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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(Lat. nuzmmus and numisma, money), the science which treats of coins and medals. A coin is a piece of metal of a fixed weight stamped by authority of government, and employed as a circulating medium. A medal is a piece struck to commemorate an event. The study of numismatics has an important bearing on history. Coins have been the means of ascertaining the names of forgotten countries and cities, their position, their chronology, the succession of their kings, their usages. civil, military, and religious, and the style of their art. On their respective coins we can look on undoubtedly accurate representations of Mithridates, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero, Caracalla. and read their character and features.
The metals which have generally been used for coinage are gold, silver, and copper. In each class is comprised the alloy occasionally substituted for it, as electrum (an alloy of gold and silver) for gold, billon for silver, bronze for copper, and potin (an alloy softer than billon) for silver and copper. The side of a coin which bears the most important device or inscription is called the obverse, the other side the reverse. The words or letters on a coin are called its inscription; an inscription surrounding the border is called the legend. When the lower part of the reverse is distinctly separated from the main device it is called the exergue (Gr. ἐξ ἔργον , without the work), and often bears a secondary inscription, with the date or place of mintage. The field is the space on the surface of the coin unoccupied by the principal device or inscription.
In the present article we shall consider only the types of coin prevailing in ancient times.
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Numismatics'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/n/numismatics.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.