To the glory that was Greece
And the grandeur that was Rome
- The Collaborative Numismatics Project
  Welcome Guest. Please login or register. The column on the left includes the "Best of NumisWiki" menu. If you are new to collecting, start with Ancient Coin Collecting 101. If you have written numismatic articles or publications, please add them to NumisWiki.

Resources Home
New Articles
Most Popular
Recent Changes
Current Projects
Admin Discussions
How to

Index Of All Titles


Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Glass
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Armenian Numismatics Page
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Greek Alphabet
Greek Dates
Greek Mythology Link
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Helvetica's ID Help Page
Historia Numorum
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
Maps of the Ancient World
Mint Marks
Nabataean Numerals
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
The Temple Tax Hoard
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tyrian Shekels
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Widow's Mite

Coin Rotation

Coin rotation, also called die axis, is the rotation of the reverse die in relation to the obverse die.  Coin rotation is also sometimes specifically used to describe a 180 degree die axis, also called standard rotation or standard die axis.  Coin rotation is the most common die alignment for late Roman coins.  Die axis may be expressed in degrees, or hours as on a clock face, or with an arrow. 

To determine the die axis of a coin, hold the coin between your index finger and thumb with the obverse facing toward you.  Align the coin so your index finger is at the top of the obverse design and your thumb is at the bottom of the obverse design.  Using your other hand, turn the coin between your fingers in a manner similar to a globe turning on stand with your fingers acting as the poles.  Turn the coin until the reverse is facing you.  Examine the reverse.  If it is right-side-up, the die axis is 0 degrees or 12.   If the reverse is upside down, the die axis is 180 degrees or 6.   If the top of the coin reverse is to the right, at three o'clock the die axis is 90 degrees or 3.  Die axis varies from 0 to 359 degrees or 12:00 to 11:59 and may be described in the same manner.  If the die axis is expressed in degrees it is normally rounded to the nearest 15 degree increment.   If the die axis is expressed in hours it is normally rounded to the nearest hour but sometimes half hour increments are used. 

A die axis of 180 degrees or 6 o'clock is called standard die axis or standard rotation.   A die axis of 0 degrees or 12 o'clock is called medallic die axis or medalic rotation.  Types struck with dies held in a hinged or other mechanical device will often have a fairly consistant standard die axis.  Most modern and many ancient coins were struck with a standard or medallic die axis.  For ancient coins variation of up to 10% from the normal standard axis is typical and often not noted in descriptions.   Some coins were struck with hand held or "loose dies" and do not have a normal or standard die axis for the type.    

An incorrect die axis for the type may indicate a forgery, though most modern fakes are produced with the correct die axis for the type.   When a new hoard of coins appears with a consistent die
axis, but is of a type struck with lose dies (without a normal set die axis), the hoard may be fake.  The opposite is also true.