How Do You Identify Foreign Coins?

The first steps to identifying foreign coins are to determine the country of origin, then identify the coin denomination and date. Current values of coins are available in online databases and in printed resources.

A coin's country of origin is often stated on the coin. Some country names are not easily identified due to use of different alphabetic systems or political changes; for instance, the former Soviet Union is identified as "CCCP" on its coins. Many websites, such as Portland Coins, provide pictures to help identify the country of origin when foreign coins include text using non-Western alphabets or images only.

The denomination and date usually appear on the coin. Most countries use the Gregorian calendar to identify years, but some do not. For example, some old French coins use the French Republican calendar. Websites such as World Coin Database or World Coin Gallery list these non-Gregorian dates and provide a way to find coin denominations by country. World Coin Gallery shows the four coins used by Andorra before it adopted the euro and also includes a standard catalog number on the coin list page for each country. The catalog number can be used to look up the current value of the coin, which is based in part on its condition.

Another popular online resource listing current world coin prices is the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. The foremost printed resource is the "Standard Catalog of World Coins" published by the Krause Corporation.