The World's Oldest Known Coin

The World's Oldest Known Coin

Coin collectors and scholars the world over love to hear a good story about the latest discoveries in the world of ancient coins. The oldest known coin available for viewing today is located in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum.

The 1/6-stater coin is more than 2,700 years old and was discovered in Ephesus, an ancient Hellenic city and trading center of Asia Minor. Made from electrum, a natural occurring alloy of gold silver, the coin most likely originated in the area of Lydia. The Pactolus River beside the slopes of Mount Tmolus in the early kingdom of Lydia was one of the most significant sources of electrum in the ancient world. The ancient Lydian kings became quite wealthy by collecting and minting these coins from electrum.

Featuring the Lydian kings’ emblem of a roaring lion, the coin is hand-struck with a design on just one side. A die with the design placed on an anvil and a blank piece of metal was then placed atop the die and a punch hammered into the reverse side. The result is a coin with an image of a lion on one side and punch mark on the other. The image of the lion is almost always shown with an odd mark—known as a “nose wart” on its forehead.

The coin is smaller in diameter than a dime but is thick and weighs almost as much as quarter. At the time it was made, it is estimated that is may have been worth about a month’s worth of living and maintenance.

Bellevue Rare Coins specializes in gold buying and dealing in rare coins. We are a family-owned business located in Bellevue and Lynnwood. We are also silver, diamonds, currency and jewelry buyers. Visit us for a free evaluation or call 425-454-1283.

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