Class Notes (806,741)
Canada (492,424)
Classics (1,680)
CLA260H1 (76)
Ben Akrigg (40)

Session 25 2013 making money II.doc

4 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto St. George
Ben Akrigg

CLA260H1S Method and Theory in Classics Making money in Greece and Rome 2 For further information on ‘how coins were made’ (pages 200-201) it is worth looking at T. Rihll ‘Making money in classical Athens’ in D. Mattingly and J. Salmon eds. Economies Beyond Agriculture in the Classical World (London 2001), especially for issues of technology and logistics. (see the end of this handout) ‘A coin is a piece of metal which conforms to a standard and bears a design’. (Howgego 1995, 1) • Not all money is coins: obvious in the modern world, where we have not only paper money but cheques, credit cards, bearer bonds and electronic methods of currency transfer, but easier to forget for the ancient world (and ancient coins were often very high value monetary instruments, in stark contrast with their modern counterparts). The near east managed to operate sophisticated monetized economic systems for centuries before the invention of coinage (and continued perfectly happily in many areas afterwards), using weighed bullion (usually silver). On the other hand, not everything that looks like a coin is money: medals and tokens, for example. • The ‘standard’ in question is a weight standard (see previous handout). • Coinage is not a Greek invention but is most enthusiastically adopted by the Greeks after its invention in western Asia Minor; it is by the Greeks that coins are developed which influence all later ‘Western’ coinage (including Indian and Islamic coinages) right up to the present day. The other major tradition is the quite different one developed by the Chinese (which in turn heavily influences Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese coinages). • The earliest coinages are struck in electrum (a naturally occurring alloy of silver and gold), but Greek coinage is overwhelmingly made of silver. Copper alloy is sometimes used for smaller denominations, but in many places in the classical period ‘small change’ is made of tiny silver fractions (Athens is one of the last places to adopt a fractional copper alloy coinage for small scale transactions, in the mid-fourth century). Gold coinage (apart from Persian ‘Darics’) is not common until the reign of Philip II of Macedon, whose new gold coinage had a profound impact on later coinages way beyond his own kingdom – and not just because of the eastward expansion of Hellenic culture that came with Alexander’s conquests (although the latter did play a role in the expansion of the use of coinage in the near east). • Coin designs can have three elements: type (the main images); inscription/legend; accessory symbols (e.g. mint marks, issue marks). Not all are present on all coins (although they are all present in modern Canadian coinage). • Note that successful coinages are very often extremely conservative – in Greek coinage this is most apparent in Athenian tetradrachms (four drachma coins), which change relatively little over the course of the classical period but similar trends can be observed in more recent coinages (again, illustrated to some extent by modern Canadian coinage...). Manufacture. • Greek coins are mostly more-or-less round, and are relatively thick (compared to most modern coinages). • The designs are hammered (or ‘struck’), not cast. • The first stage in coin manufacture is to acquire the metal; before the Roman empire most mints maintained very high levels of fineness (97-99%), indicating high quality refining processes. It must then be made into blanks (or ‘flans’) before they are struck. This can be done in a number of ways: by casting or moulding, by stamping them out of a sheet (though it is unclear whether this was done in antiquity) or perhaps cut off rods. (Greek blanks are mainly cast). • To turn the blank into a coin it is struck with dies, made from iron or toughened bronze and hand-engraved in negative. One die is set into an anvil, the (sometimes heated) blank is placed on top, and then forced into that die with a short bar or punch which is struck from above by a hammer. • The lower die produces the obverse of the coin; the other side is the reverse. • The first coinages have designs only on one side, almost always on the obverse side. The blank coin (flan) was forced into the die with a punch or group of (usually four) punches closely bound together. The punches leave a distinctive mark on the reverse of the coin, called an incuse. (This also served the purpose of revealing that the coin was precious metal all the way to the middle). La
More Less

Related notes for CLA260H1

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.