Talk:Obverse and reverse

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The information on the Euro is incorrect: "The reverse side of each coin shows individual designs relating to the respective Member State"

I've just gone through a quick Google search, and the official sources contradict each other. Compare [1] and [2]. What do we do now? —Nightstallion (?) 23:02, 28 January 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A quick look suggests that and exclusively use common reverse and national obverse. seems to use that too some of the time:
--Boson (talk) 22:04, 4 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I will provide sources soon that shows that the common side is the obverse, while the national side is the reverse. Will do that in the next few days. Thanks, Miguel.mateo (talk) 00:11, 5 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This article still contradicts on this point. I don't know which is correct, but they ought to agree. sten for the win (talk) 01:29, 17 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The euro coins article has been fixed, it was my mistake and I just forgot to fix it there. Just to clarify the obverse is the national side; the reverse is the common side where the face value of the coin is. FYI, this was fixed in a lot of articles, if you find any inconsistencies out there, either fix it or let us know. Thanks, Miguel.mateo (talk) 02:59, 17 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Opening Line[edit]

I don't like the opening line of this article: The terms obverse and reverse apply almost exclusively to currency, . I have never heard obverse used outside of currency, but that's just because it's an uncommon word; I have no reason to believe that it is exclusively used in that field. As for reverse, it is used in all sorts of other situations. Djr36 01:14, 26 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This article is too technical. I had to read the article twice before I figured out that obverse and reverse and antonyms, not synonyms. 17:03, 14 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The terms "Obverse" and "Reverse" (at least in ancien numismatics) refer to which die was used to strike each side of the coin. It has nothing to do with "heads" or "tails" on coins.

To quote from Colin M. Kraay, Archaic and Classical Greek Coins, Berkley and Los Angeles 1976, p. 17 : "Most early coins were struck from one die only, which was set in a working table or anvil; this principal die is known as the obverse die. The secondary side of the coin (its reverse)...came to be adorned with its own type".

In other words to obverse of a coin is the side struck with the fixed die, the die embedded in the anvil, while the reverse is the side of the coin struck with the movable or upper die.

See also Kraay, op.cit. 17, note 4: "It should be noted that on a Greek coins the 'head' may be on either the obverse or the reverse". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:25, 16 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


QUOTE: "The change happened in the coinage of Alexander the Great , which continued to be minted long after his death. After his conquest of Egypt he allowed himself to be depicted on the obverse as a god-king, at least partly because he thought this would help secure the allegiance of the Egyptians, who had regarded their previous monarchs, the Pharaohs as divine. The various Hellenisic rulers who were his successors kept their busts on the obverse." END QUOTE

The coins of Alexander (I suppose we are talking about his tetradrachms, as the one pictured in the article) never bore his portrait. The type was always Herakles (Hercules), one of Alexander's illustrious "ancestors" but never the man himself*. Only after the death of Alexander did some of his successors hesitantly start putting his (Alexander's) portrait on their coins and it was only after c.300 that the first rulers actually placed their own portrait on a coin (and thus for the first time we have the portrait of a living person on a coin).

  • There, is of course, quite q lively discussion among numismatists and historians as to whether the Hercules on Alexander's coins had the traits or caracteristics of the King himself. Most scholars, however, nowdays agree that there should be no confusion that the personage depicted in Hercules and not Alexander. It has been suggested that the depiction of a living man on a coin presupposes a social environment that was not yet present at the time of Alexander (acceptance of a living man as a Deity, something that the Greek world was onle ready to accept about half a century after the coins under discussion were struck). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Getas75 (talkcontribs) 18:39, 16 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Whether the widely varied subjects of Alexander were as aware, and were intended to be as aware, of this fine distinction compared to "numismatists and historians" may be doubted. The Greeks expected to see gods not Kings on their coins, but many of the largest conquered peoples expected the opposite. The coins were sufficiently ambiguous to meet all expectations. Johnbod (talk) 14:24, 18 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Purpose of terms[edit]

It appears from the article that the obverse is generally considered the primary side and the reverse the secondary side. Is it possible to have an explanation of why it is necessary to consider a coin to have a primary and secondary side? Some coins appear to use each side for a different purpose and perhaps in these cases I understand the meaning of the obverse/reverse distinction - though even in these cases the uses of the sides are simply different, not always primary and secondary. And in the case of many coins the article suggests that the important information is shared between the two sides. What then is the purpose of selecting one as the obverse and one as the reverse in these cases? Jowiltshire (talk) 15:45, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Heads and tails etymology[edit]

