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Index Of All Titles


Aes Formatum
Aes Rude
The Age of Gallienus
Alexander Tetradrachms
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101
Ancient Coin Dates
Ancient Coin Lesson Plans
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Counterfeits
Ancient Glass
Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Ancient Oil Lamps
Ancient Pottery
Ancient Weapons
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Antioch Officinae
Armenian Numismatics Page
Augustus - Facing Portrait
Bronze Disease
Byzantine Denominations
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
Caesarean and Actian Eras
Campgates of Constantine
A Case of Counterfeits
Byzantine Christian Themes
Clashed Dies
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Corinth Coins and Cults
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Danubian Celts
Damnatio Coinage
Damnatio Memoriae
Denarii of Otho
Diameter 101
Die Alignment 101
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Edict on Prices
ERIC - Rarity Tables
Etruscan Alphabet
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Friend or Foe
The Gallic Empire
Gallienus Zoo
Greek Alphabet
Greek Coins
Greek Dates
Greek Coin Denominations
Greek Mythology Link
Greek Numismatic Dictionary
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Hasmonean Dynasty
Helvetica's ID Help Page
The Hexastyle Temple of Caligula
Historia Numorum
Holy Land Antiquities
Horse Harnesses
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Important Collection Auctions
Islamic Rulers and Dynasties
Julian II: The Beard and the Bull
Julius Caesar - The Funeral Speech
Kushan Coins
Later Roman Coinage
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
List of Kings of Judea
Medusa Coins
Maps of the Ancient World
Military Belts
Military Belts
Mint Marks
Museum Collections Available Online
Nabataean Alphabet
Nabataean Numerals
The [Not] Cuirassed Elephant
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Parthian Coins
Patina 101
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew Script Styles
People in the Bible Who Issued Coins
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Reading Judean Coins
Representations of Alexander the Great
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Roman Coin Legends and Inscriptions
Roman Keys
Roman Locks
Roman Militaria
Roman Military Belts
Roman Mints
Roman Names
Rome and China
Satyrs and Nymphs
Serdi Celts
The Sign that Changed the World
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Star of Bethlehem Coins
Statuary Coins
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
Taras Drachms with Owl Left
The Temple Tax
The Temple Tax Hoard
Test Cut
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Tyrian Shekels
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
Venus Cloacina
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Who was Trajan Decius
Widow's Mite

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Die Alignment 101

Die alignment, also called die axis or coin rotation, describes how the obverse and reverse dies were aligned to each other when the coin was struck. Die alignment is most often expressed in degrees, but may also be expressed as a clock face hour. Some publications use arrows to describe die alignment.

To determine die alignment, hold the coin by the edges between your thumb and index finger with the obverse facing you. Use your other hand to turn the coin until the obverse, still facing you, is perfectly right side up, still held between your thumb and index finger. Then, with your other hand push against the left side of the coin, so it rotates between your fingers like a revolving door (or a globe on its axis) until the reverse is facing you. The location of the very top of the reverse after spinning it between your fingers indicates the die rotation. The chart and clock face below shows the die rotation range from 0 to 359 degrees or from 1:00 to 12:00. If the reverse is right-side-up, the die alignment is 0 degrees or 12:00 (also called medallic rotation). If the reverse is upside down, the die alignment is 180 degrees or 6:00 (also called coin rotation). Normally die alignment is expressed as the nearest 15 degree increment (0, 15, 30, 45, 60...) or the nearest hour, but there is no firm rule. A coin with an axis between 350 and 10 degrees is likely to be described as having a 0 degree die axis, and a coin with a die axis between 170 and 190 is likely to be described as having a die axis of 180 degrees.


Most Roman coin types have a consistent die axis of either 0 or 180 degrees. Athenian tetradrachms almost always have a die rotation of 270 degrees. Some types do not show any consistency or pattern in die alignment. These issues can be described as struck with "loose dies." If a type has a consistent die alignment, deviation may indicate a forgery. Die alignment is, however, really only useful in detecting very old forgeries. Today, most forgers will know and use the correct die axis.

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 metallic rotation. Types struck with hinged dies (dies held in a hinged or other mechanical device) will usually have a fairly consistent standard die axis. Most modern and many ancient coins were consistently 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.

- 101

Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Greek Coin Collecting 101
Patina 101
Magnification 101
Diameter 101
Bust Types 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101
Ancient Coin Authentication 101

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