Learn the History Behind Your Coin With 5 Questions

Getting a new coin for your collection can be cool—it can be old and historic looking, or shiny with an incredible design. But what really makes a coin so interesting is learning the story that’s behind it. Finding out a coin’s history isn’t hard; you just need to know what kinds of questions to research.

Luckily, each coin you own holds clues you can use to investigate its history. Here are five questions you can use to examine your coin and help you on your quest to learn its history:

  1. Where was the coin minted? Many coins will have a mark that denotes where they were minted, and if they don’t you should be able to find out where the coin was minted by searching it online. It’s interesting to know where a coin was minted because each mint has it’s own story and history.

    You can learn when the mint was founded (the Mexican Mint, for example, was founded in 1535 by Spanish conquistadors; the first mint of the New World), what kind of coins it first produced, and interesting facts about the mint such as fires or robberies it’s undergone!
  1. What was happening in the year your coin was minted? Do some research about what was happening the particular year the coin was minted. You may learn, for example, that an emerging war caused a country to change what metal they used to produce coins or that your coin was produced during a financial crisis.
  1. Whose portrait is on the coin? Find out who that figurehead is that’s on the front of a coin. Were they a leader or a symbol to their country? What happened during their life? Why is he or she the one on the coin? President Franklin Roosevelt, for example, is on our nation’s dime as a sign of appreciation for his work in raising money to fight polio.
  1. Who designed the coin? Sometimes you can find the engraver’s initials on the coin, or you can just research the coin to find the designer. Coin designers can have interesting stories as well. Several well-known American coins, for instance, were designed by sculptors who also produced iconic statues of presidents in the U.S. capital.
  1. What does the other stuff mean on the coin? Coins sometimes have inscriptions on them that you won’t understand, especially if they are coins from foreign lands. Look up what the words mean – you might be surprised to find out the motto of a country! And most of the time the design featured on the back of a coin is loaded with meaning. Learn why the picture is so important to the country that minted the coin. Does the design symbolize liberty or prosperity? Find out!

When you take time to learn the history behind your coin, you are not only increasing its value to yourself, but also learning what kind of factors can make a coin more valuable.

To learn more about the skill involved in coin collecting, read the parts of a coin and what makes a coin valuable.