Just got a new toy last week…a digital caliper and this thing is so fun to play with! Before I got this toy, I used a tape measure so this this is a FANTASTIC improvement. For most collectors this is definitely not a required tool and I'm sure some folks are thinking "this guy has lost it" but there is a good reason.
Sometimes we blindly trust our ever faithful catalogs like Red Book or Krause World Coins but does anyone ever question if they are right? No one is perfect (including this site). Myself and other collectors have found errors throughout the years with mintage figures, composition, and attributes.
Usually it is pretty easy when using a reliable source (like the U.S. mint) to find these errors but what happens when you don't have a reliable source? Or even worse, the sources you find all conflict with one another? That is what I am trying to resolve and this is one of the last tools I needed to do this and to share with the coin community.
Let take the example of a Philippine Centavo issued from 1937 to 1944:
- Red Book - lists a diameter of 24mm and no weight
- Krause World Coins - lists a diameter of 25mm and a weight of 5.3 grams
- The U.S. Mint - could not locate the data
- Misc Websites - most list a diameter of 24mm and a weight of 40 grains (not grams) to 5.184 grams
So who is right? Luckily I have three different examples and all different years (1940, 1941, 1944) so lets run through some real tests. First is weight; my digital scale came in at 5.1 grams for 1 coin and 5.2 grams for 2 coins so the 5.184 citation sounds accurate. The 40 grains is just wrong as 1 gram = 15.43 grains and 40 grains would equate to 2.6 grams so that source was just down right bad.
The final test is diameter; the digital caliper measured all 3 coins at exactly 24.7mm so neither the Red Book or Misc Websites hit the mark here. Krause was close with 25mm but still not accurate.
The lesson here is that while coin info (printed or online) is incredibly valuable it does have mistakes and you should have more than one source available to you to help in your coin collecting. My commitment is to validate as much coin info as possible and to aid me on that quest will be my precious toolbox of toys:
* lighted 20x loupe
* digital scale
* digital caliper