The History of Coin Collection
Coin collecting is a hobby of patience and diligence. Most collectors start in their formative years, often inspired by collections handed down to them by parents or grandparents. Whilst some discover the hobby later in life stimulated by a coin issued for an event or upon discovering coins with potential value.
Whatever the reason, the sheer scale of coin collecting offers something for everyone.
Coin Collecting as a Hobby Through History
Coin collecting dates back to ancient times and is one of the oldest pastimes on record. Roman Emperor Augustus liked to give inspiringly designed coins to his friends.
Coin collecting has been a popular hobby for many great and well-known figures throughout history. King George III and at least three U.S Presidents in Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were all known to have had an active interest in coin collecting. In fact, John Quincy Adams, serving president from 1825 to 1829, collected and studied coins and used his knowledge to guide the direction of early American currency.
From about the 15th century onward, coin collecting was mostly reserved for kings and statesmen who employed specialists to scout Europe and Asia for coins of significance and beauty.
Numismatic research was encouraged by nobilities and a major trade in coins was encouraged by mass excavations of ancient sites. King Louis XIV of France kept a large collection that he actively tended to each day.
The Victorian years saw the creation of many numismatic societies and from there came an entire industry of dealerships and enthusiast magazines to support the hobby. By the 21st century, coins were an accepted form of investment and gold and silver coins have become a stable point of investment in uncertain economies.
Today’s hobbyists, just like Augustus, still treasure coins for historical merit and the immense sense of achievement.
Coin Collectors of Note
Today, coin collecting is no longer considered a hobby for the upper echelons of today’s society, in fact, those from the entertainment, sports and political world boast avid collectors.
We’ve already mentioned that President Roosevelt was a loyal amateur collector, as was Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Treasury in the 1930’s; coinciding with a period when coin and stamp collection was hugely popular in the U.S.
King Emmanuel III of Italy owed a collection of over 100,000 coins, which he left to his broken nation when he left the throne just after World War II.
Some of the most noted and extraordinary coin collections in the world were put together by wealthy private citizens or families. Louis E. Eliasberg Snr, a Baltimore businessman, is perhaps more well known for his complete collection of circulating U.S coins assembled by date and mintmark, and being the only person to date to have managed such a feat, rather than his business dealings.
The only coin that wasn’t present in the collection was the 1849 US Double Eagle, with the only known example housed in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. The collection was sold in the 1980s and 90s, after his death, and went on to raise over $57million.
The Farouk Dynasty who ruled over Egypt for decades collected over 8,500 medals and gold coins. Among entertainers who have stated that they count coin collection as a hobby are Buddy Ebsen, Joan Crawford, Paul McCartney, Kate Hudson and James Earl Jones, as well as sports stars Wayne Gretzky and Andre Dawson.
Coin collecting can be a highly rewarding pastime, and although it takes time and patience to amass the right collection of coins, it can actually be a great investment for the future of yourself or your children or grandchildren.