The Anatomy of a Coin

The Anatomy of a Coin


By definition coins are metal discs of either base or precious-metal, normally round, issued under the authority of a government or ruling monarch as a unit of monetary currency to facilitate trade, with a specific denomination/value either explicitly indicated or otherwise understood. The origin of the term is Middle English, from Anglo-French coing wedge, corner, from Latin cuneus wedge and the first known use was the 14th century.


anatomy of a coin



The ‘tails’ side of a coin. On all Canadian and Commonwealth coinage, for example, the opposite to the side bearing a portrait of the Queen. In most cases, the side of the coin with a denomination/value.


The ‘heads’ side of a coin. Where present, the side of the coin bearing a portrait (i.e. the Queen).


The negotiable ‘face value’ of a coin. With rare exception (such as British Sovereigns), the denomination will always be clearly stated on the coin.

Field (A)

The flat or ‘blank’ part of the surface of a coin which has no design, located between portrait, image, or any other raised design and the text.

Rim (B)

The raised edge of the coin running around its circumference, visible on obverse and reverse.

Edge (C)

The outer surface of a coin between obverse and reverse rims, where the coin’s thickness can be viewed. This edge can be plain, reeded or engrailed, and in some cases has raised or incuse lettering around the circumference.


Numbers indicating the date of a coin’s issue. Virtually all coins since medieval time will have a date, although in some uncommon cases it may be located on the outside edge of the coin.

Designer/Engraver’s Initials (D)

Letters (or full last name) of a master designer/engraver, which tradition affords the privilege of appearing on the coin depicting his or her work. In this case, the classic obverse portrait of Queen Victoria bears the initials “L.C.W.” (for Leonard C. Wyon).


The Coin Co. Ottawa uses these fundamental physical elements, among several other considerations, to form the basis for all evaluations and appraisals. The information here is then coupled with other real time market conditions and other factors to determine the fair market value of a coin.


The bottom line is... The anatomy of a coin plays a significant role in determining the value of any coin, among other important considerations. If for any reason we can’t pay you the most money, we know someone who will. Our extensive network of reputable businesses will pay top dollar for just about anything gold or silver!

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The Coin Co. pays the most money for your gold and silver coins, wafers, tea sets and flatware. Be sure to check out The Coin Co. Best Price Guarantee!



If you have old, unwanted gold and silver coins and want to find out how much they are really worth, contact The Coin Co. today and set up a free in-home or office evaluation. You’ll be glad you did!



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