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What Is Numismatics, and What Is a Numismatist?


Written by John Rothans

Mar 1, 2024

Numismatics is the study of all forms of currency and payment methods, such as coins and paper money. The term “numismatics” may also refer to the hobby of currency collecting.

Technology has expanded the payment methods that are commonly used today and in turn has expanded the study of numismatics. How can everyday people benefit from understanding numismatics? This article further explains what numismatics is and how it may help you better manage your assets. 

What Is the Significance of Numismatics?

Numismatics is significant because it details the use of currency during a particular time and place, providing unique insight into a culture or era. The study of numismatics can provide information on minting processes, technology, an area’s resources, and more.

What Is a Numismatist?

A numismatist is anyone who participates in the study of numismatics. Professional numismatists include scholars, coin dealers, financial experts, and researchers. Experienced coin collectors may also be considered amateur numismatists.

What Are Numismatic Coins?

The term “numismatic coins” is a bit of a misnomer because any coin that has been used or could be used as currency falls into this very broad category. In numismatics, the term “coin” itself is often reserved for pieces displaying legal-tender denominations, with similarly shaped but nondenominational pieces being referred to as “rounds.” Today, some use the term “numismatic coins” to refer to coins that are made to be collected.

Gold and silver bullion coins also technically count as numismatic coins because many are considered currency. However, many bullion coins are created for the purpose of storing and preserving wealth rather than as forms of payment or as collectibles. Bullion coins must also be of a certain purity, which isn’t necessary for all numismatic coins.

Numismatics Groups

If you’re surprised at the idea of studying currency, take a look at all of the numismatics groups dedicated to the practice. Some even host special events like coin shows and educational presentations for the general public.

Prominent numismatics groups include:

  • American Numismatic Association
  • American Numismatic Society
  • Ancient Coins Collectors Guild
  • The Numismatic Association of Australia
  • Oriental Numismatic Society
  • The Professional Numismatists Guild
  • The Royal Numismatic Society
  • The Royal Numismatic Society of New Zealand

As you can see, numismatics is a worldwide study—which makes sense, given that every country uses some form of currency and we live in a global economy. As currencies from other countries become intertwined and online consumerism transforms the way we pay for purchases, the study of numismatics is becoming even more complex.

Subfields of Numismatics

As with most fields of study, there are subfields, sometimes called subspecialties, in numismatics. In such subspecialties, research is hyper-focused on a certain topic within a given field. In numismatics, there are three primary subfields.


Notaphily is specific to paper currency. A notaphilist will collect and study paper money, such as banknotes, from around the world. This field also includes historical paper money that can’t be used as currency today, such as Confederate dollars.


Anything used as currency that isn’t paper money or coins falls into the subfield of exonumia. For example, a token for a specific type of purchase or an elongated coin would be of interest to exonumists. This is often considered one of the more interesting subfields of numismatics because of the variety of what’s studied.


Bonds, stock certificates, and other historical financial instruments are a part of scripophily. Scripophilists collect these historical documents, which often showcase impressive designs. Some stock certificates with historical significance can also be highly collectible.

Gold Numismatic Coins and Wealth Protection

Numismatics can benefit those who are interested in using silver and gold bullion coins to store, preserve, or grow existing wealth. The better you understand the history of money and what gives an asset its worth, the easier it may be to make the decision to include precious metals in your portfolio.

As U.S. Money Reserve’s Master Numismatist and Chief Procurement Officer, I understand the importance of numismatics both from a historical perspective and as a way to help our clients make more informed choices when working toward their financial goals. Part of my role here is helping our team of dedicated Account Executives—as well as our clients—understand why precious metals have historically been considered safe-haven assets that can provide wealth protection.

Want to know more? Request a free Gold Information Kit to continue learning about alternative assets that can help improve portfolio diversification, hedge against inflation, and protect wealth when financial markets are uncertain.


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