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NEW The Lydian King Croesus minted the first silver and gold coins. He was famous for his extraordinary wealth, but after his defeat by Cyrus in 546 B.C. Lydia became a Persian satrapy. The Persian conquerors of Lydia continued to strike the same Croesus' silver half siglos and gold stater types. This coin is an early example issued under Croesus. We can tell it is an early example because the lion and the bull were struck separately, with one punch at a time. Later examples appear to have been struck with single punch only made to look like two separate punches.SH96818. Silver siglos (half-stater), BMC Lydia p. 7, 45, pl. 1, 18; SNG Cop 456; SNG Kayhan 1024; SNG Ashmolean 762; SNGvA 2877; Rosen 663; SGCV II 3420, gF, scratches, polished, weight 5.209 g, maximum diameter 15.2 mm, probably Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 561 - 546 B.C.; obverse on the left, forepart of a roaring lion right, confronting, on the right, the forepart of a bull left, pellet above lion's head; reverse two incuse square punches, of unequal size, side by side; ex Numismatic Fine Arts mail bid sale (18 Dec 1987), lot 362; $900.00 (€828.00)
Lydian Kingdom, Uncertain King Before Kroisos, c. 625 - 546 B.C.
According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to use gold and silver coins and the first to establish retail shops in permanent locations. It is not known, however, whether Herodotus meant that the Lydians were the first to use coins of pure gold and pure silver or the first precious metal coins in general. Despite this ambiguity, this statement of Herodotus is one of the pieces of evidence most often cited on behalf of the argument that Lydians invented coinage, at least in the West, even though the first coins were neither gold nor silver but an alloy of the two called electrum.SH85431. Electrum trite, Weidauer Series XVI 86, SNGvA 2869, SNG Kayhan 1013, Rosen 655, Boston MFA 1763, gVF, banker's marks on the sides, weight 4.715 g, maximum diameter 11.9 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 625 - 546 B.C; obverse Head of roaring lion right, with knob and rays atop snout; reverse two incuse squares; SOLD
Lydian Kingdom, Kroisos, c. 561 - 546 B.C.
In Greek and Persian cultures the name of Croesus became a synonym for a wealthy man. Croesus' wealth remained proverbial beyond classical antiquity: in English, expressions such as "rich as Croesus" or "richer than Croesus" are used to indicate great wealth to this day. According to Herodotus, Croesus encountered the Greek sage Solon and, secure in his own wealth and happiness, asked Solon who was the happiest man in the world. He was disappointed by Solon's response that three had been happier than Croesus: Tellus, who died fighting for his country, and the brothers Kleobis and Biton who died peacefully in their sleep after their mother prayed for their perfect happiness because they had pulled her to a festival in an oxcart. Solon explained that Croesus cannot be the happiest man because the fickleness of fortune means that the happiness of a man's life cannot be judged until after his death. Sure enough, Croesus' hubristic happiness was reversed by the tragic death of his accidentally-killed son, his wife's suicide at the fall of Sardis, and his defeat at the hands of the Persians.SH85153. Silver stater, SNG Kayhan 1018; SNG Cop 455; SNGvA 2873; BMC Lydia p. 7, 37; Traité II/1 407, pl. X, 7; Sunrise 10; Rosen 662; SGCV II 3419, aEF, well centered and struck, etched surfaces, weight 10.047 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 560 - 546 B.C.; obverse on the left, forepart of a roaring lion right, confronting, on the right, the forepart of a bull left, pellet above lion's head; reverse two incuse square punches, of unequal size, side by side; ex Art of Money (Portland, OR); SOLD
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