Friday, 15 April 2016

World's Oldest Gold Coins

One of the world’s oldest coins was recently sold in Germany for over over $380,000. Issued between 600 and 625 B.C., this coin is unique because of the stamp of Phanes. The exact identity of Phanes remains unknown. “I am the badge of Phanes” is one of the English translations of the stamp. The words can also be translated as the more cryptic “I am the tomb of light.” Since Phanes was the god of light, and also the word for light, the ancient words can be interpreted in many different ways.

There are four examples of these types of coins. Known as “Staters of Phanes,” the denomination is one stater. A stater is an early currency of ancient Greece. Denominations began at 1/96, and went up to one stater. There were seven total denominations. Only the two highest had the Phanes stamp.
One of the oldest coins known was discovered in Efesos, an ancient Hellenic city and prosperous trading center on the coast of Asia Minor. The 1/6 stater was made from electrum, a natural occurring alloy of gold and silver. It originated in Lydia.

The ancient stater was hand struck. A die with a design for the obverse (front) of the coin was placed on an anvil. A blank of metal was placed on top of the die, and a punch hammered onto the reverse. The result was a coin with an image on one side and a punch mark on the other.
Electrum Stater Of Miletos. Several Greek cities as well as the Lydian kings began minting the first coins by stamping the badge of their city into one side of a standard weight lump of electrum and various punches into the other. These were used to facilitate trade by certifying that the intrinsic value and weight of the metal was guaranteed by the issuing authority.

Of these early coins, those of Miletos (600-550 BC), are probably the finest.
In 2014 A diver found what is believed to be the oldest gold coin ever discovered in Bulgaria. The ancient coin was found in shallow waters near the resort town of Sozopol on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.

The coin was minted in Lydia in the second half of the seventh century BCE, which puts the coin’s age at around 2750 years. Sozopol was founded as a colony of the Greek city state of Miletos about 611 BCE – first named Antheia, it was later known as Apollonia. The coin weighs 0.63 grams and has a denomination of 1/24 of a stater.

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