Here are more reader comments on the terms 'obverse' and 'reverse', including one from Steve Bishop I managed to lose in
my inbox last week. -Editor
Steve Bishop writes:
Regarding the term "obverse", typically the obverse depicts the head (such as a monarch) or the principal design (such as
the object of a commemoration). It often carries the date as well. But the obverse being "heads" is not the rule. Civil war
storecards, for example, designate the merchant's descriptive information, with the reverse being whatever ornamental device is
desired. The listing of reverse dies in the Fuld reference on storecards pictures numerous liberty heads, indian heads, and portraits of
famous people like George Washington.
Ed Hohertz writes:
Islamic coins present their own difficulties with determining the obverse side. For the medieval coins, there are usually only legends
on both sides. The attached article gives some insight into those problems.
Summary p190 second paragraph:
'The only solution is for scholars to define obverse and reverse in terms of the priorities they consider most important and then
be consistent in their own work.'
Stephen Album in his 'Checklist of Islamic Coins' (3rd ed.) takes about half a page (p15) defining the obverse of a coin.
Ed attached a scan of an article from The Numismatic Chronicle, Seventh Series, Volume XIII (1973) titled The Problem of the
Obverse and the Reverse in Islamic Numismatics by Jere Bacharach and H. A. Ward. Thanks. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
VOCABULARY WORD: OBVERSE (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v18n22a07.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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