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Why do some coins have reeded edges?


A reeded edge is an edge around a coin that was manufactured to have ridges. It can usually be seen by the naked eye and gives the coin’s edge a textured feel. Reeded edges have become a common characteristic of coins around the world, however, many people do not know the true reason for a reeded edge. Mints started producing reeded edge coins after Isaac Newton overhauled England’s currency system in 1696, while he served as Warden of the Mint. There was a large forgery problem in England, so he recalled all circulating coins and recast them with reeded edges. This process quickly spread to other mints around the world. 

Reeded edges are an anti-counterfeit and anti-shaving measure. Firstly, having a reeded edge makes it much more difficult for counterfeit manufacturers to make an identical coin. The process of reeding is very detailed and requires intricate machinery. Each coin has a specific amount of ridges, so any coin with a different amount of ridges could easily be seen as a fake. This deters counterfeiters from even trying, as the process can be expensive and difficult to perfect. 

Reeded edges are also there to prevent clipping and shaving. Clipping or shaving a coin involves shaving off the metal around the edge of the coin. The shavings are usually then melted down and sold for their metal value. The scammer then tries to sell the clipped coin at full price, therefore getting the full value of the coin plus the value of the shavings. With a reeded edge, it is straightforward to tell if a coin has been shaved as there will no longer be any grooves. This is why almost all valuable coins are now produced with a reeded edge. It is a safety measure that assures that the coin is legitimate. 

Although US currency no longer uses silver or gold in its circulating supply, they still have reeded edges. Dimes have 118 ridges, quarters have 119, half dollars have 150, and dollars have 198. The US Mint has continued this process mostly because they already had the dies and metal collars used to strike coins with reeded edges. It is more of a tradition than a safety measure with circulating currency. The reeded edges do, however, still have a purpose with precious metal coins, as the value of the metal content exceeds the face value.

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