I have used my smartphone in the past to take pictures of coins,
but sometimes I just need a clearer close-up image.
One example I have is a Roosevelt dime that has something unusual
extending from Roosevelt’s head to the rim.
A fairly new product to the market for use with smartphones is a
little magnifying glass that attaches at the camera area.
The small device is fairly inexpensive, considering what it can do.
Regarding your Roosevelt dime, the coin was struck by an obverse
die having a rather thick die break. The die break extends from the
rim to the back of Roosevelt’s head. A thinner die crack branches off
from the thicker break, and extends like a jagged lightning bolt along
the president’s hair to slightly above the top of his ear.
The image above shows an iPhone 4 with the magnifying glass
attachment clipped onto it. The small magnifying glass can be slid
The area of view through the glass is approximately half an inch.
The camera function of the phone is open in the above photo, where
one can see the close-up of the coin without zooming in.
Holding the phone steady, one can zoom in further to get an even
closer look, potentially up to 60x power magnification.
The image at right shows a more magnified photograph of the die
break on the Roosevelt dime.
These photos were taken through plastic slabs and still show the
Some more recent versions of the iPhone and other smartphones now
have higher resolution cameras built in that help increase the
potential detail of the photograph you can take.
Potential uses of such close-up photography include identifying
varieties easily while at a coin show, creating better quality photos
for auction listings, looking at microprinting on paper money, and
many other uses.
The magnifying attachment shown, a Phonescope, is offered by some
coin supply dealers.
For example, Coin World’s parent company, Amos Press Inc., offers
the attachment through its amosadvantage.com website.
Find it there by searching for “Phonescope.”
A quick how-to video by Coin World on using the magnifying
attachment is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z69OCylXiY8.
Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins or other
items for examination without prior permission from Coin World.
Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety coins. Materials
sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be returned
unexamined. Please address all Readers Ask inquiries to
email@example.com or call 800-673-8311, Ext. 172.