How do you make a point?
It is said that something needs to be repeated three times before an individual will comprehend it and then remember it.
That is a good rule of thumb to follow.
It also pays to be interesting.
If you can tell a good story, it wraps a framework around your point that helps someone retain it in his or her memory.
That’s why we have had numerous stories over the years about coins that come from sunken treasures and other forms of hidden hoards. It is why you see many error coins given funny nicknames. They help us all remember.
Sometimes clever or unexpected use of words helps clarify or emphasize a concept.
On Friday I was reading online from the official APMEX blog.
I was curious what the popular bullion seller might have to say.
I came across a piece entitled “Sovereign vs Non-Sovereign products: How to Choose?”
Its purpose is to educate the reader about the differences between coins, which are or were issued by governments and have a denomination denoting what its value is or was, and things like silver rounds and bars that are created by private firms to convey to a buyer a specific quantity of bullion.
Rounds and bars do not have a denomination.
This might all be old hat to a coin collector, but it is important information to someone who has not been acquainted with the differences before.
I do not ever recall seeing coins referred to as sovereign products before.
This grabbed my attention.
“Sovereign” is used to make an important distinction.
Coins are or were legal tender, that is, the issuer decreed them to be money.
Rounds and bars are not money.
Both forms can be used as vehicles to make investments in precious metals, but coins have the added possibility of being collected and thereby earn a numismatic premium.
Rounds and bars are simply rounds and bars. Collectors usually do not offer premiums over melt value to acquire them, though there are exceptions.
To a collector, putting “sovereign” as a modifier in front of the word “coin,” is redundant and taken to extreme silliness could lead to something like a “sovereign sovereign,” because a popular gold coin issued by the United Kingdom that contains nearly a quarter ounce of gold is called a sovereign.
But repetition is necessary in a world where my handy old desk copy of Webster’s New Collegiate dictionary lists one definition of coin as “something resembling a coin, esp. in shape.”
Rounds are pieces of metal that resemble coins.
Using the word “sovereign” with "coins" helps clarify the point that rounds are not coins in the sense of being money.
Will use of the word “sovereign” in this way catch on in numismatics and spread widely?
I don’t know.
If it does it will be because it explains something that needs explaining.
“Sovereign coin” might then cease to seem strange and simply become a generally accepted term.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."