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How could coin displays in museums be improved?

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I was about to post this as a reply to another thread, but I thought it deserved its own post.

 

I've been thinking about coin displays in museums lately.

 

I find them to be extremely ineffective - More often than not, you can hardly see the coin!

 

If you've got a silver dollar on display, behind an inch of glass, sitting in the middle of a twelve inch square case, who's going to able to see any details? Sure, you could tell that it's round, and it has a design on it, but other than that there's not much you can tell, short of pressing your nose against the glass.

 

Sure, magnification could help to a point. But a fixed magnifying glass can only go so far.

 

Also, all to often you can only view one side of a coin, if it's laying down in a display, or in a case without two sides.

 

And then there's photographs that can be enlarged, but we all know that photographs never show all aspects of a coin.

 

How can these be improved? Do you agree with me about how ineffective/inaccessible the current displays seem to be?

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Remove the government from the equation. Instead of wasting half of the operating budget on "administration", hire ex-Navy Seals, Special Forces and/or mercenaries to be posted at every display case.

 

Chris

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Perhaps coins could be suspended in air and slowly rotated.
That's an option, and something similar is in use in the ANA museum I believe, but the coins would still need to be behind glass to be protected from theft and/or damage.
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I hear what you are saying. My daughter and I visited the Nevada State Museum in Carson City over the summer and was very impressed with everything on display. The high point was to view their complete collection of Carson City Morgan Dollars! You can't get close enough to the exhibit to really appreciate it but it was still awesome to see all those coins in one place!! (worship) I must see for any collector.

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have the coin in the middle and a microscope on each side of it. the microscope while u can move up and down, left and right say 2 or 3" while it is on a track then ove course you can e zoom in and out. that away you can veiw close up of both sides with out it being a security issue

 

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I really like how the Bass pattern collection is mounted at the ANA museum. The coins are mounted verticaly between 2 peices of plexy. Great for up close viewing and sturdy enough to keep the coins safe. Its no different than looking at coins in a slab, and you can even bring your own magnifyer and use it if you want.

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Well, don't ask the good folks who ran Monticello back around 1994 this question. My wife and I were visiting there and they had a display of artifacts found onsite that included a Chain cent. Unfortunately, the Chain cent was a rather bright red and was superglued to the display area.

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AAAGGGHH!!!

 

 

 

I think sandwiching the coin vertically between two pieces of glass at eye height so that the viewer can walk right up and view it from a few inches away and from either side is the best way. Beside each coin should be a high res photo of the coin, one at least 12" diameter.

 

The Dahlonega Gold Museum had a similar problem. IIRC, the coins were mounted vertically on the back wall of an open 'safe' with a piece of plexiglas over the front of the safe, forcing the viewer to look at them from a good 3' or more back. You couldn't see anything. Took me a while to find them there, too.

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I really like how the Bass pattern collection is mounted at the ANA museum. The coins are mounted verticaly between 2 peices of plexy. Great for up close viewing and sturdy enough to keep the coins safe. Its no different than looking at coins in a slab, and you can even bring your own magnifyer and use it if you want.

Many years ago, when I was a youngster (ancient times), Chase Manhattan Bank had a Money Museum on 6th Ave (that's Avenue of the Americas for the non-NYers). It was remodeled in the 1960s and had a number of exhibits where you can see both sides of the coins and artifacts. One thing that stands out in my mind was a money tree. After my father telling me that money doesn't grow on trees, someone (and I don't remember who) came up with a metal tree that had coins attached--called the money tree. It was in a case that could be viewed from all sides.

 

The concept of showing coins between clear panes (I would prefer ballistic glass to plastic) or free-standing cases is a good idea. Museums do not have to put everything up against the wall!

 

I used to have the museum brochure from the Chase Money Museum. I wonder if it is in a box somewhere?

 

The Chase Money Museum has some great exhibits. I remember they had a $100,000 gold certificate, which was found not long ago in a vault in Chicago. But in the 1970s, the economy was not good and Chase did not want to pay to keep the museum running. I think it was closed in 1976 with most of the assets being donated to the Smithsonian Institute for the tax write-off. I wonder if the Smithsonian has the money tree?

 

Edited to add... I found this page about the minting of money at Royal Selangor in Malaysia. This looks similar to what I remember seeing at the Chase Money Museum!

 

Scott

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Very few museum curators and collection managers think of coins in the way collectors do. The Bass collection display is a notable exception. When I was working with the Smithsonian SAAM folks multiple concepts were presented to give numismatists more detailed and flexible access to the medals and artist studio pieces. (Interactive displays, extensive background data, magnified “tours” of items, viewer controlled displays, etc.) Nearly all were rejected – they did not conform to curator’s ideas of keeping things away from people.

 

The reality is that coins are very low on a museum's list of priorities...they are too small and too much alike to be meaningful to most viewers.

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I can see your point Robert, but what about the ANA museum? From what I've seen online in the virtual museum, the displays are still not effective, but are better than most. Coins should be very high on their priority list ;)

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The biggest thing I've noticed in displays of coins is lack of proper lighting. The New Orleans mint has a decent display of coins mounted in something like giant Capitol holders. However, they are poorly lit, so even though the coins are presented nicely you still can't see them well.

 

A coin display should have good lights focused on the coins. LED lights would probably work best, both for size and directed beams of light.

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]LED lights would probably work best, both for size and directed beams of light.

LEDs have been popular only a few years. Since museums run on shoestring budgets, it may be too expensive for some to replace current lighting with LEDs. But LEDs would be a good idea!

 

Scott :hi:

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To do a 3D rendering the coins would need to be filmed from every angle. The state of this technology is currently very high

 

I see this as a futuristic coin enterprise. Send your coin and have it put online in VR. Pity every good coin is slabbed though, so would best be done in conjunction with TPG's (visualise the coin, and then reholder it)

 

Perhaps truview squared ? :P © me, patent pending..

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When the Eliasberg collection was on display at the mint, the coins were in plexiglass panels (Like Capial Plastic holders) that were mounted to a vertical rod on one ede and this rod acted as a vertical axle in the display. The collection was made up of panel after panel that could be turned like pages in a book so both sides of each coin could be viewed, up close and personal. I will have to say though that the lighting could have been better.

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