‘THE HOBBY OF KINGS’ Coin collecting is a hobby anyone can participate in nowadays, but it wasn’t always that way. What makes collecting something as ordinary as coins so fascinating to millions of people throughout history?
to participate in the hobby. In the 19th century, the hobby expanded beyond its Westernized roots and went on to include foreign currencies as well. Professional guides with prices and history points started to become available, and while only the affluent could afford huge expansions to their collection, the hobby wasn’t exclusive to the rich anymore.
The origin of the coin is rather simple. In older times, humans used to trade with precious metals; however, they’d have to weigh out the metal to trade every time and also verify its quality. People managed to find a solution that made everyone happy: The government reformed precious metals into minted coins with a set worth and quality. While historians disagree on where coins were first minted, they agree it was a significant advance in the development of commercial trade. It makes sense, then, that only society’s most wealthy people throughout history could afford a coin collection. One of the very first coin collectors was Caesar Augustus in 27 A.D. Historians believe he used to give out coins as gifts, and it only supported the idea that only privileged folk could afford to hoard coins for sport. “Sport” may be a less accurate analogy than “art collecting,” but one thing is certain: Coin collecting represented scarcity and allowed us a deeper insight into historical socioeconomic dynamics. Many famous rulers and artists collected coins, such as Petrarch, Emperor Maximilian, Pope Boniface VIII of the Roman Empire, and Louis XIV and Henry IV of France.
In the 20th century, coin collecting has become far more accessible. Anyone can begin a collection! From finding quarters minted in different states to storing pennies minted in varying years, anyone can partake in old-fashioned coin hunting. And if there’s a coin
collecting show in town, we encourage you to go! You’ll definitely see more than pennies.
It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that coin collecting became an academic study. Around this time, the emerging middle class began
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