Numismatics is the study of coinage. If you’re planning on collecting coins, either as an investor or as a hobbyist, you’ll need to learn a bit about it. Coin collecting, however, is one of those activities where you learn about it as you do it, so don’t think that you have to take a course in numismatics before you get started. The basics are easy to understand and, even if you don’t understand what all the information you get about a coin means, you’ll still get the gist of it from the start.
Numismatics has a strong current of aesthetics in it. In essence, a numismatist knows what makes a coin beautiful and desirable and, by using an alphanumerical grading system, the numismatist is able to assign to any coin a grade. This grade affects its sale price more than just about any other factor. The best grades are proof-like, which means the coin is almost pristine. This is quite rare for historic coins. The lowest grade is basal, which means that the numismatist definitely knows that they’re looking at a coin, but little else is apparent, including the type of coin or when and where it was made.
Numismatics involves a lot of science, as well. The certification process starts with determining if the coin is authentic. This requires the numismatist to understand how fraudulent examples of the most popular coins are made and how less valuable coins can be passed off for more valuable specimens. While some obvious frauds may be spotted by everyday individuals, some counterfeits are very good and it requires a professional to identify them as such. Numismatic societies started offering these services to eliminate the amount of fraud on the markets and their efforts have made a substantial difference.
You’ll become familiar with the basics of numismatics as you develop as a collector. In many cases, you’ll learn about them as you study up on coins that you want to buy. By learning how to identify authentic examples of certain coins, you’ll start to see how a numismatist goes about their job. If you’re buying expensive coins from a dealer, be sure they’re certified. These have been looked at, authenticated and graded by a numismatist, and this ensures that you’re able to buy or sell that coin with complete confidence that you’re getting and giving a good deal.