This institution, perhaps one should say enterprise out of respect for which one says one need not change one’s mind about a thing one has believed in, requiring public promises of one’s intention to fulfill a private obligation: I wonder what Adam and Eve think of it by this time, this firegilt steel alive with goldenness; how bright it shows — “of circular traditions and impostures, committing many spoils,” requiring all one’s criminal ingenuity to avoid! Psychology which explains everything explains nothing and we are still in doubt. Eve: beautiful woman — I have seen her when she was so handsome she gave me a start, able to write simultaneously in three languages — English, German and French and talk in the meantime; equally positive in demanding a commotion and in stipulating quiet: “I should like to be alone;” to which the visitor replies, “I should like to be alone; why not be alone together?” Below the incandescent stars below the incandescent fruit, the strange experience of beauty; its existence is too much; it tears one to pieces and each fresh wave of consciousness is poison. “See her, see her in this common world,” the central flaw in that first crystal-fine experiment, this amalgamation which can never be more than an interesting possibility, describing it as “that strange paradise unlike flesh, gold, or stately buildings, the choicest piece of my life: the heart rising in its estate of peace as a boat rises with the rising of the water;” constrained in speaking of the serpent — that shed snakeskin in the history of politeness not to be returned to again — that invaluable accident exonerating Adam. And he has beauty also; it’s distressing — the O thou to whom, from whom, without whom nothing — Adam; “something feline, something colubrine” — how true! a crouching mythological monster in that Persian miniature of emerald mines, raw silk — ivory white, snow white, oyster white and six others — that paddock full of leopards and giraffes — long lemonyellow bodies sown with trapezoids of blue. Alive with words, vibrating like a cymbal touched before it has been struck, he has prophesied correctly — the industrious waterfall, “the speedy stream which violently bears all before it, at one time silent as the air and now as powerful as the wind.” “Treading chasms on the uncertain footing of a spear,” forgetting that there is in woman a quality of mind which is an instinctive manifestation is unsafe, he goes on speaking in a formal, customary strain of “past states,” the present state, seals, promises, the evil one suffered, the good one enjoys, hell, heaven, everything convenient to promote one’s joy.” There is in him a state of mind by force of which, perceiving what it was not intended that he should, “he experiences a solemn joy in seeing that he has become an idol.” Plagued by the nightingale in the new leaves, with its silence — not its silence but its silences, he says of it: “It clothes me with a shirt of fire.” “He dares not clap his hands to make it go on lest it should fly off; if he does nothing, it will sleep; if he cries out, it will not understand.” Unnerved by the nightingale and dazzled by the apple, impelled by “the illusion of a fire effectual to extinguish fire,” compared with which the shining of the earth is but deformity — a fire “as high as deep as bright as broad as long as life itself,” he stumbles over marriage, “a very trivial object indeed” to have destroyed the attitude in which he stood — the ease of the philosopher unfathered by a woman. Unhelpful Hymen! “a kind of overgrown cupid” reduced to insignificance by the mechanical advertising parading as involuntary comment, by that experiment of Adam’s with ways out but no way in — the ritual of marriage, augmenting all its lavishness; its fiddle-head ferns, lotus flowers, opuntias, white dromedaries, its hippopotamus — nose and mouth combined in one magnificent hopper, “the crested screamer — that huge bird almost a lizard,” its snake and the potent apple. He tells us that “for love that will gaze an eagle blind, that is like a Hercules climbing the trees in the garden of the Hesperides, from forty-five to seventy is the best age,” commending it as a fine art, as an experiment, a duty or as merely recreation. One must not call him ruffian nor friction a calamity — the fight to be affectionate: “no truth can be fully known until it has been tried by the tooth of disputation.” The blue panther with black eyes, the basalt panther with blue eyes, entirely graceful — one must give them the path — the black obsidian Diana who “darkeneth her countenance as a bear doth, causing her husband to sigh,” the spiked hand that has an affection for one and proves it to the bone, impatient to assure you that impatience is the mark of independence not of bondage. “Married people often look that way” — “seldom and cold, up and down, mixed and malarial with a good day and bad.” “When do we feed?” We occidentals are so unemotional, we quarrel as we feed; one’s self is quite lost, the irony preserved in “the Ahasuerus tкte а tкte banquet” with its “good monster, lead the way,” with little laughter and munificence of humor in that quixotic atmosphere of frankness in which “Four o’clock does not exist but at five o’clock the ladies in their imperious humility are ready to receive you”; in which experience attests that men have power and sometimes one is made to feel it. He says, “what monarch would not blush to have a wife with hair like a shaving-brush? The fact of woman is not `the sound of the flute but every poison.'” She says, “`Men are monopolists of stars, garters, buttons and other shining baubles’ — unfit to be the guardians of another person’s happiness.” He says, “These mummies must be handled carefully — `the crumbs from a lion’s meal, a couple of shins and the bit of an ear’; turn to the letter M and you will find that `a wife is a coffin,’ that severe object with the pleasing geometry stipulating space and not people, refusing to be buried and uniquely disappointing, revengefully wrought in the attitude of an adoring child to a distinguished parent.” She says, “This butterfly, this waterfly, this nomad that has `proposed to settle on my hand for life.’ — What can one do with it? There must have been more time in Shakespeare’s day to sit and watch a play. You know so many artists are fools.” He says, “You know so many fools who are not artists.” The fact forgot that “some have merely rights while some have obligations,” he loves himself so much, he can permit himself no rival in that love. She loves herself so much, she cannot see herself enough — a statuette of ivory on ivory, the logical last touch to an expansive splendor earned as wages for work done: one is not rich but poor when one can always seem so right. What can one do for them — these savages condemned to disaffect all those who are not visionaries alert to undertake the silly task of making people noble? This model of petrine fidelity who “leaves her peaceful husband only because she has seen enough of him” — that orator reminding you, “I am yours to command.” “Everything to do with love is mystery; it is more than a day’s work to investigate this science.” One sees that it is rare — that striking grasp of opposites opposed each to the other, not to unity, which in cycloid inclusiveness has dwarfed the demonstration of Columbus with the egg — a triumph of simplicity — that charitive Euroclydon of frightening disinterestedness which the world hates, admitting:
“I am such a cow, if I had a sorrow, I should feel it a long time; I am not one of those who have a great sorrow in the morning and a great joy at noon;” which says: “I have encountered it among those unpretentious protegйs of wisdom, where seeming to parade as the debater and the Roman, the statesmanship of an archaic Daniel Webster persists to their simplicity of temper as the essence of the matter:
If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal or plastic used primarily as a medium of exchange or legal tender. They are standardized in weight, and produced in large quantities at a mint in order to facilitate trade. They are most often issued by a government.
Coins are usually metal or alloy, or sometimes made of synthetic materials. They are usually disc shaped. Coins made of valuable metal are stored in large quantities as bullion coins. Other coins are used as money in everyday transactions, circulating alongside banknotes. Usually the highest value coin in circulation (i.e. excluding bullion coins) is worth less than the lowest-value note. In the last hundred years, the face value of circulation coins has occasionally been lower than the value of the metal they contain, for example due to inflation. If the difference becomes significant, the issuing authority may decide to withdraw these coins from circulation, possibly issuing new equivalents with a different composition, or the public may decide to melt the coins down or hoard them (see Gresham’s law).
Exceptions to the rule of face value being higher than content value also occur for some bullion coins made of copper, silver, or gold (and, rarely, other metals, such as platinum or palladium), intended for collectors or investors in precious metals. Examples of modern gold collector/investor coins include the British sovereign minted by the United Kingdom, the American Gold Eagle minted by the United States, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf minted by Canada, and the Krugerrand, minted by South Africa. While the Eagle, Maple Leaf, and Sovereign coins have nominal (purely symbolic) face values, the Krugerrand does not.
Historically, a great quantity of coinage metals (including alloys) and other materials (e.g. porcelain) have been used to produce coins for circulation, collection, and metal investment: bullion coins often serve as more convenient stores of assured metal quantity and purity than other bullion.
Bullion and unmarked metals
An oxhide ingot from Crete. Late Bronze Age metal ingots were given standard shapes, such as the shape of an “ox-hide”, suggesting that they represented standardized values.
Metal ingots, silver bullion or unmarked bars were probably in use for exchange among many of the civilizations that mastered metallurgy. The weight and purity of bullion would be the key determinant of value. In the Achaemenid Empire in the early 6th century BC, coinage was yet unknown, and barter and to some extent silver bullion was used instead for trade. The practice of using silver bars for currency also seems to have been current in Central Asia from the 6th century BC.
The earliest inscribed coinage: electrum coin of Phanes from Ephesus, 625–600 BC. Obverse: Stag grazing right, ΦΑΝΕΩΣ (retrograde). Reverse: Two incuse punches, each with raised intersecting lines.
The earliest coins are mostly associated with Iron Age Anatolia of the late 7th century BC, and especially with the kingdom of Lydia. Early electrum coins (a variable mix of gold and silver, typically with a ratio of about 54% gold to 44% silver) were not standardized in weight, and in their earliest stage may have been ritual objects, such as badges or medals, issued by priests.The unpredictability of the composition of naturally occurring electrum implied that it had a variable value, which greatly hampered its development.
Most of the early Lydian coins include no writing (“legend” or “inscription”), only an image of a symbolic animal. Therefore, the dating of these coins relies primarily on archaeological evidence, with the most commonly cited evidence coming from excavations at the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, also called the Ephesian Artemision (which would later evolve into one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), site of the earliest known deposit of electrum coins. Because the oldest lion head “coins” were discovered in that temple, and they do not appear to have been used in commerce, these objects may not have been coins but badges or medals issued by the priests of that temple. Anatolian Artemis was the Πὀτνια Θηρῶν (Potnia Thêrôn, “Mistress of Animals”), whose symbol was the stag. It took some time before ancient coins were used for commerce and trade. Even the smallest-denomination electrum coins, perhaps worth about a day’s subsistence, would have been too valuable for buying a loaf of bread. The first coins to be used for retailing on a large-scale basis were likely small silver fractions, Hemiobol, Ancient Greek coinage minted by the Ionian Greeks in the late sixth century BC.
