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."


The Numismatist to be offered at hundreds of Barnes & Noble bookstores

The American Numismatic Association's monthly journal, The Numismatist, is coming to the shelves of Barnes and Noble bookstores Oct. 1.

Image courtesy of the American Numismatic Association.

Starting Oct. 1, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly journal, The Numismatist, will be offered in the hobbies section at select Barnes & Noble book stores nationwide.

The publication’s editor-in-chief, Barbara Gregory, said the decision to offer the numismatic periodical through retail outlets was “to broaden our audience and increase awareness of the numismatic hobby.”

The ANA has agreed to test market The Numismatist, now in its 132nd year, at 628 Barnes & Noble locations, with representation in all 50 states, on the special promotional “end cap” displays.

The test period will run for six months, after which a determination will be made as how to further proceed.

The ANA will provide the bookstore chain with 5,000 print copies of the first issue to sell at a cover price of $5.95 each.

The number of copies and store locations will be adjusted as sales dictate, according to ANA officials.

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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.