Skip to main content

On edge about confusing coin terms

Listening to other collectors and dealers at a coin club meeting, I came away confused. They were talking about rims, edges, and collars as if they all meant the same thing. Do they?

The three terms each have differing meanings. The difference is this: the rim of a coin is the raised circular ridge surrounding the field and ending at the outside diameter of the piece. The edge of a coin is the surface at right angles to the to the obverse and reverse of the coin, running around the outside diameter of the piece. The edge is often reeded. The collar is a metal plate, part of the coin press, that contains a hole the size of the intended coin. It fits around the anvil die and contains the planchet metal as it flows outward as the dies strike it, giving it the nice round shape.

Are there any coins with multiple flat edges that have edge inscriptions?

Undoubtedly there are foreign coins, but a U.S. example would be the Augustus Humbert $50 slugs that were octagons (eight sides) with an edge inscription reading: “AUGUSTUS HUMBERT UNITED STATES ASSAYER OF GOLD 1851.”

 (Image courtesy

(Image courtesy

Didn’t the U.S. Olympic Committee have to pay for the lobbying done by the two private firms that attempted to take over distribution of the 1983-1984 Olympic coins?

It was not the U.S.O.C. that got stuck with the lobbying fees but the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, which agreed to pay the lobbying costs incurred by Occidental Petroleum and Lazard Freres. Just how much they wound up paying for a losing cause is unclear, but it must have been a substantial amount, as the two firms made a full-scale but unsuccessful effort to win the distribution rights for a 29-coin program.

I have a 1975 proof Ike dollar with a dull surface on one side. How can this happen?

I found the answer by accident during a visit to the British Royal Mint. The planchet for your coin stuck to a second one, and they went through (most of) the polishing process stuck together. It later was struck normally with one “proof side” and one dull side.

What is meant by a “caved” die?

This is an old term for a die that has had part of the face sink. The usual cause is incorrect heat treating of the steel die, which leaves some parts soft. Heat treating problems are cyclic, some of the notable examples being 1926, 1954-1955, and the early 1970s. More recently, the same problem has been found on the copper-coated zinc cents. The modern counterpart term is “sunken die.”

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today

If you like what you've read here, we invite you to visit our online bookstore to learn more about Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths About U.S. Coins.

Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths About U.S. Coins

Learn more >>> is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated websites.