Many early Lydian and Greek coins were minted under the authority of private individuals and are thus more akin to tokens or badges than to modern coins, though due to their numbers it is evident that some were official state issues. The earliest inscribed coins are those of Phanes, dated to 625–600 BC from Ephesus in Ionia, with the legend ΦΑΝΕΟΣ ΕΜΙ ΣΗΜΑ (or similar) (“I am the badge of Phanes”), or just bearing the name ΦΑΝΕΟΣ (“of Phanes”).
The first electrum coins issued by a monarch are those minted by king Alyattes of Lydia (died c. 560 BC), for which reason this king is sometimes mentioned as the originator of coinage.
Croesus: Pure gold and silver coins
Gold Croeseid, minted by king Croesus circa 561–546 BCE. (10.7 grams, Sardis mint).
Silver Croeseid, minted by KING Croesus, circa 560–546 BCE (10.7 grams, Sardis mint)The gold and silver Croeseids formed the world’s first bimetallic monetary system circa 550 BCE.
The successor of Alyattes, king Croesus (r. c. 560–546 BC), became associated with great wealth in Greek historiography. He is credited with issuing the Croeseid, the first true gold coins with a standardised purity for general circulation. and the world’s first bimetallic monetary system circa 550 BCE.
Standardized Roman currency was used throughout the Roman Empire. Important Roman gold and silver coins were continued into the Middle Ages (see Gold dinar, Solidus, Aureus, Denarius). Ancient and early medieval coins in theory had the value of their metal content, although there have been many instances throughout history of governments inflating their currencies by debasing the metal content of their coinage, so that the inferior coins were worth less in metal than their face value. Fiat moneyfirst arose in medieval China, with the jiaozi paper money. Early paper money was introduced in Europe in the later Middle Ages, but some coins continued to have the value of the gold or silver they contained throughout the Early Modern period. The penny was minted as a silver coin until the 17th century.
The first type of Siglos (Type I: “King with bow and arrows”, upper body of the king only), from the time of Darius I. Circa 520–505 BC
Daric gold coin (c.490 BC), one of the most successful of Antiquity.
When Cyrus the Great (550–530 BC) came to power, coinage was unfamiliar in his realm. Barter and to some extent silver bullion was used instead for trade. The practice of using silver bars for currency also seems to have been current in Central Asia from the 6th century.
Cyrus the Great introduced coins to the Persian Empire after 546 BC, following his conquest of Lydiaand the defeat of its king Croesus, who had put in place the first coinage in history. With his conquest of Lydia, Cyrus acquired a region in which coinage was invented, developed through advanced metallurgy, and had already been in circulation for about 50 years, making the Lydian Kingdom one of the leading trade powers of the time. It seems Cyrus initially adopted the Lydian coinage as such, and continued to strike Lydia’s lion-and-bull coinage.
The Achaemenid Empire already reached the doors of India during the original expansion of Cyrus the Great, and the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley is dated to circa 515 BC under Darius I. An Achaemenid administration was established in the area. The Kabul hoard, also called the Chaman Hazouri hoard, is a coin hoard discovered in the vicinity of Kabul, Afghanistan, containing numerous Achaemenid coins as well as many Greek coins from the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. The deposit of the hoard is dated to the Achaemenid period, in approximately 380 BCE. The hoard also contained many locally produced silver coins, minted by local authorities under Achaemenid rule. Several of these issues follow the “western designs” of the facing bull heads, a stag, or Persian column capitals on the obverse, and incuse punch on the reverse.
According to numismatist Joe Cribb, these finds suggest that the idea of coinage and the use of punch-marked techniques was introduced to India from the Achaemenid Empire during the 4th century BCE. More Achaemenid coins were also found in Pushkalavati and in Bhir Mound.
Punch-marked coin minted in the Kabul Valley under Achaemenid administration. Circa 500–380 BC, or c.350 BCE.
Gandharan “bent-bar” punch-marked coin minted under Achaemenid administration, of the type found in large quantities in the Chaman Hazouri and the Bhir Mound hoards.
A small percentage of early Lydian/Greek coins have a legend. A famous early electrum coin, the most ancient inscribed coin at present known, is from nearby Caria. This coin has a Greek legend reading phaenos emi sema interpreted variously as “I am the badge of Phanes”, or “I am the sign of light”, or “I am the tomb of light”, or “I am the tomb of Phanes”. The coins of Phanes are known to be amongst the earliest of Greek coins, a hemihekte of the issue was found in the foundation deposit of the temple of Artemis at Ephesos (the oldest deposit of electrum coins discovered). One assumption is that Phanes was a wealthy merchant, another that this coin is associated with Apollo-Phanes and, due to the Deer, with Artemis (twin sister of the god of light Apollo-Phaneos). Although only seven Phanes type coins were discovered, it is also notable that 20% of all early electrum coins also have the lion of Artemis and the sun burst of Apollo-Phaneos.
