What’s The Difference Between Being A Numismatist & A Coin Collector?

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The world of coins is full of collectors and students.

Some people primarily collect coins. Others focus on studying them. Still others do a bit of both.

So what’s the difference between being a coin collector and numismatist?

See the difference between a coin collector and a numismatist.

While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are definitive differences between being a coin collector and numismatist — and many people are both.

Let’s find out more about what it means to be a coin collector and a numismatist…


Being A Coin Collector

So, what is a coin collector?

A coin collector is somebody who gathers coins with the intention of completing sets of coins, based on their own goals and guidelines.

Most accumulate coins with a specific date, mintmark, denomination, or nation of origin with the goal of eventually completing entire sets of similar coins.

Although some coin collectors simply keep random coins that are meaningful to them personally — without much regard to the above specifics or the completion of sets.


What Is A Numismatist?

A numismatist is a person who studies coins and money. Numismatists approach the world of money more from a historic, social, or artistic sense.

Numismatists tend to spend many hours every week (or even every day) researching whatever they can about coins and money:

Numismatists often write books or websites about coins. Others simply read and study the countless publications available.

Many numismatists even set goals to discover new coin design varieties, coin errors, and other interesting things about coins.

Being A Coin Collector And A Numismatist

As you can see, it’s possible to collect coins but never really study them. It’s also possible to study coins but never specifically collect them.

However, countless individuals fill the roles of being both a coin collector and numismatist!

Something that many coin collectors enjoy about the hobby is the idea of learning more about historic places, great people, and interesting eras through the designs and backgrounds of the coins in their collections.

Many people find the process of minting coins to be both a beautiful art and incredible science well worth studying.

Numerous people will focus their efforts on acquiring certain coins based on tone, color, and eye appeal — this leads many such connoisseurs to find out more about the natural processes which create coin toning.

Coin grading is another major area of focus for numismatists who study (and collect) coins.

A numismatist is someone who studies coins. A coin collector gathers coins. However, numismatists can be coin collectors and coin collectors can be numismatists.


Your Next Step As A Collector Or A Numismatist…

There are dozens of major coin publications and hundreds of coin clubs available for those who want to learn more about coins and enjoy the coin collecting experience.

Here are 2 important places to start:

Must read: The Difference Between A Coin’s Numismatic Value And Bullion Value

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7 thoughts on “What’s The Difference Between Being A Numismatist & A Coin Collector?”

  1. I’ve been a coin collector for around 17 years I never took the time to think about was i coin collector or more of a numismatic , after reading this artical i’m kinda both but more so a numismatic i get a rush when I find off the wall stuff, 2 days agao I descovered a dime in perfect conditionbut was riddled with errors.it has at least 4 strikes , on both sides it has backward letters from another dime and a mule stamp .thanks for your time . It is a 2006 dime

    Steven Mendoza

    • Hi, Steven —

      Thanks for taking your time to share your thoughts! Yes, you’re exactly right — you and so many other people who collect coins are equally numismatists. While there are many people who simply enjoy filling holes in coin albums or coin folders (without much interest in finding out about coins), the kind of excitement you get over finding an error coin and then wanting to know how it got that way is the mark of a numismatist!

      Without seeing the coin, I can’t say for certain — and I’m not a specialist in error coins — but it sounds like you may have a coin with a brockage error (noting the backwards lettering). However, if you’re coin has that many errors on it, I highly recommend you have a reputable coin dealer in your area look at your coin — perhaps they may be willing to offer you a nice price if you want to sell. Any coin with more than one error is both unusual and often quite valuable.

      Here’s a link with photos of a few of the major types of error coins here: https://www.littlemistakes.com/WorldErrors/misstrikes/misstrikes.html

  2. My name is Marty, I am a grand-pa and love all the different old american coins. I consider myself an amature collector and numismaticist. I have a 1917 standing liberty quarter dollar and my grandson recently asked me what the “M” is that is stamped on the obverse at the bottom, next to the last bottom star?Can you help me answer him, as I don’t know and it disturbs me. I also do not know if it de-values the coin??


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