Coin currency is a form of money that is commonly issued by governments. It is typically a metal disc in the shape of a coin, and can be issued in different denominations to represent specific amounts. Most modern money systems use coins to represent lower-value units and banknotes for higher values.
There are a wide range of types of coins, with many variations in design and material. Most of them are produced to have a certain weight and purity and are made in standardized sizes, but some may be made in less precise specifications. Some of these coins are collector’s items, while others are used as currency or for other purposes.
The obverse of a coin carries an image of a monarch, other authority, or a national emblem. The reverse shows a variety of information, including the year of minting. In some countries, the obverse is often left blank or contains a mint mark, privy mark, or some other design feature.
Most coins are shaped like discs; however, some are oblong (e.g. the British 50 pence coin), some are square, and some have wavy edges. Some coins have a milled edge, originally designed to make it easier to detect clipping (the cutting of precious metals from the edges of circulating coins).
Copper, nickel, and zinc are the most common base metals used in coins today; other materials include lead and silver. While some coins may contain a small amount of gold or other precious metals, most modern coins are purely made of a base metal. This is referred to as “debasing” and it causes coins to lose their value.
Debasement was also an important part of the history of monetary exchanges, as it allowed coins to be minted more frequently than would otherwise be possible, and thus increase the amount of money available for circulation. The resulting increase in value was a benefit to the coining authority, but a disadvantage to the people who used the coins as payment.
Throughout history, monarchs and governments have created more coinage than they had available of a particular precious metal, such as gold or silver, by replacing some fraction of the precious metal content with a base metal (often copper or nickel). By doing this, they could increase the amount of coinage in circulation while still maintaining the intrinsic value of the coins’ metal content.
In most cases, this caused inflation to occur. As prices of the base metals increased, the coins became worth more for their raw metal content than their face value. This led to an increasing demand for the metal in coin form, causing price increases even in a country that did not otherwise use a base metal coin for circulation.
As a result of this inflation, some of the most valuable coins in circulation were shaved down to less than their original value. For example, unmilled Tudor sterling silver coins were sometimes reduced to almost half their minted value by the public.