Parts of an ordinary coin

We handle coins all the time, but do we know the names of the parts of a coin?

Grab some coins and follow along!
The U.S. Mint provides some great information:

  • The denomination is the name of the coin, like penny, nickel, dime, and quarter.
  • The face value is how much money the coin is worth.
    For example, the penny is worth one cent.
  • Obverse (heads) is the front of the coin and the reverse (tails) is the back.
  • Edge is the outer surface, around the side of the coin.
    The edge can have lettering, reeding, or be plain.
    A reeded edge has little grooves cut into it, like a quarter or half dollar.
    A plain edge is smooth, like a penny or a nickel.
  • The rim is the border around the design of the coin.
    It is raised, which protects the design and allows coins to stack on top of each other.
  • A bust is an image of a person from the neck up, like Abraham Lincoln on the penny.
  • The field is the blank area of background on a coin.
  • Relief refers to the markings on the coin that are raised above the surface.
  • The mint mark is the small letter that tells you which Mint location made the coin.
    The two most common mint marks are the “P” for Philadelphia and “D” for Denver.
  • The initials of the artist(s) who designed and sculpted the coin are also included in small letters.
  • All coins also have inscriptions, which are mottos and other wording.
  • The date lets you know in which year the coin was minted.
And now you know!
This is fascinating information to use as additional patter, or dialogue, when you are doing a coin routine!

BONUS TRIVIA FACT: Until 2022, the busts of U.S. Presidents appearing on U.S. coins all faced to the left.
Except Abraham Lincoln on the penny.
Lincoln faces to the right.
The Abraham Lincoln penny was designed by sculptor Victor David Brenner. Brenner decided to use a well-known portrait of Lincoln in profile as the basis for creating his design.
Since Lincoln was facing right in this portrait, and nobody objected to it, Lincoln now faces right on the penny.
But as of 2022, George Washington is facing to the right on some new quarters as well.
The American Women Quarters™ Program is the current U.S. 25-cent coin program, spanning 2022 to 2025.
The obverse (heads) shows a right-facing portrait of George Washington. The reverse (tails) will feature five designs each year honoring American women and their contributions.

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