Coin collecting is the world’s oldest and most rewarding hobby. The History of coin collecting is full of tales of humanity, from early monetary systems to today’s economy. Every coin has a unique tale, allowing you to hold History in your hands. Rare coin collecting, once known as the “Hobby of Kings,” has been enjoyed by royalty across continents for centuries. Dating back to ancient Rome in the 1st Century, coin collecting has evolved into a global hobby. Since the US Mint’s opening in 1792, American collectors have built historic US coin collections. Let’s explore the appeal and heritage of coin collecting that captivates collectors worldwide.

Explore the Captivating History of the Coin

Coins came into use to pay for things around the 6th or 5th Century BCE. But how they were first invented is a mystery in the History of coins. Some say it was the Lydians, while others claim it was Demodike of Kyrme, the wife of King Midas. Numismatists who study coins think the first coins might have been made on the Greek island of Aegina by the local rulers or King Pheidon of Argos.

Aegina, Samos, and Miletus made coins for the Egyptians through a Greek trading post in the Nile Delta. When the Persians took over Lydia in 546 BCE, they started using coins. The Phoenicians didn’t make coins until the middle of the fifth century BCE, and then the Carthaginians in Sicily followed suit. The Romans didn’t start making coins until 326 BCE.

Coins also made their way to India through the Achaemenid Empire and Alexander the Great’s kingdoms. Indo-Greek kingdoms made some beautiful coins, especially in the 2nd Century BCE. Samudragupta (335-376 CE) is known for making coins that showed him as a conqueror and a musician.

In the History of coins, the first coins were usually made of electrum, a mix of silver and gold. Merchants might have made early Lydian coins as tokens for trading. The Lydian state also made coins, with many mentioning King Alyattes. Some of these coins had messages, like one found in Caria, that said, “I am the badge of Phanes,” although who Phanes was is still a mystery.

In China, gold coins became standardized during the Qin dynasty (221-207 BCE). After the Qin dynasty, the Han emperors introduced silver coins and “deerskin notes,” an early form of paper money, a Chinese invention.

Captivating History of Coin Collecting as a Hobby and Treasure

Coin collecting, known as numismatics, is the hobby of gathering and studying coins, paper money, and similar items. People have been collecting coins for a very long time, even before paper money became common. Here’s a quick history of coin collecting:

Early Days: Coin collecting isn’t a recent thing. Emperors like Augustus in ancient Rome were into collecting coins. There’s proof that people collected coins during the Roman era.

Art and Coins: Coins from the past were like miniature works of art. People appreciated them not just for money but also for embellishment. This event happened way back in the 4th or 3rd Century BC.

Hobby of Kings: After the Renaissance (a time in History), collecting coins became a big deal. Kings and nobles in Europe made it famous. They even hired artists to make copies of old coins.

Numismatic Scholarship: In the 17th Century, collecting coins became more serious. People started studying and cataloging collections. It turned into an academic thing, like science.

Modern Times: In the 19th Century, more people started collecting coins. Books for beginners came out. Collecting expanded from ancient coins to coins from all over the world.

20th Century and Beyond: The 20th Century saw even more people collecting coins. There were shows, conventions, and clubs. Some even thought of coins as investments. 

Famous Coin Collectors Throughout History

Numismatics, the practice of collecting coins, has intertwined itself into human legacy, obtaining a tangible and frequently overlooked view into previous periods’ economic, political, and cultural tapestries.

Coin collecting is a hobby that transcends time and status, captivating individuals from various walks of life, from historical figures to modern celebrities. 

Here are some famous coin collectors and their collections:

Adam Eckfeldt and the Mint Cabinet Collection

Adam Eckfeldt, chief coiner at the US Mint, started the Mint Cabinet in 1838. His collection, with around 14,000 items, was later turned over to the Smithsonian.

Smithsonian Collection

The National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian is one of the largest in the world, with approximately 1.6 million objects. It includes over 20,000 US coins and more than 460,000 world coins.

Josiah K. Lilly, Jr.

The Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company executive collected over 6,000 gold world coins valued at $5.5 million. His unique collection was donated to the National Numismatic Collection.

Harry W. Bass Jr.

A life member of ANA, Bass formed one of the most significant collections of early US gold types and patterns. On loan to the ANA, the collection is renowned for its completeness.

Virgil M. Brand 

Virgil Brand, a successful businessman, had a collection of over 350,000 coins valued at $2 million in 1926.

Colonel EHR Green

Edward Howland Robinson Green, or Colonel Green, amassed a collection estimated at $5 million in 1936.

Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.

Eliasberg achieved the goal of owning every federal-issued US coin.

John Jay Pittman

Pittman, an ordinary worker, built one of the most stunning US coin collections with a 30,000% return on investment.

King Farouk I of Egypt

Despite a controversial rule, King Farouk I was a notable coin collector, owning the famed 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle.

Other Collectors:

  • US Presidents: Presidents like Jefferson and Adams were numismatists, with interests ranging from ancient coins to the evolution of currency.
  • Celebrities: Movie stars like Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, and James Earl Jones collect coins for pleasure and investment.
  • Musicians: Musicians like Paul McCartney and Johnny Cash are also famous coin collectors.
  • Athletes: Basketball stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wayne Gretzky, along with baseball icon Andre Dawson, have a passion for rare coins.

Digital Tips for Growing Your Coin Collection

Technology helps coin collectors in many ways. It makes collecting coins more fun and informative.

  1. Learn Online: Use the internet to find info about coins. There are websites, forums, and communities where collectors share knowledge. This helps you learn the history of coins and make smart choices when collecting.
  2. Coin Apps: There are apps like CoinManage and Numista. They help you keep track of your coins and know their value. These apps are great for both new and experienced collectors.
  3. Virtual Coin Shows: You can join coin shows online. Meet people, buy coins, and learn without leaving home. It’s easy and convenient.
  4. Digital Catalogs: Websites like NGC and PCGS have databases with coin info. These websites help you know more about your coins. It’s quick and practical.
  5. Take Photos: Use your camera or phone to take pictures of your coins. Photographs will help you remember and share them with others. It’s fast and efficient.
  6. Social Media: Join online groups on Facebook, Reddit, and forums. You can talk to other collectors, trade coins, and learn together. It’s an excellent way to connect with others who love coins and know about famous coin collectors.


The History of coin collecting is rich and diverse. There are many ways to collect, like focusing on specific periods or themes. Coin collecting is a fun hobby that connects people with history, art, and the world. Some countries don’t allow old coins to leave, and UNESCO made rules about it. The internet made collecting easier but also brought issues like fake sellers. Therefore, if you have developed an interest in coin collection, choose your coin dealer online cautiously.