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Axis.  An imaginary vertical line on the obverse and reverse surface of a numismatic item, dividing it into two equal hemispheres. In numismatics this line runs from bottom

to top and is expressed by an arrow ?; the relationship of obverse to reversedie alignment – is expressed by an arrow for axis on each side. Medals, for example, are usually ?? (medal turn); while most coins are ??  (coin turn). For rotated dies, where the reverse can be any of 360° positions in relationship to the obverse, these can

be expressed by the direction of the second arrow, as æ. In some numismatic works, shorthand has evolved by omitting the first arrow since it always points to the 12 o'clock position. Medals whose axis intentionally read two way as a bishop turned into a clown when rotated 180°) is called inversion.  See also die alignment, orientation.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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