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."


Numismatics and coins: Stay updated with news about coins

When it comes to coin collecting or the science of numismatics, the discipline extends far beyond merely valuing coins for the intrinsic value of base or precious metals that they contain. People who collect coins usually also learn about economics, history, politics, art and even the personal relationships of people during the time when a particular coin was first designed and struck. Successful collectors keep up with news about coins, and that is exactly what this resource about coins here on Coin World provides. The value of numismatic, or collectible, coins usually exceeds the mere value of whatever base or precious metal that they contain. Rather than simply collecting coins for their precious metal content, numismatists value coins because of their beauty, historical significance, and/or rarity. Of course, a good number of collectible coins also contain precious metals, commonly silver or gold, and this only adds to the coin's value.

Collecting coins as an investment in bullion has probably been in existence since the first ancient civilizations figured out how to hammer rough tokens out of bronze, copper, iron, silver, gold and other metals. Historians believe the first bullion coins used as a standard currency came from ancient Lydia (in modern Turkey), but even more significant to coin collectors, they believe that the value of certain coins departed from the bullion value fairly early, and so it is possible that the hobby of viewing coins as collectibles was born thousands of years ago.

The fact that coin collecting is probably an ancient hobby is good news for contemporary collectors because it means that many ancient specimens survive. This is similar to knowing that some specimens of more recent historical coins probably survived because coin collecting increased in popularity at certain points in history. For example, coin folders were introduced in the United States in the 1930s, and this is believed to have helped preserve many U.S. coins from the late 1800s and early 1900s during the Great Depression and World War II — a time when many coins were melted.

In any case, coin collecting as a hobby appeals to people of all different generations and economic classes. While many kings, captains of industry, U.S. presidents and even sports figures and other celebrities have enjoyed numismatics as a hobby and source of profit, the hobby is still accessible to young and old people without great fortunes at their command. When it comes to coin collecting, the most valuable currency is knowledge, so stay tuned to Coin World for constant updates.




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.