People have been collecting coins for about as long as coins have been made. That’s a passion that has endured for centuries, since roughly 600 to 800 BC. Coin collecting is a worthwhile hobby and can sometimes be a financially savvy investment.
Coin collecting, or numismatics, is the study and collection of ancient and/or modern currency. This currency is largely coins, but extends to paper money as well as tokens and other related objects of monetary significance or minted legal tender. Many people are drawn to numismatics because of the continuous search for currency with anomalies that make pieces unique. Coins with mint errors or currency that was circulated for limited times are rare and valuable.
Although coins have been collected and catalogued by ancient scholars, modern coin collecting actually began during the European Renaissance. Privileged classes and royalty became some of the most avid coin afficionados, particularly because only the very wealthy could afford this pastime.
According to the U.S. Coin Guide, numismatics in America is a relatively modern hobby as compared to elsewhere in the world. That’s because, while the ancient Chinese were purported to produce some of the first coins centuries ago, early Americans used tobacco, beaver skins and other items as currency. It wasn’t until coins came into circulation through foreign trade that they were introduced to America. Eventually, the United States produced its own coinage, and the U.S. Mint began production in 1793.
The first international convention for coin collectors was held in August 1962 in Detroit, Mich., where more than 40,000 coin collectors were present.
Today, one does not have to be rich to collect coins. Many coin dealers sell coins for slightly higher than face value. Collector coins also can be purchased straight from the Mint. The United States Mint routinely offers commemorative items and other coins for collectors.
To learn more about coin collecting, enthusiasts can reference material from the world’s largest circulating library of numismatic material. Founded in 1891, the American Numismatic Association is replete with information about coins and other currency. Specific information for young collectors, as well as those interested in viewing coin exhibits or taking courses, is available through the association website at www.money.org.
Coin collecting dates back to ancient times and presents an interesting window into history.