Numismatics is the collecting and study of items used in the exchange for goods, resolve debts, and objects used to represent something of monetary value. The dominant area of numismatics is the collection and study of legal tender coins with United States coins being the most collected. But numismatics is more than collection coins. It includes the collecting and study of:

  • Exonumia—the study of tokens, medals, or other coin-like objects that are not considered legal tender. Those involved in exonumia collect elongated and encased coins, badges, counterstamped coins, wooden money, credit cards, and the like. Military medals are also collected as exonumia. And do not forget Love Tokens and Hobo Nickels, former legal tender coins with special engravings and carvings.
  • Notaphily—is the study and collection of banknotes or legally authorized paper money. Notes can be collected by topic, date or time period, country, paper type, serial number, and even replacement or star notes (specific to the United States). Some consider collecting checks part of notaphily. Checks are collected by issuing bank, time period, and the signature.
  • Scripophily—is the study and collection of stock and bond certificates. This is an interesting subset of numismatics because of the wide variety of items to collect. You can collect in the category of common stock, preferred stock, warrants, cumulative preferred stocks, bonds, zero-coupon bonds, and long term bonds. Scripophily can be collected by industry (telecom, automobile, aviation, etc.); autographs of the officers; or the type of vignettes that appear on the bonds.

I bring this up because a friend was asking about what to collect. He was under the impression that numismatics were coins only. I explained it was more than coins—it is anything that represents money or money-like items or even medals that represent worth. This is how military medals are considered part of numismatics. A medal representing the achievement shows the worth of the soldier as a warrior.

Showing him my collection, I showed how I have items that cover all of the areas of numismatics. New York City subway tokens and various medals are all part of exonumia. My recent interest in Maryland colonial currency and the purchase of some of the special collectibles from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are part of notaphily. I cannot forget my small collection of stock certificates that represent the railroads in the original Monopoly game is a modest dive into scripophily.

I told my friend like I tell everyone else: why collect what everyone else collects. I collect what I like. I collect based on the “oh, neat!” factor. This is why I have a set of the Somalia Motorcycle Coins and looking for a set of the Somalia classic muscle car coins.

In other words, collect what you like and like what you collect!

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