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gold plated fine silver | 11x14 mm | 3.5 g
Lydian kingdom, king Alyattes (ca. 610-561 BC). Electrum third-stater or trite (original weight ca. 4.7 grams). Sardes mint. Hand struck gold plated silver replica coin.
OBV: Head of lion to right, mouth open, mane bristling, and radiate globule above eye
R: Two square punches of different size side by side.
Herodotus is one of the pieces of evidence often cited in behalf of the argument that Lydians invented coinage, at least in the West, even though the first coins were neither gold nor silver but an alloy of the two. The dating of these first stamped coins is one of the most frequently debated topics of ancient numismatics, with dates ranging from 700 BC to 550 BC, but the most common opinion is that they were minted at or near the beginning of the reign of King Alyattes (sometimes referred to incorrectly as Alyattes II), who ruled Lydia c. 610-550 BC.
The first coins were made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver that occurs naturally but that was further debased by the Lydians with added silver and copper. The largest of these coins are commonly referred to as a 1/3 stater (trite) denomination, weighing around 4.7 grams, though no full staters of this type have ever been found, and the 1/3 stater probably should be referred to more correctly as a stater, after a type of a transversely held scale, the weights used in such a scale.