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Sunday, 25 May 2014



A group of seafaring trading people from Asia Minor called the Lydians were the first in the Western world to make coins in the late 7th century BC.

It had long previously been possible to use pieces of gold, silver or bronze in bartering and exchange. Like the earliest coins, such pieces of metal were not tokens, but were used in consideration of their intrinsic value and exchanged by actual weight.

2,500 years ago, there were large bronze knife-shaped coins in China, called knife money.

Following the Lydians, the Greeks began minting money in the shape of discs, striking them with detailed high relief. They replaced grain as the medium of exchange. Stamped with a likeness of an ear of wheat, the new coins were lighter and easier to transport than grain, and did not get mouldy.

Some of coins that the ancient Greeks minted had bees on them.

The tetradrachm was an Ancient Greek silver coin equivalent to four drachmae. A Samian silver tetradrachim struck in Sicily and stamped Year 1 - or 494BC - is the earliest dated coin.

The first Roman coins were made of brass and weighed up to 1lb each.

The Romans minted coins in the temple of the goddess Juno Moneta. 'Mint' and 'money' come from her name.

Gold and silver coins were issued by the Emperor, while brass coins were issued by the Roman Senate.

Roman gold coins were called aureus, silver coins, denarius and brass ones sestertius

The Romans introduced the familiar serrated edges of today's coins as a way to discourage the practice of shaving off thin slices.

The first coin to show a year date was made in the Seleucid era in modern-day Syria. This was a silver tetradrachm of Demetrios 1 with Greek letters for the numerals 161 corresponding to the year beginning October 152BC.

When Julius Caesar landed in Britain in 55BC he noted the Britons used either bronze or gold coins for money, or iron ingots of fixed weights.

Julius Caesar was the first person to have his face on a coin in 44BC.

British women during the Roman occupation kept up with the latest fashions in Rome by observing the design of coins and statues. Women would see what hairstyle the latest empress was wearing and follow suit.

Copper coins were minted in Japan for the first time on August 29, 708.

Offa, king of Mercia was considered the greatest Anglo-Saxon ruler in the eighth century. He was responsible for established a new currency based on the silver penny which, with many changes of design, was the standard coin of England for many centuries.

During the reign of Edward III of England, the initials “DG” were inscribed on all English coins. “DG” is short for “Dei Gratia” which stands for “By the grace of God”. To this day all British coins still have “DG” inscribed on them.

The origin of piggy banks dates back nearly 600 years, in a time when people commonly stored their money at home in common kitchen jars. During The Middle Ages, dishes and pots were made of an orange-colored clay called pygg. When people started saving coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as “pygg banks.”

In Britain the gold half sovereign of Edward VI , struck in London in 1548, bore the date in Roman numerals MDXLV111. It was very shortly after that the newly introduced silver crown and half crown showed for the first time the date of issue in Arabic numerals as 1551.

Eloy Mestrelle, the man who introduced machine-struck coinage to England in 1560, was executed for coin counterfeiting.

Pieces of eight, much coveted by pirates, were silver coins representing eight ‘reales’, the Spanish unit of currency. In 1600, one coin would have been worth the equivalent of £50. They became the world’s most common form of cash from the late 16th Century onwards as Spain built its global empire. They remained legal tender in America until 1857.

The Lord Baltimore penny was the first copper coin issued for circulation in America. It, along with three silver coins, were made as a set specifically for Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore. They were made for the Province of Maryland to be circulated in the Thirteen Colonies.

Lord Baltimore penny

Issac Newton was Master of the Mint around the turn of the 18th century. During this time, he invented the ridges along the edges of coins, still in use today, to prevent theft.

Martha Washington’s silver service was the source of the silver that went into the first U.S. coins.

The Coinage Act was passed on April 2, 1792 establishing the United States Mint. The first Mint building was in Philadelphia, then the capital of the United States; it was the first building of the Republic raised under the Constitution.

The first coin minted in the United States was a silver dollar. It was issued on October 15, 1794.

The first copper penny was struck in the Soho Mint in Birmingham by Matthew Boulton around the beginning of the 19th century. Soon afterwards all low-value coins became known as coppers.

The first silver English florin was issued in 1849. The new coin upset many God fearing people as it did not carry the traditional inscriptions “DG” (”Dei Gratia”-“By God’s grace”), or “ED” (“Fidei Defensor”- “Defender of the Faith”). A cholera epidemic was blamed on the evil influence of the florin and it had to be withdrawn.

