Numismatics – The Study and Collecting of Coins and Currency


Numismatics. It’s not a word many people will have heard of before, but it refers to a steadily growing group of people who are totally fascinated by coins; all sorts of coins, old and new and from all different currencies. It’s about appreciating the craftsmanship, finish and features – when you look closely at a coin it’s surprising what you can learn.

Adult and child counting coins

What is numismatics?

Numismatics is actually far more interesting than you’d think. As it involves the study and collection of coins, notes and other forms of currency, it’s a huge and varied topic with plenty to keep you interested.

The word “numismatics” itself comes from the Greek word “nomisma”, which means “coin”. The “nom” part you may also recognise from our own word “denomination”. The numismatic art itself refers simply to the scientific study of historic money, but nowadays numismatists are also interested in medals, online currency and paper currency too. Numismatics also concerns items that are similar to coins but don’t necessarily have any economic function: things like tokens, religious items or badges.

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What’s the difference between simple coin collecting and numismatics?

As a general rule, a numismatist will study currency from a social, artistic or historical viewpoint. Conversely, coin collectors often take enjoyment in gathering together full sets of coins depending on what they are personally interested in. These could be Beatrix Potter or London Olympics 2012 celebration coins for example, or coins marking special times in history for the Royal Family.

Don’t worry, you can actually be both! You can be an avid coin collector without studying the history etc. behind them, or you can learn about the field without actually doing any collecting.

It’s the thrill of the chase

For a lot of British coin collectors, the Royal Mint Insider's Guide to gold and silveris where it’s at. Planning for new releases and eagerly awaiting the chance to get their hands on the latest designs, they jostle to be the first to place an order for a new coin and prepare to add it to the other Royal Mint coins in their collection. Infact, did you know that the Royal Mint website actually ground to a halt when it made available its phenomenally popular 2017 Peter Rabbit 50p coin?

When it comes to collecting coins, the ones which are most sought after are ones which were only in circulation for a short time or that perhaps have minting errors when they were manufactured. Historically significant or especially attractive coins are also popular, and excitement is further heightened by mints that are limited in numbers or metal type, for example, a gold coin that’s usually silver. A particularly famous limited edition mint includes the recent Star Wars: The Empire Strike Back silver coin which had a mintage across the globe of just 10,000.

If you’re interested in beginning a personal coin collection or in getting into numismatics in particular, there are many coins which are very highly regarded, so if there are particular items you have in mind it’s important to get your order in as quickly as possible.

Coins in a jar

Different subcategories of numismatics

Numismatics is essentially about the value of a currency, how we use it and exchange it, as well as the physical currency itself. It’s about rarity, methods of manufacture and history of the coins. Numismatics can be broken down into different categories, including:

  • Notaphily – this is the study of paper money such as bank notes
  • Exonumia – this refers to an interest in items which aren’t actually currency, like medals
  • Scripophily – this is the study of securities such as bonds and stocks

Investing in coin collecting

When it comes to coin collecting as a way of building an investment or pension fund there are no shortcuts. It’s not a quick way to “flip” some money or make a fast buck – it’s much more long term. Old, rare coins are pretty much always worth far more than their face value.
10 commandments
A lot of financial advisors are even suggesting you keep between 5-10% of your investments in precious metals and rare coins. Not only will this offer a little extra security but it will give a good foundation for building future wealth. Even if the stock market was to totally flop, your collected coins will retain their value and actually likely increase as investors plump more towards commodities. It’s potentially a fascinating yet lucrative hobby.

Invest with Physical Gold today

Interested in starting a fantastic new coin collection of your own? Let us get you started. Whether you’ve been collecting for years or you’re just starting to dabble, Physical Gold can help with any advice about collecting or investing in gold. Speak to us on 020 7060 9992 or send us an email so we can help.

Image Credits: Nattanan23 and Raw Pixel


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