"Lord Keynes" Contra White on the Beginnings of Coinage

lydian, stater, electrum, white, selgin, coinage, origins of money
Public Domain. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Claude_Vignon_-_Parable_of_the_Unforgiving_Servant_(detail).jpg
lydian, stater, electrum, white, selgin, coinage, origins of money
Croesus Receiving Tribute from a Lydian Peasant by Claude Vignon (1629)

I fully expected Larry White's recent post challenging the state theory of money, and particularly that theory's understanding of the origins of metallic coinage, to generate some critical feedback. In particular, I expected it to raise the hackles of "Lord Keynes" (henceforth LK), the otherwise anonymous author of the blog, Social Democracy for the 21st Century, who has discussed the same topic on several occasions (e.g. herehere, and here), and who is inclined to favor the alternative, "cartalist" (or "chartalist") perspective.

Nor was I disappointed. Indeed, within moments of tweeting a link to Larry's post I found myself in a twitter debate with LK regarding the origins of Lydia's electrum coins, which are generally considered the world's earliest. In response to my tweet, LK tweeted in return that "The consensus of modern ancient historians is that coined money in Anatolia and Greece was invented by the state."

LK has since published a post specifically countering White's claims, including the claim that, although sovereigns eventually monopolized ancient coinage,

as far as we know coins were already in use among merchants before that happened. Very early coins from ancient Lydia, in what is now Turkey, were not inscribed with human faces but rather animal figures. The Ancient History Encyclopedia states: "It appears that many early Lydian coins were minted by merchants as tokens to be used in trade transactions. The Lydian state also minted coins." Regarding Lydian coins inscribed with the names Walwel and Kalil, the British Museum comments: "It is unclear whether these are names of kings or just rich men who produced the earliest coins." Regarding a nearly contemporary ancient Greek coin bearing the legend "I am the badge of Phanes," the Museum comments: "We cannot be certain who this Phanes was, but it seems that he was placing his badge on coins as a guarantee of their quality."

According to LK, White here is "clearly asserting that coined money was invented by the private sector in ancient Lydia and Greece." That seems to me a problematic interpretation, since White's qualifier, "As far as we know," makes his statement tentative: to say that X is true "as far as we know" is not to say that X is definitely true. It is merely to observe that we have no good reason for believing that X is not true. Consequently the fact that the positive evidence for the private beginnings of coinage is, as LK goes on to declare, "feeble at best," doesn't itself refute White's claim, for the the positive evidence for kings having been the first coiners could be even more "feeble."

But is it?

That Supposed Consensus

The one thing we know for sure is that a fair portion of all known electrum coins — one inventory places the share at about 25 percent — bear markings that point to official origins. As for the rest, although expert opinion is divided concerning their sources, most authorities continue to allow that they may bear private markings. "We do not know," Koray Konuk observes (in his contribution, on coinage in Asia Minor, to the Oxford Handbook on Greek and Roman Coinage), "whether there was a state  monopoly of issuing coinage or whether some wealthy private individuals  such as bankers or merchants were also allowed to  strike coins of their own." The British Museum's ancient coin curators, with whom I once had a lengthy discussion of the subject, are of the same opinion. Another relatively recent source, finally, sums matters up by observing how "the enormous bibliography on the origins of coinage partly serves to highlight the continued absence of definitive answers to the fundamental questions of 'who, what, when, why, where?'"

Naturally this lack of definitive answers hasn't prevented authorities from taking sides in the debate. But despite LK's remarks, their doing so can hardly be said to have resulted in a "consensus of modern ancient historians" favoring the view that coinage was a state invention. Although some authorities (notably Robert Wallace) clearly favor that view, others, no less recent or authoritative, lean the other way. According to David Schaps, the author of the superb monograph,The Invention of Ancient Coinage and the Monetization of Ancient Greece (2004), "the prevailing opinion," far from holding "that the first coins were official private issues,"

is that the types of the coins (there are some twenty, many more than the two or three kings who reigned from the time coins were invented until the end of the Lydian empire) identify not the king under whom they were struck, but the producer of the coin — perhaps a royal functionary, more likely an independent gold merchant ("The Invention of Coinage in Lydia, in India, and in China," 2006, emphasis added).

John Kroll, another highly-regarded, contemporary expert on ancient coins, also maintains that the "profusion of type symbols" found on early electrum coins suggests

that in addition to the coins that were minted by Lydian monarchs and Greek city states, much early electrum may have been struck by local dynasts, large landholders, and other petty rulers in Lydia and neighboring regions — anyone, in short, with wealth in electrum and a need to spend it.

