The Coinage of King Croesus of Lydia 561-546 B.C
Croesus, the famed king of Lydia, ruled from 561-546 BC and is known for creating the worlds first true bimetallic system of money. Yes, these are the world’s first gold and silver coins!
Leading up to the time of Croesus’ rule, coins were made from a natural mixture of gold and silver known as electrum, which was found near creeks and riverbeds.
Using coins as money was no more than 100 years old during this period, and Lydian King Croesus was the first to figure out how to refine electrum into nearly pure gold and silver. With this knowledge he created the first true bimetallic monetary system in history!
All coins bore the same lion and bull design and there were different sizes of each, signifying different amounts of money. This was an incredible idea that continues to this day.
Silver to Gold Ratio
Early coins were denominated in staters. At the inception, the full staters of gold and silver were 10 plus grams and traded at a rate of 13:1. In other words, it took 13 silver staters to equal 1 stater of gold. Further, the staters went down in size as low as 1/24th of a stater in gold and 1/48th of a stater in silver. Bear in mind that the scales of the day were likely not accurate below ⅓ of a gram.
Ancient Minting Begins
Croesus began experimenting with coinage, as verified by his three trials coins, two of which are struck from the same die. The stunning mints presented a leaping lion facing a bull, with an incuse punch on the backs of each coin
For years, no one could have suggested what the lion and bull represented. Once, it was believe that the lion stood for Lydia and the bull as an opponent defeated by Lydia. Scholars now theorize that the lions represented strength and the bull was for fertility. That shows that both the power and fertility of Lydians were at the peak, marking a symbol of dominance.
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