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Numismatics – Facts for the Beginner

Considering you are currently viewing this site, you either already have an interest in the significance of coin collecting, or you have stumbled across it in passing and want to know more about it. Either way it never hurts to give those of you not in the know the lowdown. We’ll start by answering the question:

What is numismatics?

Well, numismatics is the collection or study of currency, both ancient and modern. Including coins, paper money, tokens and other related objects of significance, the study is about more than just collecting pretty coins and displaying them. The word ‘numismatics’ comes from the adjective numismatic, which means “of coins”, and was borrowed in 1792 from the French word ‘numismatiques’, which in turn was derived from the Latin word ‘numismatis’.

With thousands of years of history, you would be amazed by the amount of facts there are about coins which have gone in and out of circulation over the years. Coins which have been discovered from Ancient Egyptian and Roman times, are perfect examples of just how much you can learn about the history of an era, simply by examining the markings of former currency.

While ancient coins are fascinating though, coin collecting and numismatics is in no way limited to the ancient past. Coin collectors are also interested in current currency. Each coin has its own story, whether your interest in coins is purely business, and you choose to invest in gold at or you collect ancient coins. As someone who is new to coin collecting, I wouldn’t want to overwhelm you with the entire history of Numismatics, so instead I’m going to give you a few interesting facts you probably don’t know.

Interesting facts:

– Did you know that Florence in Italy was the first city to mint its own gold coins? It happened in 1252. The Fiorino became known as the Florence, and then the Florin.

– While coin collecting is considered a contemporary hobby, it has roots which trace back thousands of years to the ancient kings and queens. Coin collecting has been dubbed “the hobby of kings” which has more to do with it being a hobby of the ancient royals, than the amount of money it costs to collect them.

– You don’t have to be rich to collect coins. In fact, most coin dealers will allow you to purchase collectible coins for only a little bit over the face value price. US coins dating back to the nineteenth century can be found and purchased for under ten dollars.

– The oldest Roman money ever found in Britain is a silver coin which is 2,224 years old. The coin dates back to 211 BC and was found near the Leicestershire village of Hallaton. One side of the coin depicts the goddess Roma, and the mythical twins Castor and Pollux are on horses on the other side.

– How do you imagine Cleopatra the ancient queen of Egypt looked? Quite glamorous with beautiful features? That’s how Hollywood depicts her. In actuality despite her being no older than 18 years old when she became queen, ancient coins show her as a woman with masculine features and a long hooked nose.

– The oldest discovered coin was found in Efesos, an ancient Hellenic city on the coast of Asia Minor. The 1/6 stater is more than 2,700 years old and is one of the earliest coins. It is made from electrum, which is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. The ancient coin was hand struck.

– 4.2 billion coins which totalled 1.6 million Euros were given to European citizens before e-day aka the official day the Euro began its circulation. This was so those in the Euro-zone countries could get used to the new currency.

– Did you know that you can buy collector coins straight from the Mint? The United States Mint has large catalogues filled with coins, sets, commemorative items and other interests of coin collectors. They will cost more than the face value, but as a treasured keepsake, it’s worth it.

– There are public displays of numismatic collections all over the world. If you want to visit some of them, examples of places you can see them include: the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, US, and the Monnaie de Paris in France.

– You know that weird smell coins get when you’ve handled them? Well, according to scientists who tested for the cause, the smell of iron is a type of human body odour, and is caused by the breakdown of oils in your skin. When you touch an object with iron in it, the perspiration from your skin makes the iron atoms gain two electrons, which react to the oily skin. So basically it’s you who smells, not the coin.

– How long do you think coin collecting has been going on? The first international convention for coin collectors was held in August 1962, in Detroit Michigan. The event attracted an estimated 40,000 coin collectors, and was sponsored by the American Numismatic Association.

– What is the American Numismatic Association, you ask? Well, the group is the world’s largest circulating library of numismatic material. It was founded in 1891.

– Speaking of numismatists, did you know there is a Patron Saint for Numismatists? Saint Eligius was born around 588 and lived in France. He was a metal worker by occupation and died around 659. He is also the Patron Saint of goldsmiths and other metalworkers.

– In this day and age, modern numismatics is the study of the coins from the mid 17th century onwards. This is because the period of machine struck coins began here. A collector is more likely to be interested in modern numismatics than a historian, because history from that time onwards is far better documented than ancient times.

For those interested in Ancient Greece, the British Academy launched the Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum in 1931, publishing collections of Ancient Greek coinage.

Written by the gold trading guide,

Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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