What is Numismatics?
Broadly speaking, Numismatics is the study or collection of currency items. This includes a wide range of objects including coins, tokens, banknotes, and other related artefacts.
Today, the term numismatics is quite often used only in reference to the collection of coin and banknotes. This might include coins used in trade as far back as Ancient times – it is possible to collect a range of coins from the time of Christ, or even silver struck during the reign of Julius Caesar! Further to this, coins from Medieval England through Tudor times (Henry VIII!) are all out there to be found and collected. In Australia, though we are a relatively young nation, the aforementioned historic themes are still relevant. For instance, Australia issued the only Commonwealth gold sovereign design that differed from the Imperial British coins – the 1855-1871 Sydney Mint type sovereigns. Plus, of course, Australia has had its own official national currency since 1910, and this brings its own share of rare coins – the Melbourne Mint-struck 1930 Penny, for instance. High quality examples of this circulating coin can bring more than $50,000!
Since 1955 in Australia (and earlier around the world), mints have been striking limited mintage, high quality coins specifically for collectors. These “Proof” coins started a new style of collecting amongst numismatic circles in Australia – an area that might be referred to as Non-Circulating Legal Tender (NCLT). The benefits of this type of commercial coin was that it allowed collectors to own better-than-perfect versions of the circulating coins and, since that time, the NCLT market has opened up to include silver and gold coins that do not actually reflect circulating coin designs at all.
In recent years, the global market for NCLT collector coins has boomed. In the early Nineties, a European company issued the very first COLOUR collector coin, and today, this advancement can be seen to have triggered huge amounts of creativity and exciting technology in the numismatic collector field.
So, in a (very large) nutshell, Numismatics today can be defined as the collection of coins or banknotes dating from Ancient Times, all the way through to the exciting, innovative coins of the modern era.