Hold history in your hands

Adventure awaits for time travelers
Published : 02/20/12
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One of the most alluring aspects of numismatic collectibles is the ability to literally hold history in your hands.

Coins, medals, tokens and paper money are relatively small and portable — easy to physically hold. Before modern times, most were produced to function as a means of exchange to facilitate commerce. Thus, they were touched by people who lived at the time of the dates on them. Numismatic collectibles provide tangible links to pivotal events and people in the historical tapestry, such as a revolutionary moment in naval history that is the subject of Erik Martin’s cover story on the Battle of Hampton Roads during the Civil War.

The intense naval battle waged between the Union’s USS Monitor and the Confederate’s CSS Virginia (Merrimack) on March 9, 1862, forever altered naval history, marking the end of the age of wooden sailing ships and the beginning of the era of ironclad vessels.

Today, 150 years after that battle, collectors have a direct link to the great duel through medals made from actual metal of one of the ironclad ships. They are known as “relic” medals. Also available are medals and tokens produced during the era honoring those who played key roles in the battle and depicting the ships. Modern world coins also commemorate the great naval engagement.

If you’re attempting to navigate the world of gold bullion coins, be sure to spend a few moments with Jeff Starck’s World Coins cover story beginning on page 139, which points out that not all gold bullion coins are created equal. Arm yourself with the facts so you can enjoy the adventure of buying, with confidence that you are not steering into harm’s way in today’s fast-moving precious metals markets.

Also travel the world this month via paper money depicting some of the world’s longest reigning monarchs.

Beginning on page 167, Michele Orzano guides you to attractive and affordable paper money depicting four monarchs who have been on the throne 40 years or more: Thailand’s King Rama IX, now in the 66th year of his reign; Great Britain’s Elizabeth II, celebrating 60 years on the throne this year; Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, ruler of Brunei for 45 years; and Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id al Sa’id, 40 years in Oman. ■

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