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A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of
metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appearance, and conducts Electrical resistivity and conductivity, el ...

metal
or
plastic Plastics are a wide range of synthetic polymers, synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient. Their Plasticity (physics), plasticity makes it possible for plastics to be Injection moulding, moulded, Extrusion, extr ...

plastic
used primarily as a medium of exchange or
legal tender Legal tender is a form of money that courts of law are required to recognize as satisfactory payment for any monetary debt. Each jurisdiction determines what is legal tender, but essentially it is anything which when offered ("tendered") in paym ...
. They are standardized in weight, and produced in large quantities at a
mint MiNT is Now TOS (MiNT) is a free software Free software (or libre software) is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions and data (computing), data that tell a computer how to work. This i ...
in order to facilitate trade. They are most often issued by a
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, Executive (government), ex ...

government
. Coins often have images, numerals, or text on them. ''Obverse'' and its opposite, ''reverse'', refer to the two flat faces of coins and
medal Medal depicting Herbert C. Hoover by Devreese Godefroi A medal or medallion is a small portable artistic object, a thin disc, normally of metal, carrying a design, usually on both sides. They typically have a commemorative purpose of some k ...

medal
s. In this usage, ''obverse'' means the
front Front may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''The Front'' (1943 film), a 1943 Soviet drama film * '' The Front'', 1976 film Music * The Front (band), an American rock band signed to Columbia Records and active in the 1980s and e ...
face of the object and ''reverse'' means the
back The human back, also called the dorsum, is the large posterior area of the human body The human body is the structure of a human being. It is composed of many different types of cells that together create tissues and subsequently organ s ...
face. The obverse of a coin is commonly called ''heads'', because it often depicts the head of a prominent person, and the reverse ''tails''. Coins are usually metal or an
alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appearance, and conducts Elec ...
, or sometimes made of manmade materials. They are usually
disc Disk or disc may refer to: * Disk (mathematics) * Disk storage Music * Disc (band), an American experimental music band * ''Disk'' (album), a 1995 EP by Moby Other uses * Disc (galaxy), a disc-shaped group of stars * ''Disc'' (magazine), ...
shaped. Coins made of valuable metal are stored in large quantities as
bullion coin A bullion coin is a coin struck from precious metal Precious metals are rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical elements of high Value (economics), economic value. Chemically, the precious metals tend to be less reactivity (chemistry), r ...
s. Other coins are used as
money Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms were amputated, in the left corner, 174x174px Money is any item or verif ...

money
in everyday transactions, circulating alongside
banknote A banknote (often known as a bill (in the US and Canada), paper money, or simply a note) is a type of negotiable instrument, negotiable promissory note, made by a bank or other licensed authority, payable to the bearer on demand. Banknotes we ...
s. Usually the highest value coin in circulation (excluding bullion coins) is worth less than the lowest-value note. In the last hundred years, the face value of circulation coins has occasionally been lower than the value of the metal they contain, for example due to
inflation In economics, inflation refers to a general progressive increase in prices of goods and services in an economy. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a r ...

inflation
. If the difference becomes significant, the issuing authority may decide to withdraw these coins from circulation, possibly issuing new equivalents with a different composition, or the public may decide to melt the coins down or
hoard A hoard or "wealth deposit" is an archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but ...

hoard
them (see
Gresham's law In economics, Gresham's law is a monetary principle stating that "bad money drives out good". For example, if there are two forms of commodity money in circulation, which are accepted by law as having similar face value, the more valuable commodity ...
). Exceptions to the rule of face value being higher than content value also occur for some bullion coins made of ''copper,
silver Silver is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same n ...

silver
, or
gold Gold is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Au (from la, aurum) and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. In a pure form, it is a brightness, bright, slightly reddish yel ...

gold
'' (and, rarely, other metals, such as
platinum Platinum is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

platinum
or
palladium Palladium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same nu ...

palladium
), intended for collectors or investors in precious metals. Examples of modern gold collector/investor coins include the
British sovereign The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or ...
minted by the United Kingdom, the
American Gold Eagle The American Gold Eagle is an official gold bullion coin of the United States. Authorized under the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985, it was first released by the United States Mint in 1986. Because the term "Eagle (United States coin), eagle" al ...
minted by the United States, the
Canadian Gold Maple Leaf The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf (GML) is a gold bullion coin that is issued annually by the Government of Canada. It is produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. The Gold Maple Leaf is legal tender Legal tender is a form of money that courts of la ...
minted by Canada, and the
Krugerrand The Krugerrand (; ) is a South African coin, first minted on 3 July 1967 to help market South African gold and produced by Rand Refinery and the South African Mint. The name is a compound of ''Paul Kruger'', the former President of the South Afr ...
, minted by South Africa. While the Eagle, and Sovereign coins have nominal (purely symbolic) face values, the
Krugerrand The Krugerrand (; ) is a South African coin, first minted on 3 July 1967 to help market South African gold and produced by Rand Refinery and the South African Mint. The name is a compound of ''Paul Kruger'', the former President of the South Afr ...
does not. Historically, a considerable variety of
coinage metals The coinage metals comprise, at a minimum, those metallic chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consist ...
(including alloys) and other materials (e.g.
porcelain Porcelain () is a ceramic A ceramic is any of the various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant materials made by shaping and then firing a nonmetallic mineral, such as clay, at a high temperature. Common examples are ear ...

porcelain
) have been used to produce coins for circulation, collection, and metal investment: bullion coins often serve as more convenient stores of assured metal quantity and purity than other bullion.


History


Bullion and unmarked metals

Metal ingots, silver bullion or unmarked bars were probably in use for exchange among many of the civilizations that mastered metallurgy. The weight and purity of bullion would be the key determinant of value. In the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of ...

Achaemenid Empire
in the early 6th century BCE, coinage was yet unknown, and
barter In trade, barter (derived from ''baretor'') is a system of exchange in which participants in a transaction directly exchange goods or services for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money Image:National ...
and to some extent silver
bullion Bullion is non-ferrous metal that has been refined to a high degree of elemental purity. It ordinarily refers to bulk metal used in the production of coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of ...
was used instead for trade. The practice of using silver bars for currency also seems to have been current in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sovi ...

Central Asia
from the 6th century BCE.Discovery of a hoard of currency with silver bars near
Malayer Malayer ( fa, ملایر, Malāyer), formerly Dowlatabad ( fa, دولت‌آباد, Doulatābād, also Romanized as Dowlatābād and Daūlatābād), is a city and capital of Malayer County, Hamadan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population ...

Malayer
, dated circa 600 BCE, with photographs in
Coins were an evolution of "currency" systems of the
Late Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age syst ...
, where standard-sized
ingot An ingot is a piece of relatively pure material, usually metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appea ...
s, and tokens such as
knife money Knife money is the name of large, cast, bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper Copper is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Cu (from la, cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ...
, were used to store and transfer value.


Tongbei in Bronze Age China (circa 1100 BCE)

In the late
Chinese Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age syst ...
, standardized cast tokens were made, such as those discovered in a tomb near
Anyang Anyang (; ) is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful distinction, because the sign is located ''already'' wit ...
. These were replicas in bronze of earlier Chinese currency,
cowrie Cowrie or cowry (plural cowries) is the common name for a group of small to large sea snails, marine gastropod mollusk Mollusca is the second-largest phylum of invertebrate Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop ...
shells, so they were named Bronze Shell.


