Meaning of COIN in English


a piece of metal or, rarely, of some other material (such as leather or porcelain) certified by a mark or marks upon it as being of a specific intrinsic or exchange value. Coins or coinlike objects were first issued by the Lydians of Anatolia in the late 7th century BC and in the Far East somewhat later. Their use was quickly adopted around the Mediterranean and has since spread over the whole civilized world. For many centuries in the West, few changes occurred in the hand-coining technique of the earliest producers, in which round cast-metal blanks were reheated and then imprinted by hammering with iron or bronze dies. Iron dies were sufficiently hard and durable to permit blanks to be coined while cold. Such dies continued to be used until the development of modern tool steels. The major original objective in coinagethat it provide a known weight and composition, and therefore value, of a precious metal in convenient formhas proved extremely problematic throughout history. King Croesus of Lydia (reigned 560546 BC) is generally credited with issuing the first official government coinage of certified purity and weight. Fluctuations in the availability of and demand for precious metals, coupled with the desire on the part of sovereigns to include in the face value of coins a surcharge for their production and warranty, led in the Middle Ages to the widespread debasement and counterfeiting of coinage. From the late 15th century, the development in Italy of equipment capable of providing coins of reliable weight and size fostered a resurgence of standardization throughout Europe. Developments during the Industrial Revolution led to further refinements in coinage techniques. While coin design in the West has varied widely over the centuries in individual types, most of the basic motifs of modern coinage were introduced in antiquity. In the Greek world, relief imprinting gradually replaced the roughly impressed reverse punch of the Lydians. Early Greek coin types were simple in conception and generally employed animal motifs, often with cult associations. Alexander the Great introduced the coin-portrait, at first depicting gods or heroes and later living monarchs; this motif remains virtually ubiquitous. During a span covering the Greek and Roman developments, the influence of which reached as far as India, it is notable that the Chinese never adopted any of the procedures involved in the striking of coins. Up until the end of the 19th century, Chinese coins were cast in much the same fashion as that used for casting round blanks by the early Greeks. The square-holed Chinese bronze coins were issued in essentially the same size and shape for almost 2,500 years. a piece of metal or, rarely, some other material (such as leather or porcelain) certified by a mark or marks upon it as being of a specific intrinsic or exchange value. The use of cast-metal pieces as a medium of exchange is very ancient and probably developed out of the use in commerce of ordinary ingots of bronze and other metals that possessed an intrinsic value. Until the development of bills of exchange in medieval Europe and paper currency in medieval China, metal coins were the only such medium. Despite their diminished use in most commercial transactions, coins are still indispensable to civilized economics; in fact, their importance is growing as the result of the widespread use of coin-operated machines. Additional reading Percy Gardner, A History of Ancient Coinage, 700300 BC (1919, reprinted 1974), is an exhaustive study of the development of early measures of value, the origin of coin standards, and the mutual relationship of precious metals. The general history of coins and coinage is given in George Macdonald, The Evolution of Coinage (1916, reprinted 1980); Thomas W. Becker, The Coin Makers, rev. ed. (1970); Lionel Casson and Martin Price (eds.), Coins, Culture, and History in the Ancient World (1981); Sir John Craig, The Mint: A History of the London Mint from AD 287 to 1948 (1953); R.A.G. Carson, Coins Ancient, Mediaeval & Modern, 2nd ed. (1970; U.S. title, Coins of the World); Martin Price and Bluma L. Trell, Coins and Their Cities: Architecture on the Ancient Coins of Greece, Rome, and Palestine (1977); Martin Price (general ed.), Coins: An Illustrated Survey, 650 BC to the Present Day (1980); and Gerald Hoberman, The Art of Coins and Their Photography (1982).Topical treatments can be found in J.G. Milne, Greek Coinage (1931); Colin M. Kraay, Archaic and Classical Greek Coins (1976); Barclay V. Head, Historia Numorum: A Manual of Greek Numismatics, new ed. (1911, reprinted 1983); P.D. Whitting, Byzantine Coins (1973); Philip Grierson, Byzantine Coins (1982); C.H.V. Sutherland, Roman Coins (1974); Harold Mattingly, Roman Coins from the Earliest Times to the Fall of the Western Empire, 2nd ed. (1960, reprinted 1977); Arthur Engel and Raymond Serrure, Trait de numismatique du moyen ge, 3 vol. (18911905, reprinted 1977); and George C. Brooke, English Coins from the Seventh Century to the Present Day, 3rd rev. ed. (1950, reprinted 1976).Most of the above-mentioned works include bibliographies. For a separate bibliographic treatment, see Philip Grierson, Coins and Medals: A Select Bibliography (1954). Technology of minting is explored in George F. Hill, Ancient Methods of Coining (1977), a work that was originally a pioneering article in a 