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Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, medals and related objects.
Specialists, known as numismatists, are often characterized as students or collectors of coins, but the discipline also includes the broader study of money and other means of payment used to resolve debts and exchange goods.
The American twenty-cent piece is a coin struck from 1875 to 1878, but only for collectors in the final two years. Proposed by Nevada Senator John P. Jones, it proved a failure due to confusion with the quarter, to which it was close in both size and value.
In 1874, the newly elected Jones began pressing for a twenty-cent piece, which he stated would alleviate the shortage of small change in the Far West. The bill passed Congress, and Mint Director Henry Linderman ordered pattern coins struck. Linderman eventually decided on an obverse and reverse similar to that of other silver coins. (Full article...)
The coins were to be sold at a premium to finance the National McKinley Birthplace Memorial at Niles, Ohio, and were vended by the group constructing it. The issue was originally proposed as a silver dollar; this was changed when it was realized it would not be appropriate to honor a president who had supported the gold standard with such a piece. The coins were poorly promoted, and did not sell well. Despite an authorized mintage of 100,000, only about 30,000 were minted. Of these, 20,000 were sold, many of these at a reduced price to Texas coin dealer B. Max Mehl. The remaining 10,000 pieces were returned to the Mint for melting. (Full article...)
The Lincoln cent (sometimes called the Lincoln penny) is a one-cent coin that has been struck by the United States Mint since 1909. The obverse or heads side was designed by Victor David Brenner, as was the original reverse, depicting two stalks of wheat (thus "wheat pennies", struck 1909–1958). The coin has seen several reverse, or tails, designs and now bears one by Lyndall Bass depicting a Union shield. All coins struck by the United States government with a value of 1⁄100 of a dollar are called cents because the United States has always minted coins using decimals. The penny nickname is a carryover from the coins struck in England, which went to decimals for coins in 1971.
In 1905, sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens was hired by the Mint to redesign the cent and the four gold coins, which did not require congressional approval. Two of Saint-Gaudens's proposed designs for the cent were eventually adapted for the gold pieces, but Saint-Gaudens died in August 1907 before submitting additional designs for the cent. In January 1909, the Mint engaged Brenner to design a cent depicting the late president Abraham Lincoln, 1909 being the centennial year of his birth. It was the first widely circulating design of a U.S. president on a coin, an idea that had been seen as too monarchical in the past, namely by George Washington. Nevertheless, Brenner's design was eventually approved, and the new coins were issued to great public interest on August 2, 1909. (Full article...)
Numismatist Eric P. Newman led the MHS's efforts, and corresponded with Congressman Thomas B. Curtis of Missouri, who helped push the bill forward with officials of the Louisiana group, such as Clay Shaw. Although many commemorative coins had been authorized by Congress in the 1930s, legislators passed few after that; the Treasury Department was strongly against their issue. When the House of Representatives held a hearing on the Louisiana Purchase Sesquicentennial half dollar, the bill was opposed by assistant director of the Mint F. Leland Howard. The House passed the bill in April 1953, but the Senate was slow to act, passing it in January 1954, and after the House concurred with the Senate amendments, the bill was sent to Eisenhower later that month. (Full article...)
The Seated Liberty dollar was a dollar coin struck by the United States Mint from 1840 to 1873 and designed by its chief engraver, Christian Gobrecht. It was the last silver coin of that denomination to be struck before passage of the Coinage Act of 1873, which temporarily ended production of the silver dollar for American commerce. The coin's obverse is based on that of the Gobrecht dollar, which had been minted experimentally from 1836 to 1839. However, the soaring eagle used on the reverse of the Gobrecht dollar was not used; instead, the United States Mint (Mint) used a heraldic eagle, based on a design by late Mint Chief Engraver John Reich first utilized on coins in 1807.
Seated Liberty dollars were initially struck only at the Philadelphia Mint; in 1846, production began at the New Orleans facility. In the late 1840s, the price of silver increased relative to gold because of an increase in supply of the latter caused by the California Gold Rush; this led to the hoarding, export, and melting of American silver coins. The Coinage Act of 1853 decreased the weight of all silver coins of five cents or higher, except for the dollar, but also required a supplemental payment from those wishing their bullion struck into dollar coins. As little silver was being presented to the US Mint at the time, production remained low. In the final years of the series, there was more silver produced in the US, and mintages increased. (Full article...)