Iron Age


Lydian and Ionian electrum coins (circa 600 BCE)

The earliest coins are mostly associated with
Iron Age Anatolia The prehistory of Anatolia stretches from the Paleolithic erahttp://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/science-stone-tool-turkey-02370.html through to the appearance of classical civilisation in the middle of the 1st millennium BC. It is generally regar ...
of the late 7th century BCE, and especially with the kingdom of
Lydia Lydia (Lydian language, Lydian: ‎𐤮𐤱𐤠𐤭𐤣𐤠, ''Śfarda''; Aramaic: ''Lydia''; el, Λυδία, ''Lȳdíā''; tr, Lidya) was an Iron Age Monarchy, kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the mode ...

Lydia
. Early
electrum File:Griffin protome Louvre Bj39.jpg, Brooch with a griffin protome, from the necropolis of Kameiros, Rhodes, (Louvre) Electrum is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver, with trace amounts of copper and other metals. The ancient Gr ...
coins (an alluvial alloy of gold and silver, varying wildly in proportion, and usually about 40–55% gold) were not standardized in weight, and in their earliest stage may have been ritual objects, such as badges or medals, issued by priests. The unpredictability of the composition of naturally occurring electrum implied that it had a variable value, which greatly hampered its development. Most of the early Lydian coins include no writing ("myth" or "inscription"), only an image of a symbolic animal. Therefore, the dating of these coins relies primarily on archaeological evidence, with the most commonly cited evidence coming from excavations at the
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus The Temple of Artemis or Artemision ( gr, Ἀρτεμίσιον; tr, Artemis Tapınağı), also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple Greek temples ( grc, ναός, naós, dwelling, semantically distinct from Lat ...
, also called the Ephesian Artemision (which would later evolve into one of the
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World 324px, Timeline and map of the Seven Wonders. Dates in bold green and dark red are of their construction and destruction, respectively. The Seven Wonders of the World or the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (simply known as Seven Wonders) is a ...

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
), site of the earliest known deposit of electrum coins. Because the oldest lion head "coins" were discovered in that temple, and they do not appear to have been used in commerce , these objects may not have been coins but badges or medals issued by the priests of that temple. Anatolian Artemis was the Πὀτνια Θηρῶν (''Potnia Thêrôn'', "Mistress of Animals"), whose symbol was the
stag Deer or true deer are hoof Cloven hooves of roe deer (''Capreolus capreolus''), with prominent dewclaws A hoof ( or ), plural hooves ( or ) or hoofs , is the tip of a toe of an ungulate mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , ' ...

stag
. It took some time before ancient coins were used for commerce and trade. Even the smallest-denomination electrum coins, perhaps worth about a day's subsistence, would have been too valuable for buying a loaf of bread. Maybe the first coins to be used for retailing on a large-scale basis were likely small silver fractions, Hemiobol,
Ancient Greek coinage The history of ancient Greek coinage can be divided (along with most other Greek art forms) into four periods: the Archaic, the Classical, the Hellenistic and the Roman. The Archaic period extends from the introduction of coinage to the Greek ...
minted by the
Ionian Greeks on the coast of modern-day Turkey. The Ionians (; el, Ἴωνες, ''Íōnes'', grammatical number, singular , ''Íōn'') were one of the four major tribe The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human so ...
in the late sixth century BCE. In contrast
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It ...
mentioned the innovation made by the Lydians: And both
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit ...

Aristotle
(fr. 611,37, ed. V. Rose) and Pollux (Onamastikon IX.83), mention that the first issuer of coinage was Hermodike/Demodike of Cyme. Cyme was a city in Aeolia, nearby Lydia. Many early Lydian and Greek coins were minted under the authority of private individuals and are thus more akin to tokens or badges than to modern coins, though due to their numbers it is evident that some were official state issues. The earliest inscribed coins are those of
Phanes Phanes ( grc, Φάνης, Phánēs, genitive ) or Protogonus () was the mystic primeval deity of procreation and the generation of new life, who was introduced into Greek mythology by the Orphism (religion), Orphic tradition; other names for t ...
, dated to 625–600 BC from
Ephesus Ephesus (; gr, Ἔφεσος, Éphesos; tr, Efes; may ultimately derive from hit, 𒀀𒉺𒊭, Apaša) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, an ...

Ephesus
in
Ionia Ionia (; Ancient Greek: wikt:Ἰωνία, Ἰωνία /i.ɔː.ní.aː/, ''Iōnía'' or Ἰωνίη, ''Iōníē'') was an ancient region on the central part of the western coast of Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which ...
, with the legend ΦΑΕΝΟΣ ΕΜΙ ΣHΜΑ (or similar) (“I am the badge/sign/mark of Phanes/light”) or just bearing the name ΦΑΝΕΟΣ (“of Phanes”). The first electrum coins issued by a monarch are those minted by king
Alyattes of Lydia Alyattes ( grc, Ἀλυάττης ''Aluáttēs'', likely from Lydian '; reigned c. 618–561 BC), sometimes described as Alyattes I, was the fourth king of the Mermnad dynasty in Lydia Lydia ( Assyrian: ''Luddu''; el, Λυδία, ''Lȳdí ...
(died c. 560 BCE), for which reason this king is sometimes mentioned as the originator of coinage.


Croesus: Pure gold and silver coins

The successor of Alyattes, king
Croesus Croesus ( ; grc, Κροῖσος, ''Kroisos''; 595 BC – date of death unknown) was the king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco ...
(r. c. 560–546 BCE), became associated with great wealth in Greek historiography. He is credited with issuing the ''
Croeseid The Croeseid, anciently ''Kroiseioi stateres'', was a type of coin, either in gold or silver, which was minted in Sardis by the king of Lydia Croesus (561–546 Before Christ, BC) from around 550 BC. Croesus is credited with issuing the first true ...
'', the first true
gold coin A gold coin is a coin that is made mostly or entirely of gold. Most gold coins minted since 1800 are 90–92% gold (22 fineness#Karat, karat), while most of today's gold bullion coins are pure gold, such as the Britannia (coin), Britannia, Canad ...
s with a standardized purity for general circulation. and the world's first bimetallic monetary system c. 550 BCE. Coins spread rapidly in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, leading to the development of
Ancient Greek coinage The history of ancient Greek coinage can be divided (along with most other Greek art forms) into four periods: the Archaic, the Classical, the Hellenistic and the Roman. The Archaic period extends from the introduction of coinage to the Greek ...
and
Achaemenid coinage The Achaemenid Empire issued coins from 520 BCE–450 BCE to 330 BCE. The Persian daric was the first gold coin which, along with a similar silver coin, the siglos (from grc, σίγλος, he, שֶׁקֶל, ''shekel, shékel'') represented the fi ...
, and further to
Illyrian coinage Illyrian coinage which began in the 6th century BC continued up to the 1st century of Roman rule. It was the southern Illyrians The Illyrians ( grc, Ἰλλυριοί, ''Illyrioi''; la, Illyrii) were a group of Indo-European languages, Indo-Eur ...
. Standardized
Roman currency Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
was used throughout the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity it included large territorial holdings aro ...

