What is numismatics and is it worth investing in collector coins?
Collecting can be not only an interesting hobby, a unique window into history, but also a profitable business or investment. One of the most interesting and popular branches of collecting is numismatics. What is the history of this hobby and is it worth investing in collectible coins?
What is numismatics?
Numismatics is the collecting of coins and a branch of science that studies coins and other monetary units, their archaeological complexes, the history of coinage, and the documents and technologies associated with coin production. The term numismatics dates back to the Middle Ages and derives from the Latin word ‘numisma’, meaning ‘coin’.
Coin collecting began to spread in Europe in the 14th century and by the 16th century there were about 950 known coin collections. Scientific research on coins and coin collections started a little bit later, in the 18th century. Numismatics is now one of the fields of historical science which, through archaeological finds, allows us to understand the trade and cultural links between different countries.
Collectors and specialists who analyse and evaluate the quality of collectible coins, banknotes and medals are called numismatists. These people study the physical characteristics, production techniques and historical context of objects. Numismatic clubs, societies and other organisations have been set up around the world to support the study of numismatics.
Numismatics – a hobby of kings?
The history of coin collecting dates back to antiquity. It is said that Caesar Augustus, the ruler of that time, collected various types of coins from foreign countries, which he then gifted to the rulers of other foreign countries to facilitate trade agreements.
The first Renaissance collector is considered to be Francesco Petrarch, an Italian poet, thinker, scientist and pioneer of humanist Renaissance culture. This is evidenced by his letters detailing how he was approached by vineyard workers to buy their coins and identify the rulers depicted on them.
Nowadays, coin collecting is quite a popular hobby, but it is sometimes referred to as the ‘hobby of kings’, as Pope Benedict VIII, King Henry IV of France and the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian are among famous coin collectors.
Modern numismatics studies the production and use of money and medals from the 17th century onwards, with a view to determining their relative rarity. Researchers are also interested in coin types, mintages, mint errors and the social, political and economic context of coinage.
Modern coin research is made easier by the internet and modern communication channels, which makes it easier to research the history of coins and share knowledge with fellow numismatists.
Collector numismatics – a profitable business
Coins or other tokens that are rare, unique or have a special history that can be documented, are considered to be not only interesting but also valuable collectors’ items. Collector numismatics has now become one of the most profitable businesses. Rare collector coins can sell for well above their face value, making them a profitable investment.
The numismatic value of investment collectible coins is taken into account when purchasing them. This value consists of the quality, rarity and demand for the coin. The more unique, interesting and rare the coins, the higher their value, which can only increase over time.