The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 15, April 9, 2017, Article 19


As noted in the previous article about the Scott Stamp & Coin Company, Ltd., researcher John Lupia considers numismatics broadly defined to include both coins and stamps. Here's an excerpt from his web site article on the topic. -Editor

Numismatics is the study of any object serving as a customary or legal means of conveyance for all forms of payment, award or reward having measurable monetary value, or an engraving, scrip, or advertisement imitating that normative means, or any small portable metallic or other portable durable material such as paper serving as a vehicle conveying either a legal register for economic exchange purposes or taxation, or else having a socially esteemed, venerated or coveted value of award resembling a form customary for payment, award or reward.

The word numismatics is derived from Greek and Latin with the Greek having the notion of currency from the Greek words νόμος "nomos", a habitual practice of social custom or convention, law or ordinance, and the Greek word νόμισμα "nomisma", anything sanctioned by current or established usage or custom, and the Latin words nummus and nummulus meaning money.

As you can see from the above definition of numismatics the entire field of philatelics is also necessarily included. Traditionally since the 1940's, numismatics and philatelics have been largely considered as belonging to two separate and distinct fields of subject matter and study. However, upon careful reading and understanding the above definition one can easily see that they are neither separate nor distinct in their subject fields and area of study. Stamps like coins are a currency produced by stamping or impressing a die.

Coin and paper money specialists who study dies and their varieties will thoroughly enjoy the many challenges they face in the philatelic world which is much more demanding as is it is clearly plain to see due to the three to four major dies involved on dated and cancelled envelopes called covers in the stamp collecting world, bearing postage stamps and the numerous other ancillary slugs used for customizing them for the days work.

Comparatively there are far more dies and stampings on a single cover than on any coin, medal or paper currency making stamp collecting far more varied and fascinating with breadth and depth unparalleled in any other branch in numismatics as a whole.

In the 19th century and in the first few decades of the 20th century many of the great collectors and hobbyists collected both stamps and coins and could see the clear relationship between them and paper money, bank-checks, money orders, and notaphily, i.e., stock certificates or scrip. Over the past fifty to sixty years, i.e., since the late 1940's or so the two classes of collecting have been alienated from one another and many collectors today see no real relationship between them and even rival them disdaining the other. It is hoped that the contents of this website and the various databases and articles will demonstrate the unity between both fields of study and show that philatelics is not only a branch of numismatics but one of its finest.

We've certainly seen increasing specialization over the years, with even what we today see as the numismatic side devolving into coin, token, medal and paper money specialties and sub-specialties.

As a collector and researcher of Encased Postage Stamps and Postage Stamp Envelopes I certainly crossed both fields, and was quite aware of publications such as The Essay-Proof Journal which had quite an overlap between the worlds of stamp and paper money collecting. What do readers think? Have the coin and stamp fields diverged so far that we can never again sit at the same table? -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
"Towards an Operative Definition of Numismatics" (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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