Exonumia are numismatic items that are items that represent money or something of value that is not considered legal tender coin or currency. When originally coined in 1960 by the founder of the Token and Medals Society (TAMS) Russell Rulau, the intent was to describe tokens, medals, and scrip. Over the course of time, other items have been added to exonumia category including some award medals and empherma like cancelled checks.Over the last few years one aspect of the industry has create a new collectible: labels.
Earlier this week, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) announced that John Mercanti, the former 12th Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint, has agreed to individually hand sign certification labels exclusively for NGC. Mercanti will autograph labels for coins bearing his design.
Last week, NGC announced that they struck a deal with Edmund C. Moy, the 38th Director of the U.S. Mint and currently the last full-time director, to autograph labels.Mercanti and Moy join Elizabeth Jones, who was the 11th Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint, with a signature series label. Similar to Mercanti, modern coins were eligible for a Jones signature label as well as silver and gold American Eagle coins, which she supervised. Also eligible were commemoratives she designed. Since these are limited edition labels, NGC reports that the Elizabeth Jones Signature Label has sold out.
In addition to signature labels, NGC has a primary brown label and lables for First Releases, Early Releases, Detailed Grade, 100 Greatest Modern Coins, Top 50 Most Popular Coins, and many others. Not to be outdone, the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) has its own labels for First Strike, U.S. Marshals Service commemorative and 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half Dollar.
Even Independent Coin Graders (ICG) has been in the label business. Aside from their various label options, they also issued an autographed series as part of the 50 States Quarters program including the New York quarter designed by artist Daniel Carr that is part of my New York Hometown collection.
Autographs are not just limited to labels. Since becoming Treasurer of the United States, Rosie Rios has been a fixture at many numismatic events autographing Federal Reserve Notes that has her printed signature. Since Rios is a prolific signer, Rosie Dollars, as she as called them, are so common that her signed notes are not worth much more than face value.
Collecting numismatic-related souvenirs are not just limited to autographs, which also appear in books. Collectibles include show programs, badges, buttons, ribbons, tags, and other souvenirs related to shows, clubs, and other collecting endeavors.
Autographed slabs, money, books, programs, and other items that are collected because they are numismatic-related but not real numismatic items can be fun collectibles. As an effort to me more inclusive with all aspects of collecting items related to numismatics, it needs a name. Marketing folks will tell you that a good name helps promote your product.
I have an idea. We can call these collectibles numismentos. Numismento is a portmanteau of numismatic + memento.
For example, let’s say you have a collection of programs from the World’s Fair of Money shows you have attended? That would be a numismento. Are you a collector of the labels from the third-party grading services or their sample slabs? You are collecting numismentos. Collecting nametags, buttons, or other items from shows? These are also numismentos!
Numismentos. Numismentos are collectibles that demonstrate the culture of numismatics but are not numismatic items.
Happy numismentos collecting!
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