The history of coinage.
The history of coins goes far back to ancient times and to the present, and is related to economic history, the history shown by the images on coins and the history of coin collecting. Coins are still widely used for monetary and other purposes.
All western histories of coins begin with their invention at some time slightly before or after 700BC, in Aegina Island, or according to others, in Ephesus, Lydia, 650BC. Ancient India in circa 6th century BC, was one of the earliest issuers of coins in the world.
Since then, coins have been used universally. The first coins were made of electrum, a naturally occurring pale yellow mixture of gold and silver that was further alloyed with silver and copper. Also, the Persian coins were well known in the Persian and Sassanids era. Most notable in Susa and in Ctesiphon.
Some of the most famous and widely collected coins of antiquity are Roman coins and Greek coins.
The Byzantine Empire minted many coins, including very thin gold coins bearing the image of the Christian cross and various Byzantine emperors.
Some of the earliest coins were beaten at the edges to imitate the shape of a cow, in indication of their value. Most coins are circular, however some were rectangular. Also a lot of coins, especially in China, had a hole through the centre so they could be tied onto string.
Some of the earliest coins were made purely from silver and gold, which were the silver Dirham and gold Dinar in the early Islamic Caliphate from the 7th century.
Silver and gold coins are the most common and universally recognised throughout history, even today. Mints around the world still make millions of gold and silver coins, including the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf, the American Golden Eagle, and the Australian Nugget. Copper, nickel, and other metals are also common, but in lower denominations.
Coins were first made of scraps of metal. Ancient coins were produced through a process of hitting a hammer positioned over an anvil. The Chinese produced primarily cast coinage, and this spread to South-East Asia and Japan. Relatively few non-Chinese cast coins were produced by governments, however it was common practice amongst counterfeiters. Since the early 18th century and before, presses (normally referred to as mills in coins collecting circles) have been used in the west, beginning with screw presses and progressing in the 19th century towards steam driven presses. The first of these presses were developed in France and Germany, and quickly spread to Britain. Modern minting techniques use electric a hydraulic presses.
The mintage method (being hammered, milled or cast) does limit the materials which can be used for the coin. For example, antimony coins, (which are very rare) are nearly always cast examples, because of the brittle nature of metal, and thus it would break if deformed, which is a key part of the milling and hammering process.