The world's first gold coin - a metallurgical triumph.

Image provided courtesy of Goldkammer / © Studio Hamm

The Croesus Stater, produced in Lydia (modern-day Turkey) in the middle of the sixth century BCE, was the world's first minted gold coin. It featured as Episode 25 of the BBC's landmark series "A History of the World in 100 Objects" in which the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, described the historical and economic importance of the coin.

Croesus, the king of Lydia, is said to have possessed unimaginable wealth. Although the gold production in his country filled his treasure houses, his reputation was based primarily on the coins he minted. During this period, traders throughout the classical world would be familiar with his symbol – the bull and the lion. After his predecessors invented the concept of the minted coin based on the naturally occurring gold-silver alloy, electrum, Croesus developed a more sophisticated coinage system. This was thanks to his metallurgists' development of a method for separating electrum into pure silver and gold, allowing them to produce coins in a set denominational system. The Lydian kingdom was conquered by the Persians under Cyrus the Great in 546 BCE but despite the demise of Croesus, his gold-based monetary system lived on, firstly in the Persian empire and later in the ancient Greek world around the Mediterranean. The Stater became the most important coin of antiquity and the name Croesus became synonymous with fabulous wealth.

Weight: 10.72 g; Dimensions: 18 x 16 x 4 mm