Coin Collecting – The Art of Exploring Numismatic Heritage

Photo courtesy of Karen Roe/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Karen Roe/Flickr

The hobby of coin collecting, also technically known as numismatics, is an interesting and most rewarding pastime among others.

Numismatics includes the collection of coins, paper money, tokens and related objects. The coin collectors are known as numismatists. Coin collecting combines the excitement of the rush with a desire for mining deep into history. This hobby can harvest tangible long term rewards. This is because, as a coin collector, you’ll become a part of a larger community of enthusiasts and will be able to gain access to shared information and knowledge.

While most of the collectors start as children, some of them own collections handed over by their grandparents or parents, thus discovering the joy of preserving and adding to those collections. Some start at an early age, while some start collecting later in life, generally prompted by an interesting coin issued to mark an event or with the prospect of a probable increase in the value later on. Whatever the situation or motivation might be, the field of numismatics is so wide that it inspires everybody.

How to start coin collecting

If you’re a beginner, the first and foremost thing to decide is what you are interested in collecting. Specializing in a particular theme of the collection is very important. This is because, trying to collect coins on many dissimilar themes might prove to be overwhelming. Specializing on a particular theme leads to completion of the collection. After that, one might move over to another topic or subject. Some of the themes you might opt for is listed below.

  • Collecting coins made of precious metals: Depending on your budget size, you might choose this theme.
  • Collecting by currency: There is a flourishing market for paper currency in recent times. Paper currency is a relatively recent advance in the history of money. Still it is richly collectible. During the period of inflation, high valued notes might be circulated and then withdrawn very quickly, making them a collector’s items for the future.
  • A collection of historic coins: Studying the inscriptions, abbreviations and symbols of the past divulges much information about the times in which they were circulated. Historic coins often have an aesthetic value which is very significant to the collectors and their historical rarity of interest.
  • Collecting by the type of coin: For example, building a complete collection of year dates.
  • A collection based on the country of origin: Some countries are sources for fascinating coins, which are worth adding to your collection.

Famous numismatists

Numismatics is among the oldest hobbies in the world. Many coins of the late Roman era were primarily based on the design of coins from the past. This implies that coins were stored as a matter of policy. Similarly, the Byzantine coin designs were full of pictorial references to coins which were circulated centuries prior to their issue.

From the 15th century onwards, the collection of coins became a hobby of the kings and nobles. They even employed agents to scour Asia and Europe for collecting coins. The kings also actively encouraged research in the field of numismatics, as major trade in coins began to grow slowly.

However, today’s collectors value coins principally for their artistic value and historic importance. You might be astonished to learn that you share this hobby with some of the well-known numismatists. The former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was also a devoted amateur collector during the 1930s when the reputation of both coin and stamp collecting was on the rise in the United States. The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, has also been involved in the hobby of collecting coins. He even received a set of Russian coins as a gift. Also, King Emmanuel III of Italy possessed a pool of over 100,000 coins, which he handed down to the war-ravaged Italian nation when he renounced the throne in 1946. Another president, Thomas Jefferson was also a numismatist. The acclaimed actor, James Earl Jones is not only a well-known numismatist but also narrated the documentary film titled “Money: History in Your Hands”.


Today, numismatics is embraced by people from all backgrounds. One can also find many clubs now dedicated to specialized collecting. Most of these numismatic associations offer fabulous resources through research and most of the members of these organizations are eager to share this expertise. Different books and magazines are also available to guide you through the history of diverse coins, which along with educating the collectors, inspire them to participate in a particular field of numismatics.


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