Coding systems utilizing machine-readable coding are disclosed. The coding systems are extremely simple to use and preferred embodiments of the machine-readable coding require no external reference or reference code or starting point or orientation for reading or decoding. The number of usable codes for any given number of code elements (bits or digits) is maximized, or, conversely, a minimum number of code elements is required for a given application, thus allowing each code element to be of maximum size for a given coding area. Also, methods and apparatus for encoding objects, and for reading, decoding, processing and using the information obtained from such encoded objects are disclosed. The coding may be applied to objects such as casino chips, currency, automated production line components, consumer products, household items, zip coded objects, etc. The coding system and systems using the coding can be employed for enabling positive real-time detection of counterfeits (rather than mere counterfeit deterrence), cash monitoring, information gathering, object identification, etc., at minimum cost with maximum reliability and real-time speed. Preferred embodiments of systems concern round casino chips and paper money. Signals and data may be encoded independently of physical objects while obviating the need for any reference or synchronization in the coding.