1924 issue of the Numismatic Chronicle of the Royal Numismatic Society; Cornelius C. Vermeule, Some Notes on Ancient Dies and Coining Methods (1954), a description of surviving ancient dies and other evidence relating to minting; and D. Sellwood, Minting, in Roman Crafts, ed. by Donald Strong and David Brown (1976).Illustrations of copies of early machinery can be found in Ludwig Veit, Das Liebe Geld: Zwei Jahrtausende Geld- und Mnzgeschichte (1969). F. Mazerolle, Les Medailleurs Franais du XVe sicle au milieu du XVIIe, 3 vol. (190204), discusses documents relating to the introduction of machinery to French mints. A general overview of minting with emphasis on modern technology is presented in Denis R. Cooper, Coins and Minting (1983). Carol Humphrey Vivian Sutherland Ancient Greek coins Early developments, c. 650490 BC True coinage began soon after 650 BC. The 6th-century Greek poet Xenophanes, quoted by the historian Herodotus, ascribed its invention to the Lydians, the first to strike and use coins of gold and silver. King Croesus of Lydia (reigned c. 560546 BC) produced a bimetallic system of pure gold and pure silver coins, but the foundation deposit of the Artemisium (temple to Artemis) at Ephesus shows that electrum coins were in production before Croesus, possibly under King Gyges. Croesus' earliest coins were of electrum, which the Greeks called white gold. They were stamped on one side with the facing heads of a lion and a bull; this type was later transferred to his bimetallic series of pure gold and pure silver. (Some recent scholarship, however, suggests that this latter series was struck, in fact, under Croesus' Persian successors.) The early electrum coinage consisted of small, thick, bean-shaped pieces, with a device stamped in relief on one side, the other being roughly impressed. Their intrinsic value fluctuated according to their gold and silver content; but the weight of the unit was fairly steady at about seven to eight grams, and the types stamped on them were the guarantee of authority. Croesus' relations with Greece were close, and his bimetallic system may have owed something to the fact that Greece had itself now produced its first silver coins. The oldest are of Aegina, with, obverse, a turtleassociated with Aphroditeand, reverse, an incuse square. Traditione.g., in Julius Pollux, the 2nd-century-AD Greek scholar, and elsewhereregarded these as struck by Pheidon of Argos in virtue of his supremacy over Aegina; but the coins are too late to claim association with him in Aegina. They began no earlier than the late 7th century, when Aeginetan maritime ascendancy was growing, incidentally spreading the Aeginetan weight standard for coinage, based on a drachma of about six grams, over much of the Peloponnese and also the Aegean, where similar currency was produced in the islands. Ambition and pride stimulated two neighbouring powers to strike their own coins. Corinth with its pegasi (from their constant obverse type of a pegasus) was coining silver from c. 575 with a light drachma of about three grams, and it is reasonably certain that in Athens, in the first half of the 6th century, Attic coins, based on a drachma of about 4.25 grams derived from Euboea and with a variety of obverse types, including an owl (the reverses, like those of the Corinthian pegasi, were impressed with a die design), were supplanting the earlier coinage of Aegina. These early silver coins, while much less valuable intrinsically than the electrum and gold coins of Asia Minor, nevertheless possessed considerable purchasing power: the Aeginetan and Attic-Euboic didrachms and the Corinthian tridrachm were high denominations suitable for major commerce and not for everyday life. For intercity transactions these staters (i.e., standard units) were conveniently linked by the mina weight (1/60 of a talent) of 425 grams, made up by 150 Corinthian, 100 Attic, and 70 Aeginetan drachmas. Fractional pieces developed only slowly. Between 550 and 500 commerce and civic pride had spread coinage to many parts of the Greek world. From the Persian Empire, with its vast gold and silver coinage, successor to that of Croesus, to Magna Graecia and Sicily, and from the Dorian colony of Cyrene to the Greek or semi-Greek cities of Thrace, there was a network of varied and competitive currencies, generally of fine quality and steady weight. Improved minting techniques began to affect their appearance. A second type, in relief, was substituted gradually for the roughly impressed reverse punch. The important effect of this on the development of coin types is well seen in the reorganized coinage of Athens from c. 525, in which the obverse bears the Athena head and the reverse the owl of Athensreligious patron and civic device; the monarch's head on an English penny goes back, through Alexander's deified head, to the head of Athena, and the symbol of Britannia derives ultimately from such state badges as the owl. In certain cities of Italy and Sicily, however, including Tarentum and Metapontum, a different technique was popular, the obverse type in relief being repeated intaglio on the reverse, very probably with the object of concealing the older types of coins imported for restriking. For a long time the early coins of Greece carried no inscriptions or, at most, with very rare exceptions, a letter or two referring to the issuing city or state authority. Greek coin