...or a lover's lute.
January 6, 2007 6:50 AM   Subscribe

The first coin? The Lydian Lion, the Athenian Owl, and other intriguing numismatic articles with a particular eye toward the ancient.
posted by Wolfdog (10 comments total)
I recall reading somewhere that the first metal coins were quite small, little more than embossed foil, and were intended to be carried in the cheek.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:54 AM on January 6, 2007

Most educational, thanks.
The comments on Chinese 'quasi-coins' in the footnotes of the first article set me googling, and I found this on the origins of money.
As an side, this bit there caught my eye too
Glyn Davies quotes linguistic evidence to show how ancient and widespread the association between cattle and money was. The English words "capital", "chattels" and "cattle" have a common root. Similarly "pecuniary" comes from the Latin word for cattle "pecus" while in Welsh (the author's mother tongue) the word "da" used as an adjective means "good" but used as a noun means both "cattle" and "goods".
as I dimly recall from Tibetan class that the word for cattle in Lhasa dialect, nor, also means wealth.
posted by Abiezer at 8:29 AM on January 6, 2007

I tell ya, though, that Lydian Lion won't buy what it used to. With inflation these days? Fuhggedaboutit!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:10 AM on January 6, 2007

I tell ya, though, that Lydian Lion won't buy what it used to. With inflation these days? Fuhggedaboutit!

An ounce of gold will still buy a decent, though not bespoke men's suit.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:00 AM on January 6, 2007

StickyCarpet, that's the alternate theory outlined near the bottom of that first link. There are tiny geometric electrum or electrum-plated pellets from Asia Minor that many numismatic scholars consider to be earlier. Here's a page about Miletus ones. Here's one from Ionia. (I own a speciman similar to the latter, but thankfully I paid a lot less!)
posted by hyperizer at 10:13 AM on January 6, 2007

Nice post, BTW. Here's a few additional ancient coin links. Beginner's guide: Doug Smith. Research: CoinArchives.com, WildWinds. Discussion: FORVM, Ancients.info. Magazine: The Celator. Marketplace: VCoins.
posted by hyperizer at 10:21 AM on January 6, 2007

Cool post and thread.

the first coins of India were minted just before 5th century BC in Madhyadesha i.e. central India

I like this site about coins from India (good images), even though the author writes in Indian English.

Abiezer, fascinating history of the words for money/wealth in English. You're completely right about the Tibetan word, nor, meaning both money,wealth and cattle.
posted by nickyskye at 12:40 PM on January 6, 2007

I bet it was used to pay some tax.
posted by Balisong at 6:52 PM on January 6, 2007

King Offa's Islamic coin.
posted by Phanx at 10:19 AM on January 7, 2007

Just realized I messed up my first link nearly a month ago: Miletus geometric coins.
posted by hyperizer at 10:21 AM on February 4, 2007

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