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CHAMBERS'S

ENCYCLOPÆDIA:

A DICTIONARY

OF

UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE FOR THE PEOPLE.

ILLUSTRATED.

AMERICAN REVISED EDITION.

IN TEN VOLUMES.

VOL. VII.

PHILADELPHIA:

J. B. LIPPINCOTT & Co.

1877.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by
J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

CHAMBERSS

ENCYCLOPEDIA

A DICTIONARY OF

UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE FOR THE PEOPLE.

NUMISMATICS.

NUMISMATICS (Lat. nummus and numisma, money; Gr. nomisma, from nomos, law, a medium of exchange established by law), the science which treats of coins and medals. A coin is a piece of metal of a fixed weight stamped by authority of government, and employed as a circulating medium. A medal is a piece struck to commemorate an event. The study of numismatics has an important bearing on history. Coins have been the means of ascertaining the names of forgotten countries and cities, their position, their chronology, the succession of their kings, their usages civil, military, and religious, and the style of their art. On their respective coins we can look on undoubtedly accurate representations of Mithridates, Julius Cæsar, Augustus, Nero, Caracalla, and read their

character and features.

money could be opened, closed, and linked in a chain for convenience of carriage.

The Lydians are supposed to have been the first people who used coined money, about 700 or 800 years before the Christian era; and their example was soon after followed by the different states of Greece, the earliest Greek coins being those of Agina. In its early stages the process of coining consisted in placing a lump of metal of a fixed weight, and approaching to a globular form, over a die, on which was engraved the religious or national symbol to be impressed. A wedge or punch placed at the back of the metal was held steadily with one hand, and struck by a hammer with the other, till the metal was sufficiently fixed in the die to receive a good impression. The impression was a guarantee of the weight of the piece. From the nature of the process, the earliest coins had a lumpish appearance, and on their reverse was a rough, irregular, hollow square, corresponding to a similar square on the punch, devised for the purpose of keeping the coin steady when struck by the coining hammer. The original coins of Asia Minor were of gold, those of Greece of silver. The earliest coins bear emblems of a sacred character, often embodying some legend regarding the foundation of the state, as the phoca or seal on the coins of the Phocians, which alludes to the shoal of seals said to have followed the fleet

The metals which have generally been used for coinage are gold, silver, and copper. In each class is comprised the alloy occasionally substituted for it, as electrum (an alloy of gold and silver) for gold, billon for silver, bronze for copper, and potin (an alloy softer than billon) for silver and copper. The side of a coin which bears the most important device or inscription is called the obverse, the other side the reverse. The words or letters on a coin are called its inscription; an inscription surrounding the border is called the legend. When the lower part of the reverse is distinctly separated from the main device, it is called the exergue (Gr. ex ergou, without the work), and often bears a secondary inscription, with the date or place of mintage. The field is the space on the surface of the coin unoccupied by the principal device or inscription.

Fig. 1.

The use of coined money cannot be traced further back than the 9th c. B. C. Money, however, as a medium of exchange, existed much earlier, and when of metal it passed by weight, no piece being adjusted to any precise weight, and all money being weighed when exchanged. Early metallic money sents a very early double stater of Miletus, in was in the form of bars, spikes, and rings; the ring Ionia, of which the type is the lion's head, derived

during the emigration of the people. Fig. 1. repre

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