Learning History Through Numismatics

You would be hard-pressed to find a collector of coins, banknotes, medals, or tokens who didn’t know a thing or two about history; numismatics and learning about the past go hand-in-hand.  To illustrate this, today’s blog post will pick a few items from the recent Geoffrey Bell Auctions Ltd. Paris Sale and insert a few historic facts a collector would likely learn.

Let’s start with the obvious: ancient history.  While this field can seem daunting to even experienced numismatists, there’s no denying how easy it is to be impressed by these often amazingly preserved coins.  Eighteen hundred years ago Syrian-born Elagabalus became Roman emperor.  He had just turned fourteen and would be assassinated in a plot devised by his grandmother before he could reach nineteen.

The Paris Sale offered two of his coins, including this denarius that featured two standards between two legionary eagles on the reverse.

During the American Revolutionary War, Britain was able to hire approximately 30,000 German troops to fight on their side.  The troops largely came from the Hesse-Cassel German State and were referred to as Hessian mercenaries.  The taler coins issued to pay these recruits became known as “blood talers.”

An NGC graded uncirculated Friedrich II blood taler from 1778 was available in The Paris Sale, hammering at $525.

In Kingston, Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1819, everyone was eager to be the first Bank of Upper Canada, but it didn’t quite work out.  They were impatient with the delay in receiving their charter, so began operations without it, then a rough period hit and they failed in 1822.  Early chartered banknotes give us great insight into the workings of our banking system and life in pre-Confederation Canada in general.

bank upper canada

In Paris, a challenging Bank of Upper Canada $10, 1819 realized $675.

Of course, the most popular collecting done in Canada involves our circulating coinage and a lot about the history affecting our nation can be learned.  Whether or not the dot on 1947 25-cent pieces is a precursor to the tiny maple leaf doesn’t matter when both teach the reason:  India gaining its independence from Britain and the subsequent need to change the legend on Commonwealth coinage to indicate certain 1947 dated coins were actually struck in 1948.

At The Paris Sale we had a nice example of a 1947 dot quarter graded by ICCS as F15.

Now, look at the history we learned in this short blog post!  Is there any better hobby than numismatics?


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