I wish the article explained where the expressions "heads" and "tails" come from. Heads I can understand — they often depict heads. But I've never seen tails on the other side. Does that somehow mean numbers? Or does the term come from the minting process? Thanks! --CyHawk (talk) 18:36, 5 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I believe "tails" refers to the native or meaningful animals that once were often depicted on the other side. This is still quite evident in Australian coins. In the US, the "tails" side includes cultural architecture instead. I think discussion of "heads" and "tails" should be included in this article. Warmest Regards, :)—thecurran Speak your mind my past 04:03, 23 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Absolutely. I've mentioned them in the lead, but we need a reliable source giving the etymology. StAnselm (talk) 01:45, 17 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How are front and back "less precise"?[edit]

From the intro:

less precise terms, such as "front" and "back"

What's less precise about these terms? Gronky (talk) 19:33, 19 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Maybe it's that when I push a coin into a vending machine, the bit that goes in first could be called the "front" and the bit between my fingers the "back". Yeh, that must be it. I wonder if there's a better way to describe the difference between "front" and "obverse". Flatly saying that the latter is more precise is technically accurate but seems exaggerated. Gronky (talk) 04:09, 30 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The later sections of the article demonstrate several cases where "obverse" and "reverse" are defined by law, not always in the most obvious way. This never happens with "front". Johnbod (talk) 10:52, 30 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, but the word "obverse" in the law could have been replaced by "front" or "crompleyokies". In either of those cases, that would mean that "front" or "crompleyokies" has a legal definition, but it wouldn't mean that either of those words is then more precise than "obverse".
I'm not sure if that explanation is clear, but said another way: if ten countries used the term "obverse" in their laws, and ten other countries used the word "front", would the two words become equally precise? I don't think so. Gronky (talk) 11:38, 30 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I always thought the "front" was the side which tells you how much the coin is worth! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:33, 22 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Obverse and Reverse of the 1953, 1960, 1965 and 1977 UK Crown coins[edit]

It is not entirely clear how the rules for defining the obverse and reverse of coins apply to the commemorative Crown coins issued in the UK in the early part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

In particular, the 1953 (Coronation) and 1977 (Silver Jubilee) crowns do not bear the image of the Queen's head; they bear images of the Queen on horseback. I have to assume that these images of the Queen on horseback are the obverse sides, despite the fact that they are the distinctive designs for these coins - the 1953 reverse has a design (four national shields and four national flowers arranged around a crown) which differs from the 1960 reverse only in that both include their respective dates.

The 1965 (Churchill) Crown has prominent heads on both sides, but here it is clear that the image of the Queen's head is on the obverse side, and the head of Sir Winston Churchill on the reverse. (talk) 02:18, 7 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Obverse and reverse of US coins[edit]

There's no way the section on US coins is accurate. According to this article, every US coin prior to the state quarters has "E Pluribus Unum" on the obverse, but in several minutes of searching, every single coin I checked had it on the reverse. I suspect vandalism. I'd rather leave editing the page to someone who actually knows something about numismatics, though. (talk) 18:54, 16 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I second this. The "before" and "after" lists are still (again?) inconsistent with respect to "E Pluribus Unum".
--Jsaiya (talk) 03:30, 3 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It was changed in this edit. StAnselm (talk) 03:50, 3 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Split article in two ?[edit]

This article is really good, and was very helpful to me. Internationally, a lot of wikipedias have two seperate articles for obverse and reverse. I'm not sure if we should follow suit in the English wp (or rather, lead by example for the rest ^^). For reference, if we ever decide to do this, the wikidata item for reverse is Q1542661. Pixelpapst (talk) 01:40, 17 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • I don't think so. They are each to be understood in the context of the other. StAnselm (talk) 02:03, 17 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose. Looking at the international articles, most (all?) seem to be simply stubs – not much more than dictionary definitions. It would be very difficult to split the present English article as it (rightly) isn't structured in two halves, there would inevitably be an enormous amount of duplication between the two resultant articles, and I can't see there would be any benefit to the reader. GrindtXX (talk) 09:45, 17 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I also disagree with a split. It's not as if this is a long page that needs splitting. Having the two together provides context for two terms which only make sense by the existence of the other. CMD (talk) 10:59, 17 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose per the 3 above (as one of the main authors). What's the benefit? We have a number of natural pairs in joint articles - eg Proper right & others linked there, and it is often the best way. Johnbod (talk) 13:59, 17 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]