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Numis Tips, References

COIN 101: Basic parts of a coin

Have you ever tried examining a coin? Did you even bothered to know its parts? Do you know which side is called obverse? No? If you want to be taken seriously in numismatics, well then, it’s time for you to learn the basic and proper terms about your coins.

Photo by Pinoy Numismatist Network

Let’s start with this 2011 Rizal commemorative 1-piso coin shown above, it’ll help illustrate out what I’m about to discuss. We call the head side of the coin as obverse, it’s the side which usually has the portrait design, flip it over and the other side is called reverse.

Every coin starts out as a blank piece of metal and during the minting process, the designs are pressed. The untouched areas which haven’t been raised-off are called field while the raised part, mostly the design portion, are called relief. The relief brings the life and the beauty of a coin’s image and it also covers most of the other parts.

The main letters or words inscribed in a coin are called legend. It tells us things like a place, an event, the name of a coin’s face portrait, and how much it’s worth, hence they’re often times referred to the coin’s inscriptions. The date indicates the year a coin was minted or was first issued while the value tells the denomination or the monetary value.

Elements such as a portrait bust of a person, a seal or any other primary designs are the called device.

The mint mark can be a letter or a symbol which tells us where the coin was minted from. Refer again to the image above, see the mint mark of BSP? It largely resembles the baybayin character “Pi”, but needs further citation. During the late 70’s, Banko Sentral used to have the characters “BSP” as mintmark.

The rim is the raised part of the coin which runs all the way around the edge, and can be found on both sides. The edge on the other hand, is considered to be the coin’s third side, the space between the obverse and reverse side. There are many edge varieties, some have plain sides which can easily stand on its sides. Our coin here has a reeded edge type, it has a series of grooved lines that encircle the circumference.

Its important understanding these terms, it’ll help you to appreciate and enjoy you coin even more plus you can confidently have conversation with other collectors/numis without missing out a word. Ready to be graded? (take the test here)



6 thoughts on “COIN 101: Basic parts of a coin

  1. nice

    Posted by BRYAN LAMADRID | 28 April 2012, 11:55 PM
  2. thank you. now i know i understand.

    Posted by zoren28 | 23 May 2012, 4:30 PM
  3. A very nice piece. thanks for the information

    Posted by zoren28 | 23 May 2012, 4:32 PM

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