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Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags, seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse means the back face. The obverse of a coin is commonly called heads, because it often depicts the head of a prominent person, and the reverse tails.
In fields of scholarship outside numismatics, the term front is more commonly used than obverse, while usage of reverse is widespread.
The equivalent terms used in codicology, manuscript studies, print studies and publishing are "recto" and "verso".
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Generally, the side of a coin with the larger-scale image will be called the obverse (especially if the image is a single head) and, if that does not serve to distinguish them, the side that is more typical of a wide range of coins from that location will be called the obverse. Following this principle, in the most famous of ancient Greek coins, the tetradrachm of Athens, the obverse is the head of Athena and the reverse is her owl. Similar versions of these two images, both symbols of the state, were used on the Athenian coins for more than two centuries.
In the many republics of ancient Greece,such as Athens or Corinth, one side of their coins would have a symbol of the state, usually their patron goddess or her symbol, which remained constant through all of the coins minted by that state, which is regarded as the obverse of those coins. The opposite side may have varied from time to time. In ancient Greek monarchical coinage, the situation continued whereby a larger image of a deity, is called the obverse, but a smaller image of a monarch appears on the other side which is called the reverse.
In a Western monarchy, it has been customary, following the tradition of the Hellenistic monarchs and then the Roman emperors, for the currency to bear the head of the monarch on one side, which is almost always regarded as the obverse. This change happened in the coinage of Alexander the Great, which continued to be minted long after his death. After his conquest of ancient Egypt, he allowed himself to be depicted on the obverse of coins as a god-king, at least partly because he thought this would help secure the allegiance of the Egyptians, who had regarded their previous monarchs, the pharaohs, as divine. The various Hellenistic rulers who were his successors followed his tradition and kept their images on the obverse of coins.
A movement back to the earlier tradition of a deity being placed on the obverse occurred in Byzantine coinage, where a head of Christ became the obverse and a head or portrait (half or full-length) of the emperor became considered the reverse. The introduction of this style in the gold coins of Justinian II from the year 695 provoked the Islamic Caliph, Abd al-Malik, who previously had copied Byzantine designs, replacing Christian symbols with Islamic equivalents, finally to develop a distinctive Islamic style, with just lettering on both sides of their coins. This script alone style then was used on nearly all Islamic coinage until the modern period. The type of Justinian II was revived after the end of the Byzantine Iconoclasm, and with variations remained the norm until the end of the Empire. Without images, therefore, it is not always easy to tell which side will be regarded as the obverse without some knowledge.
After 695 Islamic coins avoided all images of persons and usually contained script alone. The side expressing the Six Kalimas (the Islamic profession of faith) is usually defined as the obverse.
A convention exists typically to display the obverse to the left (or above) and the reverse to the right (or below) in photographs and museum displays, but this is not invariably observed.
The form of currency follows its function, which is to serve as a readily accepted medium of exchange of value. Normally, this function rests on a state as guarantor of the value: either as trustworthy guarantor of the kind and amount of metal in a coin, or as powerful guarantor of the continuing acceptance of token coins.
Traditionally, most states have been monarchies where the person of the monarch and the state were equivalent for most purposes. For this reason, the obverse side of a modern piece of currency is the one that evokes that reaction by invoking the strength of the state, and that side almost always depicts a symbol of the state, whether it be the monarch or otherwise.
If not provided for on the obverse, the reverse side usually contains information relating to a coin's role as a medium of exchange (such as 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.
Regarding the euro, some confusion regarding the obverse and reverse of the euro coins exists. Officially, as agreed by the informal Economic and Finance Ministers Council of Verona in April 1996, and despite the fact that a number of countries have a different design for each coin, the distinctive national side for the circulation coins is the obverse and the common European side (which includes the coin value) is the reverse.This rule does not apply to the collector coins as they do not have a common side.
A number of the designs used for obverse national sides of euro coins were taken from the reverse of the nations' former pre-euro coins. Several countries (such as Spain and Belgium) continue to use portraits of the reigning monarch; while the Republic of Ireland continues to use the State Arms, as on its earlier issues.
