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.