The 2,600 year old Lydian Stater, possibly the world’s first government issued coin, is reproduced for WCA’s latest issue

Introduced into the Lydian Empire by King Alyattes in the latter part of the 7th century BCE, the Lydian Stater is considered by most numismatic historians to be the first example of a state-issued coin in history, and one that went on to create a coinage model that still exists some 26 centuries later. Lydia occupied what is now Western Türkiye, from the Black Sea in the north, to the Mediterranean Sea in the south, to around Ankara in the East. It abutted the Hellenistic state of Thracia to the west, and included such epic cities as Troy, Ephesus, and Sardis, the last of which housed the mint.

The son of Alyattes, called Croesus, was the last independent ruler of Lydia, and said to be fabulously wealthy, even paying for the construction of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. He introduced a more sophisticated coinage, adding distinct silver and gold variants, to the earlier electrum (a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver) coins, and in many standardised sizes.

The Lydian Stater is now a thing of numismatic legend, with very few fine examples still in existence, and attracting huge values at auction in some of the larger forms. We’ve seen a 1/24 stater (just 0.44 grams) for sale at $12k USD, for example, and a prototype issue of 10.76 grams go for $130k, although only 11 examples of that type remain.

The design, on the reverse, represents the Lydian capital, Sardis, with the foreparts of a lion (on the left) and a bull (on the right) facing one another. It has been reproduced perfectly on this new coin, and looks simply gorgeous, positively dripping with history. On the original, the obverse had two deeply incused squares caused by the punch that struck the coin. This one has reproduced that, and placed the denomination inscriptions, and the coat-of-arms of the Republic of Chad at the bottom of it.

It’s a small coin, just 15 grams in weight, struck in 0.999 silver, and then fully gilded. It’s all quite beautiful, and with a mintage of 333 pieces, quite rare for its size. We’re obviously admirers of this subject, especially the CIT series, Numismatic Icons, which modernises ancient originals, but we do like a straight reproduction as well.

DENOMINATION 1,500 Francs CFA (Chad)
COMPOSITION 15.0 g of 0.999 silver
DIMENSIONS 25.0 x 19.0 mm
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, shaped