numismatics (nōˌmĭzmătˈĭks, –mĭs–) [key], collection and study of coins, medals, and related objects as works of art and as sources of information. The coin and the medal preserve old forms of writing, portraits of eminent persons, and reproductions of lost works of art; they also assist in the study of early customs, in ascertaining dates, in clarifying economic status and trade relations, and in tracing changes in political attitudes. In the past many valuable coin collections were assembled by individuals; in the 20th cent., however, public museums have been responsible for building the largest collections. The largest coin market in the world is in London.

See J. A. MacKay, Value in Coins and Medals (1968); J. Porteous, Coins in History (1969); B. Hobson and R. Obojski, Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Coins (1970); C. J. Andrews, Fell's International Coin Book (5th ed. 1973); C. French, American Guide to U.S. Coins (annual ed.).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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