Behind the scenes look at Colorized Coins
Recently a customer asked about how we colorized our coins, so I thought I’d tell you more about the process in this week’s post. Interest in colorized coins reflects an evolving hobby and collector. While traditionalists prefer date and mint mark collecting, non-traditionalists like the beauty and historical representations colorized coins bring to the hobby. And, many people enjoy collecting both!
Littleton Coin produced its first colorized coin in about 2004 and since then, we’ve created hundreds of custom designs. When we first started, we tested the waters by selling colorized coins made by other companies and soon began to enhance our own coins. To our delight, their popularity soared with our collectors.
The appeal is in the color that brings original design details to life
I spoke to Chantel, one of our senior designers, who created some of our earliest coins. The Pope John Paul II medal was one of the first, and it already had a design we could follow. Back then, when a coin or medal had a design we were going to colorize, a simple template was supplied and Chantel used it to enhance the details with color. She colorized many of our Statehood quarters, but her favorites were the WWII colorized Silver American Eagles. “That project was more challenging because we didn’t just use the art already on the coin. I had to choose images then design and colorize the whole piece. But that’s also what made it fun.”
Small is beautiful
When we colorize coins, we use popular design programs such as Illustrator and Photoshop to apply the color to the template. But when we create our own illustration for a coin, like the Civil War series, we search and obtain historical images that best fit the theme we’d like to convey. Then we work with the images and apply or enhance them with color, all the while keeping in mind that the design is going to be used on something very small – only 19 mm to 30.6 mm in diameter – this can be challenging! Once the colorized design is approved, we send our colorized images off to a company that applies the special inks directly to the surface of the coins. A sample is sent back to the designer, who inspects it to make sure the colors are right and the quality meets our standards.
Michele, also a senior designer, colorizes coins too. She said, “Now over a decade later, we’re supplied with a very intricate template that perhaps echoes the way coin designs are digitized today. The designs have many nuances and that makes it challenging.”
The future of colorized coins!
When Michele works on a series, like the Native American dollars, she tries to use the same color tones and style to make the individual coins feel like part of a larger set. Like Chantel, she likes working with a set of coins using images she has selected and colorizing them, but said the real challenge is making the design fit on a coin,
especially one the size of a Lincoln cent. About 3 years ago, beginning with America’s Greatest Landmark series, Littleton started using a special finish on colorized coins called domed technology which Michele especially likes, because it makes the colors pop! Her favorite set is the Wild West Legends set.
No matter your collecting interests, I think colorized coins with their historic images, rich colors and details add interest to a collection.
Very interesting, I do have some colorized Elvis coins and Civil War colorized coins, very nice.
Hi Richard, Thanks for chiming in. We have lots of customers who enjoy both traditional and colorized coins. In our opinion, there’s a place for both in the hobby. You can never go wrong with an Elvis coin! Shake, rattle and roll…and happy collecting.
I’m thinkinig of making a keychain with a colorized coin. Will the colorization wear off if the coin is handled a lot?
Hi Am, If there isn’t a protective covering over the colorization then I would think it would wear off over time.