Why Numismatics?

The art of collecting coins, Numismatics, has often been referred to as the "Hobby of Kings" referring in part to Caesar Augustus who is often thought of as the first numismatist, reported to have often given exotic coins as gifts to guests while at his dinner parties. Additionally, some of the most famous numismatists were Popes and Monarchs, no doubt adding to this anecdote, but today we can all be Kings and Queens and enjoy this remarkable hobby.

Around approximately the 6th century B.C., King Croesus of Lydia decided create a standard of currency. These lumps of Gold and Silver alloy known as Electrum became among the first known coins to circulate. Croesus didn't fair so well against the rising power of Cyrus the Great and the Achaemenid Empire; however, he created a lasting economic legacy often heard through the popular anecdote " Rich as Croesus" .

From there coinage developed into standards of Gold and Silver respectively and became a way to represent culture and art. Examples of this being Kimon of Syracuse creating in what may be the apex of classic numismatic art with his iconic coinage and the frequent captive designs of Rome to assert their martial dominance over their vast Empire. After the crisis of the 3rd century, Roman coinage takes a slow and steady decline not only in debasement of precious metal but also style as well. These "Late Roman" coins being iconic in their own right ;however, show the periodic loss of classical style and the effect of the newly adopted Christian religion. 

After the elegance of antiquity and the collapse of Rome, the supposed "dark ages" led to a decline of art, literature, and numismatics in Europe. Much less so in the Near/Middle East, whose coins maintained remarkable beauty and reflecting the change from Sassanian "Persian" culture to the influence of the newly emergent religion, Islam. Their western rival, Byzantium or "Eastern Roman Empire" also retained a notable style and quality albeit to a lesser extent. It would be some time before a coin achieved the same accomplished status as that of say the Athenian Tetradrachm; however, during this time the groundwork for the modern era of coinage was laid and despite lacking the beauty of classic coinage featured no less remarkable art and representation of the era. Also, the ability to stack large amounts of coins became a first during this time. So simple an innovation had a major impact on the ability to store and transport wealth, but the high relief coin we all love was all but lost during this time. 

With the rise of the Italian Renaissance, or "Rebirth", which entailed a rediscovery of classic art, culture, and thankfully numismatics. One can often see direct correlations between the two era's as they attempted to emulate the ancients. This period directly leads into the modern era of coinage. 

So the history of coinage is great and all, but why collect them? Well, do you enjoy history? Do you walk into a museum and marvel at the accomplishments of our ancestors? When you travel do you seek out historical sights and does the thought of doing so give you a burst of excitement? Nothing better encapsulates every aspect of a culture as numismatics. People, places, events, ideals, architecture, art... all of these things bound within a piece of precious metal that enables to you experience and engage with history in a way like no other. A truly unique and fantastic hobby with the added bonus of being an investment you can see and touch.