A College Degree in Numismatics

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by placement93, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. placement93

    placement93 Member

    In the year 2012 when some large number of people walk around with cell phones that take super high quality pictures with the click of a button, why did I see an advertisement on FB today for a degree in photography but not numismatics? I'm really only about two years into the hobby and most of that time was spent coin roll hunting for copper cents, but it's such a deep, varied and fascinating field that it just seems odd that academia hasn't tried to work in a niche for it.

    How many of you good people actually make a living from coins? Do you have some kind of specific training and/or field of research (finance, econ, history)? Do you think a degree in numismatics would have made you better at what you do? Am I a naive American who just thinks that college degrees are short cuts into mastering various fields and allowing people to capitalize on personal passions?
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  3. rickmp

    rickmp Frequently flatulent.

    A degree in numismatics? Is there actually a school that offers that?
  4. Heated Lime

    Heated Lime Member

    Even if there was a class for it at my college i would take it.
  5. McBlzr

    McBlzr Sr Professional Collector

    Hobo is a Coinologist ;)
  6. illini420

    illini420 1909 Collector

    Keep at it and get your doctorate in numismatics... then you'll be an official coin doctor!
  7. NorthKorea

    NorthKorea Dealer Member is a made up title...

    I would HATE seeing that. It's bad enough seeing people tte around GG designations. Don't create more worthless degrees/designations.
  8. rickmp

    rickmp Frequently flatulent.

  9. rickmp

    rickmp Frequently flatulent.

  10. bsowa1029

    bsowa1029 Franklin Half Addict

    There probably isn't a degree for numismatics for the same reason there isn't one for gun collecting, barf bag collecting, and quilting.
  11. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I saw that on TV too, I thought it was silly.
  12. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage

    Even with a college degree you're gonna need the experience of real world coin collecting, medal and token collecting, bullion collecting and paper knowledge. Get what you can for free, when the ANA or whatever is in your reach then take the classes if you want. My point is, I know tons of guitar players who have this and that degree but can't play worth a damn. Yep, get what you can for free.

    I'd personally rather have a job working at a coin shop for a few years than pay to take classes. A grading course is fine, but I really can't think of any others. With that said, if you need to go to college anyways, go for what you want. :thumb:
  13. Ardatirion

    Ardatirion Où est mon poisson

    In the United States? No. There are no regular courses devoted solely to numismatics in this country, but there may be some in Europe. The closest you could get is the Graduate Seminar for the ANS. Not the ANA Summer Seminar. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from attending a college or university and focusing on numismatics within another field. That's what I did. I was a history/archaeology major with a minor in classical studies. Fortunately, my college had one of the best undergraduate research programs in the country, and I was able to write (copiously) about numismatics.

    I imagine that most people would expect that the class would cover grading, valuation, errors, etc. Far from it! For a slight taste at what academic numismatics covers, read this: http://numismatics.org/Seminar/TermsMethods

    Still got the chops for it? :D
  14. buddy16cat

    buddy16cat Well-Known Member

    History would be a closely related major you could get a degree in. I don't know if there are any currency related courses but collectable shows are on the History Channel. Most of these shows feature antiques but coins are often discussed.
  15. desertgem

    desertgem MODERATOR Senior Errer Collecktor Moderator

    I really don't know you well enough to judge, but like most in such similar programs , yes. There are some institutions that allow students to form their own curriculum for an advanced degree, but a curriculum designed by an unknowing ( of the subject matter) person can not reflect well, on the degree or the institution. Many like college environments because they want to be baby fed material they can then regurgitate back to others, not truly understanding basic supporting knowledge.

    You may think you know all about tarnish/toning/corrosion of various metals, but there is a large chemical background area needed.
    You may think you can tell a 1972/72 Lincoln DDO, #1 from a counterfeit, because your 'class covered' doubled dies and counterfeits.
    You may think you can grade coins, but to learn each type, mint, striking characteristics, will take more than a semester or even 4 years.
    Do you understand "sniffers", spectrometers, XDRF equipment, ultrasound transmission for fake gold bars, etc, with out some physics and higher math?

    And that is just a few off the top of my head. if you want to carry around an advanced degree in Numismatics, knowledge of all of those should be within your grasp.

