by Bibhash Dhar
Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money and related objects. The word originates from the Latin word ʻnumismaʼ meaning ʻcoinʼ. Likewise, the term ʻnumismatistʼ applies to hobbyists, collectors, coin dealers and scholars who study coins.
TYPES OF NUMISMATISTS
Numismatists collect coins for varied reasons. The most common type of numismatist is the hobbyist, who has a collection purely for fun with no real expectation of profit. This is especially true of casual collectors and children who collect items on the basis of chance and personal interest. Casual coin collectors often begin the hobby by saving notable coins found by chance. These coins may be pocket change left from an international trip or an old coin found in circulation.
Another common type of numismatist is one who purchases coins as an investor. Most coin investors decide to focus their financial resources on a specialist interest. Some collectors focus on coins of a certain nation or historic period. Others will seek error coins. Still others might focus on tokens or paper money.
BEGINNING COIN COLLECTING
Start with locally available coins. Start by studying coins found in your pockets or some old coins from drawers or from grandparents, relatives and friends. Being a novice coin collector, it is impractical that you spend a lot of money on coins when you have not thoroughly understood the coin market. Initially begin with contemporary Indian coins and go backwards chronologically. Similarly, try to obtain coins of frequently-visited countries and zones like USA, UK and Europe. Spend your time on getting acquainted with these ordinary coins. Familiarise yourself with elements and parts like the lettering and the images impressed on the coin, their types and the material.
FILTER YOUR COIN CHOICE TO A PARTICULAR PATTERN YOU WANT TO COLLECT
To make the coin collecting hobby more worthwhile, choose the kinds of coins that you are most interested in. Old Indian coins like Mughal coins, British East India Company coins or pre-1947 British era coins and coins of Indian kingdoms are interesting to collectors who are fascinated with history. Likewise, silver or gold coins attract collecting investors because of the intrinsic value, rarity and overall appeal. A variety of coins are available in the coin collecting market and all you have to do is search a little to decide what you really want as a coin enthusiast.
ORGANISE AND MAINTAIN YOUR COLLECTABLE COINS
Gathering coins haphazardly is not really coin collecting, it is coin hoarding. Without organising your coin collection, you could miss out some valuable coins. Purchase a coin catalogue (available at Coin Gallery near Gateway of India at Colaba, Mumbai and other vendors) to arrange your coin collection.
Visit coin museums and fairs and be a part of a coin collectorʼs network. Go and visit coin museums like the one at Mumbai Universityʼs Kalina campus, the RBI Monetary Museum at the Mint and the Coin Section at the Chatrapati Shivaji Museum (formerly Prince of Wales Museum). Also visit coin exhibitions and fairs conducted by the Mumbai Coin Society biannually.
KEEP STUDYING THE HOBBY AND ART OF NUMISMATICS
The hobby of coin collecting is very dynamicó market prices of coins constantly change, new commemorative coins are released, collectible coin auctions are held occasionally and ancient coins are often found! That is why you have to be up-to-date with news about coins. If reading articles from websites and books is the best way to start coin collecting, it is also the best way to keep up with the hobby. A good international website to start from is Donʼs World Coin Gallery, worldcoingallery.com, which has the largest collection of full-colour coin images of different countries! A good Indian website is the RBI Monetary Museum site rbi.org.in/scripts
The author is an avid numismatist and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org