Numismatics is the study of money, medallions, banknotes, token coins, and stock certificates. It is believed to have been established in the time of Julius Caesar who wrote the first book about it. It is a very interesting topic because every medal or coin signifies different eras, cultures, economies, and politics.
Numismatists or people who study the history and overall appearance of the above mentioned forms of currency are different from coin collectors. Unlike numismatists, coin collectors are only interested in collecting coins and the prestige that goes with it. However, a numismatist can also be a coin collector and vise versa.
Over the years, coin collecting has become very popular. The most common designs are famous people and animals and attempt to depict the era when the specific coin was released.
Numismatists are generally interested in the use of money, its origin, appearance, variety, and production. They aim to explore the role of the different kinds of currency in our history using a Mint. Mint refers to the place or facility where the coins are being manufactured. They also grade or authenticate coins to determine its market value. In line with this, coin grading system facilities were established.
At this time there are numerous coin grading services or companies. However only a few have a stellar reputation. A couple of these are the PCGS or Professional Coin Grading System and NGC or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.
PCGS is a third party institution that was established in 1986, which grades and authenticates coins mainly for commercial purposes. They are an independent body providing expert opinion in rating a coin. NGC is also a premier third party institution offering services solely to numismatists. It was established in 1987.
PCGS has a smaller department refered to as PMG or Paper Money Grading which is solely for the authentication of paper money.
When coin collecting was not that popular as a hobby, there were only 3 categories to which a coin could fall:
1. Good—which means that the coin has all the details intact.
2. Fine—which means that the coin has all the details intact and still has a bit of luster visible.
3. Uncirculated—which means that the coin was never put up in the market thus maintaining its original appearance.
However, today coin grading has evolved and is becoming more definite. They use combination of letters and numbers that corresponds to the quality of a coin. As of this time, the coin grading system of the United States is the easiest to use and is recommended for beginners.
Of course grading coins is both an art and a science. Yes there is a set system or standard for assigning a grade to a coin, but it is still an art due to the coin grader’s own grading decision on what grade to assign to a coin.
Knowing how to grade a coin properly requires knowledge, exposure and obviously certain skills. For coin collectors, the ability to grade a coin is a must because the value of a coin largely depends on it.