Numismatics (Lat. numisma, a coin), the science of coins and medals. It has no relation to the value of coins as a circulating medium, but only to the history of coins and medals in all ages and countries, and the study of history as illustrated by their images and superscriptions. - A coin is a piece of metal bearing an impressed device, and designed for circulation as money, A medal is a large piece of metal struck with one or more dies, intended to commemorate some event, and not designed for circulation. A medallion is now generally understood to be synonymous with a medal. A medallet is a small medal, and usually but not necessarily of inferior workmanship. A token is a small medal, usually but not always of the same size with the current coin of the country in which it is struck, and issued for purposes of private individuals. The obverse of a coin or other piece is that side which bears the portrait or principal design indicating the country, nation, or object for which it was struck. The other side is the reverse. The head or portrait on a piece is said to face to the right or left with reference to the beholder's right or left hand.

When the design on a specimen varies in any decided characteristic from one already known, while the general object and purpose is manifestly the same, this is said to constitute a new type. When the variation is very slight, as in the size of the lettering or the distance between letters, it is classed as a variety. Proofs are coins or medals struck from the original die as it leaves the hands of the die cutter, and arc thus distinguished from specimens struck with dies which have been reproduced by pressure from the original dies. Pattern or mint pieces are coins struck in any mint and proposed for adoption in the coinage of a country, but not adopted in the year of their first manufacture. The abbreviations AU. or AV., AR., and Ae. signify respectively aiiriim, gold, argentum, silver, and oes, brass or copper. Electrum, a native amalgam of silver and gold, was also used in ancient times for coins. The term billon denotes a debased silver used in some coinage. Brass was used for coin in ancient times, and is frequently used in modern times for tokens and medallets. Potin is a softer alloy than billon. The field on a coin or medal is the open space not occupied by a device or inscription.

The exergue is variously understood as the open space outside the figure and inscriptions, or as the portion of that space below the main device, and distinctly separated from it. Strictly, the exergue only belongs to the reverse of a coin, but in America this distinction is not preserved. The legend is usually understood to be any inscription other than the name of the monarch or personage represented on the coin or medal. The inscription includes any legend, names, titles, etc. A mint mark on a coin is the private mark placed on it by the mint to indicate genuineness, or the place of coinage, or for some other purpose. The size of coins or medals is measured among numismatics by arbitrary scales. In Europe Mion-net's scale is generally used. In America a scale of sixteenths of an inch is much in use, and a medal of size 24 is 24 sixteenths of an inch in diameter across its face. - Most of the principal cities of Europe have valuable numismatic collections, the most important of which are those of Paris, London, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Florence, and Madrid. The oldest coin extant is considered by high authority to be a specimen of the gold stater of the Ionian city of Miletus, now in the British museum, of about 800 B. C. It has a lion's head on the obverse, and a rude indented punch mark on the reverse.

But Herodotus says that the Lydians were the first to coin gold, and by some authorities the gold coins found in the ruins of Sardis are believed to antedate the Ionian specimen. The most ancient type represents the mythical triumph of the lion over the bull, typical of the triumph of royal authority over its enemies. The Persian stater or daric was also coined at a very early period. It bore the royal emblem, a crowned archer. The oldest silver coins extant are those of the island of Aegina, bearing a tortoise on the obverse. Those of the first period are very rude, with irregular punch marks on the back; in the second period the punch holes are more regular, and in the third the tortoise is more elaborate and the punch holes have a decided tendency toward symmetry. A marked feature in the history of coinage is the passage through the successive stages of improvement in the punch holes on the reverse. The first improvement was to give the end of the punch some rude design, as in the coin of the Corinthian colony of Syracuse, fig. C. The next advance was to make the punch correspond to the die, which produced a coin with a design in relief on one side and an incused impression of the same design on the other.

The coins of Tarentum in Magna Grsecia are fine examples of this class, some of which are as early as 600 B. C. Sometimes the incused reverse differs in design from the obverse. Coins with both obverse and reverse in relief were made in Magna Graecia about 510 B. C, and this form came into general use previous to 400 B. C. One of the oldest known coins bearing the name of a sovereign is inscribed AAE2ANAP0, the name of Alexander I. of Macedon, who reigned from about 500 to 454 B. C. Coins of Ge-tas, king of the Edoneans, bear in addition to the name the title of king and the name of the people. The first devices on coins were generally the forms of animals, local genii, river gods, nymphs, and the like. Portraits do not appear until the time of Archelaus I. of Macedon (413-399 B. C.); but some doubt that the face on his coins is a portrait, and contend that no human head was impressed on a coin until after the death of Alexander the Great, whose head was then admitted as in some sort that of a divinity. To the Greeks belongs the credit of bringing the art of coining to perfection; and although modern art has invented new processes which secure greater uniformity, the most elaborate coins of the present day do not surpass those of the Macedonian empire in boldness and beauty of design.

