written by | November 3, 2022

Guide To Numismatics: The Study of Collecting Currency

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Table of Content


Numismatics is not only an academic subject that enables the understanding of the time in which the objects were released, but it is also a great hobby that makes the objects multiply in value and provide the collector with huge profits. Moreover it is the study and collection of coins, tokens and other objects that people have used as currencies throughout history. The condition of the item and their rarity are also important factors in determining the value of a numismatic item. Numismatics is sometimes also called coin collecting or coin collecting. In many countries there are associations or societies dedicated to academic study of numismatics and exchange of information on subjects such as varieties, commemorative stamps, bullion coins and medallions.

Did you know? The first animal featured on a coin was an Eagle and it appeared on circulating coins in 1794. 

Meaning of Numismatics 

Numismatics refers to the collection and in-depth exploration of the various payment methods that have existed throughout history for purchasing goods and settling debts, such as tokens, coins, paper money, medals, securities, and other related objects. The purpose of the branch is to study the physical properties of these means, the process of coinage, and the associated historical background.

The values attached to collectables come from their varieties, the materials used for making them, the artistic designs of the objects, the period in which they were minted, figures used in the mintage, errors arising in the coinage, and the socio-political context associated with that coinage. The factors make the coinage unique and increase their value from the point of view of investment. Numismatists direct their research towards money and coins, unlike collectors of coins who seek and obtain coins for completing their coin collections.

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What is the Study of Numismatics?

In the times from which human history is known, there are various and varied forms and shapes taken by money. People conducted trade by using a variety of rare objects, such as precious metals (silver, gold, etc.), cowry shells, and other scarce materials. Similarly, other objects resembling coins, such as tokens and medals, also have appreciation value. Yet, because of the value and heavy nature of such metals, paper money took over from metal money.

There is also evidence that shows that the availability of coins of the specific eras is questionable. They depict that several economic factors, such as demand and supply, have adversely affected the production of the coins at that time. 

For example, let us look at the time of the Great Depression. Issuing of coinage significantly declined at this time. At the time of the Second World War, there was a significant increase in coinage production. Furthermore, during the 19th century, the face value of gold coins fell drastically, and they were melted for their intrinsic value being greater than face value. 

This study is generally associated with collecting rare coins that such persons as kings, elites, queens, and other rich took up as a hobby. At the same time, the remaining population would use the tokens, currencies, and coins to take care of their daily needs, etc., such as debt repayment and purchasing goods and services. 

Numismatists also collect monetary tokens to study them. Yet, they are also seen as coin collectors. There are various categories that numismatic coins could fall in, such as proof, bullion, ancient, rare, circulating, and commemorative. Due to this, various methods keep being devised by numismatists for collecting coins so that they can add value to the economy.

Based on the study of ancient items, numismatics study falls into the following categories: 

  • Exonumia – tokens, medals, and coins
  • Notaphily - paper currency
  • Scripophily – bonds and stocks

History Of Numismatics Study

It is believed by many academics and written in several literary works that the act of numismatics started during the period of the early European Renaissance. Its very first mention found in English is from 1829. Nevertheless, collecting and collecting other monetary tokens have been practised since ancient times. 

India’s coinage is considered to have started between the early 1st millennium BCE and possibly the 6th century BCE. It is believed that it mainly comprised silver and copper coins initially. During this period, coins were Pana or Karshapanas. Some kingdoms minted their coins: Saurashtra, Surasena, Shakya, Magadha, Panchala, Kuru, Kuntala, and Gandhara.

Indian coinage tradition during the 2nd millennium evolved with the Indo-Islamic rule in India and during the 19th century with the British Raj. 

Mentioned below is the timeline associated with the history of numismatics. 

Period

Remark

27 B.C. – 14 A.D.

Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, was amongst the first collectors of coins. He collected unique coins of every type which he gave as gifts to guests at the time of Saturnalia, the festival dedicated to Saturn, the god.

14th Century

At the time of the early Italian Renaissance, the market of coins had slowly become an active sector. Francesco Petrarch, the Italian scholar and poet, was that era’s most popular collector of coins.

