The designs of world coins present a wealth of information about the countries they are from. Each nation has its own coinage. Individual issues vary by denomination, value and metal content. Coins feature images of cultural and historical significance. Most also indicate place and date of minting. Others bear national symbols and mottos. Coins may be equal in value to national paper currencies or may be worth fractions of those amounts.
Coins and Currency
Most world coins represent fractions of the national currency. In the United States, for example, pennies are worth 1/100 of a dollar; nickels, 1/20 of a dollar; and dimes, 1/10 for a dollar. The United States once issued gold coins called eagles that had a face value of $10, as well as double eagles with a face value of $20.
Modern coins are primarily objects of token value. For the most part, they are used to buy small items or indicate slight differences in value that can't be measured in full units of the national currency. Few actually contain precious metals, such as gold or silver. Most are made of copper, nickel, zinc, aluminum and alloys of these metals. The United States last minted regular circulation silver coins in 1964, the United Kingdom in 1947. Contemporary silver and gold coins are special pieces valued for their weight in bullion. Most, like the gold South African Krugerrand and the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, contain 1 troy ounce of precious metal. Such coins are worth the current market value of the metal they contain.
Coins as Standard Currency
In some nations, such as Japan, the standard unit of currency is also a coin. The Japanese yen is currently worth slightly more than an U.S. penny. Japanese yen coins are issued in the following denominations and metals: the aluminum 1 yen, brass 5 yen, bronze 10 yen, nickel 50 yen, and cupronickel 100 and 500 yen coins. The 500 yen coin is also minted in a combination of nickel and brass.
Coins That Change
Coinage may change over time, with one unit replacing another. The euro replaced the German mark, and the mark replaced the coins issued by the once-independent German states. A typical piece, the 1914 Bavarian 2 Mark coin, bore a portrait on the coin's front of King Ludwig III of Bavaria, with his name and title written in German. The back carried an image of the royal coat of arms- a crowned eagle-and an inscription indicating, "Deutsches Reich" and "zwei mark," or "German Empire" and "2 Marks." The Kingdom of Bavaria was, at that time, part of the German Empire.
The coins of one nation may be exchanged for those of another based on either market, or fixed rates. A majority of the world's currencies are traded daily on exchanges such as FOREX, or foreign exchange market. Currency values fluctuate from moment to moment, with the U.S. dollar considered a "reserve currency," or one that can be used by other nations to pay their debts and obligations.
- Photo Credit dichohecho, Flickr.com/photos/dichohecho/2545363497/
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