A recent paper by Peter Van Alfen, the American Numismatic Society's curator of Greek coins, directly challenges one of the main arguments offered in support of the "state invention" hypothesis, namely the claim that only state authorities could command the "trust" needed to make coins circulate. Although he recognizes that kings were probably not the only source of early electrum coins, John Kroll also supplies a typical instance of this view, in his contribution to the Oxford Handbook on Greek and Roman Coins:

The key factor, which made coinage possible and distinguished it from all earlier forms of money, was the involvement of the state. Unlike anonymously supplied bullion, coins were supplied by the state and were guaranteed by its authority. As small, preweighed and hence prevalued ingots of precious metal that were stamped with the certifying badge of the issuing government, they were instantly acceptable in payment on trust.

Had he reflected on such names as Browne & Brind, Johnson Matthey, and Englehard, Kroll might not have been so quick to claim that bullion must either be supplied by the state or "anonymously." His perspective is, nonetheless, all too common. To his credit, Van Alfen will have none it. "The generation of trust and guarantees," he observes,

does not always require state intervention or backing. Indeed, in some cases, state intervention is decidedly to be avoided. While states can serve to mitigate transactional chaos through their various formal institutions, like market regulators and courts, there are numerous non-state institutional responses to the same the problems, including reputation and trust networks, that can be just as effective, particularly when the geographical scope and population size in question is comparatively small.

Moreover, he adds,

there is no necessary relationship between states and monetary instruments, like coinage; there often is a functional relationship between the two, but the state is not a necessary component for generating trust, even for fiduciary instruments….In cases where we have contextual evidence, problems of trust were overcome primarily through private guarantee mechanisms.

As an alternative to the view that coinage began as a state innovation, Van Alfen proposes and defends the hypothesis that originally "the so-called right of coinage was not limited to the state alone, but was rather a (property) right held universally."

Within the larger context of archaic state formation and the more specific dynamic of Asia Minor monarchies, we should not then expect to find a single established set of relationships between the individual polities and coinage ab initio, but rather a process working out what that set of relationships might become. Coinage, with its potential to enhance social, political and economic might, was no doubt one of many sites where the extension and centralization of power was being negotiated between monarchs and their competitors, and monarchs and the ruled.

In Lydia, Van Alfen speculates, "as state capacity increased, so too did political stability along with general elite consent to Mermnad rule." Eventually — by Croesus' time —  the Mermnad's political influence was such that they had "achieved monopolization over coin production, not so much by decree, but by default."

If Van Alfen's account is indeed correct, the notion that coinage was a "state" invention makes little sense, for at the birth of coinage the distinction between "the state" on one hand and relatively important individuals ("elites") on the other was itself murky. All that can be said is that the consolidation of power in certain rulers tended to coincide with the monopolization of coinage — a claim no one has ever contested.


So much for the "consensus" that supposedly contradicts White's stand. Now let's consider the particular "counterarguments" LK offers against it.  The first concerns the sources of electrum itself.  According to LK, "Lydian king's either controlled the mines in their kingdom directly and/or levied taxes on mining or extraction of metals." Therefore, he says, "it is most probable the kings also minted the first electrum coinage." But the conclusion is a plain non-sequitur: no less than mining and jewelry-making (concerning which more anon), mining and coining are each distinct, specialized activities, which have historically been undertaken by separate outfits; and this has been no less true when mines themselves have been nationalized than when they have been privately owned and operated.

Moreover the premise that kings alone had access to sources of electrum and other precious metals is itself contentious. In his previously-cited paper Van Alfen observes that "While state control of mining by the end of the archaic period seems to have been fairly widespread…there are as well indications that archaic elites individually could gain access to mines far away from the oversight of their home state, and might have had unfettered access to mines within their home territory as well."

LK's second counterargument, that the presence of coins not bearing the images or names of kings is no proof that those coins weren't minted by kings, because "people knew perfectly well that [these coins] had been minted by the state," begs the question. Since marking coins took some effort, why, in that case, should kings have bothered to mark any of their coins?

LK's third counterargument, that the names not belonging to any known kings on some of Lydia's coins may either be those of mints or those of persons who minted coins on behalf of some Lydian king or kings, is almost equally question-begging. Why identify a coin with a mint, or a coiner, when it was the king's status that supposedly lent value to the coin? And, if kings did indeed allow private agents to coin for them, does that not itself suggest that those agents, rather than the kings who employed their skills, may have "invented" the first coins?