15th and 16th Century

Numismatics became recognised as a hobby that was pursued by kings with European royalty and members of nobility, including European kings, such as Henry IV and Louis XIV and Emperor Maximilian started to collect ancient coins.

1514

The first mention of the term is found in book “De Asse et Partibus Eius” by Guillaume Budé. This was the first book on numismatics coins.

17th and 18th Century

During this time Numismatics became an academic discipline and it found sponsors in public collections and institutions. This discipline made the people pursuing this academic field or keeping coin collection as a hobby have a more systematic and organized approach to it.

19th Century

Advanced technologies, such as fluorescence spectroscopy, influenced numismatists to explore the collected tokens and discover stories associated with them. Several of the associations even emerged from across Europe, Great Britain, and the United States.

20th Century

During this time, there was a growing interest amongst the general public due to numismatic conferences and coin shows being conducted.  The trend for collecting coins became popular amongst the populace. 

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Current Trends in Numismatics 

Numismatics has changed and evolved over the centuries. It began as a hobby of the rich and elite, became an academic discipline, and even began to be pursued as a coin-collecting habit for the general populace. The elites and kings used to collect coins they gifted to their guests, while the academically inclined studied coins to understand the culture and history of the civilizations that issued those coins, tokens, etc. Nevertheless, one thing that remained unchanged was that the currencies, coins, paper money, tokens, and other monetary instruments provided an insight into the era-specific economy, culture, and history.

Numismatics’ most recent form is Scripophily. It is associated with collecting and studying stocks and bond certificates. While these securities have no value, collecting them is worthwhile because of the artistic value they possess, such as the embossing and engravings found on them. Be it currency, coin, or stock certificate, their evaluation by numismatists enables exploration of several things associated with the market, be it from now or from then. 

In today’s times, coin collection is considered amongst the best possible alternative investments. Metal coins even now have value in the market. Also, coins released to make an occasion, commemorative coins, are of extremely significant value in the market.

Conclusion:

Numismatics as a whole has been a study of coins with other currency units and is related with appraisal of rare coins. It studies physical properties, production technology and historical context for specimens of currency.  Specimens that show errors from their production process of striking the coins or printing the notes are especially notable.

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FAQs

Q: What is Numismatics?

Ans:

One can define numismatics as the systematic collection of securities, coins, medals, currencies, tokens, and other methods of payment that have been used in the past for exchanging services and services, settling debts, and studying them. Mainly, its concern is understanding the objects’ physical aspects, historical significance, and system of coinage prevalent during that period.

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The information, product and services provided on this website are provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis without any warranty or representation, express or implied. Khatabook Blogs are meant purely for educational discussion of financial products and services. Khatabook does not make a guarantee that the service will meet your requirements, or that it will be uninterrupted, timely and secure, and that errors, if any, will be corrected. The material and information contained herein is for general information purposes only. Consult a professional before relying on the information to make any legal, financial or business decisions. Use this information strictly at your own risk. Khatabook will not be liable for any false, inaccurate or incomplete information present on the website. Although every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this website is updated, relevant and accurate, Khatabook makes no guarantees about the completeness, reliability, accuracy, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, product, services or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Khatabook will not be liable for the website being temporarily unavailable, due to any technical issues or otherwise, beyond its control and for any loss or damage suffered as a result of the use of or access to, or inability to use or access to this website whatsoever.
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Disclaimer :
The information, product and services provided on this website are provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis without any warranty or representation, express or implied. Khatabook Blogs are meant purely for educational discussion of financial products and services. Khatabook does not make a guarantee that the service will meet your requirements, or that it will be uninterrupted, timely and secure, and that errors, if any, will be corrected. The material and information contained herein is for general information purposes only. Consult a professional before relying on the information to make any legal, financial or business decisions. Use this information strictly at your own risk. Khatabook will not be liable for any false, inaccurate or incomplete information present on the website. Although every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this website is updated, relevant and accurate, Khatabook makes no guarantees about the completeness, reliability, accuracy, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, product, services or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Khatabook will not be liable for the website being temporarily unavailable, due to any technical issues or otherwise, beyond its control and for any loss or damage suffered as a result of the use of or access to, or inability to use or access to this website whatsoever.