Roman Empire
. Important Roman
gold Gold is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Au (from la, aurum) and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. In a pure form, it is a brightness, bright, slightly reddish yel ...
and
silver Silver is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same n ...
coins were continued into the Middle Ages (see
Gold dinar The gold dinar ( ar, ﺩﻳﻨﺎﺭ ذهبي) is an Islamic medieval gold coin first issued in Islamic calendar, AH 77 (696–697 CE) by Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. The weight of the dinar is 1 mithqal (). The word ''dinar'' co ...
,
Solidus Solidus (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republi ...
,
Aureus The ''aureus'' ( ''aurei'', 'golden', used as a noun) was a gold coin of ancient Rome originally valued at 25 pure silver ''denarius, denarii''. The ''aureus'' was regularly issued from the 1st century BC to the beginning of the 4th century AD, w ...
,
Denarius File:8denarii.jpg, Top row left to right: 157 BC Roman Republic, AD 73 Vespasian, AD 161 Marcus Aurelius, AD 194 Septimius Severus; Second row left to right: AD 199 Caracalla, AD 200 Julia Domna, AD 219 Elagabalus, AD 236 Maximinus Thrax The de ...
). Ancient and early medieval coins in theory had the value of their metal content, although there have been many instances throughout history of governments inflating their currencies by debasing the metal content of their coinage, so that the inferior coins were worth less in metal than their face value.
Fiat money Fiat money (from la, fiat, ) is a type of money that is not backed by any commodity such as gold or silver, and typically declared by a decree A decree is a rule of law usually issued by a head of state A head of state (or chief of sta ...
first arose in medieval China, with the
jiaozi ''Jiaozi'' ( zh, 餃子; ) are a Chinese dumpling commonly eaten in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most popu ...
paper money. ''Early paper money was introduced in Europe in the later Middle Ages'', but some coins continued to have the value of the gold or silver they contained throughout the
Early Modern period The early modern period of modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recove ...
. The
penny A penny is a coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prep ...

penny
was
minted Minted is an online marketplace of independent artists and designers. The company crowdsource Crowdsourcing is a sourcing model in which individuals or organizations obtain goods or services, including ideas, voting, micro-tasks and finance ...
as a silver coin until the 17th century.


Achaemenid coinage (546–330 BCE)

When
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia ( peo, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, translit=Kūruš; ; ) commonly known as Cyrus the Great, and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group native ...
(550–530 BC) came to power, coinage was unfamiliar in his realm. Barter and to some extent silver
bullion Bullion is non-ferrous metal that has been refined to a high degree of elemental purity. It ordinarily refers to bulk metal used in the production of coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of ...
was used instead for trade. The practice of using silver bars for currency also seems to have been current in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sovi ...

Central Asia
from the 6th century. Cyrus the Great introduced coins to the Persian Empire after 546 BCE, following his conquest of
Lydia Lydia (Lydian language, Lydian: ‎𐤮𐤱𐤠𐤭𐤣𐤠, ''Śfarda''; Aramaic: ''Lydia''; el, Λυδία, ''Lȳdíā''; tr, Lidya) was an Iron Age Monarchy, kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the mode ...

Lydia
and the defeat of its king
Croesus Croesus ( ; grc, Κροῖσος, ''Kroisos''; 595 BC – date of death unknown) was the king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco ...
, who had put in place the first coinage in history. With his conquest of Lydia, Cyrus acquired a region in which coinage was invented, developed through advanced metallurgy, and had already been in circulation for about 50 years, making the Lydian Kingdom one of the leading trade powers of the time. It seems Cyrus initially adopted the Lydian coinage as such, and continued to strike Lydia's lion-and-bull coinage. Original coins of the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of ...

Achaemenid Empire
were issued from 520 BCE – 450 BCE to 330 BCE. The Persian
Daric The Persian daric was a gold coin which, along with a similar silver coin, the siglos, represented the bimetallic monetary standard of the Achaemenid Persian Empire.Michael Alram"DARIC" '' Encyclopaedia Iranica'', December 15, 1994, last updated ...
was the first truly Achaemenid
gold coin A gold coin is a coin that is made mostly or entirely of gold. Most gold coins minted since 1800 are 90–92% gold (22 fineness#Karat, karat), while most of today's gold bullion coins are pure gold, such as the Britannia (coin), Britannia, Canad ...
which, along with a similar silver coin, the
Siglos The Achaemenid Empire issued coins from 520 BCE–450 BCE to 330 BCE. The Persian daric was the first gold coin which, along with a similar silver coin, the siglos (from grc, σίγλος, he, שֶׁקֶל, ''shekel, shékel'') represented the fi ...
, represented the bimetallic
monetary standard A monetary system is a system by which a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normall ...
of the .Michael Alram
"DARIC"
''
Encyclopaedia Iranica An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) is a reference work or compendium providing summaries of knowledge either from all branches or from a particular field or discipline. Encyclopedias are divided into article (publishing), art ...
'', December 15, 1994, last updated November 17, 2011


=Coinage of Southern Asia under the Achaemenid Empire

= The Achaemenid Empire already reached the doors of
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...

India
during the original expansion of
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia ( peo, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, translit=Kūruš; ; ) commonly known as Cyrus the Great, and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group native ...
, and the
Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley The Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley refers to the Achaemenid The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire An empire ...
is dated to c. 515 BCE under
Darius I Darius I ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, translit=Dārayava(h)uš; New Persian: ; ; c. 550 – 486 BCE), commonly known as Darius the Great, was the third Persian King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, ...
. An Achaemenid administration was established in the area. The
Kabul hoard The Kabul hoard, also called the Chaman Hazouri, Chaman Hazouri or Tchamani-i Hazouri hoard, is a coin hoard discovered in the vicinity of Kabul Kabul ( ps, کابل, translit=Kābəl; prs, کابل, translit=Kābol) is the Capital city, capital ...
, also called the Chaman Hazouri hoard, is a coin hoard discovered in the vicinity of
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , translit=Kābəl, ; prs, , translit=Kābol, ) is the Capital city, capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country. It is also a municipality, forming part of the greater Kabul Province, an ...

Kabul
,
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central Asia, Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the eas ...
, containing numerous
Achaemenid The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire An empire is a sovereign state consisting of several territories and peoples subj ...
coins as well as many
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
coins from the 5th and 4th centuries BCE.: "The most important and informative of these hoards is the Chaman Hazouri hoard from Kabul discovered in 1933, which contained royal Achaemenid sigloi from the western part of the Achaemenid Empire, together with a large number of Greek coins dating from the fifth and early fourth century BCE, including a local imitation of an Athenian tetradrachm, all apparently taken from circulation in the region." The deposit of the hoard is dated to the Achaemenid period, in approximately 380 BCE. The hoard also contained many locally produced silver coins, minted by local authorities under Achaemenid rule. Several of these issues follow the "western designs" of the facing bull heads, a stag, or Persian column capitals on the obverse, and incuse punch on the reverse. According to numismatist
Joe Cribb Joe Cribb is a numismatist, specialising in Asian coinages, and in particular on coins of the Kushan Empire. His catalogues of Chinese silver currency ingots, and of ritual coins of Southeast Asia were the first detailed works on these subjects in ...
, these finds suggest that the idea of coinage and the use of punch-marked techniques was introduced to India from the Achaemenid Empire during the 4th century BCE. More Achaemenid coins were also found in
Pushkalavati Pushkalavati (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language ...
and in
Bhir Mound The Bhir Mound ( ur, بھڑ ماونڈ) is an archaeological site in Taxila Taxila (from Pāli Brahmi: 𑀢𑀔𑁆𑀔𑀲𑀺𑀮𑀸, Takhkhasilā, Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ...
. File:Achaemenid Empire coin. Uncertain mint in the Kabul Valley. Circa 500-380 BCE.jpg, Punch-marked coin minted in the Kabul Valley under Achaemenid administration. Circa 500–380 BCE, or c.350 BCE."Extremely Rare Early Silver from the Kabul Valley", CNG 102, Lot:649
CNG Coins
File:Gandhara bent bar.jpg,
Gandhara Gandhāra ( sa, गन्धार, link=no) was an ancient region in the Valley of Peshawar, Peshawar basin in the far north-west of the ancient Indian subcontinent, corresponding to present-day north-west Pakistan and north-east Afghanistan ...

