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Collectable.  A specimen of interest to collectors and available in sufficient quantity to be fairly easy to obtain during a collector's lifetime. Collectable numismatic pieces are in contrast with noncollectable which implies a rarity of such small quantity in existence that collectors cannot easily obtain a specimen. Specifically, if more than ten known specimens are in collectors' hands, and outside museums, it is considered collectable; that is, a collector could expect one or more of those ten specimens to come on the market during his lifetime.

Collectables.  When the word is plural it implies the object is among similar objects that someone would want to save and study (and perhaps even venerate). Three or more of these similar objects form a collection. Collections are formed by bringing together as many similar objects that take the fancy of the collector.


Coins are among the oldest form of collectables (since 600 bc) and it appears there were collectors of coins almost as soon as there were coins. Likewise medals, and all other numismatic items are strongly collectable. Man (perhaps fortunately not everyone!) has this fascination for forming collections and this can be as encompassing as the human mind can conceive. The author once had a sign over his desk: "You would be surprised at what some people collect!"

With objects that may have many subjects (stamps, postcards, coins, medals, tokens) these, by necessity, must be collected by topic. And this gives the collector even greater empathy for his collecting topic. It is something personal, he has chosen it, and he devotes his attention, his interest (and his pocketbook) to his topic.

Within the sphere of collectables all numismatic items are usually small two-sided metal diestruck objects. But even these parameters are stretched when a collector decides what to add to his own personal collection. Thus nonmetal objects find there way into a numismatic collection, as well as objects that are not diestruck and not even two-sided, as three-dimensional (called 3-D objects) attest. Even the concept of "small" may be modified to include basketball-size coin and medal patterns or flag-size posters or whatever turns on the collector. He defines his own topic.

Cross collectable.  When two or more of these topics intersect in the same object, it is said to be a cross collectable. That means it would be desired by collectors of two or more topics.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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