According to LK, electrum coins were unlikely to have been manufactured by or on behalf of merchants, because most of them were made in denominations too large to be used in ordinary commercial transactions: a Lydian trite, or one-third of a stater, he notes, is supposed to have been capable of buying 10 sheep.

In fact, a trite may have been worth considerably less: if some experts have said that one could buy 10 sheep, others say it could only buy one sheep, or three jars of wine.  More importantly, as reported in a very recent paper by Ute Wartenberg, the AMS's Executive Director, the denominations of even the earliest known electrum coins are now understood to have ranged "from a stater to a 1/192 stater."[1] It might, in other words, have taken about 21 of the smallest coins, each containing just .06 grams of electrum, to buy a single jar of wine.[2] Furthermore, as François Velde points out in his paper "On the Origin of Specie," extant electrum coins of various denominations display a weight loss pattern suggesting that the coins did in fact "circulate like modern coinages."

Precious Tokens?

The last of LK's counterarguments starts from the premise that, instead of being "full-bodied" coins, Lydia's electrum globules were actually fiduciary or "token" coins, commanding considerably more than their metallic value in payments, including payments to the state, and goes on to insist that they could not possibly have commanded such value had they not been official products.

In accepting this premise, LK appears to completely ignore (he certainly does not address) White's observation that it

fails to explain…why governments chose bits of gold or silver as the material for these tokens, rather than something cheaper, say bits of iron or copper or paper impressed with sovereign emblems. In the market-evolutionary account, preciousness is advantageous in a medium of exchange by lowering the costs of transporting any given value. In a Cartalist pay-token account, preciousness is disadvantageous — it raises the costs of the fiscal operation — and therefore baffling. Issuing tokens made of something cheaper would accomplish the same end at lower cost to the sovereign.

Recent research casts further doubt on the claim that electrum coins must have been tokens. That claim rests on the once widely-held belief that electrum coins, though representing uniform weights, did not represent a consistent alloy of gold and silver. Instead, the blend, and hence then commodity value of coins of any given weight, was understood to vary considerably. It would therefore have been quite inconvenient for the coins circulate by weight, that is, at their true metallic worth, rather than by tale, that is, at nominal values independent of that worth.

This once-common view has recently been challenged.  As Wartenberg reports in her aforementioned paper,

Current investigations by a number of scientists and scholars shed critical new light on the question of how the earliest coins were minted, how their production was organized, and how alloys were produced. By using a variety of new analytical methods and techniques, some of these processes are beginning to be better understood.

Among other things, the new methods and techniques to which Wartenberg refers reveal that Lydia's electrum coins were made, not from naturally-occurring and variable alloy, but from "an alloy deliberately created for coinage." Using a technique called "Synchrotron X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy," Wartenberg discovered that Lydia's electrum coins were in fact "more consistent in their metal composition than previously thought":

What these different results all show is a fully organized system, in which a specific composition of electrum for a coin series was created. All this was clearly done deliberately, and the desired gold:silver ratio was achieved by combining pure gold and silver, which was previously refined. The discovery that it was not naturally found electrum, which was used, illustrates a highly sophisticated process, but not only of metallurgical technology in the 7th and 6th century BC, but also an understanding of monetary systems.

Although these findings alone don't suffice to establish that Lydia's electrum coins, instead of being mere (if costly) tokens, were valued at their metallic worth, or at that worth plus a premium reflecting coinage costs, and perhaps some seigniorage, they certainly make this view appear more plausible than before. Taking the trouble to regulate the blend of gold and silver contained in what were in fact mere tokens would have been yet another pointless expense, on top of that involved in making tokens from any blend of precious metal instead of from less costly materials.

A Misplaced Burden

I'd like to conclude with some remarks concerning, not LK's particular arguments, but the presumption, implicit in most versions of the "state invention" hypothesis, that sovereigns are at least as capable as other persons, and perhaps more capable, of coming up with monetary innovations. Such a belief flies in the face of all experience. The story of money's evolution — or that part of it concerning which we have certain knowledge — is, essentially, one of recurring private inventions followed, in many instances, by public appropriation of those inventions. It was not kings or governments but private-sector innovators who came up with manual screw presses, as alternatives to hammers, for striking coins, and with their later steam-driven and electrical counterparts. It was private goldsmiths, and not public bankers, who, in the west, issued the first banknotes. Private innovators also gave us the first lines of credit, the first clearinghouses, the first electronic payments (consisting of telegraphic wire transfers), the first credit and debit cards, the first ATMs, and, most recently, the first blockchain-based means of payment. Governments, in contrast, pioneered little, if anything. Instead, they observed what private markets did, and then stuck their mitts in, sometimes regulating, sometimes prohibiting, and sometimes nationalizing, private-sector innovations.

