Getting started in numismatics

Young or old, affluent or not, all sorts of people find coin collecting an accessible hobby. Many famous collectors started as children or young adults, and this is also the kind of hobby and vocation that gets passed to generations within families and shared with friends. Because studying numismatics also involves learning about history, politics, art and much more, this hobby has educational value. Of course, coin collectors also find this hobby exciting and sometimes, profitable. The first step for novice coin collectors usually includes learning the language of coin collecting. Special terms describe a coin's condition, type and appearance. Mastery of basic terms opens the door to gaining more knowledge.


collectionStart Your Collection

Learning coin terminology and acquiring basic collecting knowledge are important first steps for those entering the numismatic hobby.




historyCoin History

From the U.S. Mint’s first facilities, to the discovery of the Saddle Ridge Hoard, read about the historical places, people and events that have shaped numismatics.




metalsPrecious Metals

Bullion investing and coin collecting go hand in hand. Learn all about the basics of investing and the many different bullion coins available.




coinsKnow Your U.S. Coins

What’s so special about the Morgan dollar? How many different types of Lincoln cents have there been? Get familiar with all U.S. coins, past and present.



Making coins come alive

The very first American colonists had little need for coins in the wilderness. They bartered with trade goods, Native American wampumand tobacco. As civilization grew, the British did not always give the Americans permission to mint their own coins, but the colonists found alternative sources of coins and on occasion, struck coins without royal authority. For example, the Massachusetts Bay Colony set up its own mint in Boston in 1652 during a period when England lacked a king and continued striking 1652-dated silver coins for decades. Thus, early examples of U.S. Colonial coins were born. In April of 1792, the U.S. Mint was established in Philadelphia, the nation's capital at the time.

Numismatics, the studying of coins, and the collecting of coins both stand apart from investing in coins for their bullion value. Still, the bullion value of most collectible coins still needs to get considered. Even today, the U.S. Mint and mints of other nations’ produce bullion coins that are different from regular coins intended for currency. Through much of history, coins derived most of their value from their metal content. While people used coins as currency for thousands of years, the practice might have been closer to trading small bits of copper, silver, gold and other precious metals. However, as gold and silver rose in value, the intrinsic worth of the precious metals in the coins began to exceed their face value. In the U.S., for example, the replacement of 90 percent silver coins with base metal coins began in 1965.

Learning about U.S. coins means learning about the history of the country. Very often, decisions about a coin's content, value and design were made because of political, economic or social events of the time that they were minted. In some cases, political figures or mint executives even made decisions because of favoritism, nepotism or personal competitions — and learning these details makes old coins come alive.


Coins honor new Dutch king: Available to mark inauguration

The Netherlands’ new monarch, King Willem-Alexander, is honored on new commemorative coins, which includes the Proof gold €20 piece shown here.

Images courtesy of the Royal Dutch Mint.

Just in time for the inauguration of a new monarch, the Royal Dutch Mint has begun selling coins commemorating the incoming king.

Willem-Alexander will be the Netherlands’ first king in more than a century after his inauguration on April 30. As crown prince, he replaces his abdicating mother, Queen Beatrix.

The Dutch Ministry of Finance authorized three coins to mark the event: a silver-plated copper €10 coin, a .925 fine silver €10 piece and a .999 fine gold €50 coin.

The coins share the same basic designs but the denomination inscriptions differ.

The obverse shows the new king as though observing an audience, with the observed audience appearing on the coin’s reverse.

A banner design element “connecting” both sides bears the legend JE MAINTIENDRAI (“I will uphold”). The design, by artists Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukács, reflects three elements that will be important throughout the king’s reign, according to the Royal Dutch Mint: uniting, representing and encouraging.

The silver-plated copper coin is available in Uncirculated condition at face value either individually placed within a coin card or in a 20-coin roll, and also in a Brilliant Uncirculated version, in a coin card, for €15.

The Uncirculated coin is a circulation-quality example, while the blanks for the BU coins are washed and produced with new dies, according to Sander Knol, product manager at the Royal Dutch Mint. Knol would not respond to questions about the dies for the Uncirculated coins. The BU coins are also packaged in a numbered coin card, while the coin cards with Uncirculated examples are not numbered.

Both silver-plated copper €10 coins weigh 15.5 grams and measure 33 millimeters in diameter. All versions of the silver-plated copper €10 coins are limited to a total combined mintage of 400,000 pieces, regardless of packaging option or finish. Of that total mintage, 15,000 pieces are allocated for the BU version.

The Proof .925 fine silver €10 coin weighs 25 grams, measures 38 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 12,500 pieces. The Proof .900 fine gold €20 coin weighs 8.5 grams, measures 25 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 2,500 pieces.

Multiple special coin sets will include the commemorative coins. Details are available at the Royal Dutch Mint website,

The Uncirculated version is available beginning May 1, with the BU silver-plated copper coin and the Proof silver and gold coins available beginning in mid-May.

U.S.-based distributor Coin & Currency Institute plans to sell some of the coins once they are delivered after release. CCI will offer the Uncirculated silver-plated copper coin priced at $29.50, the silver coin at $77.50 and the gold coin at $697.

Email Coin & Currency Institute at, visit at or phone it at 800-421-1866. ¦

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