History

Started by RHM22, April 12, 2010, 09:11:21 PM

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RHM22

I'm just a little curious about this. Is there anyone here is not interested in history? Is an interest in history a prerequisite to numismatics, or is it a derivative of numismatics? I've had a slight interest in coin collecting (without actually pursuing it) and history for most of my life, so it's a chicken and the egg question for me.

Figleaf

Except for euro collectors, I can't see how you can collect coins and not get interested in history. However, I can very well see being interested in history, but not in coins.

Coins don't exist in a void, they are a product of their environment. That's also what makes them interesting. I do see people who ignore the historic context of the coin and see (one extreme) only the "market value" or (other extreme) only technical aspects such as grade, variety, die breaks etc. They will never understand the coin or its design, I think.

Coins are also part of art, metallurgy and finance, but practically always in the context of history. Again, "nordic gold" may be an exception, but bi-metallic isn't. History kicks in quickly. See the story of decimalization (less than 50 years ago) UK Decimal + wrote.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

a3v1

And even the Euro coins do have a history, albeit a brief one so far. ;)
Regards,
a3v1
Over half a century of experience as a coin collector.
-------------
Money is like body fat: If there's too much of it, it always is in the wrong places.

translateltd

I think I can safely say I have "studied" history for almost 40 years via the medium of coins and coin books.


Prosit

I am interested in history.  I do think you need to study history with a skeptical attitude.  I believe history is written for the upper class by the upper class. Or at least people who share their viewpoint, morals and belief system.  Read almost any account of a military operation for instance and you will read about strategy, goals and accomplishments and failures. I can pretty much guarantee that 99% of the people (troops) that took part in the operation knew nothing about stratagy and maybe wouldn't recognize the operation by reading that historical account.  So there is a whole other side to history mostly untold.

The accounts by the common solider are not so often told.  Point me to a historical account written at the time of a Roman solider's day to say activities in any action.

Dale

chrisild

Quote from: Figleaf on April 12, 2010, 09:39:01 PM
Except for euro collectors, I can't see how you can collect coins and not get interested in history.

Don't quite understand why euro collectors would be so much different from, say, American state quarter collectors. But yes, most people who are "numismatically interested" in coins (not from an investor's POV) will also be interested in history. At least to some extent - a collector may notice, for example, that a certain denomination from a certain country had this design first, and then another one. Or that a country name has changed. And so on. :)

Christian

Figleaf

I think you can very well collect euro coins and be disinterested in history, but the two are of course not mutually exclusive.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

chrisild

Sure, agreed. What I do not agree with is your comment that "Except for euro collectors, I can't see how you can collect coins and not get interested in history." Well, as a state quarter collector, for example, you can collect coins and not get interested in history either. For many it was just fun to get all pieces, and that was pretty much it. History? Phhh. :)

Christian

Figleaf

Sure, but that's a personal failure, not the fault of the coins. If you collect those quarters and take the trouble to find out what's on them, you'll be reading about history pretty quickly. Now I do take your argument with the "national parks" series. It's a theme that doesn't lead you anywhere in history, or anywhere else, unless, further on in the series, a point is made on conservation. Since the word is politically loaded in the US, so it doesn't sell coins, that seems unlikely.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Splock

There has been some discussion about modern commemoratives and their (lack of) value numismatically of late. Whatever your stance I do find that they certainly help when it comes to learning history. I arrived in Australia from the UK about 5 years ago and since I've taken up collecting Australian coinage my knowledge of Australian history outstrips most of my Australian friends. For example in 1988 the Royal Australian Mint release a 50c coin commemorating the bicentennial of the First Fleet, I therefore know that the first fleet arrived in 1788. This year has seen the release of a NCLT dollars to commemorate the centenary of Australian Coinage, 150 years since Burke & Wills set out on their fateful expedition, just a little subtraction and there you go. These coins then prompt me to dig a little deeper to discover who Burke & Wills were and what on earth they thought they were doing going walkabout like that!

History is certainly more than remembering dates (although that's how it used to be taught in school at times), and just a single coin, the Florin, sheds more light on history. 1934-35 commemorative Florins are hard to come by, mainly because in a depression not many people are going to pay for money so they didn't sell. Australia is a land rich in mineral wealth, what other commonwealth country still used silver (although in a reduced amount) in it's circulating coinage after WWII? (I'm sure someone here will tell me  :)) Pre-decimal coinage traces the birth of the nation. At first coins were minted in the UK (at the Royal Mint and later in Birmingham) until production could be geared up in Australia. Peaks and troughs in demand for coinage tell stories in their own right as illustrated by Australia asking the US mints in Denver (smaller silver coins) and San-Fransisco to chip in producing coins during WWII. The increased demand due, in no small part, to payments made to US troops stationed in Australia. This shows that those GI's certainly were earning and spending big money and the stories some of those coins could tell would certainly make you blush. Overall I think an appreciation for history, although not essential, certainly enhances the numismatic journey.
For I dipt into the future,
far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world,
and all the wonder that would be

Salvete

Good Morning, All.

  What every collector of Indian and other oriental (probably also American and European, too, though I have no experience of reading American and European histories) coin series must remember about history is that History Is Not Factual.  It is usually written by The Victor, and many writers of it were, as someone posted earlier, upper class or employed by the ruling classes to have themselves displayed in the best, most flattering light.  Every writer of history has an 'agenda' and we have to see past this.  History is opinion, based on a more or less biased view of events.  Therefore it is not sufficient to read just one version of any given event.  Usually it requires three opinions before you can expect to know 'The Truth.'  That is why persons interested in the history of their coins usually keep their own notes about the relevant histories they read.

  I wholeheartedly agree with those who have said that we cannot hope to understand our coins unless and until we have at least partly understood their background.  Just to collect coins to 'fill gaps' will not work except for the simplest modern series (or countries with a very short history) because with old, hand struck coins there are variations that we cannot ever hope to see described in catalogues, and these often require a profound knowledge of history before we can understand them.  I am just an ordinary collector of Indian coins, but I found I needed more data than I could find in books.  My answer was to contact a professor of history at Delhi University, who was extremely helpful and friendly.  I urge others to make the effort, which they will find to be very well repaid by results.

  Salvete
Ultimately, our coins are only comprehensible against the background of their historical context.