The spread of the art was very rapid. There was scarcely a colony of Greece, and certainly no independent nation, which did not have its coinage. More than 1,000 series of Greek autonomous coins, or coins of self-governing cities, are extant. There are also the splendid series of the Parthian kings, the Macedonian, Armenian, Bactrian, Syrian, Thracian, Bithynian, Cappadoeian, Carian, the Ptolemaic series of Egypt, and numerous others, all including large varieties extending through many years, sometimes through centuries, and all distinct from those of the Roman empire and its dependencies. For a long time before the establishment of the empire, and even after its beginning, family names and devices were used on the coins of the various parts of the Roman dominions. These family coins, which are sometimes called consular coins, because the names of most of the consuls appear on them, constitute a very large and important series, containing the names of a great number of the Roman families, both patrician and plebeian. The imperial coinage is also a superb series, in which are preserved the portraits of the emperors, and many interesting and valuable records.

Numismatists are accustomed to class the gold, silver, and copper or brass coinage distinctly, dividing the latter into first, second, and third classes, according to size. Another series is that called the imperial Greek, issued by Greek cities subjected to Rome, and which generally bear the portrait of the reigning emperor, with his name and titles in Greek. The Roman colonial coins, the most of which were issued in Spain, also form a distinct class, generally marked by the abbreviation col. for colonia. In the eastern empire the coinage became very rude, and in mediaeval times the art had so declined that the coins of Europe and the East of that period are little better than the earliest form of Ionian coinage. - The Chinese are said to have coined the bronze pieces called cash, having a square hole in the centre, about 1120 B. C.; but according to the best authorities there is no certainty of the existence of any genuine specimens older than 247 B. C. The Hindoo or Indian coinage is of early origin, but the date is unsettled.

There are square copper coins with a Pali legend, which are conjectured to be of the 3d century B. C, but the earliest certain dates are about 100 B. C. The Hebrews had no coin of their own until the time of the Maccabees, when Simon, by virtue of the permission in the decree of Antiochus (1 Macc. xv. 6), issued the shekel and the half shekel, with such inscriptions as "Shekel Israel," "Jerusalem the Holy," and "Simon prince of Israel." This coinage seems not to have been continued after the time of the Maccabees. These, with some small brass coins of the Herods, Archelaus, and Agrippa, and a doubtful coin attributed to Bar-Cokheba, the leader in the last rising against the Romans, are the only coins of Judea which are extant. The Arabic series of coins begins with the successors of Mohammed in the 7th century. They usually have a sentence from the Koran on the reverse, and the name of the caliph on the obverse, but never a portrait of the caliph. (For the series of British coins, see Money; and for American colonial coins and those of the United States, see Coins.) - The issue of medals seems to have been a very early custom.

Many of the largest pieces of ancient coin so called are more correctly to be considered as medals, struck for prizes in the games, or in commemoration of great events. The Roman series of medals or medallions is very extensive in gold, silver, and brass or copper. The gold medals begin with Constantine, and continue to the fall of the empire; the silver begin under Gallienus, and continue as long; the copper from Augustus to Alexander Severus. In more modern times the art of medal making has been brought to great perfection, and most of the principal nations have adopted the plan of preserving their history by these durable monuments. The French series is deserving of special mention as the most perfect and complete in the world. It commences under Louis XI. and continues to the present date, illustrating every important event in the history of France. The English series commences under Henry VIII., but as works of art the medals have not high rank. The British battle medals form an admirable series. The Italian and German medals of modern date are very fine; the mediaeval are interesting and bold in design, but rude in execution. The papal series, commencing with Paul V., are worthy of the collector's attention.

One of the earliest American medals is that presented to Gen. John Armstrong for his successful attack in 1756 on the Indians at Kittanning. Several were presented to officers of the army and navy during the revolution, most of which were struck in France. Those struck since the establishment of the mint have, it is believed, all been made at the mint. This is certainly true of all from the beginning of the war of 1812 to the present time. - Many counterfeit coins and medals exist, of both ancient and modern manufacture. The Greek forgers were very skilful, and produced many fine imitations of coins, some of which are still found in as perfect a state as the originals. The Roman forged money was mostly cast. Among the most skilful of modern forgers were Giovanni Cavino and Alessandro Bassiano of Padua, who produced so many false coins that all such are generally termed Paduans. Benvenuto Cellini did not disdain this employment. Devrieux and Weber in Florence, Carteron in Holland, Congornier in Lyons, Laroche in Grenoble, and Caprara in Smyrna were among the chief counterfeiters, and their coins command high prices as curiosities.

American colonial coins have been very skilfully made in New York, and rare dates are often found carefully altered from common years. - See Eckhel's Doc-trina Numorum Veterum (9 vols. 4to, Vienna, 1792-1826); Mionnet's Description des me-daillcs antiques grccs et romaines, etc. (18 vols. 8vo, Paris, 180G-'39); and Prime's "Coins, Medals, and Seals," etc. (4to, New York, 1861).

Gold Stater of Miletus.

Fig. 1. - Gold Stater of Miletus.

Gold Stater of Sardis.

Fig. 2. - Gold Stater of Sardis.

Persian Gold Daric.

Fig. 3. - Persian Gold Daric.

Silver Coin of Aegina, First Period.

Fig. 4. - Silver Coin of Aegina, First Period.

Silver Coin of Aegina, Third Period.

Fig. 5. - Silver Coin of Aegina, Third Period.

Coin of Syracuse.

Fig. 6. - Coin of Syracuse.

Incused Coin of Tarentum.

Fig. 7. - Incused Coin of Tarentum.