Nickels and Full Faces

How come portraits on coins are in profile while those on bills are full face?

Time for an update!!! The new nickels are full face portraits of old TJ.

I was going to start a similar thread, based on this fascinating article…lots of good info on coins in general.

Here’s a link to the coins Cecil mentioned, front and side views of Henry VII

What I would like to know is why the penny is facing the opposite way from all the other coins. Lincoln looks to the right, but Jefferson (old-style), Roosevelt, Washington, and Kennedy all face left.

The Sacagawea and U.S. President dollar coins also have full-face images.

Quite so: Dollar coin (United States) - Wikipedia

Thanks, Jackknifed, for the interesting New Yorker article.

As far as is known, it’s that:[ol]
[li]There is a general tradition in Western art of portraits facing the viewer’s left,[/li][li]but the Lincoln cent was taken from a photograph that happened to be facing right.[/li][/ol]

Cecil’s article just got Farked.

I just want to point out that full-face portraits on coins are nothing new. Although the ancient coins depicting Roman Emperors and the like are in profile, coins with Gorgons on them – which were by no means rare – invariably depicted them full-face:

As I’ve described at length elsewhere, Gorgons and Gorgon parallels were almost invariably depicted full-face, not in profile, everywhere in the ancient world. They were often the only (or almost the only) figures so depicted.

Gorgons have exaggerated features and don’t need to be a good likeness of an actual person. So they are ideal for depiction in relief in full face. The thrust of Cecil’s article is that real people are not.

Agreed. I shoul;d have articulated that.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that not all faces were profiles.

As Cecil does.

He says they’re rare:

The Gorgon coins weren’t at all rare. You can still buy one , cheaply enough.

Which gets us back to the fact that gorgons aren’t people, thus the main point made by Cecil is true.

What percentage of coins do you think they represent? You’re thinking like a collector. Cecil is talking about all coins, down to the dimes in your pocket. Billions upon billions of them.