Coin Identifier: Here’s How To Identify Your Coin Via Diagrams, Photos & Definitions Yourself

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Those of us who don’t necessarily collect coins, but happen to have found some interesting coins in our pocket change (or have inherited a hand-me-down coin collection)… we need some of the most basic coin identifiers spelled out for us.

What follows are some coin diagrams and photos that will help you describe your coin to others (like if you want to sell it online).

Plus, coin glossaries and definitions that will be helpful as you learn more about the coins in your possession.


#1 – Click on the photo below from the Coin Resource site to learn about each of the key parts of a coin, including:

  • device
  • rim
  • edge
  • obverse
  • reverse
  • date
  • fields
  • denomination
  • mint marks
  • legend
  • motto
  • exergue
  • dentils is an excellent site for novice coin collectors!



#2 – Click on the following photo to learn more about the anatomy of a coin. The Coins site at has a wealth of resources available for beginners including this fun slideshow describing:

  • the obverse and reverse sides of a coin;
  • the placement of the legend, rim, and field on a coin;
  • the location of the motto, mint mark, and edge of a coin;
  • an explanation of the portrait, date, and designer’s initials;
  • the layers of a coin with a copper core, nickel layer, and reeded edges;  and
  • the upset rim, reeded edge, and portrait on a proof coin.

The best part? At the end, there’s a quiz!



#3 – And finally, coin terms and abbreviations can be confusing. Check out these coin glossaries which describe the most popular words used to identify and describe U.S. coins. Each is a little different in its own way:

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