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Lecture 11

Lecture 11 - Numismatics

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Christian Campbell

CLA260H1S Numismatics Aug 3/12 • First coins from Lydia • Made from electrum • Gold and silver mixed together • 560 BC • Earliest greek coins come from Phokis • Phokaia electrum coin • By 480 coinage is everywhere • Major and minor polis minting own coins • Electrum occurs naturally, therefore difficult to control ratio of gold to silver • Anywhere from 45 to 50 percent gold • Actual gold content can’t be easily verified by someone using the coin • So this coinage stamped with value regardless of intrinsic value • Value guaranteed by issuing authority • Token coinage - value linked to intrinsic value of precious metal Electrum coinage couldn’t be valued for intrinsic value so this would mean that the • circulation of the coinage would be limited to a geographical area where the issuing authority was recognized • Fine for local circulation but couldn’t take it and trade elsewhere • Silver much more efficient for wide spread use • Could be sold by weight - a pound of silver always worth a pound of silver • Quality of silver was relatively stable • Silver more easily available in mainland • Electrum occurs naturally in Lydia (and she thinks not elsewhere) • Aegina • Just off mainland • Earliest city to mint by 530ish • Very important city for trade in mediterranean in 6th century • Didn’t have own silver on island but because of trade connections they could get silver • Aegina coins were usually popular from asia minor to southern italy • Including in cities that didn’t mint own coinage • Because they were so popular other cities that took up minting modeled after these coins (using same weights and measures, or minting imitations) • No polis on crete started minting till mid 5th century • First coins minted were imitation coins of Aegina Within less than 100 years coinage phenomenon spread over greece • • Increase in trade networks? • Due to cultural factors? • Civic pride? Polis identity? Asserting yourself at the same time as other polis asserting themselves Affects of coinage on polis economy • Did not revolutionize greek economy • Other forms of money were already in use: precious metal objects, bullion • Commoditization of polis • Market economy • Social impact CLA260H1S Numismatics Aug 3/12 • Some equalizing • Way of liberating wealth and commodities from closed aristocratic networks • Making it so non aristocrats can get access to wealth through trade • Coinage doesn’t invent this phenomenon, but facilitates it (this phenomenon predates coinage but is affected by it) • Goods produced for commercial purposes What is a coin? • A piece of metal which conforms to a standard and bears a design • Not all money is coins • Before beginning of coinage people were using things called Hacksilber • Basically silver that has been hacked to various weights • Give appropriate weight in silver • 7th century BC Economy existed before coinage • • Even after beginning of coinage you continued to have no coinage based economies • Coinage guaranteed quality of silver • Provide faith as to the quality of metal • Not earthing that looks like a coin is money • I.e. Subway token Medallions • Gold medallion of Caracalla • Not a coin but looks like one • Prize? Award? For military achievement - commemorative medals • You could melt it down for intrinsic value Gold denominations • Obols (iron spits) and drachma (“a handful”) were basic denominations • In precoinage iron spits were used as a means of money • 6 obols = a drachma • Weight standard - fix value of coinage so you don’t have to measure it every time • Value is guaranteed • All greek polis worked on the obol and drachma denominations Then they conformed to a certain weight standard • • However weight standards can change from place to place • You’d have to deal with difference of value • In most cities the basic common unit of currency is the stater • The weight of a stater would vary • In athens the tetradrachm was the standard silver coin, i.e. The stater • In Aegean the stater was the didracm • The value of a state, then, was pretty high • In athens roughly equivalent to a weeks pay for a typical person • Athenian standardizing payments would be advantageous because they wouldn’t have to calculate difference of coins • The stater can refer to different types of coinage CLA260H1S Numismatics Aug 3/12 • It is the most common unity of currency in a polis • E.g. A loonie • Used for government expenditure • Paying for ships, soldiers, etc Roman Coinage • Way more complicated • Changes so much over short stretches of time • Adopted after the
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