• Obverse and Reverse


    This terminology is used to reference the face of a coin and is often confusing so here is a simple description.

    The obverse is the "head" so for a UK coin it would show a portrait of the Queen.

    for non portrait coins it's the official side and usually non varying within a set. eg coat of arms side.

    The "reverse" is the backside or tail of the coin.


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    It is worth noting that the reverse side of a coin can be in one of two different orientations: if it is the same way up as the obverse, i.e. so that turning the coin on a vertical axis shows both faces the same way up, this is called medallion orientation; if it is the reverse way up, so that turning the coin on a horizontal axis shows the faces the same way up it is called coin orientation. Some countries, including the USA, use coin orientation exclusively. Modern UK coins use medallion orientation, but prior to 1887 silver and gold coins used coin orientation. So a pre-1887 gold sovereign that is 'upside down' is not a defect.

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