In Japan, from 1897 to the end of World War II, the following informal conventions existed:
The Chrysanthemum Crest was no longer used after the war, and so (equally informally):
Following ancient tradition, the obverse of coins of the United Kingdom (and predecessor kingdoms going back to the middle ages) almost always feature the head of the monarch.
By tradition, each British monarch faces in the opposite direction of his or her predecessor; this is said to date from 1661, with Charles II turning his back on Oliver Cromwell. Hence, George VI faced left and the present Queen faces right. The only break in this tradition almost occurred in 1936 when Edward VIII, believing his left side to be superior to his right, insisted on his image facing left, as his father's image had. No official legislation prevented his wishes being granted, so left-facing obverses were prepared for minting. Very few examples were struck before he abdicated later that year, but none bearing this portrait ever were issued officially. When George VI acceded to the throne, his image was placed to face left, implying that, had any coins been minted with Edward's portrait the obverses would have depicted Edward facing right and maintained the tradition.
Current UK coinage features the following abbreviated Latin inscription: D[EI] G[RATIA] REG[INA] F[IDEI] D[EFENSOR] ('By the Grace of God Queen, Defender of the Faith'). Earlier issues, before 1954, included BRIT[ANNIARUM] OMN[IUM] ('of all the Britains' –that is, Britain and its dominions) and, before 1949, IND[IAE] IMP[ERATOR] ('Emperor of India').
The United States specifies what appears on the obverse and reverse of its currency. The specifications mentioned here imply the use of all upper-case letters, although they appear here in upper and lower case letters for the legibility of the article.
The United States government long adhered to including all of the following:
The ten-year series of Statehood Quarters, whose issue began in 1999, was seen as calling for more space and more flexibility in the design of the reverse. A law specific to this series and the corresponding time period permits the following:
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A coin is a small, flat, round piece of metal or plastic used primarily as a medium of exchange or legal tender. They are standardized in weight, and produced in large quantities at a mint in order to facilitate trade. They are most often issued by a government. Coins often have images, numerals, or text on them. Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and medals. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse means the back face. The overdose of a coin is commonly called heads, because it often depicts the head of a prominent person, and the reverse tails.
The drachma was the currency used in Greece during several periods in its history:
The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom, British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories is denominated in pounds sterling, and, since the introduction of the two-pound coin in 1994, ranges in value from one penny to two pounds. Since decimalisation, on 15 February 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 (new) pence. Before decimalisation, twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. British coins are minted by the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales. The Royal Mint also commissions the coins' designs. As of 14 October 2019, there were an estimated 29 billion coins circulating in the United Kingdom.
The British florin, or two-shilling coin, was issued from 1849 until 1967, with a final issue for collectors dated 1970. Equivalent in value to one-tenth of a pound, it was the last coin circulating immediately prior to decimalisation to be demonetised, in 1993, having for a quarter of a century circulated alongside the ten-pence piece, identical in specifications and value.
Roman currency for most of Roman history consisted of gold, silver, bronze, orichalcum and copper coinage. From its introduction to the Republic, during the third century BC, well into Imperial times, Roman currency saw many changes in form, denomination, and composition. A persistent feature was the inflationary debasement and replacement of coins over the centuries. Notable examples of this followed the reforms of Diocletian. This trend continued into Byzantine times.
Byzantine currency, money used in the Eastern Roman Empire after the fall of the West, consisted of mainly two types of coins: the gold solidus and a variety of clearly valued bronze coins. By the end of the empire the currency was issued only in silver stavrata and minor copper coins with no gold issue.
The half sovereign is an English and later, British gold coin with a nominal value of half a pound sterling, or ten shillings. It is half the weight of its counterpart 'full' sovereign coin.
The dime, in United States usage, is a ten-cent coin, one tenth of a United States dollar, labeled formally as "one dime". The denomination was first authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792. The dime is the smallest in diameter and is the thinnest of all U.S. coins currently minted for circulation, being 0.705 inches in diameter and 0.053 in (1.35 mm) in thickness. The obverse of the current dime depicts the profile of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the reverse boasts an olive branch, a torch, and an oak branch, from left to right respectively. As of 2011, the dime coin cost 5.65 cents to produce.