The world’s largest coins were copper plates used in Alaska around 1850. They weighed 40 kg (90 lb), and were worth £3000.

A dam-as in the phrase “I don’t give a damn”-was a small Indian coin.

As a result of the increased religious sensibility arising from the American Civil War, The US.Congress passed the Coinage Act  on April 22, 1864, mandating that the inscription "In God We Trust" be placed on all coins minted as United States currency. The motto was partly inspired by some words in the final verse of The Star-Spangled Banner, "And this be our motto: In God is our trust."

The United States Congress authorized the minting of the country's first copper-nickel five-cent piece, the Shield nickel, on May 16, 1866.

The Liberty Head nickel was an American five-cent piece. It was struck for circulation from 1883 until 1912, with at least five pieces being surreptitiously struck dated 1913. Although no 1913 Liberty head nickels were officially struck, five are known to exist. While it is uncertain how these pieces originated, they have come to be among the most expensive coins in the world, with one selling in 2010 for $3,737,500.

Since 1909, when presidents were first depicted on circulating coins, all presidents had been shown in profile.

With the issue of United States Sesquicentennial coinage in 1926, Calvin Coolidge became the only living American President to feature on US. coinage.

The 1933 double eagle is a gold coin of the United States with a $20 face value. 445,500 specimens of this Saint-Gaudens double eagle were minted in 1933, the last year of production for the double eagle, but no specimens ever officially circulated and nearly all were melted down, due to the discontinuance of the domestic gold standard in 1933. It currently holds the record for the highest price paid at auction for a single U.S. coin, having been sold for $7.59 million.

The Jefferson nickel has been the five-cent coin struck by the United States Mint since 1938, when it replaced the Buffalo nickel.

As nickel was a strategic war material during World War II, nickels coined from 1942 to 1945 were struck in a copper-silver-manganese alloy which would not require adjustment to vending machines.

Following the adoption on July 30, 1956 of “In God we trust” by the USA congress as its country's motto, the phrase was inscribed for the first time on all American coins and banknotes.

The farthing coin ceased to be legal tender in the United Kingdom on December 31, 1960.

Decimal coins- 5p and 10p pieces, equivalent to one shilling and two shilling coins- first appeared in Britain in 1968.

The United Kingdom introduced the British fifty-pence coin in 1969, which replaced, over the following years, the British ten-shilling note, in anticipation of the decimalization of the British currency in 1971, and the abolition of the shilling as a unit of currency anywhere in the world.

The smallest coin in Europe, a Dutch 10 cent, was abolished when the Netherlands joined the euro.

In 1983 the English pound coin replaced the £1 banknote. The Bank of England £1 note ceased to be legal tender five years later.

The Bank of England’s gym lockers didn’t accept the new £1 coin that was introduced in 2017.


3 per cent of all £1 coins are fake - their value totals £46 million.

The head of each successive monarch alternates between facing left and right on British coins.

In 2006 the U.S. Mint began shipping new 5-cent coins. The coin has an image of Thomas Jefferson taken from a 1800 Rembrandt Peale portrait in which the president is looking forward.

The largest coin in the world in general global circulation is the Costa Rican 500 colones. Roughly equivalent to the US dollar in value, it is 33mm in diameter.

The most valuable legal tender coin in the world is a $1 million coin from Australia that is worth almost $45 million and is 99% pure gold.

A dime has 118 ridges around the edge, a quarter has 119.

When flipping a coin, three times as many people guess 'heads' than 'tails.'

The probability of a U.S. nickel landing on its edge is approximately 1 in 6000 tosses.

African Americans have appeared on three different coins (Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and Jackie Robinson).

The US penny is made of copper-plated zinc.

It costs the US mint two cents to make every penny, causing a loss of about $60 million per year.

It costs the US mint over 11 cents to make each 5-cent coin.

If an American coin has the letter “S” printed on it, it was minted in San Francisco; a “D” means it was made in Denver; no letter at all means it was minted in Philadelphia.

If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.

The Canadian dollar coin has 11 sides. Due to its depiction of a common loon bird on one side, it is known as “the loonie”.

The world’s least valuable coin is probably the tiyin coin in Uzbekistan. 100,000 are worth about $0.50

Commemorative Star Wars coins became legal tender on the Pacific island of Niue in 2011

Here is a list of songs with coins in the title.

Sources Daily Mail, So That's Why! Bible

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