Alternatively, Phanes may have been the Halicarnassian mercenary of Amasis mentioned by Herodotus, who escaped to the court of Cambyses, and became his guide in the invasion of Egypt in 527 or 525 BC. According to Herodotus, this Phanes was buried alive by a sandstorm, together with 50,000 Persian soldiers, while trying to conquer the temple of Amun–Zeus in Egypt. The fact that the Greek word “Phanes” also means light (or lamp), and the word “sema” also means tomb makes this coin a famous and controversial one.
Another candidate for the site of the earliest coins is Aegina, where Chelone (“turtle”) coins were first minted circa 700 BC.Coins from Athens and Corinth appeared shortly thereafter, known to exist at least since the late 6th century BC.
Tetradrachm of Athens (c. 454–404 BC) Obverse: a portrait of Athena, patron goddess of the city, in helmet Reverse: the owl of Athens, with an olive sprig and the inscription “ΑΘΕ”, short for ΑΘΕΝΑΙΟΝ, “of the Athenians“
The Classical period saw Greek coinage reach a high level of technical and aesthetic quality. Larger cities now produced a range of fine silver and gold coins, most bearing a portrait of their patron god or goddess or a legendary hero on one side, and a symbol of the city on the other. Some coins employed a visual pun: some coins from Rhodes featured a rose, since the Greek word for rose is rhodon. The use of inscriptions on coins also began, usually the name of the issuing city.
The wealthy cities of Sicily produced some especially fine coins. The large silver decadrachm (10-drachm) coin from Syracuse is regarded by many collectors as the finest coin produced in the ancient world, perhaps ever. Syracusan issues were rather standard in their imprints, one side bearing the head of the nymph Arethusa and the other usually a victorious quadriga. The tyrants of Syracuse were fabulously rich, and part of their public relations policy was to fund quadrigas for the Olympic chariot race, a very expensive undertaking. As they were often able to finance more than one quadriga at a time, they were frequent victors in this highly prestigious event. Syracuse was one of the epicenters of numismatic art during the classical period. Led by the engravers Kimon and Euainetos, Syracuse produced some of the finest coin designs of antiquity.
Although many of the first coins illustrated the images of various gods, the first portraiture of actual rulers appears with the coinage of Lycia in the 5th century BC. No ruler had dared illustrating his own portrait on coinage until that time. The Achaemenids had been the first to illustrate the person of their king or a hero in a stereotypical manner, showing a bust or the full body but never an actual portrait, on their Sigloi and Daric coinage from circa 500 BC. A slightly earlier candidate for the first portrait is Themistocles, the Athenian general, who became a Governor of Magnesia on the Meander circa 465–459 BC for the Achaemenid Empire, although there is some doubt that his coins may have represented Zeus rather than himself. Themistocles may have been in a unique position in which he could transfer the notion of individual portraiture, already current in the Greek world, and at the same time wield the dynastic power of an Achaemenid dynast who could issue his own coins and illustrate them as he wished. From the time of Alexander the Great, portraiture of the issuing ruler would then become a standard, generalized, feature of coinage.
Coin of Themistocles as Governor of Magnesia. Obv: Barley grain. Rev: Possible portrait of Themistocles. Circa 465–459 BC.
Portrait of Lycian ruler Kherei wearing the Persian cap on the reverse of his coins (ruled 410–390 BC).
Portrait of Lycian ruler Erbbina wearing the Persian cap on the reverse of his coins (ruled 390–380 BC).
Portrait of Lycian ruler Perikles facing (ruled 380-360 BC).
In China, early round coins appeared in the 4th century BC and were adopted for all China by Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di at the end of 3rd century BC. The round coin, the precursor of the familiar cash coin, circulated in both the spade and knife money areas in the Zhou period, from around 350 BC. Apart from two small and presumably late coins from the State of Qin, coins from the spade money area have a round hole and refer to the jin and liang units. Those from the knife money area have a square hole and are denominated in hua (化).
Although for discussion purposes the Zhou coins are divided up into categories of knives, spades, and round coins, it is apparent from archaeological finds that most of the various kinds circulated together. A hoard found in 1981, near Hebi in north Henan province, consisted of: 3,537 Gong spades, 3 Anyi arched foot spades, 8 Liang Dang Lie spades, 18 Liang square foot spades and 1,180 Yuan round coins, all contained in three clay jars.
Posthumous Alexander the Great tetradrachm from Temnos, Aeolis. Dated 188–170 BC. Obverse: Alexander the Great as Herakles facing right wearing the nemean lionskin. Reverse: Zeus seated on throne to the left holding eagle in right hand and scepter in left; in left field PA monogram and angular sigma above grape vine arching over oinochoe; ALEXANDROU vertical in right field. Reference: Price 1678.