Gandhara
n "bent-bar" punch-marked coin minted under Achaemenid administration, of the type found in large quantities in the Chaman Hazouri and the
Bhir Mound The Bhir Mound ( ur, بھڑ ماونڈ) is an archaeological site in Taxila Taxila (from Pāli Brahmi: 𑀢𑀔𑁆𑀔𑀲𑀺𑀮𑀸, Takhkhasilā, Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ...
hoards. File:Gandhara1.JPG, Early
punch-marked coins Punch-marked coins, ''also known as'' ''Aahat'' coins' are a type of early coinage of India, dating to between about the 6th and 2nd centuries BC. It was of irregular shape. History Punch-marked coins are a type of early coinage of India, dating ...
of Gandhara,
Taxila Taxila (from Pāli Brahmi: 𑀢𑀔𑁆𑀔𑀲𑀺𑀮𑀸, Takhkhasilā, Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo- ...
-
Gandhara Gandhāra ( sa, गन्धार, link=no) was an ancient region in the Valley of Peshawar, Peshawar basin in the far north-west of the ancient Indian subcontinent, corresponding to present-day north-west Pakistan and north-east Afghanistan ...

Gandhara
region.


Greek Archaic coinage (until about 480 BCE)

According to
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit ...

Aristotle
(fr. 611,37, ed. V. Rose) and Pollux (Onamastikon IX.83), the first issuer of Greek coinage was Hermodike of Kyme. A small percentage of early Lydian/Greek coins have a legend. The most ancient inscribed coin known is from nearby
Caria Caria (; from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 millio ...

Caria
. This coin has a Greek legend reading ''phaenos emi sema'' interpreted variously as "I am the badge of Phanes", or "I am the sign of light". The Phanes coins are among the earliest of Greek coins; a hemihekte of the issue was found in the foundation deposit of the temple of Artemis at Ephesos (the oldest deposit of
electrum File:Griffin protome Louvre Bj39.jpg, Brooch with a griffin protome, from the necropolis of Kameiros, Rhodes, (Louvre) Electrum is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver, with trace amounts of copper and other metals. The ancient Gr ...
coins discovered). One assumption is that Phanes was a mercenary mentioned by Herodotus, another that this coin is associated with the primeval god
Phanes Phanes ( grc, Φάνης, Phánēs, genitive ) or Protogonus () was the mystic primeval deity of procreation and the generation of new life, who was introduced into Greek mythology by the Orphism (religion), Orphic tradition; other names for t ...
or "Phanes" might have been an epithet of the local goddess identified with Artemis. Barclay V. Head found these suggestions unlikely and thought it more probably "the name of some prominent citizen of Ephesus". Another candidate for the site of the earliest coins is
Aegina Aegina (; el, Αίγινα, ''Aígina'' ; grc, Αἴγῑνα) is one of the Saronic Islands The Saronic Islands or Argo-Saronic Islands is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, ...
, where Chelone ("turtle") coins were first minted circa 700 BCE. Coins from
Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is the capital city, capital and List of cities in Greece, largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica (region), Attica region and is one of the List of oldest ...
and
Corinth Corinth ( ; el, Κόρινθος, Kórinthos, ) is the successor to an ancient city, and is a former municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of sel ...
appeared shortly thereafter, known to exist at least since the late 6th century BCE. File:LYCIA, Phaselis. Circa 550-530-20 BC.jpg, Coin of
Phaselis Image:phaselis axb02.jpg, The aqueduct Phaselis ( grc, wikt:Φασηλίς, Φασηλίς) was a Ancient Greece, Greek and Ancient Rome, Roman city on the coast of ancient Lycia. Its ruins are located north of the modern town Tekirova in the Keme ...

Phaselis
, Lycia. Circa 550–530/20 BCE. File:LYCIA, Uncertain king. Circa 520-470-60 BC.jpg, Coin of Lycia. Circa 520–470/60 BCE. LYCIA, Uncertain. Circa 520-470-60 BC.jpg, Lycia coin. Circa 520-470 BCE. Struck with worn obverse die. File:LESBOS, Unattributed Koinon mint. Circa 510-480 BC.jpg, Coin of
Lesbos Lesbos or Lesvos (, also ; el, Λέσβος, Lésvos ) is a Greek island located in the northeastern Aegean Sea, often called Mytilene () in Greece, after its capital. It has an area of with of coastline, making it the third largest island in ...
,
Ionia Ionia (; Ancient Greek: wikt:Ἰωνία, Ἰωνία /i.ɔː.ní.aː/, ''Iōnía'' or Ἰωνίη, ''Iōníē'') was an ancient region on the central part of the western coast of Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which ...
. Circa 510–80 BCE.


Antiquity


Classical Greek antiquity (480 BCE~)

The
Classical periodClassical period may refer to: *Classical Greece, specifically of the 5th and 4th centuries BC *Classical antiquity, in the Greco-Roman world *Classical India, an historic period of India (c. 322 BC - c. 550 CE) *Classical period (music), in music ...
saw Greek coinage reach a high level of technical and aesthetic quality. Larger cities now produced a range of fine silver and gold coins, most bearing a portrait of their patron god or goddess or a legendary hero on one side, and a symbol of the city on the other. Some coins employed a visual pun: some coins from
Rhodes Rhodes (; el, Ρόδος, translit=Ródos ) is the largest of the Dodecanese islands of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10 ...

Rhodes
featured a
rose A rose is a woody perennial plant, perennial flowering plant of the genus ''Rosa'', in the family Rosaceae, or the flower it bears. There are over three hundred Rose species, species and Garden roses, tens of thousands of cultivars. They form a ...

rose
, since the Greek word for rose is ''rhodon''. The use of inscriptions on coins also began, usually the name of the issuing city. The wealthy cities of Sicily produced some especially fine coins. The large silver ''decadrachm'' (10-drachm) coin from
Syracuse Syracuse may refer to: Places Italy *Syracuse, Sicily, or spelled as ''Siracusa'' *Province of Syracuse United States *Syracuse, New York **East Syracuse, New York **North Syracuse, New York *Syracuse, Indiana *Syracuse, Kansas *Syracuse, Missou ...

