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What is Numismatics?

Numismatics consists of the study and collection of coins and related objects, such as banknotes, titles of credit and also includes medals. Numismatics is important because it helps provide detailed historical information about a country's economy or banking system. It is considered a scientific study of money, covering the many forms in which it is presented, as well as the historical, economic, artistic and geographical aspects of the different forms of currency. Although it has been known since the Roman Empire, numismatics as a science has its origins in the 19th century.

What does the word “numismatic” mean?

The term numismatics comes from the Latin numismatis, which is a variant of the expression nomisma, which means "coin".

Tetradrachm with the figure of Alexander the Great (ca. 188-170 BC)

What objects does numismatics study?

Although it originally began with the collection of metal coins, numismatics currently considers multiple forms of money, such as the following:

  • Metallic coins

  • Medals

  • Bills (Paper money)

  • Checks

  • Stocks

  • Bonds

  • And even Bank Cards.

What main aspects are considered in numismatics?

Numismatics considers several factors in its study of the different types of currency. For example, in a monetary item, aspects such as its history (date and circumstances of issue), its rarity (how difficult it is to obtain a copy), its artistic value (design, colors, shapes, etc.), its materials (metals, papers, polymers), their errors (typographical errors in minting or printing) and obviously their economic value.

A cataloging is also made based on the state of the specimens in which their state of conservation is considered. This ranges from new pieces that have never been used, through well-preserved specimens that show natural wear and tear, to damaged specimens that show mutilations due to poor conservation or over-use.

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*Alexander the Great coin image courtesy of Ancientcointraders -, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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