It is nearly that time to think about numismatics the coming year, 2021. Numismatics — the art and science of coins, tokens, medals, and paper money and their traditions — provides a pleasant escape from the cares of everyday life.
One’s financial circumstances are not particularly important for the vast majority of collectors. There are exceptions of course — in case you want to own a Brasher doubloon or collect pattern Gobrecht silver dollars by die varieties. Buying is of course an exciting activity. Equally pleasurable is studying the coins you already have. Not everyone can afford an 1804 silver dollar — long heralded as the King of American coins. However, forming a complete run of certain series by date and mintmark is often within the reach of most collectors. Here are some numismatic specialties you may want to investigate.
In 1930 the Society of Medalists commissioned the Medallic Art Company to issue two medals per year, available in copper (my preference from an aesthetic viewpoint and also the most affordable) and in silver. Production continued into the mid-1980s. Leading artists and sculptors selected designs of their own preference, rather than acting on commission. Today, a set of these makes a fine addition to any collection.
A full set of Peace silver dollars 1921 to 1935 comprises 24 coins. MS-63 is a nice compromise between high grade and affordable price.
Among coinage metals, copper can be particularly attractive even with well-worn coins. Among copper cents, a run of dates from 1793 to 1857 by Guide Book varieties is fun to acquire.
Prior to the establishment of National Banks in 1863, several thousand state-chartered banks did business in the United States and issued paper money. These are fascinating to collect and for the most part, are fairly inexpensive. A good way to start is to check the website of Denly’s of Boston on the Internet. Warning: Be careful. Collecting these notes can be addictive!
A Guide Book of United States Coins was launched in 1946 with a cover date of 1947 to prolong shelf life. Today, back issues are easily found on abebooks.com on the Internet and for the most part are inexpensive. A run of these is a nice addition to any library.
I hope the sun will shine on you and yours in 2021.