Coin and Set Descriptions.
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6 posts in this topic

It's not that obvious what belongs in each one.

 

My goal is to provide good pictures along with interesting and appropriate descriptions for all of my Collectors Society registered coins and sets. I've got the good picture part pretty well under control, but the description aspect requires significantly more effort than I anticipated. 100% of my coins have descriptions, but many of them are what I call "throw down" descriptions. Some contain just the facts (catalog number, mintage, date acquired, etc.), and others have just a one liner, so I've got my work cut out for me.

 

I've had this goal for several years now, but I really started applying myself about the middle of last year, by focusing on my USA/Philippines One Centavo set. That effort paid off with an NGC 2012 Best Presented Set award, so I feel pretty good about all the time spent. That recognition also comes with a nice wooden plaque which arrived yesterday and it has given me new resolve to finish the task.

 

Now that I've moved on to other sets, I'm running into some issues that I haven't yet determined how to resolve. I've come to the conclusion that an "appropriate" description really depends on the role that each coin plays in a set. Some of my coins participate in as many as 6 different competitive or custom sets and a single description just doesn't work well. For example, I have a 1905 Proof 50 Centavos that fills slots in all of the following sets:

 

USPI - Type

USPI - 50 Centavo series

USPI - Proofs Complete

USPI - Complete

USPI - 1905 Proof Set

Foreign coins Struck at United States Mints (a custom set)

 

You might think that including the mintage in the coin description would always be appropriate, but in the case of the 1905 Proof set, the mintage is the same for every coin in the set and would be best presented as part of the overall set description. Saying something about the design and the artist that created the coin would be desirable when the coin appears in a Type set, but would be highly redundant in the case of the 50 Centavo series set. It's obvious that good descriptive information about the specific coin (color, strike, state of preservation, distinguishing marks, etc.) is appropriate, but beyond that, everything else really depends on the context in which the coin appears.

 

It seems like we either need the ability to supply a description for each slot in our sets (separate from the individual description associated with the coin that fills that slot), or additional, context sensitive descriptions associated with each coin that would only appear when it is viewed in a specifically designated set. That way, I could provide an informative and appropriate description for a coin in a type set and a different, yet equally informative and appropriate description for that same coin when it appears in a series set. Otherwise each individual coin description may become very large and highly redundant.

 

Any thoughts or comments greatly appreciated!

 

I'll leave you with a picture of my 1905 Proof 50 Centavos...

13083.jpg

 

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I encountered the same problem in writting my coin descriptions as all of my better USA-Philippine coins are in multiple sets. Of course the ideal solution would be to be able to write a different coin description for each set. Perhaps we should suggest that to NGC.

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I encountered the same problem in writting my coin descriptions as all of my better USA-Philippine coins are in multiple sets. Of course the ideal solution would be to be able to write a different coin description for each set. Perhaps we should suggest that to NGC.

 

That sounds overly complicated...and from a "computer programming" standpoint would not be easy to implement or maintain. Don't get your hopes up... (shrug)

 

You could try only describing the coin in the allotted space, and use the "set description" to add the other relevant "thematic" or set-specific information. I think that's why they give you that space.

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That sounds overly complicated...and from a "computer programming" standpoint would not be easy to implement or maintain.

From a "computer programming" standpoint, what we're talking about is data normalization. JAA and I have exposed the need for two new types of descriptions that are not currently provided for in the Collectors Society data model. The Set and Coin descriptions are necessary, but since a coin can participate in more than one set, they are not sufficient to properly describe a collection. A complete solution would included the following types of descriptions which would be associated with the entities that they actually describe:

  • Slot description - used to explain the role that a particular slot plays in a set and in generic terms, the coins that can be used to fill that slot. (This would be most useful in Type sets.)
  • Issue description - used to provide information about a particular coin issue (i.e. that entity for which mintage figures are generally provided, most often a date/mint paring for a type of coin). This is equivalent to the information provided when you click on the "NGC Coin Explorer" link. Unfortunately, the NGC Coin Explorer information is often incomplete, and in the case of most foreign coins, completely missing.

You could try only describing the coin in the allotted space, and use the "set description" to add the other relevant "thematic" or set-specific information. I think that's why they give you that space.

We've been fully utilizing both the Set and Coin descriptions, and this works OK until you encounter a coin that participates in more than one set. The hierarchy we currently have to work with is that Sets contain Coins, and both can be described. The actual hierarchy though is a bit more complex and is composed of at least four entities. Sets contain Slots, that can be filled by a Coin that is associated with an Issue. Each of these four entities should have their own distinct description. (From a database perspective it is even more complicated, but these four entities are the minimum that need to be described.)

 

Since we only have Set and Coin descriptions to work with, we have had to denormalize the Slot and Issue related information into places that it does not belong. It either has to be promoted up the hierarchy to the Set description (e.g., Series sets) or demoted down the hierarchy to the Coin description ( e.g., Type sets), which in turn creates a lot of redundancy. When a coin participates in multiple sets, the current (two description) data model breaks down and the lack of normalization becomes apparent.

 

I still think it might be worth bringing these issues to the attention of NGC, but I agree that modifications, if any, would be a long time coming. :)

 

 

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I get what your problem is, so using bold, colors, and bullets isn't really going to clarify. I have worked for almost 10 years in data normalization, so I know very well what you're asking for.

 

My point was twofold.

 

Firstly, NGC has better things to worry about than upgrades to the collection manager and sets that may affect 1% of persons. Most people don't add any descriptions to their coins, so complicating matters by allowing a coin to have multi-faceted descriptions (depending on the set) is overkill in my opinion.

 

Secondly, work with what you have in the meantime. I'm not saying you can't ask, I'm just saying you will probably be told "no" or you will completely confuse them. There is no space limit in the current coin descriptions areas that I know of, so be creative.

 

-Brandon

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I get what your problem is, so using bold, colors, and bullets isn't really going to clarify. I have worked for almost 10 years in data normalization, so I know very well what you're asking for.

 

Sorry, it really wasn't clear that you understood the issues from your first response. I have over 30 years experience, so we both have the technical expertise to understand and appreciate the problem.

 

I agree that it's unlikely NGC would implement full normalization or context sensitive coin descriptions. Alternatively we could request the ability to imbed links in competitive Set and Coin descriptions much like we can do here. That would allow us to put common information elsewhere and provide an active reference to it.

 

Barring that, we're back to overloading the two descriptions we have with denormalized information. Descriptions may not be as important for most US coins, but for foreign coins these descriptions are much more relevant. I'm open to creative suggestions for ways to format that information into a Coin (or Set) description so that it is informative, interesting and appropriate in every context that the coin appears.

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