The History of Coin Currency
Historically, coins have been used as mediums of exchange. They may be made of precious metals, alloys, or man-made materials. They may have numerals, text, images, or other designs. They are issued by governments or private entities. Generally, a coin’s value is based on its metal content, quality, and historical significance.
A coin’s value is also based on its condition. If the coin is old, worn, or damaged, it may be worth less than a comparable metal coin. In most cases, inflation causes the face value of a circulation coin to drop below the metal value. A coin’s value is also affected by the general popularity and value of the coin among collectors. The value of a coin may be less than a similar-sized metal coin, but is usually worth more than a similar-sized banknote. If the government decides to withdraw a coin from circulation, the public may hoard or melt it. This is known as debasement.
Coins were minted from the late seventh century onwards. They were produced on Aegean islands and were based on a former weight standard of about six grams. The weight standard gradually grew to dominate the coinage system in Attic and Attic-Euboic Greece. In the 7th century, King Pheidon of Argos made a weights and measures reform. This involved the creation of an iron bar with fractional iron spits. This was dedicated in the Heraeum at Argos.
Coins were initially made from metals such as silver, gold, and bronze. They were produced in large quantities at a mint. As coins became more common, they were minted with different metals and alloys. The principal coinage metal was silver, but copper, nickel, and gold also were used.
The first coins were made by the Kingdom of Lydia. They are believed to have originated from the barter of cattle, implements, and other items. A small bronze celt may have played a monetary role. Eventually, the Lydian kings moved money from lumps of electrum to coins. They were initially minted under private authority, but eventually the kings started to mint coins on behalf of the state.
Later, coins were minted in the Greek cities of Athens and Mytilene. These coins were more like tokens than coins, but were still issued by the state. King Pheidon was also associated with a coinage reform, which involved the creation of an iron bar with fractional iron spits. These spits are evidence of the desire to subdivide a cumbersome unit into smaller fractions for normal use.
Later, cities began to mint independent coins. They were generally smaller than modern coins and were usually made of metals other than silver. They are usually disc shaped and have numerals, images, or text. A coin’s reverse often shows the date, mint mark, or other information. In modern times, reverse types are increasingly made to show groups or genre scenes.
Coins were also made in the United States. In the early 20th century, silver coins were made by the U.S. Mint. These coins were less valuable intrinsically than coins made of gold or electrum. The United States also suffered from debasement, which is the process of replacing the precious metal content of coins with a cheaper base metal.