Famous Museum Coins
While coin collectors own some of the most sought after coins in their personal collections, many museums also hold well-known collections.
The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (UK) touts one of the best examples of a coin from the Roman Republic. It is known for being mentioned by author Dio Cassius as well as being replicated a century after it was originally issued to celebrate the murder of Nero. Their collection also includes a golden rupee from the 1600s, an unusual copper token distributed by a Cambridge chandler in 1668, and a mint condition Euro, the recently introduced standard monetary for the European Union.
The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia holds 63,360 Ancient Greek coins. In fact, by sheer number, the items in the numismatic collection make up nearly 35% of the museum's pieces. Of specific interest are the first commemorative coins, the Syracusan Dekadrachms. These coins were originally minted to celebrate the victory of the Syracusans over the Athenians in 413 B.C. The collection also contains some exquisite examples of medals and badges.
To the surprise of many numismatists, The British Museum has an impressive collection of United States coins. Some of these coins were donated very soon after being issued and are thus in pristine condition. In fact, some have been identified as being either early strikes or master coins. A pair of 1795 dollars continues to draw a particular amount of attention. One of these coins is often compared to the Garrett 1795 Master Coin, which was sold for an astounding $170,000 in 1980.
The Numismatic Museum in Athens, Greece holds one of the more comprehensive collections of ancient coins in the world. One item that has received considerable attention is the bronze die used for the striking of Athenian tetradrachms with the owl of Athena branding. The bronze die, which was found in Egypt, is suspected to have been used to produce imitations of Athenian coins. Such artifacts serve to increase the intrigue and mystery that surround the world of coin collecting.
Located in Stockholm, Sweden, the National Museum of Economy contains a fascinating glimpse into the history of the world's currency in its Royal Coin Cabinet exhibition hall. Among its prized pieces is the world's largest struck coin and the first printed banknote. Their collection also includes some stunning examples of coins from the Middle Ages, including the bracteate or one-sided coins. This is truly an exceptional place to visit for those interested in the history of currency.
The United States offers several prominent collections of coins. The ANA Money Museum, located in Colorado Springs, offers three exhibit galleries offering an in-depth look at coin minting in the US. Among the treasures there is an 1804 mint condition United States dollar, donated to the museum by Aubrey and Adeline Bebee. The history behind the coin is almost as remarkable as the beauty of the coin itself.
No list of coin museum can be considered complete with including the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The NNC, as it's commonly known in coin collecting circles, offers a look at close to half a million coins and medals, and over one million pieces of paper currency. Included in the NNC's permanent collection are two of the known 1933 Double Eagle coins, a $20 gold piece struck. Other highlights in the collection include the Brasher half doubloon, a rare 1913 Liberty head nickel, and over 6,000 gold coins from around the world.
If you can't travel, check out the dozens of online coin galleries. You can view fantastic examples of the world's finest coins right from the comfort of your own home.