Why do most U.S. coins have those little ridges around the edge?
Glad you asked. Those “little ridges” are correctly called reeded edges. Back in the day when money was really money, i.e. made from precious metals like silver and gold, the reeded edges served two important purposes:
- They made it more difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate the coins, and
- They helped prevent coin clippers from making their ill-gotten gains. Enterprising but dishonest entrepreneurs figured out that they could shave or clip a little of the edge from a silver or gold coin and gradually accumulate quite a stash of the precious metal, and no one would be the wiser. Unfortunately for them, the U.S. Mint got wise to that possibility pretty quickly. Of course, the coin clipping scam went out of business almost immediately when we switched from minting real money to minting play money made out of base metals.
For the Terminally Bored
If you truly have nothing to do and need a way to fill up the hours, you could try counting the reeds on the various denominations of coins.
When you are finished, here’s the cheat sheet by which you can check your calculations:
- Dimes – 118
- Quarters – 119
- Half dollars – 150
- Dollars – 198
- Susan B. Anthony dollars – 133