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What is numismatics?

The definition of numismatics has two meanings, the first is the discipline that studies coins and medals, especially ancient ones. The second is the name given to the hobby of coin collecting, which is why the person who collects and studies coins can be called a numismatist. However, coin collectors are differentiated from numismatists, as the latter usually only have the pleasure of keeping and collecting coins, while the latter focuses on gaining knowledge about coins.

But what does numismatics mean? Well, the word has two origins, on the one hand "numisma" which means coin and on the other hand "amastik", of Hebrew origin which means gathering. Therefore it would be "gathering of coins" or "the one who gathers coins".

This science can be of interest in fields as broad as archaeology to study ancient coins, although its main study is related to history. The history of numismatics or the history of coinage begins when ancient peoples began to use metals as currency in exchange for commercial transactions. The definitive step towards modern coins was taken when official seals began to be engraved or printed to guarantee and certify their value. There are several hypotheses as to when the first coins, as we know them today, were made. Some say that the King of Argos (Phidon) collected the first silver coins on the island of Aegina, others say that they were made by the people of Lydia (now Turkey) in the 6th century BC, although the most common hypothesis is that they were made by bankers in Southern Ionia (7th century BC). Afterwards, the use of currency spread throughout the world, especially in Asia and in particular China, which at that time was already at the forefront of trade and needed tools such as these to promote it.

It was in the 15th century when numismatic collecting was born (in the Renaissance) as we know it today, and in the 18th century interest in coins, banknotes and antique medals grew due to their value (gold and silver) and attractiveness. Never independent of their historical, cultural or scientific value.

More information about numismatics can be found at Asociacion Numismatica Espanola (ANE) and American Numismatic Society (ANS).

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