Coin Composition

What are the parts that make up a coin?


  • Obverse: the front side (“heads”) of a coin that usually includes the date and main design.
  • Reverse: the back side (“tails”) of a coin.
  • Legend: The major inscription on a coin.
  • Mintmark: Identifies the mint where the coin was made.
  • Relief: Design elements that are raised above the surface of the coin.
  • Field: The flat background on the coin’s surface that doesn’t include design elements or inscription of any kind.
  • Edge: The outer border or “third side” of a coin. Edges can be plain, reeded, lettered or decorated.
  • Rim: A raised edge on both sides of a coin. The rim is intended to provide the design with protection from wear.