Syracuse
is regarded by many collectors as the finest coin produced in the ancient world, perhaps ever. Syracusan issues were rather standard in their imprints, one side bearing the head of the nymph Arethusa and the other usually a victorious
quadriga A () is a car or chariot drawn by four horses abreast and favoured for chariot racing in Classical Antiquity and the Roman Empire until the Late Middle Ages. The word derives from the Latin contraction of , from ' : four, and ' : yoke; The four- ...

quadriga
. The tyrants of Syracuse were fabulously rich, and part of their
public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the General public, public in ...
policy was to fund
quadriga A () is a car or chariot drawn by four horses abreast and favoured for chariot racing in Classical Antiquity and the Roman Empire until the Late Middle Ages. The word derives from the Latin contraction of , from ' : four, and ' : yoke; The four- ...

quadriga
s for the Olympic chariot race, a very expensive undertaking. As they were often able to finance more than one quadriga at a time, they were frequent victors in this highly prestigious event. Syracuse was one of the epicenters of numismatic art during the classical period. Led by the engravers Kimon and Euainetos, Syracuse produced some of the finest coin designs of antiquity. Amongst the first centers to produce coins during the Greek colonization of mainland Southern Italy (
Magna Graecia Magna Graecia (, ; Latin meaning "Greater Greece", grc, Μεγάλη Ἑλλάς, ', it, Magna Grecia) was the name given by the Roman people, Romans to the coastal areas of Southern Italy in the present-day regions of Campania, Apulia, Basilicat ...

Magna Graecia
) were
Paestum Paestum ( , , ) was a major ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the follo ...

Paestum
,
Crotone Crotone (, ; nap, label= Crotonese, Cutrone or ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The ...
,
Sybaris Sybaris ( grc, Σύβαρις; it, Sibari) was an important city of Magna Graecia Magna Graecia (, ; Latin meaning "Greater Greece", grc, Μεγάλη Ἑλλάς, ', it, Magna Grecia) was the name given by the Roman people, Romans to the coa ...
,
Caulonia Caulonia ( Kaulonia) is a ''comune'' (municipality) in the Province of Reggio Calabria in the Italy, Italian region Calabria, located about southwest of Catanzaro and about northeast of Reggio Calabria in the Stilaro Valley. Originally it was kno ...
,
Metapontum Metapontum or Metapontium ( grc, Μεταπόντιον, Metapontion) was an important city of Magna Graecia, situated on the gulf of Tarentum, between the river Bradanus and the Casuentus (modern Basento). It was distant about 20 km from ...
, and
Taranto Taranto (, also ; ; nap, label=Tarantino dialect, Tarantino, Tarde; Latin: Tarentum; early it, Tarento; Ancient Greek: Τάρᾱς) is a coastal city in Apulia, Southern Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Taranto, serving as an import ...

Taranto
. These ancient cities started producing coins from 550BCE to 510BCE. Amisano, in a general publication, including the Etruscan coinage, attributing it the beginning to about 560 BCE in
Populonia Populonia or Populonia Alta ( Etruscan: ''Pupluna'', ''Pufluna'' or ''Fufluna'', all pronounced ''Fufluna''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ...

Populonia
, a chronology that would leave out the contribution of the Greeks of Magna Graecia and attribute to the Etruscans the burden of introducing the coin in Italy. In this work, constant reference is made to classical sources, and credit is given to the origin of the Etruscan Lydia, a source supported by Herodotus, and also to the invention of coin in Lydia.Giuseppe Amisano, "Cronologia e politica monetaria alla luce dei segni di valore delle monete etrusche e romane", in: ''Panorama numismatico'', 49 (genn. 1992), pp. 15–20 ISLANDS off ATTICA. Aegina. Circa 456-45-431 BC.jpg,
Aegina Aegina (; el, Αίγινα, ''Aígina'' ; grc, Αἴγῑνα) is one of the Saronic Islands The Saronic Islands or Argo-Saronic Islands is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, ...
coin type, incuse skew pattern. Circa 456/45–431 BCE. MACEDON, Akanthos. Circa 470-430 BC.jpg, Coin of Akanthos,
Macedon Macedonia (; grc, Μακεδονία), also called Macedon (), was an ancient kingdom on the periphery of Archaic and Classical Greece Classical Greece was a period of around 200 years (5th and 4th centuries BC) in Greek culture.The " ...

Macedon
, circa 470-430 BCE. File:PAMPHYLIA, Aspendos. Circa 465-430 BC.jpg, Coin of
Aspendos Aspendos or Aspendus ( Pamphylian: ΕΣΤϜΕΔΥΣ; Attic An attic (sometimes referred to as a '' loft'') is a space found directly below the pitched roof of a house or other building; an attic may also be called a ''sky parlor'' or a gar ...

Aspendos
,
Pamphylia Pamphylia ( grc, Παμφυλία, ''Pamphylía'', modern pronunciation ''Pamfylía'' ) was a region in the south of Asia Minor, between Lycia and Cilicia, extending from the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean to Mount Taurus (all in modern-day Antal ...
, circa 465–430 BCE. File:KORKYRA, Korkyra. Circa 350-30-290-70 BC.jpg, Coin from Korkyra, circa 350/30–290/70 BCE. File:CYPRUS, Paphos. Onasi(...). Mid 5th century BC.jpg, Coin of
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...
, circa 450 BCE.


Appearance of dynastic portraiture (5th century BCE)

Although many of the first coins illustrated the images of various gods, the first portraiture of actual rulers appears with the coinage of
Lycia Lycia (Lycian language, Lycian: 𐊗𐊕𐊐𐊎𐊆𐊖 ''Trm̃mis''; el, Λυκία, ; tr, Likya) was a geopolitical region in Anatolia in what are now the Provinces of Turkey, provinces of Antalya Province, Antalya and Muğla Province, Muğl ...
in the 5th century BCE. No ruler had dared illustrating his own portrait on coinage until that time. The Achaemenids had been the first to illustrate the person of their king or a hero in a stereotypical manner, showing a bust or the full body but never an actual portrait, on their
Sigloi The Achaemenid Empire issued coins from 520 BCE–450 BCE to 330 BCE. The Persian daric was the first gold coin which, along with a similar silver coin, the siglos (from grc, σίγλος, he, שֶׁקֶל, ''shekel, shékel'') represented the fi ...
and
Daric The Persian daric was a gold coin which, along with a similar silver coin, the siglos, represented the bimetallic monetary standard of the Achaemenid Persian Empire.Michael Alram"DARIC" '' Encyclopaedia Iranica'', December 15, 1994, last updated ...
coinage from circa 500 BCE. A slightly earlier candidate for the first portrait-coin is Themistocles the Athenian general, who became a Governor of Magnesia on the Meander circa 465–459 BCE for the Achaemenid Empire, although there is some doubt that his coins may have represented Zeus rather than himself. Themistocles may have been in a unique position in which he could transfer the notion of individual portraiture, already current in the Greek world, and at the same time wield the dynastic power of an Achaemenid dynasty who could issue his own coins and illustrate them as he wished. From the time of Alexander the Great, portraiture of the issuing ruler would then become a standard, generalized, feature of coinage. File:IONIA, Magnesia ad Maeandrum. Themistokles reverse. Circa 465-459 BC.jpg, Coin of Themistocles as Governor of Magnesia. ''Obv'': Barley grain. ''Rev'': Possible portrait of Themistocles. Circa 465–459 BC. File:DYNASTS_of_LYCIA._Kherei._Circa_440-30-410_BC.jpg, Portrait of Lycian ruler Kherei wearing the Persian cap on the reverse of his coins (ruled 410–390 BCE). File:DYNASTS_of_LYCIA._Erbbina._Circa_430-20-400_BC.jpg, Portrait of Lycian ruler Erbbina wearing the Persian cap on the reverse of his coins (ruled 390–380 BCE). File:DYNASTS_of_LYCIA._Perikles._Circa_380-360_BC.jpg, Portrait of Lycian ruler Pericles, Dynast of Lycia, Perikles facing (ruled 380-360 BCE).