Consider again, in light of these observations, those tiny electrum coins. According to Wartenberg their existence "begs the question how such blank metal flans were produced to such precision." In answer, Wartenberg notes that

The technique of granulation was well-known for Lydian and Achaemenid jewelry, and it is likely that a similar method was used for these coins, which were also struck with obverse and reverse dies. … The dies used for many of these objects have simple emblems, which are stylistically close to archaic gems.

Wartenberg's remarks suggest a link between early coins and jewelry that appears to be just another instance of the even more ancient connection between ornament and money, as described in detail in chapter two of William Carlile's Evolution of Modern MoneyBut to recognize that linkage is to raise what ought to be an obvious question: if anyone was likely to be the true "inventor" of the first electrum coins, why not a Lydian manufacturer of jewelry, who would have possessed the skill and instruments, as well as access to the metal, required for the purpose?

Allowing, as John Kroll (and most other authorities) do, that "electrum in the form of nuggets, weighed ingots, and bags of electrum 'dust' must have been put to use in all sorts of payments for goods and services" well before coins were first made from it, and that "because it was a mixed metal whose gold-silver proportions varied in nature and could be artificially manipulated by adding refined silver to dilute the gold content, it was poorly suited as a dependable means of exchange," would it not have been perfectly natural for some jeweler to have employed familiar techniques, including the augmentation of natural electrum with silver, not in order to deceive, but to make coins of standardized alloy to supply to merchants for use in exchange?[3] Why suppose instead that some Lydian king came up with the idea?

In short, to treat coinage as an exception to the general rule that private parties are the source of technical monetary innovations, on the grounds that we lack affirmative evidence to the contrary, is, in my humble opinion, to place the burden of proof in this controversy precisely where it doesn't belong.


[1]It had previously been supposed that the smallest coins were those of 1/96 stater.

[2]For further criticism of the argument that early coins were unsuited for commercial use see this article by Alain Bresson.

[3]Making coins conform, at least roughly, to a particular standard was a simple matter of employing a touchstone — a device in common use in ancient Greece long before the birth of coinage, and so closely associated with the Lydians that it is also known even today as a "Lydian" stone.


  1. Great post. The key differentiation between the "private" money and the state-sponsored tokens is the fact of the state lending its support or "guaranty" to the money. Makes public money superior by fiat. Had a fascinating discussion with Walker Todd about the evolution of state support in the US recently. This "government sponsored" phenomenon now colors the economy in its entirety.

    1. Thanks, Chris. Regarding those state "guarantees," they have generally been nothing of the sort.Officially-declared values inscribed on government coins have as often as not been employed by governments, not to assure the public that state-minted coins were "really" worth some amount, but to compel private citizens to accept at face value coins that were in fact below some previously current standard! On the other hand, the limited evidence we have concerning private coinage regimes shows that, for an ordinary private mint,departing from an accepted standard was a recipe for going out of business. In short, state monopoly has tended to have the same results w.r.t. coin making as it has generally had in other realms. It was costly, but it was no guarantee of good quality.

  2. The history of coinage production, in the West and the East, is generally one of government monopoly, or at least, a small number of state-sanctioned producers. However, the history of coinage usage, in the West and the East, is one of pluralism — coins from a variety of sources used side by side. One reason the Greeks made coins of silver is because the mines of Greece produced silver; their gold coinage consisted of Persian darics. China used Spanish-made silver dollars for centuries. Japanese used Chinese copper coins. Coinage throughout Europe from 8th-19th century came from a mishmash of producers, from British silver pennies to Byzantine solidus to variants of thalers, florins, ecu, ducats and guldens, all used side-by-side. Hoards of Persian silver coinage have been found from Tang-era China. In the first century AD, India imported large numbers of Roman coins; Roman coins have been found in Thailand from the 3rd century BC. The American colonies used Spanish silver dollars, the same as China.

  3. An enjoyable read, with some new evidence I was not aware of, and will read when time permits. I will respond in a few days.

