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A coin of Croesus

I’ve had my eye on these Croesids of various denominations for a long time but never had the opportunity or money to purchase one.

“Rich as Croesus” was and still is a phrase that’s been used for millenia to describe extreme wealth. This coin is a tiny part of the wealth of the actual King Croesus ^_^

They’re just such a cool piece of history!

I picked the 1/3 stater because it’s 3.5 grams and so it’s about the same size as my Roman denarius coins xD.

I love how it looks like there is spit coming out of the lion’s mouth! I think I’ll call it the “spitting lion” variety.

LYDIAN KINGDOM. Croesus (561-546 BC). AR third-stater (13mm, 3.51 gm). NGC Choice XF 5/5 - 3/5.Confronted foreparts of lion left facing right, and bull right facing left / Two irregular incuse squares. BMFA 2071, SNG Keckman 359.

(Note: Most of the info I am sharing below was sourced from Krosos coin’s website)

Croesus is known for creating the world’s first standardized bimetallic standard and by default the world’s first gold & silver coins of standardized purity. At least as pure as possible in the mid 6th century BC.

Before Croesus, his father Alyattes had already started to mint various types of non-standardized coins. They were made in a naturally occurring material called electrum, a variable mix of gold and silver (with about 54% gold and 44% silver), and were in use in Lydia, its capital city Sardis and surrounding areas for about 80 years before Croesus' reign as King of Lydia. The unpredictability of electrum coins' composition implied that they had a variable value, which greatly hampered the development of standardised coinage.

Here is an example of one of my own pre-Croesid electrum coins also of Lydia:

As you can see trading with coins like this would be difficult because the gold/silver content is unknown.

Both gold & silver Croesids circulated simultaneously thus creating the world’s first bimetallic currency standard.

10 Silver Croesid (10.7g) = 1 Gold Croesid (8.1g) thus the exchange rate of silver to gold was 13.3 to 1

The famous “Father of History” Herodotus mentioned the innovation of coinage, and standard coinage, made by the Lydians:

“So far as we have any knowledge, they [the Lydians] were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coins, and the first who sold goods by retail.”

— Herodotus, I.94

The lion attacking the bull motif on this coin type has been variously theorized of symbolizing the sun and moon, spring and winter (the fall of the constellation Taurus corresponded to the date of the spring sowing), strength and fertility, Asia Minor and Europe, and Lydia and its neighbor Phrygia.

Alternatively, the lion - symbol of Lydia - and the bull - symbol of Hellenic Zeus (from the Seduction of Europa) - are facing each other in truce.

Note that hunting lions attack from the rear, also imagery of a predator and prey lying down together in peace is reflected in other ancient literature, e.g. "...the calf and the lion and the yearling together..." c.700BC.

When the Achaemenid Empire ruler Cyrus the Great invaded Lydia, together with the rest of Asia Minor, he adopted the bimetallic system initially introduced by Croesus, and continued to strike gold and silver coins at Sardis according to the model of the Croeseid until around 520 BC.

Under Darius I the minting of Croeseid in Sardis was then replaced by the minting of Persian gold Darics and silver Sigloi, probably around 515 BC. The earliest gold coin of the Achaemenid Empire, the Daric, followed the weight standard of the Croeseid, and is therefore considered to be later and derived from the Croeseid.

Comments

  • ashelandasheland Posts: 22,572 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Awesome! I have been into the ancients lately. B)

  • MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭

    @asheland said:
    Awesome! I have been into the ancients lately. B)

    Croesus minted beauties!

    The gold ones are like my fantasy coins but I could never afford one since they sell for like $100,000 o_O

  • BjornBjorn Posts: 529 ✭✭✭

    That is a really nice one third stater... and as you say, important to the history of coinage

  • MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭

    @Bjorn said:
    That is a really nice one third stater... and as you say, important to the history of coinage

    Thanks Bjorn! The history is definitely my favorite part about these coins :).

    I feel like this coin is the most museum worthy of my coins even if it’s not my most expensive coin.

    I did some reading and apparently the reverse incuse punch is meant to be not just a government seal but also a primitive form of anti-counterfeiting in the sense that it’s sort of a 3D punch.

    Today even a novice could replicate that punch but in 550 BC it would’ve been much more difficult.

