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770380. Sold For $9750

KINGS of LYDIA. Kroisos. Circa 561-546 BC. AV Stater (16mm, 10.73 g). Heavy series. Sardes mint. Confronted foreparts of lion and bull (late style) / Two incuse square punches. SNG Kayhan -; Traite I 396; SNG Copenhagen 454. Good VF, softly struck obverse, scattered light marks. Very rare.

The Kingdom of Lydia, under the Mermnad dynasty, may well have been the originator of coinage in the Mediterranean world. It possessed rich deposits of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver, which was the only metal used for coin production in its earliest stages. The Lydians later demonstrated their ingenuity in monetary matters by introducing a bimetallic currency system, comprising coins struck in pure gold and silver instead of electrum which was of variable intrinsic value. This development took place under King Kroisos (560-546 BC), a monarch famed for his extraordinary wealth, at which time the types of the royal Lydian coinage were standardized to depict the confronted foreparts of a lion and a bull, possibly symbolizing the sun and the moon. Coins were struck in a range of denominations, both in gold and silver, the relative value of the two metals at this time being 131/3 : 1.

This very rare gold ‘heavy’ stater comes from the initial phase of Kroisos' bimetallic coinage. It was intended to replace the heavier electrum stater of 14.2 grams, the equivalent value of which it was meant to represent. A silver stater of the same weight (about 10.9 grams) was also introduced at this time, the purpose being to simplify the conversion of existing stocks of electrum into the two other metals. The next step was to reduce the weight of the gold stater to 8.17 grams to simplify its relationship to the silver piece (now 1:10) and to replace the silver stater by a half-stater worth one-twentieth of the new gold piece. When Lydia was conquered by the Achaemenid Persians under Cyrus in 546 BC, they adopted the existing Lydian currency system, the gold stater eventually becoming the daric and the silver half stater the siglos.