Numismatist Coin Collectors bring coin collecting to life
Coin collecting is an enthralling pastime for millions of people all over the world. Discovering rare coins and learning about the history of the coin and the social and economic background in which it appeared, is absorbing and riveting for coin collectors and amateur hobbyists alike.
Collectors of coins straddle all classes, creeds, and societies. Some can afford to indulge their hobby and buy incredibly expensive and unique items. For others, it is the thrill of perhaps finding that rare ancient Greek, or valuable Civil War or World War coin, that collectors thought lost to the world.
Collecting coins is certainly habit-forming. You only have to go to one of the thousands of coin collection fairs which are held every weekend, around the country, and talk to the enthusiasts there, to get a sense of how knowledgeable and keen they are on “numismatics.” This is the term used to describe collectibles which are coins, tokens, medals, and currency. The word is often confused with the economic and historical study of payment media – numismatists are also interested in the physical attributes, not just the background and usage of coins.
Although coins have been collected for millennia, the actual word, “numismatics,” is thought to have originated from the French word “numismatiques,” which translates to “of coins.” The first use of the word in association with coinage, in English, was in 1829.
Where it all began
The European Renaissance, when society came out of the Dark Ages and began to take an interest in the world around it again, is the time that “collecting” anything became captivating en masse, for the first time in history. It is from this time that records started to be kept of details of coins found throughout the world as nations started to explore further afield.
Christopher Columbus discovered the United States in 1492, and although there was a trickle of settlers from Europe after that time, it was not until the 1600s that serious numbers of immigrants arrived to seek a new life. 2.5 million people were settled along the Atlantic coast by 1760 – this was the population of the 13 British colonies who chose to come to the New World. Once they had organized themselves and formed a government it was a short step to establish a form of currency with which to barter and trade goods and services.
The first of these were known as “Continentals,” and were two dollar notes. The US government issued these bills nine days before the official formation of, “America.” In 1861 the initial “greenbacks,” made their appearance – so called because of their color, these notes were originally issued by the US Department of the Treasury as non-interest-bearing demand notes to finance the Civil War.
Of course, along with these notes came coins of a smaller denomination to be given as change for lesser amounts. As the production of coinage became more sophisticated, so did the designs and materials from which the coins were made. As well as gold and silver, other precious metals such as palladium and platinum were used, and many states set up their own coin company until the US Mint was brought into being and standardized the value and metal content of each coin, guaranteeing each coin to be the same.
What’s your favorite?
Collecting US coins from these times is as absorbing as collecting coins from anywhere else in the world. There have been a series of designs over the years – some of which have become famous and extremely sought after. The Standing Liberty quarter, Lincoln cent, Morgan silver dollar, St. Gaudens twenty dollar, and many others are cherished by those who collect coins. Silver coins and gold coins are known as, “bullion coins,” – these are made of pure precious metals, not alloys or amalgams as circulated currencies would be. These are especially prized by American coin collectors.
Many collectors of coins treat their collections as more of a hobby than an investment. Many spend many thousands of dollars a year on books, membership of numismatic societies and courses on grading coins and learning how to grade. There are many online articles available on all aspects of collecting – covering everything from encapsulating, knowing the difference between a circulated or mint state coin, mint marks – through to the composition of alloys and the metallurgy and science behind striking coins and their production.
The ability to create your own collection, following your own interests and passions, is limitless. Be careful though – like tools, books, shells, rocks, cars, and all the other collectibles out there – coin collecting can be highly addictive.
You have been warned!
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The Morgan Silver Dollar is an essential part of American History. The first was released in 1878 and became an immediate success. We have sourced 3 different versions of this iconic coin. These will be an investment as well as a family heirloom for generations to come.
Morgan Silver Dollar
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