Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center



Banner for the National Numismatic Collection—"Where Money Meets History," home of the largest numismatic collection in North America.



Welcome to the National Numismatic Collection (NNC) of the Smithsonian Institution, one of the largest numismatic collections in the world and the largest in North America. Located in the National Museum of American History, Behring Center, the NNC includes approximately 1.6 million objects. There are over 450,000 coins, medals and decorations and 1.1 million pieces of paper money (including the recently acquired “Confederate Treasury horde” of cancelled Confederate paper money) in the collection, highlighting the entire numismatic history of the world.

Electrum stater, Lydia (Asia Minor), 7th century B.C.The NNC contains many great rarities in coins and currency, from the earliest coins created 2,700 years ago up to the latest innovations in electronic monetary exchange, as well as fascinating objects such as beads, wampum, dentalia, and other commodities once used as money.

The current exhibition is:
Stories on Money

The collection emphasizes the development of money and medals in the United States. The core of the U.S. collection, consisting of more than 18,000 items, including coins of great rarity, came to the Smithsonian in 1923 from the United States Mint. Among exceptional rarities in this section are the Brasher half doubloon, the 1849 double eagle (first of the gold 20 dollar pieces), and two 1877 fifty dollar patterns. A gold 20 Excelentes coin of Ferdinand & Isabella of Spain, 1474-1504.Other rarities are the very popular and rare 1913 Liberty head nickel as well as all three types of the 1804 dollar, and two of three known examples of the world's most valuable coin, the 1933 double eagle, the third of which recently sold for 7.6 million dollars. Among recent donations are the unprecedented Josiah K. Lilly holdings, consisting of 6,150 gold coins, including an almost complete US gold coin collection, a very rich Latin American gold section, and many of the great rarities of European gold coins, such as a 20 excelentes de la Granada of Ferdinand and Isabella, and two large and heavy 100 ducats of Austria and Poland.

Another outstanding donation is the Willis H. duPont collection of more than 12,000 Russian coins in all metals, including platinum, from the Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich estate. The ancient Greek section has grown through many small donations, notably that of Capt. B. Bennett, to almost 19,000 coins. The recent donation of the "Demareteion" decadrachm of Syracuse and 4 related masterpieces of early Greek numismatic art by John Whitney Walter has tremendously enhanced the importance of the ancient Greek collection.  Also of great importance is the large collection of paper money donated by Mortimer Neinken, and the group of checks with presidential signatures from the Chase Manhattan Bank collection.

View collection online

Constantine ruble of 1825, one of 5 struck. US Double Eagle of 1907, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.




Numismatic exhibits using the NNC collections. Frequently asked questions about numismatics. Links to other numismatic sites of interest. Books, brochures and pamphlets produced by the NNC.