Numismatics primarily involves the study and collection of rare coins. This “hobby of kings” as it was once known originated with the great Julius Caesar. Caesar was an avid collector who on occasion gave away coins as presents. He was so passionate about coin collecting that he wrote a book about it, which was the first of its kind. Coin collecting has pulled in so many individuals over the years because the coins are representative of the culture, political, and economic standards of the time. This is why coin collecting is very popular amongst historians.
Individuals who get into numismatics are extremely interested in how the coins look and where they originally came from. Many people will not only collect a coin, but they will then spend a lot of time digging up information about where the coin came from and the type of people or culture that existed at the time. For example, if a collector purchased a rare Roman coin for his collection, he or she may spend hours looking up information or reading books on Roman culture, specifically ancient Roman economies. Numismatists are also interested in how the coin was produced and the material it was made with as well.
Another important area of numismatics is grading and authentication. Numismatists spend a lot of time studying coins and many will learn a grading system. This system allows the numismatist to examine the coin and determine what its value or worth would be. Grading also lets the collector know if the coin they possess is truly a rarity. Authentication is needed to help collectors avoid selling or buying counterfeit coins.
One of the grading standards in numismatics is the PCGS. This stands for Professional Coins Grading System. This is one of the standards that coin dealers have to become well acquainted with in order to successfully grade rare coins. This grading system was developed in 1986. It is an actual organization that specials in authenticating rare coins for collectors. There are several other groups that also grade coins and offer a wide variety of services for serious collectors.
Serious numismatics dealers often look at several different components when grading a coin. Dealers will check to see if the coin has been in circulation by looking for blemishes and bumps. They also look for any discoloration of the coin, which points to the coin being exposed to moisture. Dealers also look for abrasions on the front and back of the coin.