The Connecticut Tercentenary Commission wanted a half dollar issued, with proceeds from its sale to further its projects. A bill passed through Congress without dissent and became law on June 21, 1934, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it, providing for 25,000 half dollars. Kreis's design was a Public Works Administration project and technically in violation of the new law, which said the federal government was not to pay for its design. Nevertheless, the design was approved by the Commission of Fine Arts, and then by the Treasury Department. (Full article...)
The coin was named after the English gold sovereign, which was last minted about 1603, and originated as part of the Great Recoinage of 1816. Many in Parliament believed a one-pound coin should be issued rather than the 21-shilling guinea that was struck until that time. The Master of the Mint, William Wellesley Pole had Pistrucci design the new coin; his depiction was also used for other gold coins. Originally, the coin was unpopular because the public preferred the convenience of banknotes but paper currency of value £1 was soon limited by law. With that competition gone, the sovereign became a popular circulating coin, and was used in international trade and overseas, being trusted as a coin containing a known quantity of gold. (Full article...)
Competing bills were considered by Congress in 1936: one to mark the Bay Bridge's completion that year, the other to honor both that and the Golden Gate Bridge, also under construction. The bill that only commemorated the Bay Bridge was successful, and passed into law with the signature of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After some discussion involving the Commission of Fine Arts, which reviews coinage designs, Schnier's models were approved and the coins were struck at the San Francisco Mint. (Full article...)
The obverse of a Class I 1804 dollar
The 1804 dollar or Bowed Liberty Dollar was a dollar coin struck by the United States Mint, of which fifteen specimens are currently known to exist. Though dated 1804, none were struck in that year; all were minted in the 1830s or later. They were first created for use in special proof coin sets used as diplomatic gifts during Edmund Roberts' trips to Siam and Muscat.
Edmund Roberts distributed the coins in 1834 and 1835. Two additional sets were ordered for government officials in Japan and Cochinchina, but Roberts died in Macau before they could be delivered. Besides those 1804 dollars produced for inclusion in the diplomatic sets, the Mint struck some examples which were used to trade with collectors for pieces desired for the Mint's coin cabinet. Numismatists first became aware of the 1804 dollar in 1842, when an illustration of one example appeared in a publication authored by two Mint employees. A collector subsequently acquired one example from the Mint in 1843. In response to numismatic demand, several examples were surreptitiously produced by Mint officials. Unlike the original coins, these later restrikes lacked the correct edge lettering, although later examples released from the Mint bore the correct lettering. The coins produced for the diplomatic mission, those struck surreptitiously without edge lettering and those with lettering are known collectively as "Class I", "Class II" and "Class III" dollars, respectively. (Full article...)
The gold dollar or gold one-dollar piece is a gold coin that was struck as a regular issue by the United States Bureau of the Mint from 1849 to 1889. The coin had three types over its lifetime, all designed by Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre. The Type 1 issue has the smallest diameter (0.5 inch =12.7mm) of any United States coin minted to date.
A gold dollar coin had been proposed several times in the 1830s and 1840s, but was not initially adopted. Congress was finally galvanized into action by the increased supply of bullion caused by the California gold rush, and in 1849 authorized a gold dollar. In its early years, silver coins were being hoarded or exported, and the gold dollar found a ready place in commerce. Silver again circulated after Congress in 1853 required that new coins of that metal be made lighter, and the gold dollar became a rarity in commerce even before federal coins vanished from circulation because of the economic disruption caused by the American Civil War. (Full article...)
Beginning in 1898, prominent Americans sought to erect in Paris a monument to Lafayette, a Frenchman who fought in the American Revolutionary War. Among these supporters was Chicago businessman Ferdinand Peck, whom President William McKinley chose as commissioner-general to the exposition. Peck made the monument proposal a part of the American plans for Paris, and appointed the Lafayette Memorial Commission to raise funds for it. A part of this fundraising was the one-dollar commemorative coin, approved by Congress on March 3, 1899. (Full article...)
By the early 1850s, the large cent (about the size of a half dollar) being issued by the Mint was becoming both unpopular in commerce and expensive to mint. After experimenting with various sizes and compositions, the Mint decided on an alloy of 88% copper and 12% nickel for a new, smaller cent. After the Mint produced patterns with an 1856 date and gave them to legislators and officials, Congress formally authorized the new piece in February 1857. (Full article...)
