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Traders obviously want to earn money with their trading. However a much different goal is literally collecting money. As stated, the name for the study and collection of money is numismatics. This discipline even includes things that were commonly traded before money existed. Pre-currency forms of payment go by the unusual name “Odd and Curious”. These might include bracelets, crosses or furs, assuming these were commonly used as a currency.

The inception of numismatics as a discipline is most tightly tied to royalty. In reference to this, it is sometimes called the Hobby of Kings. Caesar Augustus would sometimes give holiday gifts of various coins that were not typically seen in Rome. Collecting coins was also a hobby of Renaissance era royalty.

Coins are a very popular focus of numismatists. They are seen across all kinds of civilizations and eras. The oldest coins contain irregularities, giving them an extra level of appeal. It is easy to imagine a smith, minting the coin with his hands and simple tools. These old coins are mostly “commodity currency”, which means that they are struck with real precious metals. Add these factors together along with the history of the civilization they came from, and it is easy to understand why old coins garner such interest.

When studying coins, some interesting terminology can be found. Terms everyone knows such as the heads and tails side of a coin take on new life. In numismatics, the proper term for the front side / heads side of the coin is the obverse. The opposite side of the coin, or tails side, is referred to as the reverse.

Earlier, this article mentioned the worth of a coin has due to the metal in it. The terminology for the value of the coin itself is known as the “intrinsic value”. Contrasted to that is the amount as written on the coin itself, known as the “face value”. Modern coins typically have a much greater face value than their intrinsic value. This means that the coin’s buying power in the market is greater than the cost of the metal in the coin. Paper money is any even more stark example of this, since it is obvious that a $20 bill is not worth that much simply from the paper it is printed on.

A specific example of this comparison is a 2007-2014 Presidential Dollar. It is worth $1 when it is spent at a store, or given to a bank. However the metal in the coin is only worth around 4 cents.

Coins can also be of great assistance to archaeologists at a dig site. If a coin is dug up, it often gives an exact time frame of that layer of dig, providing it can be identified. This adds legitimacy to the findings of the dig, while the coin is an interesting prize itself.

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