The Hellenistic period was characterized by the spread of Greek culture across a large part of the known world. Greek-speaking kingdoms were established in Egypt and Syria, and for a time also in Iran and as far east as what is now Afghanistan and northwestern India. Greek traders spread Greek coins across this vast area, and the new kingdoms soon began to produce their own coins. Because these kingdoms were much larger and wealthier than the Greek city states of the classical period, their coins tended to be more mass-produced, as well as larger, and more frequently in gold. They often lacked the aesthetic delicacy of coins of the earlier period.
Still, some of the Greco-Bactrian coins, and those of their successors in India, the Indo-Greeks, are considered the finest examples of Greek numismatic art with “a nice blend of realism and idealization”, including the largest coins to be minted in the Hellenistic world: the largest gold coin was minted by Eucratides (reigned 171–145 BC), the largest silver coin by the Indo-Greek king Amyntas Nikator (reigned c. 95–90 BC). The portraits “show a degree of individuality never matched by the often bland depictions of their royal contemporaries further West” (Roger Ling, “Greece and the Hellenistic World”).
The first Roman silver coin, 281 BC. Crawford 13/1
Coinage followed Greek colonization and influence first around the Mediterranean and soon after to North Africa (including Egypt), Syria, Persia, and the Balkans. Coins came late to the Roman Republic compared with the rest of the Mediterranean, especially Greece and Asia Minor where coins were invented in the 7th century BC. The currency of central Italy was influenced by its natural resources, with bronze being abundant (the Etruscans were famous metal workers in bronze and iron) and silver ore being scarce. The coinage of the Roman Republic started with a few silver coins apparently devised for trade with the Greek colonies in Southern Italy, and heavy cast bronze pieces for use in Central Italy. The first Roman coins, which were crude, heavy cast bronzes, were issued c. 289 BC.
Five million mark coin (Weimar Republic, 1923). Despite its high denomination, this coin’s monetaryvalue dropped to a tiny fraction of a US cent by the end of 1923, substantially less than the value of its metallic content.
Most coins presently are made of a base metal, and their value comes from their status as fiat money. This means that the value of the coin is decreed by government fiat (law), and thus is determined by the free market only in as much as national currencies are used in domestic trade and also traded internationally on foreign exchange markets. Thus, these coins are monetary tokens, just as paper currency is: they are usually not backed by metal, but rather by some form of government guarantee. Some have suggested that such coins not be considered to be “true coins” (see below). Thus, there is very little economic difference between notes and coins of equivalent face value.
Coins may be in circulation with fiat values lower than the value of their component metals, but they are never initially issued with such value, and the shortfall only arises over time due to inflation, as market values for the metal overtake the fiat declared face value of the coin. Examples are the pre-1965 US dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar (nominally containing slightly less than a tenth, quarter, half, and full ounce of silver, respectively), US nickel, and pre-1982 US penny. As a result of the increase in the value of copper, the United States greatly reduced the amount of copper in each penny. Since mid-1982, United States pennies are made of 97.5% zinc, with the remaining 2.5% being a coating of copper. Extreme differences between fiat values and metal values of coins cause coins to be hoarded or removed from circulation by illicit smelters in order to realise the value of their metal content. This is an example of Gresham’s law. The United States Mint, in an attempt to avoid this, implemented new interim rules on December 14, 2006, subject to public comment for 30 days, which criminalized the melting and export of pennies and nickels. Violators can be fined up to $10,000 and/or imprisoned for up to five years.
A coin’s value as a collector’s item or as an investment generally depends on its condition, specific historical significance, rarity, quality, beauty of the design and general popularity with collectors. If a coin is greatly lacking in all of these, it is unlikely to be worth much. The value of bullion coins is also influenced to some extent by those factors, but is largely based on the value of their gold, silver, or platinum content. Sometimes non-monetized bullion coins such as the Canadian Maple Leaf and the American Gold Eagle are minted with nominal face values less than the value of the metal in them, but as such coins are never intended for circulation, these face values have no relevance.
Collector catalogs often include information about coins to assists collectors with identifying and grading. Additional resources can be found online for collectors These are collector clubs, collection management tools, marketplaces, trading platforms, and forums,
Medium of expression
Coins can be used as creative medium of expression – from fine art sculpture to the penny machines that can be found in most amusement parks. In the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in the United States there are some regulations specific to nickels and pennies that are informative on this topic. 31 CFR § 82.1 forbids unauthorized persons from exporting, melting, or treating any 5 or 1 cent coins.
This has been a particular problem with nickels and dimes (and with some comparable coins in other currencies) because of their relatively low face value and unstable commodity prices. For a while,[when?] the copper in US pennies was worth more than one cent, so people would hoard pennies and then melt them down for their metal value. It cost more than face value to manufacture pennies or nickels, so any widespread loss of the coins in circulation could be expensive for the US Treasury. This was more of a problem when coins were still made of precious metals like silver and gold, so strict laws against alteration make more sense historically.
31 CFR § 82.2 goes on to state that: “(b) The prohibition contained in § 82.1 against the treatment of 5-cent coins and one-cent coins shall not apply to the treatment of these coins for educational, amusement, novelty, jewelry, and similar purposes as long as the volumes treated and the nature of the treatment makes it clear that such treatment is not intended as a means by which to profit solely from the value of the metal content of the coins.”
