Learn more about historical coins!
An interest in coins often goes hand in hand with an interest in history, here we present a collection of interesting facts about historical coins throughout history.
Silver and gold were early used as means of payment in Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt and other early civilizations. Then the metal was weighed in front of each other or with witnesses you trusted to carry out purchases.
Having a system of metal, minted and guaranteed in weight and purity by the regent - that is, coins - probably originated under King Croesus in the 5th century BC. This made trading between each other much easier and faster.
King Kroesus and the first coins
King Krösus is said to be the first in world history to introduce a payment system with coins. He was king of Lydia in present-day Turkey. He was considered incredibly wealthy and inflated, and "Krösus" is still used today as an epithet for a rich and greedy person. Elektron or electrum is an alloy between gold and silver from which many Lydian coins are made. The metal was popular for minting coins during large parts of antiquity.
Croesus' coinage system spread rapidly in antiquity and the Greek city-states minted beautiful silver coins with their city coats of arms. Most famous is the coin with the Athenian owl, which was the symbol of the goddess Athena. A copy of this coin gilds every coin collection! Other famous city-states with famous motifs that can be mentioned are Aegina with turtle motifs, Corinth with the winged horse Pegasus, and Syracuse with the hunting goddess Artemis, among others.
The Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great is of great importance in coin history. During his vast conquests, he spread his coinage over both Europe and Asia. Alexander's silver coins had the Greek hero Heracles/Hercules on the obverse. It is debated whether the depiction of Heracles resembles Alexander the Great himself. At the time, mortals were not depicted on coins.
Coins of the Roman Empire
Depicting people, however, took off during the Roman Empire. In 44 BC it became legal to depict people on coins. Both senators during the Republic and especially emperors during the Empire were depicted on historical coins from this time. The image on the coins would substantiate the emperor's power and symbolize his divine qualities and kinship with gods and heroes. Sometimes empresses and children could be depicted on the coins as a way to secure succession to the throne. The solidus and tremissis were common gold coins and the sesterius and denarius the best known silver coins.
An interesting coin from this time is the so-called "widow's shard" mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, 21:1-4. It is a bronze coin of the prutah type that was common in the Jewish province. According to the story in the Bible, these coins were not worth much, but according to Jesus, the poor widow's gift was far greater than those who gave much, because she did not give out of her abundance but "all she had, all she had to live on".
Coins in Scandinavia
The Vikings in Scandinavia spread out during the 8th-11th centuries with both conquest and trade on their agenda. However, they never minted their own coins, but primarily used Arab coins. Almost 100,000 Arabic coins have been found in Sweden. During the 9th century, they switched to Anglo-Saxon and German coins.
The first Swedish historical coin was probably minted around the year 995 in Sigtuna under Olof Skötkonung. Then began a period of minting with English coins as a model.
Only in the time of Gustav Vasa in the 16th century was the coin system reformed. The small silver coins and herb coins were expanded with, among other things, gold coins, dalers, land coins and ören. In Joachimstal in Bohemia, in the 1520s, they began minting large silver coins that weighed around 25 grams and were called thalers. This type of trade coin then began to be minted in most of Europe. In Sweden, the first daler was struck in 1534.
The krona was introduced in Sweden in 1873 with the Scandinavian monetary union when it replaced the riksdaler. Sweden, Denmark and Norway then had the same value for their kroner, and they were valid as means of payment in all three countries. The monetary union was based on a gold standard, ie the value of the coin was linked to the value of the gold. The monetary union ended in 1914, but Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Denmark still use the krona as currency.
This is just a short scratch on the surface of the deep history of coins, but we hope it has attracted interest in historical coins and all the beautiful objects with their amazingly rich backgrounds that are available. Take a look in our shop and see if we have something that attracts you!