types, early and even later, were simple in conception and often taken from the animal world. They include many kinds of animals (with the bull, symbol of a river, very common); birds (such as the owl of Athens, the eagle of Zeus at Olympia, the dove at Sicyon); insects (like the bee of Ephesus); fabulous creatures (like the griffin at Abdera); and vegetable objects. Not uncommonly such types were chosen as punning allusions to a city's namethe lion at Leontini; the goat at Aegae; the quince at Melos; the sickle-shaped harbour at Zancle; the selinon leaf at Selinus; the cock, harbinger of hemera, the day, at Himera. In others a city's staple product was proclaimed, like silphium at Cyrene, a silver-miner's pick at Damastium, a bunch of grapes at Naxos, a wine jar at Chios. Cult associations frequently dictated the choice of type. Tarentum showed its mythical founder, the dolphin-rider Taras; Knossos, the Minotaur (half man, half bull) or Labyrinth; Croton, the tripod of Apollo; Poseidonia, a statue of Poseidon, god of the sea. Human or anthropomorphic figures, however, were comparatively rare on early Greek coins, though the famous gold darics, a name derived from Darius I, and silver shekels of Persia showed the great king in an attitude of attack. Much more popular was the representation of idealized heads of deities, which, once established for the two Athenas, Parthenos and Chalinitis, at Athens and Corinth, quickly became the vogue elsewhere, encouraged by the development of double-relief coinage ( i.e., coinage with obverse and reverse in relief), which allowed the head of a civic deity to be paired on the other side by the city's symbol. The Greek tyrants, as a rule, chose to respect the theory of coinage as the corporate expression of state economy and thus regarded coinage as too important a matter for private production. The traditions that, rightly or wrongly, associated all the great lawgiversPheidon, Solon, and Lycurguswith the institution of coinage as well as with reform of weights emphasize its position as a fundamentally corporate right. In Sicily the defeat of Carthage in 480 BC may have been commemorated by the famous decadrachms (Demareteia) associated with Queen Demarete, wife of King Gelon. These superb and now very rare examples of early classical genius showed on the obverse the head of Arethusa (the fountain nymph of Syracusan Ortygia), wreathed (possibly for victory), and on the reverse a chariot above a fleeing lion. From the Persian Wars to Alexander the Great, 490336 BC For a century and a half the previous pattern of Greek coinage spread widely all over the Greek world, its quantity stimulated by a growing sense of nationalism, its intrinsic quality kept high by commercial competition, and its technique raised to new and often superb levels in an age of self-confidence. In the last half of the period the designing and engraving of coin dies (punches) reached a standard rarely to be surpassed. The head of a patron deity was now generally established as the obverse type and was often shown in very high relief, sometimes indeed facing, as a tour de force. Engravers, especially in Sicily and Italy, began to sign their dies, thus preserving the names of masters such as the Syracusans Euainetos, Cimon, and Eukleidas, otherwise unknown. Reverse types, now more complex, increasingly showed groups or genre scenese.g., the splendid frontally squatting Silenus (foster father of the wine god Dionysus) on the coinage for the refounding of Sicilian Naxos in 461, Dionysus seated backward on a donkey at Mende, or the many mythological compositions on Cretan coinsoften diminishing the previous importance of the city badge. Inscriptions, though still often contracted, were in general use. The principal coinage metal was silver, of which the Attic weight standard gradually conquered the Aeginetan. Electrum was continued in the eastat Cyzicus, Lampsacus, Mytilene, and Phocaeatraveling thence mainly to the Black Sea; in the west it was coined at Carthage. In both areas it was produced as an artificial alloy. Gold was continued in the darics of the Persian kings and in the fine later series of Lampsacene staters; it was also struck at Panticapaeum on the Black Sea and on occasion at Syracuse, Tarentum, and Cyrene. Toward the end of the period, Philip II of Macedon instituted what was to be a world-famous gold coinage, undercutting and ousting that of Persia. Bronze made its appearance late in the 5th century, replacing the minute silver obol and other fractional silver coins that had hitherto been used as small change. The currencies of the period included a few that were of world importance. The silver of Corinth and its Adriatic colonies was very numerous and was abundantly accepted, outside the Corinthian territories, by Italy and Sicily. The electrum of Cyzicus bore types that deliberately recommended it to many markets. Persian gold and silver coins enjoyed immense popularity in the 5th century. Metapontum, Tarentum, Thurium, Velia, and Syracuse were among the more prolific silver mints of the west. But the most famous commercial currency of all was that of Athens, the silver tetradrachms of which were struck in large numbers, fine quality, and obstinately unchanged appearance. These coins traveled widely in trade and were imitated as far afield as Egypt, Arabia, and Persia.

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