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 or coins is numismatics. This discipline even examines the things people commonly used to trade 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 mostly ties back to royalty. That is the reason why some people call it the Hobby of Kings. Caesar Augustus, in the past, sometimes gave holiday gifts of various coins that were uncommon in Rome. Collecting coins was also a hobby of Renaissance-era royalty.
Numismatics and The Study of Coins
Coins are a major focus of numismatists. We can see them 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.” This means that they are made with real precious metals. Add these factors together and the history of the civilization they came from, and it is easy to understand why old coins garner such interest.
When studying coins, some unusual terminology can be found. Terms everyone knows, such as the heads and tails side of a coin, take on a new life. In numismatics, the proper term for the coin’s front side or head side is the obverse. The opposite side of the coin, or tails side, they typically refer to as the reverse.
Earlier, this article mentioned the value a coin has due to the metal in it. The terminology for the value of the coin itself is known as the “intrinsic value.” In contrast to that is the amount 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 an even more stark example of this. It is obvious, after all, that a $20 bill is not worth that much simply from the paper it is printed on.
Example: The Presidential Dollar
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 the dig, providing it can be identified. This adds legitimacy to the excavation findings, while the coin is an exciting prize in itself.