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600 to 560 BC

Birth of metal coins

The king of Lydia, Alyattes, and his fabled son Croesus are amongst the earliest rulers to have issued standardised and certified metal coins.

As well as other objects - such as shells - gold, silver or copper were in very early use as money. They are easily divisible and transportable, and have a significant intrinsic value. Based on these properties, the kings of Lydia - including Croesus, who has become fabled for his fortune - decided to introduce a unified, certified weight for coins made from electrum (a naturally-occurring alloy of gold and silver) and, subsequently, gold or silver bean-shaped coins known as croesids.

At the same time, they derived an income from these monetary issues by giving coins a higher face value than the amount of metal used, in order to meet their expenses.

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