Main elements of a coin



Obverse: the front side (“heads”) of a coin. This is the front side of the coin, which by tradition is the side that depicts the national emblem of a country or its ruler in effigy form. In republics this usually takes the form of a coat of arms, while monarchies use the form of a portrait of the reigning king or queen. The obverse of a coin is commonly called ‘heads’, because it often depicts the head of a prominent person, whereas the reverse is called ‘tails’.

Reverse: the back side (“tails”) of a coin. The reverse of the coins usually depicts the chosen motif. If not provided for on the obverse, the reverse side usually contains information relating to  the value of the coin. Additional space typically reflects the issuing country’s culture or government, or evokes some aspect of the state’s territory.



Edge: the outer border of a coin, considered the “third side” (not to be confused with “rim”).  Edges can be plain, reeded, lettered, decorated or  See examples below:



Rim: The outer perimeter of a coin on both the obverse and reverse sides. The rim is the upraised part of the coin that runs all the way around the edge of the coin on both sides.The rim was designed into many coins to make them easier to stack, and reduce wear and abrasion when handling.



Legend: the principal inscription or lettering on a coin. It usually tells us where the coins is from.

The issuing country: On most modern coins, the name of the issuing country is shown.

Mint mark: a small letters or symbols on a coin used to identify where a coin was made.  Some countries do not have their own mint and commission mints in other countries to strike their coins. The mintmark reveals where a specific coin has been minted.

In some countries the minting of coins is shared over different authorized mints. Historically, for example, the minting of British sovereigns was spread across mints in Australia and South Africa, reflecting the availability of gold in these territories when the British Empire was at its peak.

Relief: the part of a coin’s design that is raised above the surface.

Field: the flat portion of a coin’s surface not used for design or inscription.

The year of issue/ Date: Usually the year in which the coin was minted, and which normally appears on the coin. On gun money the month of issue was also shown on the coin.

Commemorative coins tend only to be issued in the year related to the commemorated event. Some commemorative coins may even feature a specific date, relating to a particular event. Most of them are limited in quantity, but even if there is no limitation the issuing mint can only strike these coins in the year of its issue, so the number minted will be limited by time. Commemorative coins are sought-after by collectors, and often the demand is higher for those coins with a lower limitation of mintage.Circulation coins are issued with the same design over many years.

 The face value of the coin/denomination: The face value shown defines the nominal value of the coin, which is guaranteed by the issuing country. Face value is the written, stamped, or printed value located on the coin or currency itself. The face value is assigned by the government to denominate a coin’s price as a form of legal tender. Coins that do not carry status as legal tender are called rounds, and they do not have a face value.

Figuring out a coin’s face value is usually as simple as looking on the obverse (front) or reverse (back) side of the coin.Most commemoration coins though never will reach collectors at their face value – they will usually be released at a price related to the metal value, the mintage and other factors which determine their collectors’ value.

Portrait or Bust: A head and shoulders likeness, usually of a monarch,or historical people on a coin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *