What Is a Coin?


Coins are small pieces of metal, sometimes alloys or man-made materials, used to exchange money. They are generally made of copper, silver, manganese-brass, zinc, nickel, or other metals. The value of a coin is determined by the value of the metal, the historic and market value of the design, the quality of the coin, and the general popularity of the coin. A coin’s value may be reduced by inflation, if a coin’s face value is less than the metal content.

Coins have been an important part of commerce for thousands of years. They were first used in the ancient Kingdom of Lydia and later developed in the kingdoms of Egypt, India, and China. Until the middle of the medieval period, coins were the only form of money.

Modern coins, however, are much more like tokens. They are often made from base metals, such as zinc, copper, and aluminum, although they can also be made from a variety of metals. In addition, coins may have other features, such as text, images, numerals, or devices, which are all design elements on the coin.

Although most coins have an obverse and reverse, they are typically round. Depending on the country, the obverse of a coin can be plain or be lettered. An obverse usually carries the name of the coin’s authority and the denomination. On some coins, it carries a portrait of a person. This person is known as the “head” of the coin.

Some coins have a date of minting and are usually engraved on the obverse. Other coins have an exergue, a space below the main design. These spaces are used to indicate the year of minted, or in some cases, the privy mark or other official symbol.

During the early Middle Ages, the only currency was a metal coin. When 2000 bc, the ancient Babylonians began using gold and silver as an exchange medium. As a result, coins were widely hoarded by the public. Since the Roman Empire, metal coins have played a significant role in commerce.

Often, coins carry a portrait of the person who has been president of the United States. The portrait of the president is usually on the obverse of the coin. However, there is a rule that says that only one coin design can be issued during a President’s tenure. So, if the President is no longer in office, a different image may be displayed.

If the President is no longer in office, the coin is no longer in circulation. The issuing authority might decide to issue a new coin with a different composition.

The reverse side of the coin has the image of a bust of an authority. Sometimes, the coin is engraved with the denomination. Many coins are inscribed with an inspirational saying, such as “E Pluribus Unum” (One out of many).

The obverse of a coin is commonly called the head of the coin, or the front face of the object. The reverse is the side with the design of the coin, and is often referred to as the tails of the coin. It can have many designs, including portraits, numerals, and images.