Numismatics: History as Market

July 29, 2013 in Ancient Coins, Antique Coins, Coins, Collecting, History, Numismatica, Numismatics

July 28, 2013 By: Michael E. Marotta Necessary Facts Blog (

Most people call it “coin collecting” but numismatics is the art and science that studies the forms and uses of money. This includes stock certificates, bank drafts, military decorations and fine art medals as well as coins, which, after 2500 years, are still the most common form of money. “Coins are history you can hold in your hand,” is a common saying in numismatics.  You can own a coin struck by Philip III of Macedon and believe within reason that it might have been given to Aristotle.

Back in the 1990s, inspired by the episode “Backbone of the Night” from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos broadcasts, I assembled about 25 ancient coins from the towns and times of famous philosophers, from Thales to Hypatia. Except for the Owl of Athens and a tetradrachm from Alexandria in Egypt, none cost more than $200 and most cost less than $100 at the time.

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