Roman ancient coins: the origin of numismatics

Ancient coin collections may have existed since the Roman Empire times. It is known that Augustus would give ancient kings’ coins, as well as foreign coins and tokens as gifts for the Saturnalia festivity. In a letter, Petrarch narrated that he was often approached by vine diggers that had found coins, either to sell them or to ask him to identify the king or emperor portrayed. In fact, Petrarch is considered to be the first collector of the Renaissance, and he presented his coin collection to Emperor Charles IV in 1355.

The first ancient coin collectors: nobles and kings

Indeed, the first coin collectors appeared at the beginning of the 15th century, when some of the most important collections where started, motivated by the admiration of the Renaissance nobility for Ancient Rome and its studies.Pope Boniface VIII, Emperor Maximilian, Louis XIV of France, Prince Joachim II of Brandenburg (that started the Berlin Coin Cabinet) and Henry IV of France are only some examples of the first numismatists. Due to the nobility of its founders, Numismatics is often also called a “Hobby of Kings”.