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Structure of data

In one of our earlier installments, I explained the KM numbering system. In that segment, I mentioned that KM types were “normally sorted by denomination and date”. In this installment I will explain, in more detail, the sort ordering for various sections of the SCWC volumes. Though simple in some respects, as with most things in life, the complexity of the nature of the data requires some fancy pitching to bring everything close enough in line for a semblance of uniformity in presentation. So, here’s the line-up, step to the plate, watch for curve balls.

The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800, 7th edition.

The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800, 7th edition.

There is a concise explanation of our sort system in the front of our catalogs in the How To Use This Catalog section under Arrangement. It explains that our catalogs are arrangement by country in alphabetic order. The curve ball is that some sub-geographic areas are attached to their related country. When these are presented as “sub-geo’s” they will be found independently at the end of the main country listing and in alphabetic order if more than one are present. If ever you have trouble finding a country in the book, always check the Country Index presented in the front matter. Here you will find an exact page number location for quick access, which can be a pleasant solution when searching for sub-geo’s.

Within a country we group types under their Political source of issue. This differs from some smaller specialized catalogs issued for individual countries, where a Ruler designation is often employed for organization. For example, we group Mexican Colonial types all together, while others may list them by ruler such as Ferdinand VI or Charles III.

For most general countries the next sort criteria is Coinage Type. This is a rather creative designation, not official for the most part, which allows us to separate series by their general nature or period of issue. Cob Coinage as opposed to Milled Coinage is a basic example or perhaps you have noticed Hammered Coinage or Cast Coinage. All of these refer to a method of production, but coinage types in our system can also be used to separate by nature of the coins. Examples of this use would include; Bullion Coinage, Reform Coinage, Countermarked Coinage, Siege Coinage, Decimal Coinage, Euro Coinage, Reform Coinage and many others. As you can see, this is an artificial designation to some extent, but we use it to group like types in orderly fashion for ease of use. A perfect solution for an imperfect world.

The majority of our listings fall under Coinage Type designations of Regular Coinage or Standard Coinage. These are employed where not many different sub-sets exist, so little separation is required to create logical ordering. Now for the curve ball – in many countries, for earlier time periods we employ a Ruler based method of organization, where a Ruler designation comes before Coinage Type. This is used primarily in countries where the collector base has adamantly required such organization. Examples include; Mughal India, Iran, Egypt and Turkey, all during eras or Regal rule prior to Republican governments.

Next in the sort order, after Coinage Type, comes Denomination. Our catalogs group coins by Denomination simply because it is often the easiest factor to identify on a coin. In some cases Denomination may change a bit within a given Coinage Type, so you may find little Curve balls here and there, though we do our best to keep these anomalies to a minimum.

Within Denomination groupings, the order will generally flow by first date of issue of a type. Curve ball – in recent years we have attempted to use the KM number to create addition sort ordering. KM number assignment was described to you in a previous installment, where I identified various elements of the KM number to show you their intrinsic meaning. In our current database many KM numbers have been divided into separate fields including a base number and specific prefix and suffix numbers and letters. These fields are now used as a final sort in many areas to bring clearer, more logical order to the listings. Double curve ball – In the case of countries which have Ruler sorting before Coinage Type, as mentioned above, some also use Mint Name to sort within a Denominations and prior to the first date of issue of a type.

These, in brief, are the SCWC criteria for ordering or sorting data into logical form for our print and digital products. Given the complexity of data and the vast difference of usage between geographic areas and time periods, I think we have created a fairly flexible and organized method of organization and presentation. The trick is in making it work for every type of coinage issue and every brand of collector.