    Regarding this comment:

    "I'd like to conclude with some remarks concerning, not LK's particular arguments, but the presumption, implicit in most versions of the "state invention" hypothesis, that sovereigns are at least as capable as other persons, and perhaps more capable, of coming up with monetary innovations. Such a belief flies in the face of all experience."

    And yet Menger didn't seem to think so:

    “It is not impossible for media of exchange, serving as they do the commonweal in the most emphatic sense of the word, to be instituted also by way of legislation, like other social institutions. But this is neither the only, nor the primary mode in which money has taken its origin.”

    Menger, C. 1892. “On the Origin of Money,” Economic Journal 2: 238–255, at p. 250.

    1. Indeed, Menger didn't deny that legislation _could_ "institute" monetary exchange. But he did not suggest that that was either the only or the most likely explanation of money's beginnings. Like him,I am happy to allow that it is _possible_, if not especially likely, that kings pioneered coinage. It is, once again, a matter of where the burden of proof belongs in the absence of definitive evidence one way or the other.

      1. I happen, purely by coincidence, today to be reading the 1985 NYU Press English-language edition Menger's 1883 book, 'Investigations Into the Method of the Social Sciences with Special Reference to Economics.' On page 130 Menger writes (emphasis deleted and emphasis in CAPS added): "Similarly we can observe in numerous social institutions a strikingly apparent functionality with respect to the whole. But with closer consideration they still do not prove to be the result of an intention aimed at this purpose, i.e., the result of an agreement of members of society or of positive legislation. They, too, present themselves to us rather as 'natural' products (in a certain sense), as unintended results of historical development. One needs, e.g., only to think of THE PHENOMENON OF MONEY, AN INSTITUTION WHICH TO SO GREAT A MEASURE SERVES THE WELFARE OF SOCIETY, AND YET IN MOST NATIONS, BY FAR, IS BY NO MEANS THE RESULT OF AN AGREEMENT DIRECTED AT ITS ESTABLISHMENT AS A SOCIAL INSTITUTION…."

  4. Ancient history rarely supports definitive conclusions, but accusing David Graeber of equivocation, for asserting that states "[seemingly] invented or at least widely popularized" coinage, while in the same breath asserting that merchants used coins earlier than kings "as far as we know", because no one can prove otherwise, seems a little disingenuous. Graeber asserts that states did not invent money to impose taxes more generally and may have only popularized coinage, so his argument seems less equivocal than White's, as far as I know.

    1. I think you have a point, in that Graeber's statement is indeed itself tentative, and as such not a particularly strident version of the chartalist view. Still I stick to my understanding of White's position; and the point remains that the relevant question isn't whether the evidence favoring either view is or isn't somewhat "feeble," but whether it can be argued to be less feeble in one case than in the other.

      My own differences with Graeber don't concern his views on the origins of coinage.

  5. There was widespread trade in the Mediterranean in the 2nd millennium BC, in particular before c. 1200 BC. It would be interesting to know the extent to which indirect/monetary exchange was used, and if so, what the primary medium was. Copper ingots were a big commodity, and so would have been a possible candidate for monetary exchange.

    Did Lycian coins circulate entirely voluntarily outside Lycia?

    1. I think 'majority view' is a fairly non-standard definition of consensus.

      Anyway, as replied to your post in response to Larry White's post, the actual evidence seems thin on the ground.

      The real truth is this probably an impossible to answer question. Strict ideas of 'laissez faire' didn't exist at the time, even if the actual striking of coins was invented by a private merchant I don't have any problem believing the Lydian kings would be involving themselves in the business within a few years, if not sooner, once it was obviously beneficial. Merchant kings who partook in market trade were hardly unheard of in this era.

      1. The "majority view" (or the general view of a group of people) is without doubt a STANDARD definition of "consensus":

        "a generally accepted opinion or decision among a group of people: "

        "A general agreement."

        1. an opinion held by all or most

        2. general agreement, esp. in opinion

        1. I notice none of those definitions contains the word 'majority', and that you are just smuggling 'general' into the discussion now.

          Seriously, go Ctrl+F all of the previous postings in this line, no one uses 'general' in this particular reference before your post here. Just you, just now, so you can try to weasel your way out of the argument with another link dump.

  6. Previous to this article I had only been exposed to the "natural electrum" was coined and was always curious as to how dealing with coins of variable purity played out in daily life. I had not heard of touchstones, either. It's like you write these articles to teach people things.