By the late 1880s, there were increasing calls for the replacement of the Seated Liberty design, used since the 1830s on most denominations of silver coins. In 1891, Mint DirectorEdward O. Leech, having been authorized by Congress to approve coin redesigns, ordered a competition, seeking a new look for the silver coins. As only the winner would receive a cash prize, invited artists refused to participate and no entry from the public proved suitable. Leech instructed Barber to prepare new designs for the dime, quarter, and half dollar, and after the chief engraver made changes to secure Leech's endorsement, they were approved by President Benjamin Harrison in November 1891. Striking of the new coins began the following January. (Full article...)
In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt sought to beautify American coinage, and proposed Saint-Gaudens as an artist capable of the task. Although the sculptor had poor experiences with the Mint and its chief engraver, Charles E. Barber, Saint-Gaudens accepted Roosevelt's call. The work was subject to considerable delays, due to Saint-Gaudens's declining health and difficulties because of the high relief of his design. Saint-Gaudens died in 1907, after designing the eagle and double eagle, but before the designs were finalized for production. (Full article...)
The Coinage of India began anywhere between early 1st millennium BCE to the 6th century BCE, and consisted mainly of copper and silvercoins in its initial stage. The coins of this period were Karshapanas or Pana. A variety of earliest Indian coins, however, unlike those circulated in West Asia, were stamped bars of metal, suggesting that the innovation of stamped currency was added to a pre-existing form of token currency which had already been present in the Janapadas and Mahajanapada kingdoms of the Early historic India. The kingdoms that minted their own coins included Gandhara, Kuntala, Kuru, Magadha, Panchala, Shakya, Surasena, Surashtra and Vidarbha etc.
It was first issued as a 10-sided coin in 1976, under British rule. The coin was also made of copper-nickel but weighed 10.76 grams, was 31 mm in diameter and 2.08 mm thick. The obverse featured Arnold Machin's portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the inscription Queen Elizabeth II. Its reverse featured a crowned British lion and the year of minting, as well as the country's name and the coin's denomination in both English and Chinese. (Full article...)
Image 5Posthumous Alexander the Great tetradrachm from Temnos, Aeolis. Dated 188–170 BC. Obverse: Alexander the Great as Herakles facing right wearing the nemean lionskin. Reverse: Zeus seated on throne to the left holding eagle in right hand and scepter in left; in left field PA monogram and angular sigma above grape vine arching over oinochoe; ALEXANDROU vertical in right field. Reference: Price 1678. (from Coin)
Image 9Collage for banknote design with annotations and additions to show proposed changes (figure rather higher so as to allow room for the No.), Bank of Manchester, UK, 1833. On display at the British Museum in London (from Banknote)
Image 10A 5 euro note so badly damaged it has been torn in half. The note has later been repaired with tape. (from Banknote)
Image 32Gandharan "bent-bar" punch-marked coin minted under Achaemenid administration, of the type found in large quantities in the Chaman Hazouri and the Bhir Mound hoards. (from Coin)
Image 33When Brazil changed currencies in 1989, the 1000, 5000, and 10,000 cruzados banknotes were overstamped and issued as 1, 5, and 10 cruzados novos banknotes for several months before cruzado novo banknotes were printed and issued. Banknotes can be overstamped with new denominations, typically when a country converts to a new currency at an even, fixed exchange rate (in this case, 1000:1). (from Banknote)
Image 36Five million mark coin (Weimar Republic, 1923). Despite its high denomination, this coin's monetary value dropped to a tiny fraction of a US cent by the end of 1923, substantially less than the value of its metallic content. (from Coin)
Image 37An oxhide ingot from Crete. Late Bronze Age metal ingots were given standard shapes, such as the shape of an "ox-hide", suggesting that they represented standardized values. (from Coin)
Image 55The Piloncitos are tiny engraved gold coins found in the Philippines, along with barter rings, which are gold ring-like ingots. These barter rings are bigger than softballs in size and are made of pure gold from the Archaic period (c. 10th to 16th century). (from Coin)
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 – 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.
^The total sum is 200% because each currency trade is counted twice: once for the currency being bought and once for the one being sold. The percentages above represent the proportion of all trades involving a given currency, regardless of which side of the transaction it is on. For example, the US dollar is bought or sold in 88% of all currency trades, while the euro is bought or sold in 31% of all trades.