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Edge of Coins, the forgotten part of the coins that has more than one surprise in store

In this article we review everything you need to know about the third side of the coin. The edge, that area that some people mistakenly don’t pay attention to.

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Canto de la Moneda

In this article I will focus on the edge of the coin. That part that many people believe does not add value, and unfortunately they are wrong.

They are so wrong that the edge of a coin can determine its value. It can transform a piece worth approximately 3 or 4 euros into a coin that sells for $2500. Details of this story later right here.

But first…

Let’s start by answering the most basic question of all, and from there advance detailed knowledge about coin edge and its relevance to collectors and numismatists.

What is the edge of the coin?

The edge is the part of the coin that lies between the two sides, that is, between the obverse and the reverse. It is the outline of the coin. This area is also known as the edge, or third side of the coin.

Canto de varias Monedas
Edge of Coins

The oldest coins do not have a defined edge, but with the advance of minting techniques, this area began to be designed as well. Think of the oldest Roman coins and you will hardly find one with an edge as well worked as modern coins have.

Why did the edge of the coin begin to be minted as well?

Coining the third side of the coin is a security measure to keep the coin in its original form and shape. This is especially true for coins that are minted in precious metals.

In the past, a very common form of “theft” of precious metals was the clipping of circulating coins. The rudimentary minting processes of the ancient pieces, for example, the famous macuquinas, allowed malicious people to cut part of the pieces, altering their weight and shape.

The problem of trimmed coins became so great that many stores had scales to take the actual weight of the coins before receiving payment.

If it was detected that the coins did not have the official weight, more coins had to be delivered until the “metal price” was covered.

Valor de las monedas por el peso en metal
Value of coins by weight in metal

Apparently, the problem of coins clipped by the edge mainly affected merchants who had to collect in silver or gold coins. However, when it comes to coins, there are two sides to every problem.

Thus, some dishonest merchants possessed scales that were rigged to show a lower weight than the actual weight of their customers’ coins. In this way, they demanded that they “complete” the payment, when in reality they were charging more metal than they should have.

The minting of the edge of the coins solved all these problems to a great extent.

With the edge minted, that is, with a design recognized by all, it was more difficult to cut the metal pieces to subtract part of them.

Even a slight “undercut” produced with a file becomes noticeable and sets off alarm bells. It is immediately obvious that the coin has been altered and many people will refuse to receive them in that state.

What are the types of edges that exist?

There are different types of coin edges, according to the design selected by the Mint for each particular piece. The following are the most common types of edges:

Simple Edge

The simple edge is one that presents a smooth edge, without notches or designs. It is also known as plain edge, and is quite common in low mintage coins with very large circulation mintages.

Striated Edge

The striated edge refers to a series of small perpendicular grooves that span the entire area of the coin separating the two sides. There are several subtypes of the striated edge, which are differentiated primarily by the type of design or figure struck.

Interrupted fluted edge

Also known as combined striated edge. It is found on those coins that have a series of striae in a row, interspersed with a smooth or unadorned space. This pattern is usually found along the entire edge.

Oblique Striated Edge

In this subtype, the grooves are slanted along the edge of the coin. A peculiarity of this type of edge, with oblique grooves, is that it cannot be applied to the coin during the minting process, as the grooves could be damaged when striking the coin’s coin blank with the die.

Centered fluted edge

Another subtype of fluted edge that must be applied after the minting process, due to the complexity of the design and the ease with which it can be damaged in the coin manufacturing process. In this case, the grooves are limited to the center of the edge.

Epigraphic Edge

An epigraphic edge is known as an edge with visible letters, symbols, words or phrases. The lettering may be in relief or stamped on the edge of the coin. This is also known as talking edge.

Laureate Edge

This is a special form of the above edge. Particularly the laureate edge features laurels separating the obverse and reverse of the coin. The laurels have a whole epic meaning, which comes from ancient Rome, hence the selection of this motif.

Canto Laureado. 8 Reales de Fernando VI, 1753.
Laureate Edge. 8 Reales de Fernando VI, 1753.

An example of this type of Canto is the 8 reales of Fernando VI, minted in 1753 at the Mint of Mexico.

Grooved Edge

The grooved edge is one that has a groove that runs parallel to the sides of the coin and covers its entire circumference. A particularity of this type of edge is that it may appear that there are two coins stuck together, instead of just one.

Indented Edge

When a coin has notches or indentations around the edge of the coin, we can say that its type is indented. A fairly common example of coins with an indented edge is the 20 euro cent.

Serrated edge

A serrated edge is one that has a series of V-shaped grooves along the edge of the coin. This pattern covers the entire edge, and is repeated evenly throughout the coin.

Function of the coin’s edge

The edge of any coin is a very interesting area, contrary to what novice collectors, or those who know nothing about numismatics, think. The third side of the coin has three basic functions, one of which has already been mentioned above.

The first function is that of security against modifications or alterations to the weight, shape and diameter of the coin. It is difficult for coins with talking edges, striated or otherwise, to be trimmed or reduced in order to steal some of the material.

The second function is aesthetic, since it is possible to stamp symbols, drawings and patterns that embellish the coin. It is true that, being a reduced area, coin designers prefer to focus their creativity on the faces of the pieces.

Finally, the third function is one of differentiation. Coins such as the 2 euro, which have a national side and a standard side, also mark the differences by minting different edges according to the country of issue of the coin.

Errors in the edge that boost value

In the same way that in the minting process mistakes can be made when stamping the obverse or reverse of any coin, it is also possible to make a mistake with the edge.

Do you think it is impossible for something like this to happen? Let me tell you that it is totally possible.

In May 2021 the Bank of Lithuania put into circulation the commemorative 2 euro coin dedicated to Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve. Days later it announced that some pieces sold had errors. Where were these errors…? You guessed it, on the edge.

Error en Moneda de 2 euros Lituania
Error in 2 euro coin Lithuania

Apparently about 500 pieces were minted with the edge corresponding to the Latvian coins. Here you can read more about this error in the edge of the 2021 Lithuanian coin.

Just a heads up that, because of someone’s mistake, each of these coins reached the value of 2500 US dollars on Marketplace like Ebay.

So, if you are looking for a coin with errors that is worth a lot of money, the edge is a good place to check and contrast with the official documentation of the coin.

Conclusions

I hope that this article on the edge of coins has motivated you to continue delving deeper and studying this fantastic world of numismatics and coin collecting. As we have seen, the edge is the eternal forgotten that can cause more than one surprise to collectors and enthusiasts.

If you liked the article, share it on your social networks or send it to that friend who keeps old coins in the hope of becoming a millionaire one day. Truth be told, rarely does something like this happen, but hope is the last thing you lose.

I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, how they can access key resources, avoid legal mistakes, respond to questions from angel investors as well as the reality check for startups. Continue reading my articles for more insight.

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