Indian coins (circa 400 BCE–100 CE)

The Karshapana is the earliest punch-marked coin found in India, produced from at least the mid-4th century BCE, and possibly as early as 575 BCE, influenced by similar coins produced in
Gandhara Gandhāra ( sa, गन्धार, link=no) was an ancient region in the Valley of Peshawar, Peshawar basin in the far north-west of the ancient Indian subcontinent, corresponding to present-day north-west Pakistan and north-east Afghanistan ...

Gandhara
under the Achaemenid empire, such as those of the
Kabul hoard The Kabul hoard, also called the Chaman Hazouri, Chaman Hazouri or Tchamani-i Hazouri hoard, is a coin hoard discovered in the vicinity of Kabul Kabul ( ps, کابل, translit=Kābəl; prs, کابل, translit=Kābol) is the Capital city, capital ...
, or other examples found at
Pushkalavati Pushkalavati (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language ...
and in
Bhir Mound The Bhir Mound ( ur, بھڑ ماونڈ) is an archaeological site in Taxila Taxila (from Pāli Brahmi: 𑀢𑀔𑁆𑀔𑀲𑀺𑀮𑀸, Takhkhasilā, Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ...
.372. Lot: 658, Lot of two AR bent bars
CNG Coins. : "Silver bent-bar punch-marked coin of Kabul region under the Achaemenid Empire, c.350 BC: Coins of this type found in quantity in Chaman Hazouri and Bhir Mound hoards." (Commentary by
Joe Cribb Joe Cribb is a numismatist, specialising in Asian coinages, and in particular on coins of the Kushan Empire. His catalogues of Chinese silver currency ingots, and of ritual coins of Southeast Asia were the first detailed works on these subjects in ...
and Osmund Bopearachchi)


Chinese round coins (350 BCE~)

Ancient Chinese coinage, In China, early round coins appeared in the 4th century BCE and were adopted for all China by Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di at the end of 3rd century BCE. The round coin, the precursor of the familiar Cash (Chinese coin), cash coin, circulated in both the spade and knife money areas in the Zhou period, from around 350 BCE. Apart from two small and presumably late coins from the State of Qin, coins from the spade money area have a round hole and refer to the ''jin'' and ''liang'' units. Those from the knife money area have a square hole and are denominated in ''hua'' (化). Although for discussion purposes the Zhou coins are divided up into categories of knives, spades, and round coins, it is apparent from archaeological finds that most of the various kinds circulated together. A hoard found in 1981, near Hebi in north Henan province, consisted of: 3,537 Gong spades, 3 Anyi arched foot spades, 8 Liang ''Dang Lie'' spades, 18 Liang square foot spades and 1,180 Yuan round coins, all contained in three clay jars.


Hellenistic period (320 BCE – 30 CE)

The Hellenistic period was characterized by the spread of Greek culture across a large part of the known world. Greek-speaking kingdoms were established in Egypt and Syria, and for a time also in Iran and as far east as what is now
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central Asia, Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the eas ...
and northwestern
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...

India
. Greek traders spread Greek coins across this vast area, and the new kingdoms soon began to produce their own coins. Because these kingdoms were much larger and wealthier than the Greek city states of the classical period, their coins tended to be more mass-produced, as well as larger, and more frequently in gold. They often lacked the aesthetic delicacy of coins of the earlier period. Still, some of the Greco-Bactrian coins, and those of their successors in India, the Indo-Greeks, are considered the finest examples of Greek numismatic art with "a nice blend of realism and idealization", including the largest coins to be minted in the Hellenistic world: the largest gold coin was minted by Eucratides (reigned 171–145 BCE), the largest silver coin by the Indo-Greek king Amyntas Nikator (reigned c. 95–90 BCE). The portraits "show a degree of individuality never matched by the often bland depictions of their royal contemporaries further West" (Roger Ling, "Greece and the Hellenistic World"). File:Seleucus Nicator Ai Khanoum mint.jpg, Seleucus Nicator (312–281 BCE), Ai Khanoum. File:Antiochos I Soter Ai Khanoum mint.jpg, Antiochus I (281–261 BCE), Ai Khanoum. File:Coin of Antialkidas.jpg, Bilingual coin of Indo-Greek king Antialcidas (105–95 BCE). File:Coin of the Bactrian King Agathokles.jpg, Bilingual coin of Agathocles of Bactria with Hindu deities, circa 180 BCE.


Roman period (290 BCE~)

Coinage followed Greek colonization and influence first around the Mediterranean and soon after to North Africa (including Egypt), Syria, Persia, and the Balkans. Coins came late to the Roman Republic compared with the rest of the Mediterranean, especially Ancient Greek coinage, Greece and Asia Minor where coins were invented in the 7th century BCE. The currency of central Italy was influenced by its natural resources, with bronze being abundant (the Etruscans were famous metal workers in bronze and iron) and
silver Silver is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same n ...

silver
ore being scarce. The coinage of the Roman Republic started with a few silver coins apparently devised for trade with Celtic in northern Italy and the Greek colonies in Southern Italy, and heavy Casting (metalworking), cast bronze pieces for use in Central Italy. The first Roman currency, Roman coins, which were crude, heavy cast bronzes, were issued c. 289 BCE. Amisano, in a general publication, including the Etruscan coinage, attributing it the beginning to about 550 BCE in
Populonia Populonia or Populonia Alta ( Etruscan: ''Pupluna'', ''Pufluna'' or ''Fufluna'', all pronounced ''Fufluna''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ...

Populonia
, a chronology that would leave out the contribution of the Greeks of Magna Graecia and attribute to the Etruscans the burden of introducing the coin in Italy. In this work, constant reference is made to classical sources, and credit is given to the origin of the Etruscan Lydia, a source supported by Herodotus, and also to the invention of coin in Lydia. File:PupienusSest.jpg, Sestertius of Marcus Clodius Pupienus Maximus, AD 238 File:Flavian dynasty Aurei.png, Set of three Roman Aureus, aurei depicting the rulers of the Flavian dynasty. Top to bottom: Vespasian, Titus and Domitian, 69-96 CE File:MithridatesIParthiaCoinHistoryofIran.jpg, Silver Drachma of Mehrdad (Mithridates I of Parthia, Mithridates I) of Persian Empire of Parthia, 165 BCE


Middle Ages

The first European coin to use Arabic numerals to date the year in which the coin was minted was the Imperial Abbey of St Gall, St. Gall silver ''Plappart'' of 1424. File:Cunincpert tremissis 612190 reverse.jpg, Kingdom of the Lombards, Lombardic Tremissis depicting Saint Michael, 688-700 CE File:BorandukhtCoinHistoryofIran.jpg, Silver coin of Queen Borandukht, Borandukht of Persian Sassanian Empire, 629 CE File:Silver Dirham.png, Gold Dinar#The First Silver Dirham, Silver Dirham of the Umayyad Caliphate, 729 CE; minted by using Persian Sassanian framework File:Al-Mu'tamid-coin.jpg, Abbasid coin, c. 1080s File:Almoravid dinar 1138 631905.jpg, Almoravid coin, 1138–1139


