Collecting is serious business, learning about the history of coin collecting is fun and informative. Not only do you learn coin history but you also learn interesting facts about history in general.
Why do people collect objects, people collect all types of objects from rocks and stones, figurines, toys, cars, there are even tank collectors and coins. So collecting is simply a natural human behaviour like dance or painting.
People have been collecting coins almost since the first coins were made. Some people inherit collections and continue maintaining them as a hobby, other people search for the set and other people want to conduct trade and commerce.
Every era of coins represents a wealth of information. For example, they can tell you what language was spoken when they were made. I remember seeing a coin from the era of Alexander the Great and decided that was one for the collection.
Coins may also be made of precious metals such as gold or silver and this becomes an easy way to build stock in precious metals for persons who do not prefer owning precious metals in certificate but seek to possess the physical metal. People look to eras when precious metal coinage was in circulation as high era of history, they become historically knowledgable about the coinage of the past and the monarch on them.
You might view a coin as adding to your credentials as a coin collector and as an authority of history of coin collecting.
You not only hold chapters of history in your coin collection but you would also hold a connection to the monarch on the coins and the meaning behind the artwork usually a coat of arms or a regal design.
Archaeological digs have unearthed ancient coins in which no two were alike leading to believe that coin collecting occurred in Roman times, it has been deducted that the people of that era were as fascinated with coin history as we are today.
The most famous coin collector of the ancient past is the report that Caesar Augustus collected coins and gave them often as gifts.
The California Gold Rush, Queen Victoria's court, and even the achievements of Ancient Greece can all be seen in coin history.
Many years ago, however, coin collecting had a more practical purpose. Since there were not any banks to keep money, people kept coins as a way to save for their future. The coins that were the most interesting and beautiful were kept the longest and then eventually passed down to later generations.
Coins of interest to collectors often include those that circulated for only a brief time, coins with mint errors and especially beautiful or historically significant pieces. Coin collecting can be differentiated from numismatics or precious metal accumulation, in that the latter is the systematic study of currency.
People have hoarded coins for their bullion value for as long as coins have been minted. However, the collection of coins for their artistic value was a later development. Evidence from the archaeological and historical record of Ancient Rome and medieval Mesopotamia indicates that coins were collected and catalogued by scholars and state treasuries. It also seems probable that individual citizens collected old, exotic or commemorative coins as an affordable, portable form of art. According to Suetonius in his De vita Caesarum (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars), written in the first century AD, the emperor Augustus sometimes presented old and exotic coins to friends and courtiers during festivals and other special occasions.
Contemporary coin collecting and appreciation began around the fourteenth century. During the Renaissance, it became a fad among some members of the privileged classes, especially kings and queens. The Italian scholar and poet Petrarch is credited with being the pursuit's first and most famous aficionado. Following his lead, many European kings, princes, and other nobility kept collections of ancient coins. Some notable collectors were Pope Boniface VIII, Emperor Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire, Louis XIV of France, Ferdinand I, Henry IV of France and Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg, who started the Berlin Coin Cabinet (German: Münzkabinett Berlin). Perhaps because only the very wealthy could afford the pursuit, in Renaissance times coin collecting became known as the "Hobby of Kings."
During the 17th and 18th centuries coin collecting remained a pursuit of the well-to-do. But rational, Enlightenment thinking led to a more systematic approach to accumulation and study. Numismatics as an academic discipline emerged in these centuries at the same time as coin collecting became a leisure pursuit of a growing middle class, eager to prove their wealth and sophistication. During the 19th and 20th centuries, coin collecting increased further in popularity. The market for coins expanded to include not only antique coins, but foreign or otherwise exotic currency. Coin shows emerged during these decades. As one of the oldest and most popular world pastimes, coin collecting is now often referred to as the "King of Hobbies".
The motivations for collecting vary from one person to another. Possibly the most common type of collectors are the hobbyists, who amass a collection purely for the pleasure of it with no real expectation of profit.
Another frequent reason for purchasing coins is as an investment. As with stamps, precious metals or other commodities, coin prices are periodical based on supply and demand. Prices drop for coins that are not in long-term demand, and increase along with a coin's perceived or intrinsic value. Investors buy with the expectation that the value of their purchase will increase over the long term. As with all types of investment, the principle of caveat emptor applies and study is recommended before buying. Likewise, as with most collectibles, a coin collection does not produce income until it is sold, and may even incur costs (for example, the cost of safe deposit box storage) in the interim.
Coin hoarders may be similar to investors in the sense that they accumulate coins for potential long-term profit. However, unlike investors, they typically do not take into account aesthetic considerations; rather they gather whatever quantity of coins they can and hold them. This is most common with coins whose metal value exceeds their spending value.
Speculators, be they amateurs or commercial buyers, may purchase coins in bulk or in small batches, and often act with the expectation of delayed profit. They may wish to take advantage of a spike in demand for a particular coin (for example, during the annual release of Canadian numismatic collectibles from the Royal Canadian Mint). The speculator might hope to buy the coin in large lots and sell at a profit within weeks or months. Speculators may also buy common circulation coins for their intrinsic metal value. Coins without collectible value may be melted down or distributed as bullion for commercial purposes. Typically they purchase coins that are composed of rare or precious metals, or coins that have a high purity of a specific metal.
Coin collecting is generally not big business, nor is it a fast moving field.
A final type of collector is the inheritor, an accidental collector who acquires coins from another person as part of an inheritance. The inheritor type may not necessarily have an interest in or know anything about numismatics at the time of the acquisition.