there are other European countries whose modern coinage periods started as a result of the end of WWII. The transition away from PMs in circulating coinage is a good marker as well, though Hungary was producing silver coins for circulation as recently as 1998.
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  14. Maxfli

    Maxfli Well-Known Member

    Good point. Perhaps better to limit it to coins currently in circulation. However, I suspect that might take the discussion in a direction the OP didn't intend.
  15. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    Dwhiz.... What was the coin I saw you post last week that had a bold medieval theme? That was quite an attractive design though I remember you being disappointed that it was such a low relief in hand.
  16. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    I really don't care for coins with faces on them but I do have a few exceptions. I like the coins that display Lady Liberty in all her glory, not the new weakling modern versions. Also like coins with our majestic eagle. Anything that brings Liberty, freedom and unity of the country should be all that's on a coin.
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  17. dwhiz

    dwhiz Collector Supporter

    @Randy Abercrombie
    2019 1 oz Austrian Silver Leopold V Coin BU - 825th Anniversary of the Austrian
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  18. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    Not bad. I am not sold on the subject or the excuse (825 years), but the design style is novel and interesting. Thanks for recommending it.

    I would disagree. First, for US, I believe that we have a consensus that the end of the "classical" era was the end of the Indianhead Cent, Buffalo Nickel, Mercury Dime, Standing Liberty Quarter, Walking Liberty Half Dollar and the Silver Dollar (Morgan and Peace alike). As they were phased out, they were replaced with Dead Politicians and Lifeless Reverses. The Lincoln Memorial and Monticello are not going anywhere; the eagle on the quarter looks like a moth pinned to a board. (In fact, the Washington Quarter and the Nazi Half Mark bear a scary similarity.) The Liberty Bell on the Franklin Half is not going to ring out. In fact, it is broken.

    The torch was passed to modern Commemoratives. There, the Mint had opportunities. I suggest the 1992 Olympics, for example, at least the obverses. The reverse of the Half Dollar is a better arrangement of the otherwise static symbols.

    The coins of communist Hungary were perfect examples of the aesthetic bankruptcy of a dictatorship that demanded classical styling with everything at attention, heels clicked together, nothing moving, no suggestion of change. Modern (after 1989) Hungarian commemoratives did offer some other presentations. TheGame in Post 8 showed a 200F with a bridge in perspective.

    I do agree with your point that the transition from "classical" to "modern" did not happen with the turn of a calendar page. But that was true also for the rise of Romanticism in the 1830s - earlier here, later there, or Expressionism, etc., etc. Modernism in architecture is another example with Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright in America moving forward head of Bauhaus. Architectural trends may influence numismatics more than we realize.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
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  19. Maxfli

    Maxfli Well-Known Member

    Another worthy modern candidate IMHO: Austria 50 schilling.

    A commemorative, but a circulating one until decommissioned in favor of the Euro in 2001.


    (Pic "borrowed" from the inter webs)
  20. Paul M.

    Paul M. Well-Known Member

    I can add some pics later, but a few of my favorites are:

    • 2001 France, Un Ultime Franc. Very modern, very French, very cool.
    • 1988 US Olympic $5 gold. Cool, classically inspired design. Looks great in gold.
    • All pre-Euro French coins. Not sure if those count as “classic” designs or not, but they were minted well past 1964.
    • 1952-1953 East Germany 5 pfennig. So modern and sleek looking. I would not have expected such beauty from East Germany.
    There are more, of course, but that’s just what I could think of off the top of my head.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
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  21. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    On your suggestion, I went back and gave it a second look. I agree that the obverse is compelling. The horse is lifelike, not iconic and static. Even the manor on the reverse at least is given to us as a summit. It does draw the eyes upward, unlike the Lincoln Memorial and Monticello. So, thanks.
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