27 March, 2011

Medal - Melbourne International Exhibition 1880.
Medal - Melbourne International Exhibition 1880.
Image: Uknown
Source: Museum Victoria

Question: What is numismatics?

Answer: Numismatics is the study and/or collection of coins, medals and paper banknotes. A person who studies and collects money is known as a numismatist.

Museum Victoria’s Numismatics collection is one of the most significant in Australia. Reflecting the museum’s focus on Victorian and Australian history and technology, the largest part of the collection is its Australian and British Commonwealth material, which includes traders’ tokens, legal tender coins and medals of many types from 1788 onward. Some of the items are only found in this collection and, because of the unique nature of these items, they are used as reference materials by people from around the world.

Numismatics is a popular hobby for many and there are numerous online resources for those who wish to conduct research on the topic in general or to identify specific items. For example, those researching Australian numismatics will find a wide variety of coins, tokens and medals in the Museum’s History & Technology Collections Online site, which provides images of and details on specific items. Researchers can also access more general historical information and themes, including people, places, businesses and organisations, related to the collection.

Another avenue to further explore numismatics is to contact an association such as the Numismatics Association of Victoria, which are made up of professional dealers, academics and collectors. Their websites often provide good information resources and can also be a useful reference to search for experts who might be able to assist with research, identification or authentification of items.

We also suggest that people do a web search for numismatics forums, which are an excellent venue for finding out about your coin or medal. A lot of enthusiastic amateur, as well as professional, numismatists are more than happy to provide information and opinions on such sites.

Some excellent links can be found at right for both Australian and international coinage that can help enthusiastic researchers further explore the history of coinage, as well as identify items that they might already have in their collections.

Please note: Museum Victoria DOES NOT provide valuations and cannot tell you how much your object is worth. Please read our valuations infosheet for further advice. We will not publish or respond to comments asking us to value an object.

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