Coinage— An Introduction

Introduction to
Bryn Mawr College
Coin Collection





Exhibition curated by
Sarah E. Hafner
National Endowment
for the Humanities 2005
Summer Curatorial Intern


The Minting Process

Courtesy of Michael Crawford, ed., Sources of History: Studies in the Uses of Historical Evidence. Sources for Ancient History, ed. G.R. Elton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. 207.



Coinage was invented in the seventh century BCE in Western Asia Minor. These early coins were made of precious metal at a weight guaranteed by the issuing authority, so that the coins themselves had an intrinsic value (as opposed to the

American dollar, for example, which only represents a value).

Coins were made by placing a measured blank piece of metal on an anvil (also known as the lower die). Another die (known as the punch or upper die) was placed in a casing on top of the blank, and then struck with a mallet, imprinting each side of the blank with the images carved into the die (see right).