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Philately meets Numismatics: Coins on Stamps

Author: Emil Drkusic
Date: 10/03/2023

We’ve already covered some topical issues like Chess on Stamps, Trains on Stamps, and Bees on Stamps (Part 1 and Part 2). Today we’ll also cover another topic you might be interested. This one relates two popular hobbies – philately and numismatics. Today, we’ll talk about coins on stamps.


Since you’re on this site, I guess you know what philately is, but let’s see how a relevant source would describe us:

“Philately, the study of postage stamps, stamped envelopes, postmarks, postcards, and other materials relating to postal delivery. The term philately also denotes the collecting of these items. The term was coined in 1864 by a Frenchman, Georges Herpin, who invented it from the Greek philos, “love,” and ateleia, “that which is tax-free”; the postage stamp permitted the letter to come free of charge to the recipient, rendering it untaxed.” - https://www.britannica.com/topic/philately

The first stamp with a (complete) coin as a motif - Queen Victoria - New South Wales - 1861

Queen Victoria

New South Wales – 1861

5 s (British shilling)

The first stamp with a (complete) coin as a motif

The founding age of philately as a hobby is typically considered to be the mid-19th century, around the 1860s. At this time, stamp collecting became popular among European and American elites, and stamp clubs and societies began to form. The first known stamp clubs were formed in 1865 - “Socíeté Philatelique”, formed by a group of Parisian collectors and The Philatelic Society in London. The first stamp album was also created around this time, by a Frenchman named Charles Coste. The publication of stamp catalogs, such as Stanley Gibbons' first catalog in 1865, also helped to popularize stamp collecting as a hobby.


“Coin collecting, also called numismatics, the systematic accumulation and study of coins, tokens, paper money, and objects of similar form and purpose. The collecting of coins is one of the oldest hobbies in the world. With the exception of China and Japan, the introduction of paper money is for the most part a recent development (meaning since the 18th century). Hence, while paper money and other types of notes are collectible, the history of that form of collecting is distinct from coins and largely a modern phenomenon.” - https://www.britannica.com/topic/coin-collecting

Zeus as a Bull with Europe: Didrachm of Gortyna - Crete Stamp - 1905

Zeus as a Bull with Europe: Didrachm of Gortyna

Crete – 1905/02/15

1 ₯ (Greek drachma)

Note: “The story of Europa and Cadmus is found in Greek mythology. They were the children of the king of a land called Phoenicia, which is modern day Lebanon. The God Zeus fell in love with Europa and wanted to take her away from her family to live with him. One day while Europa was wandering amongst her father’s herds of cattle she saw a white bull. She was not aware that Zeus had turned himself into the bull in order to trick her. After she climbed on his back he quickly jumped into the sea and carried her away from her homeland. Europa’s father was heartbroken and sent her brother Cadmus to find her and bring her home. Cadmus sailed over the sea and eventually arrived in Greece. He never did find his sister but it was Cadmus who brought the alphabet to the Greeks. The continent of Europe got its name from the princess Europa.” - Myth of Europa

Numismatics in much older than philately, and the reason is simple – coins existed for millennia before postal stamps were issued. It’s believed that even Octavian (Caesar Augustus) had his fingers on coins 😊 For hundreds of years it was considered the hobby of kings. Finally, in 19th century first numismatic societies were formed. 

Liberty Loan - Bulgaria stamp - 1945

Liberty Loan

Bulgaria – 1945/07/04

500 лв (Bulgarian lev)

“Professional societies organised in the 19th century. The Royal Numismatic Society was founded in 1836 and immediately began publishing the journal that became the Numismatic Chronicle. The American Numismatic Society was founded in 1858 and began publishing the American Journal of Numismatics in 1866.” - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numismatics

Philately meets Numismatics

To be completely honest, if you do it properly, like that’s the case with each hobby, both of them, philately and numismatics are really time consuming. Most people won’t earn anything out of it, besides maybe the most important – happiness. Some will be able to turn their hobby into a real business, but this will require even more time invested.

Coin of Syracuse stamp - Italy - 1957

Coin of Syracuse

Italy – 1957/06/15

200 ₤ (Italian lira)

Still, a there are people happy enough to have time for both – philately and numismatics. They could find this topic very interesting, because you could learn more about both hobbies at once.

Croatia's Adoption of the Euro stamp - Croatia - 2023

Croatia's Adoption of the Euro

Croatia – 2023/01/25

1.14 €

Note: At the moment, starting with the January 1st, 2023, Croatia is the 20th, and the last country that joined the Eurozone, that is using the Euro as its’ official currency.

You could ask yourself – is it possible that there are coins with postage stamps as a motif. The answer is yes, and you’ll be able to read about that soon.

Today we’ve seen coins on stamps. While you wait for the next article, feel free to explore stamps related to Chess on Stamps, Trains on Stamps, and Bees on Stamps (Part 1 and Part 2).

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