Alexander the Great Tetradrachm from the Temnos Mint, dated circa 188–170 BC
Throughout history, monarchs and governments have often created more coinage than their supply of precious metals would allow if the coins were pure metal. By replacing some fraction of a coin’s precious metal content with a base metal (often copper or nickel), the intrinsic value of each individual coin was reduced (thereby “debasing” the money), allowing the coining authority to produce more coins than would otherwise be possible. Debasement occasionally occurs in order to make the coin physically harder and therefore less likely to be worn down as quickly, but the more usual reason is to profit from the difference between face value and metal value. Debasement of money almost always leads to price inflation. Sometimes price controls are at the same time also instituted by the governing authority, but historically these have generally proved unworkable.
The United States is unusual in that it has only slightly modified its coinage system (except for the images and symbols on the coins, which have changed a number of times) to accommodate two centuries of inflation. The one-cent coin has changed little since 1856 (though its composition was changed in 1982 to remove virtually all copper from the coin) and still remains in circulation, despite a greatly reduced purchasing power. On the other end of the spectrum, the largest coin in common circulation is valued at 25 cents, a very low value for the largest denomination coin compared to many other countries. Increases in the prices of copper, nickel, and zinc meant that both the US one- and five-cent coins became worth more for their raw metal content than their face (fiat) value. In particular, copper one-cent pieces (those dated prior to 1982 and some 1982-dated coins) contained about two cents’ worth of copper.
Some denominations of circulating coins that were formerly minted in the United States are no longer made. These include coins with a face value of a half cent, two cents, three cents, and twenty cents. (The half dollar and dollar coins are still produced, but mostly for vending machines and collectors.) In the past, the US also coined the following denominations for circulation in gold: One dollar, $2.50, three dollars, five dollars, ten dollars, and twenty dollars. In addition, cents were originally slightly larger than the modern quarter and weighed nearly half an ounce, while five-cent coins (known then as “half dimes”) were smaller than a dime and made of a silver alloy. Dollar coins were also much larger, and weighed approximately an ounce. One-dollar gold coins are no longer produced and rarely used. The US also issues bullion and commemorative coins with the following denominations: 50¢, $1, $5, $10, $25, $50, and $100.
Circulating coins commonly suffered from “shaving” or “clipping”: the public would cut off small amounts of precious metal from their edges to sell it and then pass on the mutilated coins at full value. Unmilled British sterling silver coins were sometimes reduced to almost half their minted weight. This form of debasement in TudorEngland was commented on by Sir Thomas Gresham, whose name was later attached to Gresham’s law. The monarch would have to periodically recall circulating coins, paying only the bullion value of the silver, and reminting them. This, also known as recoinage, is a long and difficult process that was done only occasionally.Many coins have milled or reeded edges, originally designed to make it easier to detect clipping.
Some convicted criminals from the British Isles who were sentenced to transportation to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries used coins to leave messages of remembrance to loved ones left behind in Britain. The coins were defaced, smoothed and inscribed, either by stippling or engraving, with sometimes touching words of loss. These coins were called “convict love tokens” or “leaden hearts”. A number of these tokens are in the collection of the National Museum of Australia.
Bimetallic Egyptian one pound coin featuring King Tutankhamen
The side of a coin carrying an image of a monarch, other authority (see List of people on coins), or a national emblem is called the obverse (colloquially, heads); the other side, carrying various types of information, is called the reverse (colloquially, tails). The year of minting is usually shown on the obverse, although some Chinese coins, most Canadian coins, the pre-2008 British 20p coin, the post-1999 American quarter, and all Japanese coins are exceptions.
The relation of the images on the obverse and reverse of a coin is the coin’s orientation. Suppose the image on the obverse of the coin is right side up; if you turn the coin left or right on its horizontal axis, and the reverse of the coin is also right side up, then the coin is said to have medallic orientation—typical of the Euro and pound sterling; if, however, turning the coin left or right shows that the reverse image is upside down, then the coin is said to have coin orientation, characteristic of the United States dollar coin.
Bimetallic coins are sometimes used for higher values and for commemorative purposes. In the 1990s, France used a tri-metallic coin. Common circulating bimetallic examples include the €1, €2, British £1, £2 and Canadian $2 and several peso coins in Mexico.
The exergue is the space on a coin beneath the main design, often used to show the coin’s date, although it is sometimes left blank or containing a mint mark, privy mark, or some other decorative or informative design feature. Many coins do not have an exergue at all, especially those with few or no legends, such as the Victorian bun penny.
Not all coins are round; they come in a variety of shapes. The Australian 50-cent coin, for example, has twelve flat sides. Some coins have wavy edges, e.g. the $2 and 20-cent coins of Hong Kong and the 10-cent coins of Bahamas. Some are square-shaped, such as the 15-cent coin of the Bahamas and the 50-cent coin from Aruba. During the 1970s, Swazi coins were minted in several shapes, including squares, polygons, and wavy edged circles with 8 and 12 waves.
