State of the Numismatic Field

While serving an important role in history, not many museums/institutions have collections focused on coins and general numismatics. Numismatics impacts both cultural and economic history and the different exhibit types allow us to examine how the world worked and how it has changed over time. The impacts of coin-making on economics can be seen in a variety of ways. Tracking material use and machinery per region allows us to make a timeline of advancement/ development, and when we combine that with the track of trade we can see the interaction of societies and how they developed together, leading to coins being highly involved in cultural history. Trade allows for a society’s values to travel across different areas and cultures, thereby letting us see how these values changed with repeated interaction. Trade also allowed for messages to be passed throughout the empire, such as news of victory in battle or the death of a ruler. The exhibits on numismatics have a few general categories. Culture-based, regional, and person-specific exhibits focus on the people and imagery pictured to tell their story. Compositional, value-based, and geopolitical focus on how the coins were made and how their material changes over time. One of the biggest is the Smithsonian National Numismatic Collection, which is made of over 1.6 million objects with a focus on the preservation of coins. Just like any other artifact, coins can degrade over time in the wrong conditions, so the Smithsonian focuses on removing anything that would degrade the coins and rehousing the coins into better-suited areas.