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How exactly would you define obverse and reverse?


gxseries
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Something that I really face trouble with, that is, how can one differentiate obverse and reverse other than the plain "heads" and "tails:? :ninja:

 

I noticed this problem when I was posting in omnicoin and it seems I am quite "messed" up when I post my images up. (maybe it's just me who has a bad sense of telling which side is what)

 

Does denomination, emblem, location of text, various designs affect such obverse and reverse? I mean, there can be a possible combination, such as the emblem and year and on other hand, just emblem with denomination on the other side. ;)

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Grierson, in his reference work Numismatics, defines the obverse as the "side of the coin [token, medal, etc] which bears the more important device or inscription." This could be the side with the main design or the main inscription. For ancient coins, its the lower (anvil) die.

 

The reverse? That's simple, its the other side! (Okay, the formal definition is "the opposite face to the obverse".)

 

Sometimes, your guess might be as good as mine.

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Something that I really face trouble with, that is, how can one differentiate obverse and reverse other than the plain "heads" and "tails:? :ninja:

 

I noticed this problem when I was posting in omnicoin and it seems I am quite "messed" up when I post my images up. (maybe it's just me who has a bad sense of telling which side is what)

 

Does denomination, emblem, location of text, various designs affect such obverse and reverse? I mean, there can be a possible combination, such as the emblem and year and on other hand, just emblem with denomination on the other side. ;)

 

 

The terms used in Finland are tunnuspuoli and arvopuoli. Tunnus roughly means the mark, sign, emblem that makes something recognizable. And arvo means value. So in general, the side that shows the issuing authority (by either text, Government symbol, etc) is considered the obverse, while the side with the denomination is the reverse. The 2 are not always distinct, so the tunnus side trumps all else.

For Finnish coinage the seperation is easy. If you have a Krause, you will see that circulating coins there have either had the tsar's monogram or than the Finnish Lion on one side, while the other side has a number.

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There is no hard and fast rule. No matter what explaination you come up with there will always be exceptions. It comes down to a matter of tradition. The side of a coin that has traditionally been called the obverse, is the obverse. Of course that doesn't help when you have new designs come out.

 

Sometimes the obverse and reverse are designated in the legislation that creates the coins. For example one the gold coins, and the silver coins of the US of greated denomination than a dime an eagle is required to appear on the reverse. So if you have an eagle on our silver or gold coins then that is the reverse.

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I noticed this problem when I was posting in omnicoin and it seems I am quite "messed" up when I post my images up. (maybe it's just me who has a bad sense of telling which side is what)

My personal "preference" is that the side which shows the face value is the obverse. After all, the value sets a coin apart from other denominations ...

 

Now of course you may say that the primary criterion is the issuing authority/government: A dollar coin from Canada is legally not worth anything in the US and vice versa. So the side that shows the country name should be the obverse. And if you have commemorative pieces where one side has some standard design while the other side is dedicated to the occasion, the latter should be the obverse, I think.

 

In some countries that obverse/reverse question is regulated by law, in others it is merely a convention. The euro circulation coins have one "common side" and one "national side" (or country specific side) but if the terms obverse and reverse are used, then the common side is the reverse.

 

Christian

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My personal "preference" is that the side which shows the face value is the obverse. After all, the value sets a coin apart from other denominations ...

 

That is how I "prefer" to organize my coins also, but recently I have been trying to keep everything unified in an "official" manner.

 

The euro circulation coins have one "common side" and one "national side" (or country specific side) but if the terms obverse and reverse are used, then the common side is the reverse.

 

 

I always viewed the 'common side' as the obverse. Although i'm happy to change this to your method.

 

In Finland, the "obverse" (tunnuspuoli) is the national side and the "reverse" (arvopuoli) is the common side.

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For ancient coins, its the lower (anvil) die. 

 

That generated a lot of heat but no light when Alan Walker took Wayne Sayles to task over a cutline ("caption") in one of his Ancient Coin Collecting books. Sayles shows a coin from ancient Corinth. (Like these: http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/corinth/i.html)

 

Sayles called the "heads" side the "obverse." However, it is the Pegasos which is cut into the die and the goddess (Athena nominally but Aphrodite perhaps) which is on the driving die. The driving die breaks first, so it is considered replaceable. Also, on many series the town symbol is the standard image -- cut into the anvil -- with the other side (reverse) changing annually with the election of a new moneyer.

 

The Community Currency Corporation of Traverse City, Michigan, just rolled out their "Bay Bucks." (See: www.baybucks.org) The serial numbers are on the back of the notes. It might also be said that the Ecology side is the face, having the serial number, and the Flora and Fauna side is the back.

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Actually, the rule is that the side of the planchet that is struck with the hammer die is the obverse and the side of the planchet that sits on the anvil die is the reverse.

 

If it is not know which side was struck by the hammer die or if the process involved does not follow this classification then all ya'all can duke it out :ninja:

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  Actually, the rule is that the side of the planchet that is struck with the hammer die is the obverse and the side of the planchet that sits on the anvil die is the reverse.

I found that statement on the Coin World site.

"Generally, the reverse die is the lower (or anvil) die while the obverse die is the upper (or hammer) die; however, there are exceptions, and on some presses, the dies are mounted horizontally so that they move parallel to the floor. Still, the terms anvil die and hammer die are appropriate."

http://www.coinworld.com/NewCollector/MintingProcess.asp

 

That description applies to MODERN minting methods. Clearly, when writing about the Pegasus coins of Corinth, the topic was ancients. With ancients, there really was an avil and a hammer. As the Coin World article points out, these terms also apply to reciprocating dies, which have no pretense of upper and lower orientation. With upper-lower dies in modern minting, it is a matter of Einstein's relativity: it does not matter which die moves toward which: each moves toward the other. In ancient times, with hammers and punches and anvils, it really made a difference.

 

You can see that in the illustration in my post. The side with the goddess shows the edge coming up over the design: it is concave. That design is punched into the planchet. The Pegasus, however, shows the opposite: the planchet is pressed down onto the anvil and is convex.

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My rule of thumb is generally 'heads' is 'obverse', although ...

 

Gotcha! Here is an "although" -- and there are many others, but this is the paradigm:

http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/imp/marc_antony/RSC_0008a[Antony_Octavian].jpg

 

The [square brackets] mess up the URL. You need the whole thing including the jpg extention, not just the underlined part. (Sorry.)

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