King Croesus -- The First Silver Coins, 561-546 BC

The Greek historian Herodotus tells us that King Croesus (Greek Kroisos) of Lydia was the first person to mint gold and silver coinage, and modern numismatic scholars concur. The first true coins, only slightly earlier, had been made of electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver found in nearby streams. Reputed to have been fabulously wealthy, Croesus is said to have given great treasures to the Oracle at Delphi and elsewhere. A story recorded by Herodotus is that wishing to invade Persia Croesus sought advice from the Oracle as to the success of his venture. The Oracle told him that if he crossed the river he would destroy a great kingdom.  Encouraged he did, but the kingdom he destroyed was his own.  He was defeated and captured by the Persians resulting in the loss of Greek independence in Asia Minor.

This silver half-stater is one of those first silver coins minted by King Croesus during his reign, 561-546 BC. Here is an opportunity to own one of the surviving examples of these first silver coins from ancient times and one that is directly associated with this historic personality. Obverse: Head of a lion on the left facing the head of a bull on the right. Reverse: Two irregular punch marks. Mean diameter: 16 x 13 mm. (0.63 x 0.51"). Weight: 4.93 gm. (0.154 Troy oz.). Metal composition: Nearly pure silver. References: David Sear, Greek Coins, Vol. 2, # 3420. Grade: Very Fine. Price US$750. Status: Sold. Order #C003.

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