Electrum and the Invention of Coinage
Linzalone, J. Electrum and the Invention of Coinage. 2011. 232 pages, maps, actual size colour photographs in text, 36 colour plates (at twice actual size) each with descriptive text. Cloth, gilt, jacket.
The ancient Greek kingdom of Lydia and the surrounding Greek city-state colonies of Ionia invented what we now recognise as the world’s first minted coinage around 660 B.C., utilizing a locally abundant, naturally occurring gold and silver alloy, electrum.
For the next 100 years, electrum coinage evolved, but the use of electrum ended when the legendary King Croesus of Lydia reformed all coinage by issuing gold and silver coins, separately, from his refinery on the Pactolus river. This action sparked the spread of coins, and the very idea of “money”, as embodied in coinage, throughout the ancient Greek world.
The actions of Croesus assured the value of gold and silver in ancient society, and electrum fell by the wayside of history, but, for a short period, electrum was the world’s only currency as we think of it today, and the hundred years of its evolution may be considered as the first step on the long path of numismatic history. The present handbook will hopefully reveal to the reader just how interesting and important that first step was.