Modern history

File:Wildermann thaler.jpg, Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel Thaler minted in 1629 File:Genbun Inari Koban Kin.jpg, Japanese local currency Genbun Inari Koban Kin, c. 1736–1741 File:Potosì 8 reales 1768 131206.jpg, 1768 silver Spanish Dollar, or eight Spanish real, reales coin (the “piece of eight” of pirate fame), minted throughout the Spanish Empire File:TURKEY, SULTAN MAHMUD II 1818 -2 RUMI GOLD b - Flickr - woody1778a.jpg, Ottoman Empire, Ottoman coin, 1818 File:One Rupee East India Company.JPG, One Rupee coin issued by the East India Company, 1835 File:Silver Coin of Jalaluddin.jpg, Silver coin of the Bengal Sultanate ruler Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah, Jalaluddin Muhammad


Value

File:Silver Rupee Madras Presidency.JPG, A
silver Silver is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same n ...

silver
coin made during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Alamgir II


Currency

Most coins presently are made of a base metal, and their value comes from their status as fiat money. This means that the value of the coin is decreed by government fiat (law), and thus is determined by the free market only in as much as national currencies are used in domestic trade and also traded internationally on foreign exchange markets. Thus, these coins are monetary Token coin, tokens, just as paper currency is: they are usually not backed by metal, but rather by some form of government guarantee. Some have suggested that such coins not be considered to be "true coins" (see below). Thus, there is very little economic difference between notes and coins of equivalent face value. Coins may be in circulation with fiat values lower than the value of their component metals, but they are never initially issued with such value, and the shortfall only arises over time due to
inflation In economics, inflation refers to a general progressive increase in prices of goods and services in an economy. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a r ...

inflation
, as market values for the metal overtake the fiat declared face value of the coin. Examples are the Coinage Act of 1965, pre-1965 US dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar (nominally containing slightly less than a tenth, quarter, half, and full ounce of silver, respectively), Nickel (United States coin), US nickel, and Cent (United States coin), pre-1982 US penny. As a result of the increase in the value of copper, the United States greatly reduced the amount of copper in each penny. Since mid-1982, United States pennies are made of 97.5% zinc, with the remaining 2.5% being a coating of copper. Extreme differences between fiat values and metal values of coins cause coins to be hoarded or removed from circulation by illicit smelters in order to realize the value of their metal content. This is an example of
Gresham's law In economics, Gresham's law is a monetary principle stating that "bad money drives out good". For example, if there are two forms of commodity money in circulation, which are accepted by law as having similar face value, the more valuable commodity ...
. The United States Mint, in an attempt to avoid this, implemented new interim rules on December 14, 2006, subject to public comment for 30 days, which criminalized the melting and export of pennies and nickels. Violators can be fined up to $10,000 and/or imprisoned for up to five years.


Collector's items

A coin's value as a collector's item or as an investment generally depends on its condition, specific historical significance, rarity, quality, beauty of the design and general popularity with collectors. If a coin is greatly lacking in all of these, it is unlikely to be worth much. The value of bullion coins is also influenced to some extent by those factors, but is largely based on the value of their gold, silver, or platinum content. Sometimes non-monetized bullion coins such as the Canadian Maple Leaf coins, Canadian Maple Leaf and the
American Gold Eagle The American Gold Eagle is an official gold bullion coin of the United States. Authorized under the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985, it was first released by the United States Mint in 1986. Because the term "Eagle (United States coin), eagle" al ...
are minted with nominal face values less than the value of the metal in them, but as such coins are never intended for circulation, these face values have no relevance. Collector catalogs often include information about coins to assists collectors with identifying and grading. Additional resources can be found online for collectors These are collector clubs, collection management tools, marketplaces, trading platforms, and forums,


Media of expression

Coins can be used as creative media of expression – from fine art sculpture to the penny machines that can be found in most amusement parks. In the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in the United States there are some regulations specific to nickels and pennies that are informative on this topic. 31 CFR § 82.1 forbids unauthorized persons from exporting, melting, or treating any 5 or 1 cent coins. This has been a particular problem with nickels and dimes (and with some comparable coins in other currencies) because of their relatively low face value and unstable commodity prices. For a while, the copper in US pennies was worth more than one cent, so people would hoard pennies and then melt them down for their metal value. It cost more than face value to manufacture pennies or nickels, so any widespread loss of the coins in circulation could be expensive for the US Treasury. This was more of a problem when coins were still made of precious metals like silver and gold, 31 CFR § 82.2(b) goes on to state that: "The prohibition contained in § 82.1 against the treatment of 5-cent coins and one-cent coins shall not apply to the treatment of these coins for educational, amusement, novelty, jewelry, and similar purposes as long as the volumes treated and the nature of the treatment makes it clear that such treatment is not intended as a means by which to profit solely from the value of the metal content of the coins."


Debasement and clipping

Throughout history, monarchs and governments have often created more coinage than their supply of precious metals would allow if the coins were pure metal. By replacing some fraction of a coin's precious metal content with a base metal (often copper or nickel), the intrinsic value of each individual coin was reduced (thereby "debasing" the money), allowing the coining authority to produce more coins than would otherwise be possible. Debasement occasionally occurs in order to make the coin physically harder and therefore less likely to be worn down as quickly, but the more usual reason is to profit from the difference between face value and metal value. Debasement of money almost always leads to price
inflation In economics, inflation refers to a general progressive increase in prices of goods and services in an economy. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a r ...

inflation
. Sometimes price controls are at the same time also instituted by the governing authority, but historically these have generally proved unworkable. The United States is unusual in that it has only slightly modified its coinage system (except for the images and symbols on the coins, which have changed a number of times) to accommodate two centuries of inflation. The one-cent coin has changed little since 1856 (though its composition was changed in 1982 to remove virtually all copper from the coin) and still remains in circulation, despite a greatly reduced purchasing power. On the other end of the spectrum, the largest coin in common circulation is valued at Quarter (United States coin), 25 cents, a very low value for the largest denomination coin compared to many other countries. Increases in the prices of copper, nickel, and zinc meant that both the US one- and five-cent coins became worth more for their raw metal content than their face (fiat) value. In particular, copper one-cent pieces (those dated prior to 1982 and some 1982-dated coins) contained about two cents' worth of copper. Some denominations of circulating coins that were formerly minted in the United States are no longer made. These include coins with a face value of a half cent, two cents, three cents, and twenty cents. (The half dollar and dollar coins are still produced, but mostly for vending machines and collectors.) In the past, the US also coined the following denominations for circulation in gold: One dollar, $2.50, three dollars, five dollars, ten dollars, and twenty dollars. In addition, cents were originally slightly larger than the modern quarter and weighed nearly half an ounce, while five-cent coins (known then as "half dimes") were smaller than a dime and made of a silver alloy. Dollar coins were also much larger, and weighed approximately an ounce. One-dollar gold coins are no longer produced and rarely used. The US also issues bullion and commemorative coins with the following denominations: 50¢, $1, $5, $10, $25, $50, and $100. Circulating coins commonly suffered from "shaving" or "clipping": the public would cut off small amounts of precious metal from their edges to sell it and then pass on the mutilated coins at full value. Unmilled British sterling silver coins were sometimes reduced to almost half their minted weight. This form of debasement in Tudor dynasty, Tudor England was commented on by Sir Thomas Gresham, whose name was later attached to
Gresham's law In economics, Gresham's law is a monetary principle stating that "bad money drives out good". For example, if there are two forms of commodity money in circulation, which are accepted by law as having similar face value, the more valuable commodity ...
. The monarch would have to periodically recall circulating coins, paying only the bullion value of the silver, and reminting them. This, also known as recoinage, is a long and difficult process that was done only occasionally. Many coins have milled or Reeding#Numismatics, reeded edges, originally designed to make it easier to detect clipping.


