Bob Klein in Economists and Finance, Finance / Banking, Business Founder/Chief Investment Officer • Medici Capital Sep 26, 2019 · 1 min read · +800

The Oldest Coin in History | Bob Klein of Medici Capital

The Oldest Coin in History | Bob Klein of Medici Capital

Nearly 2,700 years ago in the old city of Efsos, a wealthy merchant and trading town located in Hellenic Greece, an electrum coin with a lion’s head marking was struck from the back and pressed into the front. The beauty and value of electrum, a naturally occurring mix of gold and silver, made it an ideal candidate for source material from which to make coins. It is believed that this coin likely originates from the area known as Lydia: an area high in electrum at the time.

 A mold was created with a lion’s head, placed on an anvil, and then was struck to fit into the mold. This particular coin is one of the many prized possessions of the British Museum’s Department of Coins and Medals. In total, the British Museum is home to over a million different coins to date.

In terms of dynastic rulers during the time of this coin, it is largely thought to be attributed to the times of ruler Alyattes, between 610 to 560 B.C, if not his predecessor: Sadyattes. This is due to the lion being the symbol of Lydian kings of old during the Mermnad dynasty; it always had a knob or what is called a nose wart on its head. As a matter of fact, it was widely known that Lydia didn’t really have much going for it except for its gold availability. Herodotus is quoted as saying that Lydia “doesn’t have many great things going for it… except for the gold dust”.
The gold came from the Pactolus river next to Mount Tmolus: one of the world’s largest producers at the time. In a parable meant to portray the destructiveness which wealth can possess, famed King Midas with the golden touch is said to have bathed in the river and this is why the area had so much of the yellow stuff.

Some of these Tmolus gold deposits had 40% copper mixed with silver; others had 55% gold and 45% silver with a little copper mixed in. Regardless of the most common mixtures, we know this area to be the very likely source of the oldest coin in the world. We also know that the practice of verifying that a tradable amount of gold was verified in its weight by minting it with a stamp from the area in which it originated, as this was common practice during those times!

Originally posted on