Scalloped coin of Israel
1996 one cent coin from Belize
2005 Bahamas 15 cent coin is square with rounded corners
Some mediaeval coins, called bracteates, were so thin they were struck on only one side.
Many coins over the years have been manufactured with integrated holes such as Chinese “cash” coins, Japanese coins, Colonial French coins, etc. This may have been done to permit their being strung on cords, to facilitate storage and being carried.
1917 French coin with integrated hole
Chinese cash coin, 1102–1106
1941 Palestine coin
Modern-day Japanese 5-yen coin
1924 East African coin
Holographic coin from Liberia
The Royal Canadian Mint is now able to produce holographic-effect gold and silver coinage. However, this procedure is not limited to only bullion or commemorative coinage. The 500 yen coin from Japan was subject to a massive amount of counterfeiting. The Japanese government in response produced a circulatory coin with a holographic image.
The Royal Canadian Mint has also released several coins that are coloured, the first of which was in commemoration of Remembrance Day. The subject was a coloured poppy on the reverse of a 25-cent piece minted through a patented process.
An example of non-metallic composite coins (sometimes incorrectly called plastic coins) was introduced into circulation in Transnistriaon 22 August 2014. Most of these coins are also non-circular, with different shapes corresponding to different coin values.
For a list of many pure metallic elements and their alloys which have been used in actual circulation coins and for trial experiments, see coinage metals.
To flip a coin to see whether it lands heads or tails is to use it as a two-sided dice in what is known in mathematics as a Bernoulli trial: if the probability of heads (in the parlance of Bernoulli trials, a “success”) is exactly 0.5, the coin is fair.
Coins can also be spun on a flat surface such as a table. This results in the following phenomenon: as the coin falls over and rolls on its edge, it spins faster and faster (formally, the precession rate of the symmetry axis of the coin, i.e., the axis passing from one face of the coin to the other) before coming to an abrupt stop. This is mathematically modeled as a finite-time singularity – the precession rate is accelerating to infinity, before it suddenly stops, and has been studied using high speed photography and devices such as Euler’s Disk. The slowing down is predominantly caused by rolling friction (air resistance is minor), and the singularity (divergence of the precession rate) can be modeled as a power law with exponent approximately −1/3.
Iron and copper coins have a characteristic metallic smell that is produced upon contact with oils in the skin. Perspiration is chemically reduced upon contact with these metals, which causes the skin oils to decompose, forming with iron the volatile molecule 1-octen-3-one.
The Piloncitos are tiny engraved gold coins found in the Philippines, along with the barter rings, which are gold ring-like ingots. These barter rings are bigger than doughnuts in size and are made of pure gold from the Archaic period (c. 10th to 16th century).
Piloncitos are small engraved gold coins found in the Phillipines. Some piloncitos are of the size of a corn kernel and weigh from 0.09 to 2.65 grams of fine gold. Piloncitos have been excavated from Mandaluyong, Bataan, the banks of the Pasig River, Batangas, Marinduque, Samar, Leyte and some areas in Mindanao. They have been found in large numbers in Indonesianarchaeological sites leading to questions of origin such as whether they were made in the Philippines or imported. However. many Spanish accounts state that the gold coins are mined and labored in the Philippines, such as the following in 1586:
“The people of this island (Luzon) are very skillful in their handling of gold. They weigh it with the greatest skill and delicacy that have ever been seen. The first thing they teach their children is the knowledge of gold and the weights with which they weigh it, for there is no other money among them.
The Grand Canyon (Hopi: Ongtupqa; Yavapai: Wi:kaʼi:la, Navajo: Bidááʼ Haʼaztʼiʼ Tsékooh, Spanish: Gran Cañón) is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters).[
Nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While some aspects about the history of incision of the canyon are debated by geologists, several recent studies support the hypothesis that the Colorado River established its course through the area about 5 to 6 million years ago.[ Since that time, the Colorado River has driven the down-cutting of the tributaries and retreat of the cliffs, simultaneously deepening and widening the canyon.
For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans, who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon a holy site, and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540.
The World Gold Council estimates that all the gold ever mined totaled 187,200 metric tons in 2017 but other independent estimates vary by as much as 20%. At a price of US$1,250 per troy ounce, reached on 16 August 2017, one ton of gold has a value of approximately US$40.2 million. The total value of all gold ever mined would exceed US$7.5 trillion at that valuation and using WGC 2017 estimates.
During most of history, a nation’s gold reserves were considered its key financial asset and a major prize of war.
It will be for the Treasury in collaboration with the Bank of England, and the Foreign Office, to examine the possible means of getting the bullion and negotiable securities into the same place of safety. The transport of many hundreds of tons of bullion presents a difficult problem and the loading would take a long time. The ideal would of course be to have the gold transferred to this country or to the United States of America. […] The gold reserves of Belgium and Holland amount to about £70 million and £110 million respectively. [Foot]Note: H. M. Treasury has particularly requested that this information, which is highly confidential should in no circumstances be divulged. The total weight of this bullion amounts to about 1800 tons and its evacuation would be a matter of the utmost importance would present a considerable problem if it had to be undertaken in a hurry when transport facilities were disorganized. At present this gold is believed to be stored at Brussels and The Hague respectively, neither of which is very well placed for its rapid evacuation in an emergency.
