Identifying the foreign and old coins requires you to have knowledge of different languages and symbols. It is a tough job which requires you to ascertain the identity of coins on the basis of parameters like language, metals used to make them, date, color, etc. Determining the value of old coins is even more difficult.
Instructions for Foreign Coin Identification
There are many catalogs and conversion tables which make it easy to identify foreign coins. Identifying the country of origin of coins is the first step to getting into more intricate details about them. Foreign coins can be identified by examining them on the basis of parameters given below.
Most countries in the world make use of their native languages to inscribe letters/numerals on coins. However, letters from popular languages like the English are also used in many countries.
Coins from Canada, Australia, America, India and New Zealand are inscribed with English letters. Interestingly, most British coins have Latin inscriptions. Germany, France, Austria, Hungary, Netherlands, Italy and some of the South American nations like Mexico and Peru make use of Latin inscriptions. French letters are found on coins from Belgium and Canada. Generally, Portuguese inscriptions are found on Brazilian coins.
Here are few examples of English letters being used for inscribing on foreign coins.
Numerals in the dates of foreign coins can be identified with the help of conversion charts. The ‘Krause catalogs’ contain accurate information pertaining to numerals from eastern languages and also about how to convert them into numerals of western languages.
How to Date Arabic Coins?
The Anno Hegirae (AH) system (622 AD) is used for dating Arabic coins. It was in 622 AD that Prophet Mohammed left for Medina. From this date onwards the lunar year was incorporated into the Islamic calendar. The formula used for converting dates from Anno Hegirae (AH) to Anno Domini (AD) is AD date = 0.97023 (approx.) x AH + 621.57.
Color and Metals
It is easy to identify a gold, copper or silver coin. Gold and silver coins have golden and silvery tones/shades respectively. Copper coins can easily be identified by means of their reddish tone. However, problems arise when one has to differentiate brass coins from other coins. The brass coins don’t have a hue which is as rich and warm as that of gold coins. Therefore, one can say that it requires enough experience for distinguishing one coin from the other.
Most of today’s yellow-colored coins are made from a material which is a combination of nickel and brass; silvery-looking coins, on the other hand use the cupro-nickel combination.
The alphabets of western style are easy to decipher. Therefore, one can easily identify foreign coins even if they have their origin in say ancient Greece. However, to identify coins with other scripts, catalogs like the Krause are the only few options. The Krause catalog provides you with details about lettering from Cyrillic, Hebrew, Greek, Chinese and most Indian languages.
Foreign Coin Values
The value of coins is influenced by factors like rarity, grade, demand, etc. Here is more on how do these factors affect or influence the value of coins.
The most important parameter used for determining the grade of a coin is the state/condition in which it is maintained. Grading is carried out by checking whether a coin is in circulation or in mint state. Used coins are characterized by scratches that result from years of wear and tear. Fullness of strike and quality of luster also are taken into account to grade coins.
A coin which is rarely found in circulation is considered as valuable. Many coins from ancient China are not considered valuable owing to large numbers in which they were produced. Thus, coins from olden times which have few specimens left today can fetch you a greater price than those available in large numbers.
Demand is one factor which holds greater significance over rarity or grade. This is because there are certain types of coins that are in great demand despite being available in large numbers; rare coins are in demand because of interest shown by collectors. A 1916-D coin is considered to be more valuable than a 1798-D coin because the former is in great demand.
Coins maintained in a good condition and which are also rare would always fetch good returns. The details presented above should give you a rough idea on what to look for while identifying foreign coins. The activity of foreign coin identification is both interesting and challenging. It requires years of experience and knowledge to determine the right value of coins. Therefore, you need to work hard and learn a lot before you become proficient in foreign coin identification and valuation.