  • WeissWeiss Posts: 9,922 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wonderful write-up and post.
    I had never really considered the imagery from an allegorical perspective, simply assuming it was kind of a royal seal. But surely even as a seal it must have had a deeper meaning than just an image of two animals.
    I wonder if it could be seen as a representation of war/peace, guns/butter, power/prosperity type propaganda? We've got the might to protect ourselves and through that might comes prosperity, illustrated by the very item in your hand.

    Here's my Siglos, shown next to its image in Harlan Berk's 134th Bid or Buy sale catalog (10-08-03), where I bought it raw.

    At AU* 5/5 and 4/5, it's one of the highest graded examples and part of my permanent box of 20.

    We are like children who look at print and see a serpent in the last letter but one, and a sword in the last.
    --Severian the Lame
  • MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭

    @Weiss said:
    Wonderful write-up and post.
    I had never really considered the imagery from an allegorical perspective, simply assuming it was kind of a royal seal. But surely even as a seal it must have had a deeper meaning than just an image of two animals.
    I wonder if it could be seen as a representation of war/peace, guns/butter, power/prosperity type propaganda? We've got the might to protect ourselves and through that might comes prosperity, illustrated by the very item in your hand.

    Here's my Siglos, shown next to its image in Harlan Berk's 134th Bid or Buy sale catalog (10-08-03), where I bought it raw.

    At AU* 5/5 and 4/5, it's one of the highest graded examples and part of my permanent box of 20.

    That’s a beauty Weiss!!

    I wish I could have purchased coins at 2003 prices! O_O

    ..but I was only 14 years old at the time and had no interest in coins back then xD

  • WeissWeiss Posts: 9,922 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MKUltra24 said:

    That’s a beauty Weiss!!

    I wish I could have purchased coins at 2003 prices! O_O

    ..but I was only 14 years old at the time and had no interest in coins back then xD

    LOL! This was my first "big boy" coin, and I had to stretch beyond my comfort level to afford it. I think Harlan was kind enough to allow me to buy in three installments and sent the coin to me once I'd made the first!
    Just goes to show that quality pieces are usually worth it over time.

    We are like children who look at print and see a serpent in the last letter but one, and a sword in the last.
    --Severian the Lame
  • WeissWeiss Posts: 9,922 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 14, 2022 3:48PM

    Note that both of our pieces are designated "Croesus, 561-546 BC.
    NGC differentiates Lydian pieces made during Coresus' reign and those that continued to be minted in the same style, weight, etc. by the Persians after their victory over the Lydians in 547 or 546 BC with the simple annotation "after c. 561 BC".

    My casual observation is that the pieces designated to Croesus are more scarce--possibly much more scarce--than those of the Achaemenids.

    We are like children who look at print and see a serpent in the last letter but one, and a sword in the last.
    --Severian the Lame
  • MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭
    edited May 14, 2022 4:17PM

    @Weiss said:
    Note that both of our pieces are designated "Croesus, 561-546 BC.
    NGC differentiates Lydian pieces made during Coresus' reign and those that continued to be minted in the same style, weight, etc. by the Persians after their victory over the Lydians in 547 or 546 BC with the simple annotation "after c. 561 BC".

    My casual observation is that the pieces designated to Croesus are more scarce--possibly much more scarce--than those of the Achaemenids.

    Yup! Like this one it says (or later). I know this example is gold but the silver ones often have the same “or later” on them.

    This is a $150,000 coin o_O so it’s way outside my budget lol.

    If you’re REALLY lucky you might even see a coin of Croesus’s father Alyattes.

  • MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭

    @Weiss said:
    I like the gold coins of the era, too. But honestly the silver pieces speak to me more than the gold of this series.
    That said, I feel the electrum coinage of Lydia which immediately predated these pieces are the absolute drop dead bomb. The reason we're all here, and COINcidentally my icon since I purchased it in 2005, also from Harlan Berk. Dig through the forum and find @SmEagle1795 's posts on these important pieces from the dawn of coinage. His collection is the best I've ever seen.

    That’s a beauty!!

  • lordmarcovanlordmarcovan Posts: 43,194 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Lovely. Croesus is on my "someday, maybe" list.


    Explore collections of lordmarcovan on CollecOnline, management, safe-keeping, sharing and valuation solution for art piece and collectibles.
  • MKUltra24MKUltra24 Posts: 652 ✭✭✭✭

    @lordmarcovan said:
    Lovely. Croesus is on my "someday, maybe" list.

    I have faith in you! ✊

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