The Belgian government transferred one third of its gold reserves to the UK, another third to Canada and the United States and most of the remainder to southern France. Following the outbreak of war, the gold held in France was sent to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, then part of the French colonial empire. This was against the Belgian Government’s wishes, with the Belgians having directed the French to transfer it to the United States. After the Germans occupied Belgium and France in 1940, they demanded the Belgian gold reserve held in Senegal. In 1941, Vichy French officials arranged the transport of 4,944 boxes with 198 tons of gold to officials of the German Reichsbank and the German Government used it to purchase commodities and munitions from neutral countries. The Banque de France fully compensated the Belgian National Bank for the loss of its gold after the war.
Since early 2011, the gold holdings of the IMF have been constant at 90.5 million troy ounces (2,814.1 metric tons).
Officially reported holdings
The IMF regularly maintains statistics of national assets as reported by various countries. This data is used by the World Gold Council to periodically rank and report the gold holdings of countries and official organizations.
On 17 July 2015, China announced that it increased its gold reserves by about 57 percent from 1,054 to 1,658 metric tons, while disclosing its official gold reserves for the first time in six years.
You probably already know of the diamond’s toughness. In fact, it’s the hardest gemstone and is made of just one element: carbon.
Its structure makes it 58 times harder than anything in nature and can only be cut with another diamond. While it’s become nearly synonymous with wedding engagements, it’s also the perfect stone for individuals who want something that’s just as appropriate for everyday wear as it is for special occasions.
Diamonds come in several colors, including yellow, red, pink, blue, and green, and range in intensity from faint to vivid. Generally speaking, the more saturated the color, the higher the value.
In fact, diamonds sparkling with intense color are rare and may be priced higher than a colorless diamond of equal size. Because fancy-color diamonds are very desirable, color is sometimes introduced in a laboratory. These are correctly called color-treated diamonds.
Its unique physical properties means it has the best possible luster of any gemstone when cut and polished well. So if you’re in the market for “sparkle,” the diamond is the gemstone for you
Diamonds have been admired for centuries, and some historians estimate it was traded as early as 4 BC. One of the reasons it is so admired and valued is because of the process by which a diamond must be formed well below the earth’s crust, then forced upward until it is uncovered.
But before this process was understood, many ancient civilizations believed that diamonds were lighting made real on earth. Perhaps this is the reason that diamonds have often been associated with great healing powers. Many thought the diamond could cure brain disease, alleviate pituitary gland disorders and draw toxins from the blood.
Historically, the diamond first became a popular gemstone in India, when the Moghuls and Imperial Colony easily mined diamonds from deposits along three major rivers. Today, the diamond is most widely known as the stone to give as part of an engagement ring.
Throughout history, however, the diamond has nearly always symbolized eternal and lasting love. So whether you’re getting engaged, or simply want to give yourself a truly meaningful gift, the diamond has both beauty and enduring symbolism.
When Sergio Marchionne (RIP) was CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, he actively and quite publically pursued a partnership or merger with another mainstream automaker. GM was one of them. He knocked but the other side didn’t open the door, and that was that. But Marchionne understood the big picture that automakers would be stronger if they created alliances. Their futures would depend on doing so. Heck, he orchestrated Fiat’s successful purchase of Chrysler.
His successor, Mike Manley, also sees what Marchionne saw, so it wasn’t a big surprise last week when it was reported PSA, consisting of Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and Vauxhall, and FCA had discussed the possibility of merging. An agreement wasn’t made for a number of reasons, but now The Financial Times, via Automotive News, has learned that Renault and Nissan intend to make a joint bid for FCA.27
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has been front and center in the headlines since November when its now former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, was arrested in Tokyo for financial wrongdoing. Since then, the automakers have been renegotiating their alliance, which both hope to complete within the next year. Once that’s done, the plan is to make a deal for FCA.
The ultimate goal is to create an even bigger alliance that could better compete against the Volkswagen Group and Toyota. Now that the dust has settled somewhat since the Ghosn scandal broke out, Renault-Nissan has named Jean-Dominique Senard as its new chairman. Aside from Renault-Nissan and PSA, this isn’t the first time in recent years an automaker was interested in purchasing FCA, or at least part of it.
A couple of years ago, China’s Great Wall Motor Co. wanted to buy Jeep, but FCA was rightly unwilling to part with its most profitable brand. But a Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi-FCA tie up, however it’s decided, could be a good fit. Aside from major cost savings involving suppliers, R&D, and manufacturing, each brand would likely gain a foothold into markets where it’s currently weak.
But for now, no decisions have been made and spokespeople for all companies involved refuse to comment. Make no mistake though, it looks like FCA will soon be cutting a deal with someone.