Ancient Coins And Legal Tender
by Charles Roman
Getting Started with the Hobby of Numismatics and Collecting Coins
What is Numismatics?
Numismatics – the very name sounds mysterious and evocative. In simple terms, numismatics covers the science and study of coins, cash, and other legal tender, as well as medals, tokens, and medallions. The collection of ancient, commemorative, and rare coins is a fun and exacting hobby, and opens up a realm of history that most people never get to see. A numismatist holds an ancient coin that has passed through dozens or hundreds of hands throughout the millennia. In medieval times, the collection of ancient coins was already popular, but it was known as a hobby for kings. Today, building a fascinating collection of coins does not have to be expensive, and everyone can participate in this exciting pastime.
How do I Start Collecting Coins and Legal Tender?
When deciding which coins to collect, you should consider your interests, your budget, and your return on investment.
The first step when building a collection of coins is to decide what category of legal tender interests you most. Some people like to focus their collections on specific precious metals, such as gold, silver, copper, or bronze coins. Others like to concentrate on a specific time or region, like ancient Roman coins. Commemorative coins are a popular form of collection, as are rare minted coins like those which had an error in their stamping. If a certain set of coins doesn’t interest you, it won’t be any fun at all to become a collector.
Another interesting choice for numismatists is a token collection. Tokens were historically used in place of legal tender, if coins of the right value were not available, or were not convenient. In the modern day, tokens are still used at gaming arcades and some vending machines. Tokens may not be as valuable as true moolah, but they are an interesting look at local history, and can be fun to collect.
The price of a rare coin depends on supply and demand. If only a few coins were made but there are tons of collectors, it will be very expensive to start that kind of collection. Ironically, ancient coins are some of the most inexpensive and most interesting coins to collect. Because of the large number of coins in circulation between 650 BC, when stamping coins became popular, to the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 AD, tons of coins were created, and more are being uncovered every day. Common bronze coins that were being used in the time of Archimedes can be bought for about $10 apiece.
The third, and probably least important thing to consider when starting your collection is the likelihood that your coins will increase in value. Coin collecting for investment purposes can be a tricky endeavor. There is always the possibility that the coins you buy will include counterfeits, and the coin market can fluctuate even more wildly than other kinds of investment. For these reasons, it is probably wiser for you to focus on building a collection of coins, tokens, or legal tender that you enjoy than to build your collection with an eye on getting a large return on investment. However, high-grade ancient coins, gold coins, Morgan dollars and Walking Liberty half dollars are among the kinds of collections that are most likely to increase in value over time.