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Obverse and reverse

Started by chrisild, July 11, 2008, 04:20:09 PM

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Galapagos

Look at these two coins of Rwanda. In each case, say which is the obverse, which the reverse, and why.

Prosit

Without knowledge to the contrary, I tend to pick the obverse as the side with the date.

Dale

Galapagos

Here's what the editor of the Standard Catalog of World Coins emailed me when I queried his decision (the same as yours, but for different reasons):

"It is our usual policy that the ruler is the obverse (QEII...) or the country name.
Rwanda only has a shield and denomination, thus the country name is on the side with the plant, and we call that the obverse!"

Prosit

The reason I tend to pick the side with the date as the front is that:
1. I grew up with US coins...never been anywhere else to get used to something different.
2. For the greatest part of my life I was a date, mintmark collector and the date was the most important to quickly determine if I already had an example.

Dale
I ain't saying it is correct

a3v1

When, over half a century ago, I started coin collecting I was told over and over again that on any coin the obverse is always the side showing the country or authority that issued the coin.
Since, I have learnt that on some pre-1800 coins the title(s) of the ruler (the issuing authority) start on one side and is continued on the other side.
These coins must be the exception to the rule.
Regards,
a3v1
Over half a century of experience as a coin collector.
-------------
Money is like body fat: If there's too much of it, it always is in the wrong places.

bart

On the coins of many German and Italian States, the coat of arms was the only way a country was recognisable. So, the side with the coat of arms was the obverse. In most cases, when the country name appeared on the coin, it was on the same side as the coat of arms.

In the case of the Rwandese coins, I tend to say the obverse is the side with the country name (in fact it's not the country name, but the name of the issuing bank)

Bart

Galapagos

My own feeling is that the side with the constant image should be the obverse, and the side with the changing designs, the reverse. But from what you all have said, there is more than one way to look at it. Normally, I would have expected the denomination to appear on the side showing the plants, and the country name with the coat of arms. That's what is causing the confusion, I think.

Quote from: dalehall on November 12, 2009, 11:09:56 PM
I grew up with US coins...never been anywhere else to get used to something different.
Dale

Oh no, you have been trapped in the tiny US of A your whole life!  :-\  I just looked at it on the map, and it's no bigger than a sheet of A4. Can't they send the cavalry to rescue you? See - you should have never left the Empire!  >:(

Prosit


Please send the calvary....I would like to see Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, India Brazil, New Zealand...just to start
Dale

Quote from: Ice Torch on November 13, 2009, 01:02:16 AM
.......Oh no, you have been trapped in the tiny US of A your whole life!  :-\  I just looked at it on the map, and it's no bigger than a sheet of A4. Can't they send the cavalry to rescue you? See - you should have never left the Empire!  >:(

chrisild

Quote from: bart on November 12, 2009, 11:39:32 PM
In the case of the Rwandese coins, I tend to say the obverse is the side with the country name (in fact it's not the country name, but the name of the issuing bank)

Hehe. Those two coins do have the country name, on the side that also has the face value. Just keep looking. ;)

In my opinion those obverse-reverse discussions do not make much sense anyway. For me the side that tells me about the value of a coin is the obverse, but I know that is not necessarily a widespread opinion. And if a government says that this or that side of its country's coins is the obverse, well, then that's it. Personally I like "the one side" and "the other side" best ...

Christian

Galapagos

Quote from: chrisild on November 13, 2009, 01:31:57 AM
Hehe. Those two coins do have the country name, on the side that also has the face value. Just keep looking. ;)

You're right - but you'd need a magnifying glass for that! Wait till I tell George...

translateltd

I've just been going through the 2010 SCWC (21st century) and noting all the inconsistencies and typos I could find for the compilers with a rapid skim-read.  One thing I noted on my way through was how many issues had the obverse/reverse images transposed (even though the descriptions were correct) and, conversely, how many issues that were part of a series had the descriptions of obv/rev incorrect, or at least inconsistent with the descriptions of the rest of the series on the same page!

I've sent through quite a listing of suggested amendments, so it will be interesting to see how many are implemented come publication of the next edition.

As for the debate about which side is which, it's quite clear that there are no completely universal principles, and some issuing authorities/governments clearly decree which is which, and that has to be that.  For US coins, the side with the date is generally taken as the obverse; for monarchies, the side with the monarch's effigy or monogram (in that order of precedence, in case they have both on opposite sides!), and for republics, the side with the national emblem or name of the country.  I find these are pretty good rules of thumb, though there will of course be exceptions.

I like the idea of keeping the "unchanging side" as the obverse, but again there are cases where that doesn't work (Euros being a current example).

With tradesmen's tokens, the side with the issuer's name is generally the obverse, even if there is a royal effigy on the other side (two reasons: 1. consistency and 2. the tokens aren't issued under royal warrant so the king/queen isn't the (nominal) issuing authority).  Same thing goes for countries such as Poland that commemorate former monarchs and other human figures on their republican issues - even though it may feel weird to collectors from monarchies, the "head" side is the reverse in these cases, if the republican emblem is on the other.

When token issuers lacked creativity and put their names on both sides, you just have to run with whoever catalogued them first ...


Galapagos

Here's George Cuhaj's (of SCWC) final word:

"Okay, here is a train of thought.

I am not a collector, barely know English, yet any other languages.

Many coat of arms do not have country names on them. So, in the KM wisdom, we went with the name in Roman letters. In Arabic countries with no English, or in Japan, then it is the side with the state arms or image, country name in their language; so we do deviate there.

That is why we have broken out the coins from say British Honduras, which formerly was hidden within Belize, to British Honduras. A person with the BH coin would not need to know that the country name has since changed.

It has come a long way from ancient coin making when the obverse die was set into the anvil (high relief), and the incuse square punch was the reverse or top die."

Prosit

India Brazil without the comma probably is a candy bar  ;)
As a citizen of the US, visiting Merry Olde England as a priority shouldn't have to even be stated.
That is where the Hallmarks came from and I would love to see the country of my family's origin.
Dale


Quote from: Ice Torch on November 13, 2009, 01:36:03 AM
India Brazil - is that some kind of chocolate bar?  ;D

And no mention of Merry Olde England, there, I see.  :(

translateltd

Quote from: Ice Torch on November 13, 2009, 04:34:20 PM
Here's George Cuhaj's (of SCWC) final word:

[...]

It has come a long way from ancient coin making when the obverse die was set into the anvil (high relief), and the incuse square punch was the reverse or top die."


Far from "coming a long way", that would actually solve the question in every instance: find out from the mint which die was the lower when the coin was struck and, hey presto, you know which is the obverse, with no room for argument!

Prosit

Oh I am quite sure that point could be argued as well  ;D

Dale




Quote from: translateltd on November 13, 2009, 06:39:48 PM
Far from "coming a long way", that would actually solve the question in every instance: find out from the mint which die was the lower when the coin was struck and, hey presto, you know which is the obverse, with no room for argument!