    If you just want solid knowledge in Numismatics for your own activities, you are in the middle of a wikipedia type of numismatic encyclopedia right here.
    There are over 216,000 threads in cointalk. Eliminating duplicates, nonsense threads, personal endearments, etc, I am sure there are at least 80,000 threads that contain good information on a portion of numismatic knowledge. Why do coins have luster/ cartwheel effects? Why do Morgans tend to tone differently than Peace$, what makes the different colors of toning? How can you tell if a 3L buffalo has the correct markers? What do the ^^^^ surface of a uncirculated dollar actually look like microscopically. ( these are some I have participated) . Look at RLM's series on grading, The historical outlooks of collecting that Doug can talk about, The ancients by Mat and Ardatirion, coin chemistry by Bad Thad. and others, and others.

    We are in a pool of knowledge, and can swim and drink and help others do so also, or we can never really contribute anything and just drive up our "likes" and "post counts".

    OK, off my soap box, One reason I was glad to leave college education were the number of applicants who had the degree, but couldn't answer student questions in class without notes, powerpoint ( Aggghh!!!), or google. Get the knowledge, worry about the degree after you are educated. Sorry, old age :)


  16. lonegunlawyer

    lonegunlawyer Numismatist Esq.

    I agree, numismatics is related to history. It would be interesting if you could major in American history with a minor in numismatics.

    PS Nice Haloween avatar McBlazr.
  17. Bedford

    Bedford Lackey For Coin Junkies

    I make my living from coins. I worked for just about 7 years for a large coin company ,Now I have my own shop. While a collector for most of my life to some degree or another the on the job training & knowledge you gain from the others you work with would be better than a degree any day IMO.The experiance on the job of buying , selling , evaluation , grading , pricing & just plain handling tens of thousands of coins is the best way to learn the field of Numismatics & market if you want to make money at it.
    If you wanted to persue a path to a degree Im sure it would not harm you in being prosperous if you were trying to make a living from coins though I'd take experiance 1st.
  18. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    College degrees aren't shortcuts into mastering various fields. College degrees are merely the first step, the very beginning of learning to master a field. And in many cases, they are far from necessary to gain mastery of a given field.

    There is one in India, but that is the only university/college that I have ever found that actually offers a degree in numismatics.

    edit - I will admit it has been several years since I last researched the subject, so it is possible that has changed.
  19. placement93

    placement93 Member

    I was hoping my last question would point towards the kind of irony I was trying to imply. ["Am I a naive American who just thinks that college degrees are short cuts into mastering various fields and allowing people to capitalize on personal passions?"]

    To a certain extent, I was pointing out the absurdity of the fact that I received an ad suggesting I get a degree in photography when one of the only things I talk about on FB is coins. Especially over the last couple of months, probably 65%-70% of my posts (other than saying things like "How cute!" when I see pictures of my niece) are me posting about coins, especially my coin roll hunting results.

    The serious part of the post was asking whether or not professional numismatists, whether graders, traders, etc. thought they would have benefited from something more formalized than being a hobbyist in their days starting out. Despite the banter about, "Experience trumps education any day!" you can't argue that in just about any field, a college degree is usually a pretty darned good place to start. I'm thinking, in particular, of a thread on this very site where someone facetiously posted pictures of heavily cleaned coins (
    http://www.cointalk.com/t205352/). For at least the first page of responses, everybody got the joke, but it wasn't until the second page that Jim stepped in and pointed out that some newcomers might be convinced that grinding down the details on their coins with cola and toothpaste on an eraser is a great idea.

    I could go on about skepticism and why a person should or shouldn't trust folks in online forums, but that debate is pretty old at this point and this community seems one of the more earnest and knowledgeable on their topic than almost any other in which I've participated. I've learned more in two and a half months about coins from these forums than I have from any other online numismatic resource. However, I learned a LOT more about my own body (comparably) in an A&P I course I took a few years ago than I've learned about coins here. I don't think that anyone, including myself, would argue that education is more meaningful than experience. However, experience is not systematic and education, at least at the 4 year level, which comes before the emphasis shifts from "
    be[ing] baby fed material they can then regurgitate back to others," (Jim's words) to personal research and actually advancing the field as a whole, is intended to give the student a "broad, general view of things." [Readers of William Burroughs will get that joke.]

    [Edit: grammar]
  20. lonegunlawyer

    lonegunlawyer Numismatist Esq.

    Not a short cut, just a working foundation.
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