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Numismatics (ancient Greek: νομισματική) is the scientific study of money and its history in all its varied forms. While numismatists are often characterized as studying coins, the discipline also includes a much larger study of payment media used to resolve debts and the exchange of goods.

Exonumia is the study of coin-like objects such as token coins and medals, and other items used in place of legal currency or for commemoration. Notaphily is the study of paper money or banknotes. Scripophily is the study and collection of stocks and Bonds. Numismatics is an ancient discipline, reaching as far back as Julius Caesar, who is often credited with writing the first book on numismatics. It can include the study of many different aspects relating to coins, including history, geography, economics, metallurgy, usage, and manufacturing processes.

Economic and historical studies of money's use and development are separate to the numismatists' study of money's physical embodiment (although the fields are related; economic theories of money's origin depend upon numismatics, for example).

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The history of Ancient Greek coinage can be divided (along with most other Greek art forms), into three periods, the Archaic, the Classical and the Hellenistic. The Archaic period extends from the introduction of coinage to the Greek world in about 600 BCE until the Persian Wars in about 480 BCE. The Classical period then began, and lasted until the conquests of Alexander the Great in about 330 BC, which began the Hellenistic period, extending until the Roman absorption of the Greek world in the 1st century BCE. The Greeks cities continued to produce their own coins for several more centuries under Roman rule, called Roman provincial coins.

All Greek coins were hand-made, rather than milled as modern coins are. The design for the obverse was carved (in reverse) into a block of stone or iron. The design of the reverse was carved into another. The blank gold or silver disk, heated to make it soft, was then placed between these two blocks and the upper block struck hard with a hammer, "punching" the design onto both sides of the coin. This is a fairly crude technique and produces a high failure rate, so the high technical standards achieved by the best Greek coins - perfect centering of the image on the disk, even relief all over the coin, sharpness of edges - is a remarkable testament to Greek perfectionism.

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Newfoundland 2 dollar coin

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In 2005, the United States Mint released the Marine Corps silver dollar commemorative coin, in honor of the 230th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. The coin was sold both as a proof coin and an uncirculated coin, for a total number of 600,000 coins. They became available to order on July 20, 2005, and by September 21, 2005, all coins had been purchased.

This was the first time the United States released a coin to represent a branch of its military.

Banknotes

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Credit: commons:User:Schutz.
A 1000 Swiss franc note, the fourth highest non-commemorative banknote in the world.

Numismatic terminology

  • Bullion - Precious metals (platinum, gold and silver) in the form of bars, ingots or plate.
  • Error - Usually a mis-made coin not intended for circulation, but can also refer to an engraving or die-cutting error not discovered until the coins are released to circulation. This may result is two or more varieties of the coin in the same year.
  • Exonumia is the study of coin-like objects such as token coins and medals, and other items used in place of legal currency or for commemoration.
  • Fineness - Purity of precious metal content expressed in terms of one thousand parts. 90% is expressed as .900 fine.
  • Notaphily is the study of paper money or banknotes.
  • Scripophily is the study and collection of stocks and Bonds.

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Numismatic News

January 1, 2008 Venezuela launched a new currency with the new year, lopping off three zeros from denominations in a bid to simplify finances and boost confidence in a money that has been losing value due to high inflation. The new currency is called bolívar fuerte or "strong bolívar". Officials also say it is part of a broader effort to contain rising prices and strengthen the economy. More...

January 1, 2008

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Today at midnight, the Cyprus and the Malta adopted the euro as their official currency; less than four years after their accession to the European Union. The single currency has replaced the Cypriot pound and the Maltese lira at a rate of one euro to 0.585274 Cypriot pound and 0.4293 to the Maltese lira. In both countries the euro was welcomed with outdoor celebrations, including a fireworks display in Malta's capital Valletta. More...

September 26, 2007

Designs for three of four themes proposed for the reverse of 2009 Lincoln cents to honor Abraham Lincoln's life were endorsed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. More...


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