    So with this new proof of precise standards in the minting of coins that curiosity has been satisfied. However, if you have touchstones do you really need a precise alloy? I mean if the color streaks were such that you could get from 1% to 3% accuracy on the purity of the coin it seems that users of the coins were already protected and that the expense of ensuring X purity was wasted. Of course having coins circulating that were known to be all the same saves on the effort of using touchstones, and I suppose that savings was much higher than the cost of ensuring purity of the coins.

    Even if you know the purity, to know the value of the coin you need to know it's dimensions. And you need to be able to compare whatever coin you get with what is the standard dimensions for that size coin.

    So how did they do that? I assume there were those who could eyeball it and weigh it in their hand and know, but for the non-expert who might not own a scale what means did they have of knowing if the coin was the right size and weight?

    Finally, yes smaller coins cost more to make but they also had a larger user base and thus more demand for them and so maybe you could charge proportionally more for them in addition to the increased minting cost. Thus making them just as or near enough as profitable to ensure they were always available.

    1. "If you have touchstones do you really need a precise alloy? I mean if the
      color streaks were such that you could get from 1% to 3% accuracy on the
      purity of the coin it seems that users of the coins were already
      protected and that the expense of ensuring X purity was wasted. Of
      course having coins circulating that were known to be all the same saves
      on the effort of using touchstones, and I suppose that savings was much
      higher than the cost of ensuring purity of the coins." Having a set standard lowers transactions costs, by allowing for a uniform system of prices and accounts, and by allowing all coins that roughly conform to the standard to pass current, rather than according to their (nonstandard) metal content. Touchstones would presumably be resorted to only on occasion, when dealing with less familiar coins perhaps. In the 18th century gold guineas were sometimes weighed But the existence of a fixed standard "guinea" was nevertheless considered a matter of considerable convenience.

      "Even if you know the purity, to know the value of the coin you need to
      know it's dimensions. And you need to be able to compare whatever coin
      you get with what is the standard dimensions for that size coin." Well, that was the whole point of coinage which, in principle, serves as a guarantee of weight (though not in itself of purity) by marking (and thereby certifying) coins so as to make alterations relatively easy to detect. Of course it's true that these techniques remained far from perfect until well into modern times, so that it was occasionally necessary for traders to resort to weighting coins, just as it was occasionally necessary for them to resort to touchstones. Primitive coins saved costs by allowing such occasional tests instead of making them essential in every instance.

    1. Saw it–thanks! Not sure I will post a reply. I have, however, been catching-up on my reading on the subject. I just read Cook's pieces from the 1950s, and must say that I find his "case for kings" utterly question begging. For example, one of his main arguments is that electrum coins were too big to be useful for small payments, and so must have been used to pay mercenaries. Cook ought at least to have felt obliged to explain what the heck the mercenaries were expected to do with the coins, if such coins weren't useful for anything save … paying mercenaries! (Is it "mercenaries all the way down," then?) And if indeed they were useful for paying mercenaries, why wouldn't they have been equally useful for paying other workers?

      1. The large electrum coins could have been used to buy land, ships, farms, or pay debts accrued over a year or so, given the staters were high-value and no doubt payment for a military service for a long period of time.

        It is true that Cook 1958 (his original article) isn't the complete answer. Kraay modified and expanded Cook's ideas. See:

        Kraay, C. M. 1964. “Hoards, Small Change and the Origin of Coinage,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 84: 76–91.

        Kraay, Colin M. 1976. Archaic and Classical Greek Coins. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif. p. 28, pp. 317–324.

        1. Yes, I am working my way from oldest sources to newer. In this post, I made it a point to refer only to works published within the last 15 years or so.

          By the way, I don't see my good friend Thomas Martin on any of your lists. Were would you place him?

          1. Thomas R. Martin’s major study was Sovereignty and Coinage in Classical Greece (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1985). I can’t recall whether he took an explicit position in that book on the origins of electrum coinage in Ionia/Lydia, and I would have to venture to the library to get it.

            Martin's other major article on this issue is this:

            Martin, Thomas R. 1996. “Why did the Greek Polis originally need Coins?,” Historia Zeitschrift für alte Geschichte 45.3: 257–283.

            In this, again, he does not explicitly discuss the issue of who coined money first, but on p. 259, n. 5 seems to imply that he leans towards the view it was invented privately for commercial reasons.

            At any rate, on p. 258, he also acknowledges that the “current consensus” of ancient historians and numismatists is that coinage was first adopted by the Greek city-states to pay their State expenses and for government fiscal reasons, not to provide a medium of exchange per se (though this happened as a consequence).

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