Other uses

Some convicted criminals from the British Isles who were sentenced to transportation to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries used coins to leave messages of remembrance to loved ones left behind in Britain. The coins were defaced, smoothed and inscribed, either by stippling or engraving, with sometimes touching words of loss. These coins were called "convict love tokens" or "leaden hearts". Some of these tokens are in the collection of the National Museum of Australia.


Modern features

The side of a coin carrying an image of a monarch, other authority (''see List of people on coins''), or a national emblem is called the ''obverse'' (colloquially, ''heads''); the other side, carrying various types of information, is called the ''Obverse and reverse, reverse'' (colloquially, ''tails''). The year of mint (coin), minting is usually shown on the obverse, although some People's Republic of China, Chinese coins, most Canadian coinage, Canadian coins, the pre-2008 British Twenty pence (British decimal coin), 20p coin, the post-1999 American Quarter (United States coin), quarter, and all Japanese coins are exceptions. The relation of the images on the obverse and reverse of a coin is the coin's orientation. If the image on the obverse of the coin is right side up and turning the coin left or right on its vertical axis reveals that the reverse of the coin is also right side up, then the coin is said to have medallic orientation—typical of the Euro and pound sterling; if, however, turning the coin left or right shows that the reverse image is upside down, then the coin is said to have coin orientation, characteristic of the United States dollar coin. Bimetallic coins are sometimes used for higher values and for commemorative purposes. In the 1990s, France used a tri-metallic coin. Common circulating bimetallic examples include the 1 euro coins, €1, 2 euro coins, €2, One pound (British coin), British £1, Two pounds (British coin), £2 and Canadian 2 dollar coin, Canadian $2 and several peso coins in Mexico. The ''exergue'' is the space on a coin beneath the main design, often used to show the coin's date, although it is sometimes left blank or contains a mint mark, privy mark, or some other decorative or informative design feature. Many coins do not have an exergue at all, especially those with few or no legends, such as the Victorian bun penny. Not all coins are round; they come in a Coinage shapes, variety of shapes. The Fifty cent coin (Australian), Australian 50-cent coin, for example, has dodecagon, twelve flat sides. Some coins have wavy edges, e.g. the $2 and 20-cent coins of Coins of the Hong Kong dollar, Hong Kong and the 10-cent coins of Bahamas. Some are square-shaped, such as the 15-cent coin of the Bahamas and the 50-cent coin from Aruba. During the 1970s, Swaziland, Swazi coins were minted in several shapes, including squares, polygons, and wavy edged circles with 8 and 12 waves. File:Israelwave.jpg, Scalloped coin of Israel File:Belizeonecentwave.jpg, 1996 one cent coin from Belize File:Phil2pisodecrev.jpg, Decagonal two Piso Philippine coin 1990 Some other coins, like the Fifty pence (British decimal coin), British 20 and 50 pence coins and the Canadian Loonie, have an odd number of sides, with the edges rounded off. This way the coin has a Curve of constant width, constant diameter, recognizable by vending machines whichever direction it is inserted. A triangular coin with a face value of Five pounds (British coin), £5 (produced to commemorate the 2007/2008 Tutankhamun exhibition at The O2 Arena) was commissioned by the Isle of Man: it became legal tender on 6 December 2007. Other triangular coins issued earlier include: Republic of Cabinda, Cabinda coin, Bermuda coin, 2 Dollar Cook Islands 1992 triangular coin, Uganda Millennium Coin and Poland, Polish Sterling-Silver 10-Zloty Coin. Some medieval coins, called bracteates, were so thin they were struck on only one side. Many coins over the years have been manufactured with integrated holes such as Chinese "cash" coins, Japanese coins, Colonial French coins, etc. This may have been done to permit their being strung on cords, to facilitate storage and being carried. Nowadays, holes help to differentiate coins of similar size and metal, such as the Japanese 50 yen and 100 yen coin. File:Frenchholeobv.jpg, 1917 French coin with integrated hole File:Chong Ning Tongbao 1.JPG, Chinese cash coin, 1102–1106 File:عملة فلسطينية معدنية.jpg, 1941 Palestine coin File:50 Yen Rückseite.jpg, Modern-day Japanese 50-yen coin File:1924 East African 1 cent coin reverse.jpg, 1924 East African coin The Royal Canadian Mint is now able to produce holographic-effect gold and silver coinage. However, this procedure is not limited to only bullion or commemorative coinage. The 500 yen coin from Japan was subject to a massive amount of counterfeiting. The Japanese government in response produced a circulatory coin with a holographic image. The Royal Canadian Mint has also released several coins that are colored, the first of which was in commemoration of Remembrance Day. The subject was a colored poppy on the reverse of a 25-cent piece minted through a patented process. An example of non-metallic composite coins (sometimes incorrectly called plastic coins) was introduced into circulation in Transnistria on 22 August 2014. Most of these coins are also non-circular, with different shapes corresponding to different coin values. For a list of many pure metallic elements and their alloys which have been used in actual circulation coins and for trial experiments, see
coinage metals The coinage metals comprise, at a minimum, those metallic chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consist ...
.


Physics and chemistry


Flipping

To flip a coin to see whether it lands ''heads'' or ''tails'' is to use it as a two-sided dice in what is known in mathematics as a Bernoulli trial: if the probability of heads (in the parlance of Bernoulli trials, a "success") is exactly 0.5, the coin is fair.


Spinning

Coins can also be spun on a flat surface such as a table. This results in the following phenomenon: as the coin falls over and rolls on its edge, it spins faster and faster (formally, the precession rate of the symmetry axis of the coin, i.e., the axis passing from one face of the coin to the other) before coming to an abrupt stop. This is mathematically modeled as a finite-time singularity – the precession rate is accelerating to infinity, before it suddenly stops, and has been studied using high speed photography and devices such as Euler's Disk. The slowing down is predominantly caused by rolling friction (air resistance is minor), and the singularity (divergence of the precession rate) can be modeled as a power law with exponent approximately −1/3.


Odor

Iron and copper coins have a characteristic metallic smell that is produced upon contact with oils in the skin. Perspiration is chemically reduced upon contact with these metals, which causes the skin oils to decompose, forming with iron the volatile molecule 1-octen-3-one.A 'metallic' smell is just body odour


Regional examples


Philippines

Piloncitos are small engraved gold coins found in the Philippines. Some piloncitos are of the size of a corn kernel and weigh from 0.09 to 2.65 grams of fine gold. Piloncitos have been excavated from Mandaluyong, Bataan, the banks of the Pasig River, Batangas, Marinduque, Samar, Leyte and some areas in Mindanao. They have been found in large numbers in Indonesian archaeological sites leading to questions of origin such as whether they were made in the Philippines or imported. However. many Spanish Empire, Spanish accounts state that the gold coins are mined and labored in the Philippines, such as the following in 1586:


See also

* Bi-metallic coin * Coin collecting * Coin counter * Coin counterfeiting * Coin magic * Coin sorter * Currency * Hanukkah gelt – Chocolate coin * History of coins * Legal tender * List of currencies * List of circulating currencies * List of mints * List of most expensive coins * Mint (coin), Mint * Money * Seigniorage * Token coin * Ten-cent coin


Notes and references


Bibliography

* Angus, Ian. ''Coins & Money Tokens''. London: Ward Lock, 1973. .


External links

* {{Authority control Coins,