When were coins first used?
Coins were first made in the seventh century B.C.E. in Lydia, Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). They were issued by the early Lydian kings—probably Alyattes or Sadyattes—about 600 B.C.E., several decades before the reign of the famous Lydian king Croesus. Lydian coins were made out of electrum, a mixture of gold and silver, and each was weighed and stamped with a lion’s head, the king’s symbol. About 0.03 pounds (14 grams) of electrum was one stater (meaning “standard”). A stater was about one month’s pay for a soldier. Today’s coins are not made from precious metals like gold and silver, but from inexpensive alloys such as cupro-nickel, which is a combination of copper and nickel. Unlike early coins, the metal in today’s coins is worth far less than its value in the marketplace.