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Collectible Coins

   

 

Coins
 
A coin is broadly defined as a government-issued legal tender instrument that
is usually made of metal and is usually round and flat.  It is intended to be used
as money.  The first coins were made in ancient Greece about 700 B.C., and today
almost every nation issues coins to complement currency notes.  Coins for
circulation are generally issued in small denominations – between 1¢ and $1 in
the United States, for example – whereas currency notes are issued in larger
denominations.  Commemorative coins and bullion coins are often issued in
higher denominations to reflect the coins’ collector value or bullion value. 
 A privately struck item that looks like a coin but has no legal tender value is
a medal.

 

The front of a coin is known as the obverse.  For United States coins, the obverse
almost always features the head of a President or Lady Liberty.  This follows the
traditional European example of placing the monarch’s head on the coin – and
thus the obverse is also known informally as “heads.”  The back of a coin is
known as the reverse.  Most United States coins have shown an eagle on the
reverse, as required by law.  Notable exceptions are circulating commemorative
coins such the State Quarters and Presidential Dollars, as well as modern Pennies,
Nickels, and Dimes.  For United States coins, the reverse will always be
upside-down in relation to the obverse when the coin is rotated on a vertical axis. 

 

The edge of a coin is usually smooth or reeded.  Originally, reeding was
introduced to stop people from shaving small amounts of silver and gold from
coins;  anyone doing so on a reeded coin would be easily discovered.  A third
type of edge is the inscribed edge.  The most famous modern example of an
inscribed edge is the Presidential Dollars.  Each Presidential Dollar has the date,
Mint mark, and inscriptions sunk into the coin’s edge.