Numismatics for Historians

For whatever reason or reasons, I never had a history teacher who mentioned numismatics, the study of old coins, as a legitimate historical pursuit. Coin collecting falls into the category of antiquarianism, that pedantic collecting and assembling of old things. For the different between history and antiquarianism, I can recommend the works of Arnaldo Momigliano. I also talk about this is a bit in my article “Sorting the Past: The Social Function of Antique Stores as Centers for the Production of Local History,” International Journal of Regional and Local History (2015) 10.2: 1-19. downloadWestFrisia

At any rate, I’ve got some interest in coins, more as a curiosity than a pursuit. This one was fairly cheap online, so I made the order. From discussion with my Dutch friends, it seems that this is probably a coin minted in the city of Hoorn, to the west of Amsterdam, in a region known as West Frisia, not to be confused with the Dutch province of Friesland (which is now sometimes contrasted with the small pocket of East Frisian speakers in Germany).

I like the double lions, which, along with the crown, makes it look regal and medieval. I like the rooster, which gives it a homey touch.  Perhaps to make larger letters, the mint broke up the word Frisia into two lines, FRI, SIA.  The “5” is also peculiar, as it is slightly shorter than the other numbers.


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