- In logic (and usually without being paired with "reverse"), "obverse" is the product of Obversion.
The term obverse, and Japanesse Coins its opposite, reverse, describe the two sides of units of currency and many other kinds of two-sided objects, most often Japanes Coins in reference to coins, but also to medals, drawings, old Japanees Coins master prints and other works of art. The terms may Japnese Coins respectively be interchanged with the more casual but less precise terms "front" and "back," or Jappanese Coins (for coins only) Japanse Coins "heads" and "tails." In many such areas other than coins, reverse is much more commonly used than Japannese Coins obverse, and front and reverse may also be used. The terms can also describe the Japanee Coins front and back Apanese Coins of a flag (see Flag terminology).
A Roman imperial coin; these established the Japaese Coins obverse "head" and reverse "tail" convention that still dominates much coinage today
Recto and Japamese Coins Verso are the equivalent terms for front and back used for the pages of books, Japanesee Coins especially illuminated manuscripts, Japnaese Coins and also often for prints and drawings.
- 1 Which Jpanese Coins is which?
- 2 Modern coins
- 3 Coins of the USA
- 4 Japanese coins
- 5 Euro
- 6 See also
Which is which?
of Justinian II, second reign, after 705. Christ is on the obverse, the Emperor on the reverse
In a Western monarchy, it has been usual, following the tradition of the Hellenistic monarchs and then the Roman emperors, for the currency to bear the head of the monarch on one side, which is almost always regarded as the obverse. However in Ancient Greek monarchical coinage the situation is often reversed, and a larger image, often of a god or goddess, is called the obverse, whilst a smaller image of a king is called the reverse. In the many republics, such as Athens or Corinth, one side would have a symbol of the state, sometimes a goddess, which remained constant through all the coins of that state, and is regarded as the obverse.
The change happened in the coinage of Alexander the Great , which continued to be minted long after his death, who after his conquest of Egypt allowed himself to be depicted on the obverse as a god-king, at least partly because he thought this would better secure the alliegance of the Egyptians, who had regarded previous monarchs as divine.
A similar situation applies in most later Byzantine coinage , where a head of Christ is the obverse, and a head or portrait (half or full-length) of the emperor is the reverse. The introduction of this style in the gold coins of Justinian II from 695 provoked the then Islamic Caliph Abd al-Malik, who had previously copied Byzantine styles but replacing Christian symbols with Islamic equivalents, finally to develop a distinctive Islamic style, with lettering only on both sides of their coins. This was then used on nearly all Islamic coinage until the modern period. The type of Justinian II was revived after the end of Iconoclasm, and with variations remained the norm until the end of the Empire.
Tetradrachma from Athens about 490 BC. The head of Athena, left, is regarded as the obverse because of its larger scale, and because it is a portrait head
Generally, if in doubt, the side with the larger scale image will be called the obverse (especially if a single head), and if that does not serve to distinguish them, the side that is more typical of a wide range of coins from that location will be called the obverse. Following this principle, in the most famous of Greek coins, the tetradrachm of Athens, the obverse is the head of Athena and the reverse is her Owl. Similar versions of these two images, both symbols of the state, were used on these coins for over two centuries.
It is therefore not always easy to tell which side will be regarded as the obverse without some knowledge. Islamic coins after 695 avoided all images of persons, and usually just contained script; in general the side with the larger script is called the obverse. In illustrations showing both sides of a coin, the obverse is usually on the left of or above the reverse, but not invariably.
Silver Rupee using Mughal conventions, in fact minted by the British East India Company Madras Presidency between 1817-35. Special knowledge is needed to say which side would be regarded as the obverse
The form of currency follows its function, which is to serve as a readily accepted medium of exchange of value. Normally, this function rests on a state as guarantor of the value: either as trustworthy guarantor of the kind and amount of metal in a coin, or as powerful guarantor of the continuing acceptance of token coins. Traditionally, most states have been monarchies where the person of the monarch and the state were for most purposes equivalent. For this reason, the obverse side of a modern piece of currency is the one that evokes that reaction by invoking the strength of the state, and that side almost always depicts a symbol of the state, or the monarch, or any well-known representative of the state.
Coins and banknotes ("bills", in American and Canadian usage) have two sides, and the secondary side (the reverse) is seldom wasted; various pieces of information directly relating to its role as medium of exchange can occur there (if not provided for on the obverse), and additional space is likely to be used propagandistically, evoking some treasured aspect of the state's territory, its philosophy of governing, or its people's culture. In any case, this secondary side is usually less focused, and probably always less central, than the obverse, to the facilitation of the acceptance of the currency.
Coins of the USA
Some modern states specify, by law or published policy, what appears (and sometimes what will appear) on the obverse and reverse of their currency. (The specifications mentioned here imply the use of all upper-case letters, though they appear here in mixed case for the sake of readability of the article.)
The U.S. Government long adhered to including all of the following:
- "In God We Trust"
- The four digits of a year, that of minting and/or issue
- "United States of America"
- "E Pluribus Unum"
- Words (not digits) expressing the name or assigned value of the item, e.g. "Quarter Dollar", "One Dime", "Five Cents"
However, the ten-year series of Statehood Quarters, whose issue began in 1999, was seen as calling for more space and more flexibility in the design of the reverse. A law specific to this series and the corresponding time period permits the following:
- as before:
- "In God We Trust"
- instead of on the reverse:
- "United States of America"
- The words expressing assigned value of the coin, "Quarter Dollar"
- as before:
- instead of on the obverse:
- The four digits of the year of issue
In Japan, from 1897 to the end of World War II, though not formally stated:
- the Chrysanthemum Crest appeared on all coins,
- its side was informally regarded as the obverse (a normal situation, since this crest represented the imperial family), and
- the year appeared on the other (reverse) side.
The Chrysanthemum no longer appeared after the war, so (at least equally informally),
- the year took over the role of defining the reverse, and
- the obverse has therefore been regarded as the side opposite the date.
There has been much confusion regarding the obverse and reverse of the euro. Officially, the common side is the reverse and the national side is the obverse; it's a popular and common misconception, however, that the common side is the obverse. A number of the designs used for national sides (the obverse of euro coins) were used on the reverse of the old pre-euro coins.
- Medallic orientation
- Coin orientation
- Coin collecting
Categories: Numismatics | Visual arts