Simply put, numismatics is the study and collection of money. While the origin of the word means “of coins”, the study of numismatics includes paper money, coins, tokens, medals, and other things used as currency. These items are studied more for their artistic and historical significance. Not only are the dates important, but the symbols, pictures, and inscriptions on coins are as well.
While coin collectors are often referred to as numismatists, that is not always the case. One can be a numismatist but have no interest in owning the coins themselves; therefore, not a collector. In addition, a coin collector may collect simply as an investment and have no interest in value other than the precious metal value. But the collector, who is also numismatist, even if a novice, will get the most enjoyment from his or her collection and study of coins.
A Coin’s Numismatic Value
Apart from their intrinsic and face values, coins also have numismatic value. While the intrinsic and face values are objective values, the numismatic value is often more subjective. The history of European coins, for instance, may carry little interest for one collector, while being the center of another collector’s attention.
The face value is simply the denomination printed on the coin when it was minted; for instance, a US quarter has a face value of $0.25. The intrinsic value is the value of the precious metal composing it, basically the melt value. An American silver quarter is composed of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper, and has an intrinsic value based on the market prices of silver and copper. If silver is $23 an ounce and copper around $3.75 a pound, the intrinsic value of a silver quarter is a little over $4.00.
The numismatic value it the artistic and historical value. Coins reflect the history of the people and their civilization. Coins reflect the things the government producing them found significant, beautiful, and symbolic. American coins often honor dead presidents and other persons significant in American history. American coins also include symbols, significant animals like the eagle, and inscriptions that signify an important part of U.S. identity and history.
The Coin Collector
A collector who is interested in numismatics often spends more time searching for a certain coin than the collector who collects for investment. Coins of interest to numismatist may be rare, but not always. A coin collector’s numismatic value for a coin is usually personal. Coin dealers can aid you when valuing your collection.