Gold and Silver Coin History

The major commercial center linking the Asian kingdoms of the east with the coastal Greek cities of Ionia was Sardis, the capital city of ancient Lydia. So it was only natural that the first coins ever made would start here. Around 650 BC, give or take 10 years either way, coins with the head of a Lion first appeared and was used as the first system of bimetallic currency. These first coins were made of a metal called electrum, an uneven mixture of gold and silver, and sometimes had small traces of copper and or other metals in it.

In Lydia, the most used coins was minted into the weight 4.76 grams, These were called the trites and valued at 1/3rd a stater. Three of these coins weighted about 14.1 grams, and equaled one stater. A stater being about one month’s pay for a soldier. One stater size coins as well as smaller fractions were minted also: the trite 1/3rd, the afore mentioned coin, the hekte 1/6th, 1/12th, 1/24th, 1/48th and down to 1/96th of a stater.

It didn’t take long for the Greek cities of Ionia to start using electrum to start making their own coins. Widespread trading of electrum made coins was somewhat hampered however. Because of the uneven mixture of gold and silver, it was rather difficult to determine the exact worth of each coin. For this reason a foreign merchant would offer very low undervalued rates on local electrum coins. In 570 BC pure silver coins were introduced in parts of Greece making these difficulties less and less a problem.

By 560 BC, the Lydians came up with a process to separate the gold from silver, bringing about the minting of the first gold coins. Now gold coins were being produced along with silver coins. Electrum coins did remain a fairly popular form of currency until around 350 BC. Gold and silver coins however quickly became the world standard for currency used in trade. What helped to bring this about so quickly was in 547 BC, when after 13 days of the siege the Persians scaled a lightly defended part of the wall and captured the city of Sardis. Cyrus being amazed with the gold coins found in the Lydian kingdom, decided he wanted to make these gold coins for himself. The Persians learned to mint gold coins and began to use them for trade.

The Greek’s liked the use of silver coins as currency and helped to make silver coins excepted as a world standard for currency. Unlike the Greeks, the Persians preferred gold coins over silver, and helped to make gold coins excepted as a world standard for currency. Between the two, gold and silver coins become the money excepted throughout the known world. From that time gold and silver coins has been the only true form of money to this very day.

At this point you may be saying what about the paper dollars, or yens, or euros I have in my pocket? Around 100 AD the Chinese were the first to invent paper. Sometime in the early 7th century they also become the first to invent paper money. This paper money was called flying money. These first bank notes carried a guarantee that it could be traded at any time for coinage. The paper was not the real money, it was the coinage that it could be traded for that was the real money. The paper was just a form of a promissory note, a promise to trade for real money.

In 1292 when Marco Polo came back from his travels in China telling people about this paper money they used there the people in Europe didn’t believe it. It seemed as a joke that the Chinese used paper for money. Paper money in Europe wouldn’t come about until the 1600s. In the mid 1600s paper money began to appear throughout Europe, some accepted, some not. The Goldsmithnotes printed by the Bank of England founded in 1694, were again a type of promissory note. These notes were printed as a promise from English gold smiths for account deposits. The clause “(I) promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of — pounds” in gold. Again the paper was not the money, the gold it could be traded in for was the money.

Article 1 section 8 paragraph 5 of The United States Constitution states that Congress has the power “To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;”

Article 1 section 10 paragraph 1 of The United States Constitution states that “No State shall … make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts;”

From these 2 sections of The United States Constitution it is clear that our founders did not want paper money as a form of tender in this country, and for good reason. They knew that gold and silver coins have and keep value, and paper always comes to problems. Many of our founders seeing the problems Europe had with their tries at using paper money, plus the early tries of the colonies to use paper money.

In 1836 the first bank notes were printed, with over 30,000 designs and colors, they were easily counterfeited, along with bank failures, became almost as poison to most people. In 1861 Congress authorized the United States Treasury to issue paper money for the first time in the form of non-interest bearing Treasury Notes called Demand Notes. In 1862 these notes were replaced with United States Notes. Commonly called Greenbacks. In 1865 Gold Certificates were issued. In 1868 National Bank Notes, backed by U.S. government securities were printed. In 1878 Silver Certificates in exchange for silver dollars were printed. In 1913 the Federal Reserve Act was passed, then everything changed.

Until this point the paper money printed could be traded in for gold or silver coins – real money. For a while federal reserve notes could be also. From 1913 to 1963 the federal reserve note went from a note that could be traded in for real money to nothing but a piece of paper that is not backed by anything, a debt instrument. Federal reserve notes no longer says it is redeemable for gold or silver, it only says “This Note Is Legal Tender For All Debts Public And Private.” In fact the words lawful money is nowhere on the note at all anymore.

Today’s federal reserve note is what is called fiat currency. Fiat currency does not have any intrinsic value or any guarantee that it can be converted into gold or another currency. Fiat currency is nothing but a government’s order (fiat) that it must be accepted as a means of payment, back by nothing at all. The founders of the United States knew that is what would happen if paper money became accepted. That is why they made gold and silver coins the only form of lawful money in our Constitution.

Paper money never has been and never will be real money. Gold and silver coins has been and still is the only true real money. You hear that gold and silver is going up in value, when in reality it is the paper money going down in value, meaning it takes more paper to buy the same amount of gold. Back when quarters were still made of silver you could buy a loaf of bread with one of them. Today that same quarter made of silver would still buy you a loaf of bread.

Earn Silver

Gold and silver coins is the safest place to invest your paper dollars. It is the one thing you can invest in that will never go broke. Stocks and bonds may crash, paper money may become worthless, banks may fail, but all through history gold and silver retains value. It is well known that Gold coins are the safest and most risk free place to invest ones savings. As the news informs us of the failing economy, and we see prices of everything go through the roof we need to find a safe place to put our hard earned federal reserve notes. At the decay rate of the dollar, if you can survive on $20.000.00 a year today, in about 10 years it will take you over $50,000.00 a year to live the same life style. That same $20,000.00 in gold coins in 10 years will last longer than a year.

Paper currencies offer you no protection in your investments, it only loses more and more value with each passing year. There is nothing that offsets the shrinking value of currencies like gold coins. When you save gold and silver bullion coins, such as the American Eagles, you build yourself a fortress of investment security.

Article written by Bernie Wheater
Bernie Wheater lives in Rochester, New York. He is a marketing and business consultant. He helps show people the benefits of owning a home business.

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