Roman Republican currency refers to the Coinage struck by the various magistrates of the Roman Republic, to be used as legal tender. In modern times, the abbreviation RRC, "Roman Republican Coinage" originally the name of a reference work on the topic by Michael H. Crawford, has come to be used as an identifying tag for coins assigned a number in that work, such as RRC 367.
Coinage of India began anywhere between early 1st millennium BCE to the 6th century BCE, and consisted mainly of copper and silver coins in its initial stage. The coins of this period were Karshapanas or Pana. A variety of earliest Indian coins, however, unlike those circulated in West Asia, were stamped bars of metal, suggesting that the innovation of stamped currency was added to a pre-existing form of token currency which had already been present in the Janapadas and Mahajanapada kingdoms of the Early historic India. The kingdoms that minted their own coins included Gandhara, Kuntala, Kuru, Panchala, Magadha, Shakya, Surasena and Surashtra etc.
The Manx pound is the currency of the Isle of Man, in parity with the pound sterling. The Manx pound is divided into 100 pence. Notes and coins, denominated in pounds and pence, are issued by the Isle of Man Government.
There have been three sets of coins in Ireland since independence. In all three, the coin showed a Celtic harp on the obverse. The pre-decimal coins of the Irish pound had realistic animals on the reverse; the decimal coins retained some of these but featured ornamental birds on the lower denominations; and the euro coins used the common design of the euro currencies. The pre-decimal and original decimal coins were of the same dimensions as the same-denomination British coins, as the Irish pound was in currency union with the British pound sterling. British coins were widely accepted in Ireland, and conversely to a lesser extent. In 1979 Ireland joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism and the Irish pound left parity with sterling; coin designs introduced after this differed between the two countries.
This article is a collection of numismatic and coin collecting terms with concise explanation for the beginner or professional.
Aksumite currency was coinage produced and used within the Kingdom of Aksum centered in present-day Eritrea and Ethiopia. Its mintages were issued and circulated from the reign of King Endubis around AD 270 until it began its decline in the first half of the 7th century. During the succeeding medieval period, Mogadishu currency, minted by the Sultanate of Mogadishu, was the most widely circulated currency in the Horn of Africa.
Silver coins are possibly the oldest mass-produced form of coinage. Silver has been used as a coinage metal since the times of the Greeks; their silver drachmas were popular trade coins. The ancient Persians used silver coins between 612-330 BC. Before 1797, British pennies were made of silver.
The Achaemenid Empire issued coins from 520 BCE–450 BCE to 330 BCE. The Persian daric was the first gold coin which, along with a similar silver coin, the siglos represented the first bimetallic monetary standard. It seems that before the Persians issued their own coinage, a continuation of Lydian coinage under Persian rule is likely. Achaemenid coinage includes the official imperial issues, as well as coins issued by the Achaemenid provincial governors (satraps), such as those stationed in Asia Minor.
The coins of Canada are produced by the Royal Canadian Mint and denominated in Canadian dollars ($) and the subunit of dollars, cents (¢). An effigy of the reigning monarch always appears on the obverse of all coins. There are standard images which appear on the reverse, but there are also commemorative and numismatic issues with different images on the reverse.
Coins of the Australian dollar were introduced on 14 February 1966, although they did not at that time include one-dollar or two-dollar coins. The dollar was equivalent in value to 10 shillings in the former currency.
The pre-decimal penny (1d) was a coin worth 1/240 of a pound sterling, or one twelfth of a shilling. Its symbol was d, from the Roman denarius. It was a continuation of the earlier English penny, and in Scotland it had the same monetary value as one pre-1707 Scottish shilling. The penny was originally minted in silver, but from the late 18th century it was minted in copper, and then after 1860 in bronze.
Carthaginian or Punic currency refers to the coins of ancient Carthage, a Phoenician city-state located near present-day Tunis, Tunisia. Between the late fifth century BC and its destruction in 146 BC, Carthage produced a wide range of coinage in gold, electrum, silver, billon, and bronze. Only a minority of Carthaginian coinage was produced or used in North Africa. Instead, the majority derive from Carthage's holdings in Sardinia and western Sicily.
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