Where did the word “numismatics” come from? First documented as an English word in the early part of the 1800s, this word derived from a French adjective, numismatiques, which means "of coins." In turn, that word came from the Latin word for “coin.” The meaning of the word gets even more interesting when the Latin word gets traced back to the original Greek that it was borrowed from. After some iterations, the word came from the Greek nemō, or "I dispense or divide."

Numismatic

What is the American Numismatic Association?

The American Numismatic Association has 25,500 members and it can be found online at www.money.org.

Screen shot of www.money.org

Editor's note: The following post is part of CoinWorld.com's 'Collecting Basics' series, which provides novice readers with an introduction into the numismatic hobby.

The American Numismatic Association, or ANA for short, is a nonprofit educational organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo., that, according to its website, is “dedicated to educating and encouraging people to study and collect money and related items.”

The ANA helps all people discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of programs including its education and outreach, museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars.

As of September 2014, the ANA has 25,500 members.

The organization was founded in 1891. It has since become "the largest nonprofit numismatic organization of its kind in the world,” the ANA’s history page reads.

Among the benefits of ANA membership is the ability to submit coins to Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and paper currency to Paper Money Guaranty for grading, along with access to the organization’s dealer directory and free admission to ANA shows.

The ANA operates the Edward C. Rochette Money Museum at the Colorado Springs headquarters, where the annual Summer Seminar takes place each June and July.

"Today, ANA headquarters houses the largest circulating numismatic library in the world,” the history page reads. "Books, educational slide programs and instructional videotapes are loaned to members without charge other than postage and insurance. Also on the premises is a museum that includes extensive and ever-growing collections of coins, medals, tokens and paper money. Members may study the items on display and, by prearrangement, can use other museum materials for research purposes."

Each summer the ANA puts on the World’s Fair of Money coin show.

Other annual ANA initiatives are National Coin Week, the ANA Road Show and the National Money Show.

The ANA publishes a monthly magazine called The Numismatist.

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Community Comments

Numismatics is about more than just coins.

While many people use numismatics as a general term to refer only to the study of coins, this word actually refers to the study of all kinds of money. As such, it includes the study of coins and also paper bills, tokens, and other related objects that have been used as currency by various people throughout history, as well as noncurrency items like medals. Some kinds of money used at different points in history might surprise novice numismatists; for example, a culture might have used shells as a currency. 

Barter, or the trade of objects and services for other objects and services, has long been used in the marketplace and continues today. In some cases, the line between barter and currency still provides a topic of debate, but in most cases, articles about numismatics cover subjects like coins and paper money. Numismatics might become easier to comprehend by understanding the numismatic values of coins and paper money, and this refers to the value of a coin or note that is higher than the intrinsic or face value. In other words, this could also be called the collectible value. For example, a historical gold coin has an inherent value that is based upon its bullion value. It may also have a face value, or the actual value of the money assigned by the country that produced it. However, that same coin might be worth much more than the gold or the face value because it is rare, historically significant, beautiful, and/or designed by a famous artist.

Ultimately, understanding numismatics really depends upon understanding the nature of money. In the past, money might have been shells, gems, or precious metals. Today, most societies rely upon coins and paper money, but in this digital age, even that has begun to change as billions of dollars get exchanged every day electronically without the need for physical currency. Even more revolutionary, there are new digital currencies that have never been based upon any nation's physical currency. As it has in the past, it is likely that the study of numismatics will continue to evolve as currency evolves.