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The Numismatics Portal
Electrum coin from Ephesus, 520-500 BCE. Obverse: Forepart of stag. Reverse: Square incuse punch
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.
As part of a drive to beautify the coinage, five denominations of US coins had received new designs between 1907 and 1909. In 1911, Taft administration officials decided to replace Charles E. Barber's Liberty Head design for the nickel, and commissioned Fraser to do the work. They were impressed by Fraser's designs showing a Native American and an American bison. The designs were approved in 1912, but were delayed several months because of objections from the Hobbs Manufacturing Company, which made mechanisms to detect slugs in nickel-operated machines. The company was not satisfied by changes made in the coin by Fraser, and in February 1913, Treasury SecretaryFranklin MacVeagh decided to issue the coins despite the objections. (Full article...)
The coin stems from the desire of the Columbian Exposition's organizers to gain federal money to complete construction of the fair. Congress granted an appropriation, and allowed it to be in the form of commemorative half dollars, which legislators and organizers believed could be sold at a premium. Fair official James Ellsworth wanted the new coin to be based on a 16th-century painting he owned by Lorenzo Lotto, reputedly of Columbus, and pushed for this through the design process. When initial sketches by Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber proved unsatisfactory, fair organizers turned to a design by artist Olin Levi Warner, which after modification by Barber and his assistant, George T. Morgan, was struck by the Mint. (Full article...)
The Susan B. Anthony dollar is a United Statesdollar coin minted from 1979 to 1981 when production was suspended due to poor public acceptance, and then again in 1999. Intended as a replacement for the larger Eisenhower dollar, the new smaller one-dollar coin went through testing of several shapes and compositions, but all were opposed by the vending machine industry, a powerful lobby affecting coin legislation. Finally, a round planchet with an eleven-sided inner border was chosen for the smaller dollar.
The Gobrecht dollar, minted from 1836 to 1839, was the first silver dollar struck for circulation by the United States Mint after production of that denomination had been halted in 1806 (the last previous silver dollars were struck in 1804 but dated 1803). The coin was struck in small numbers to determine whether the reintroduced silver dollar would be well received by the public.
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...)
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...)
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...)
By the March 1925 Act of Congress, by which the National Sesquicentennial Exhibition Commission was chartered, Congress also allowed it to purchase 1,000,000 specially designed half dollars and 200,000 quarter eagles, which could be sold to the public at a premium. The Commission had trouble agreeing on a design with Mint Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock, and asked Philadelphia attorney, arts patron and numismatist John Frederick Lewis (1860–1932) to submit sketches. These were adapted by Sinnock, without giving credit to Lewis, whose involvement would not be generally known for forty years. (Full article...)
In 1927, the legislature of the Territory of Hawaii passed a resolution calling on the U.S. government to produce a commemorative coin for the 150th anniversary of Cook's arrival in Hawaii. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon thought the occasion important enough that, unusually for him, he did not oppose such an issue. The bill for the Hawaii half dollar passed through Congress without opposition or amendment, and became the Act of March 7, 1928 with the signature of President Calvin Coolidge. (Full article...)
Ohio-born Ezra Meeker had traveled the Trail with his family in 1852 and spent the final two decades of his long life before his death in 1928 publicizing the Oregon Trail, that it should not be forgotten. In 1926, at age 95, he appeared before a Senate committee, requesting that the government issue a commemorative coin that could be sold to raise money for markers to show where the Trail had been. The coin had originally been thought of by Idahoans, led by Dr. Minnie Howard, seeking to further preservation work at Fort Hall; Meeker broadened the idea. Congress authorized six million half dollars, and placed no restriction on when or at what mint the coins would be struck. Meeker's Oregon Trail Memorial Association (OTMA) had tens of thousands of pieces struck in 1926 and 1928, and did not sell them all. Nevertheless, most years between 1933 and 1939, it had small quantities of the half dollar coined, in some years from all three operating mints to produce mintmarked varieties, and raised prices considerably. (Full article...)
The dollar was authorized by the Bland–Allison Act. Following the passage of the 1873 act, mining interests lobbied to restore free silver, which would require the Mint to accept all silver presented to it and return it, struck into coin. Instead, the Bland–Allison Act was passed, which required the Treasury to purchase between two and four million dollars' worth of silver at market value to be coined into dollars each month. In 1890, the Bland–Allison Act was repealed by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which required the Treasury to purchase 4,500,000 troy ounces (140,000 kg) of silver each month, but only required further silver dollar production for one year. This act, once again, was repealed in 1893. (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 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...)
Image 22Collage 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 23Shreds of unfit US dollar notes with a typical size of less than 1.5 mm x 16 mm (from Banknote)
Image 24Name of currency units by country, in Portuguese (from Currency)
Image 25The taka was widely used across South Asia during the sultanate period. (from History of money)
Image 26When 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 37Song Dynasty Jiaozi, the world's earliest paper money. (from Banknote)
Image 38Obverse and reverse of an old American $100 note (1928) (from Banknote)
Image 44Alexander the Great Tetradrachm from the Temnos Mint, c. 188–170 BC (from Coin)
Image 45Holographic coin from Liberia features the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) (from Coin)
Image 46A Yuan dynasty printing plate and banknote with Chinese words. (from Banknote)
Image 47Cowry shells being used as money by an Arab trader. (from Currency)
Image 48Posthumous Alexander the Great tetradrachm from Temnos, Aeolis. Dated 188–170 BC. Obverse: Alexander the Great as Herakles facing right wearing the nemean lionskin. Reverse: Zeus seated on throne to the left holding eagle in right hand and scepter in left; in left field PA monogram and angular sigma above grape vine arching over oinochoe; ALEXANDROU vertical in right field. Reference: Price 1678. (from Coin)
Error – Usually a mis-made coin not intended for circulation, but can also refer to an engraving or die-cutting error not discovered until the coins are released to circulation. This may result is two or more varieties of the coin in the same year.
Exonumia – The study of coin-like objects such as token coins and medals, and other items used in place of legal currency or for commemoration.
Fineness – Purity of precious metal content expressed in terms of one thousand parts. 90% is expressed as .900 fine.
^The total sum is 200% because each currency trade always involves a currency pair; one currency is sold (e.g. US$) and another bought (€). Therefore each trade is counted twice, once under the sold currency ($) and once under the bought currency (€). The percentages above are the percent of trades involving that currency regardless of whether it is bought or sold, e.g. the US dollar is bought or sold in 88% of all trades, whereas the euro is bought or sold 32% of the time.