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Gold and Silver Coin History
The main trading center connecting the East Asian kingdoms with the Greek coastal cities of the Ionian was Sardis, the capital of ancient Lydia. So it was only natural that the first coins ever made would start here. Around 650 BC, give or take 10 years however, lion head coins first appeared and were used as the first bimetallic currency system. These early coins were made of a metal called electrum, an uneven mixture of gold and silver, and sometimes had small traces of copper and or other metals in it.
In Lydia, the most used coins were minted at 4.76 grams, these were called trites and were valued at 1/3 of a shtetri. Three of these coins weighed about 14.1 grams and equaled one stater. A stater is about one month’s pay for a soldier. Coins of a stater size were also minted, as well as smaller fractions: common 1/3, the aforementioned coin, hectes 1/6, 1/12, 1/24, 1/48 and up to 1/96 of a stature. .
It wasn’t long before the Greek cities of Ionia started using electrum to start minting their coins. However, the widespread trading of coins produced from electrum was somewhat hindered. Due to the uneven mixture of gold and silver, it was quite difficult to determine the exact value of each coin. For this reason, a foreign merchant would offer very low undervalued rates for local electrical currencies. By 570 BC, pure silver coins were introduced into some parts of Greece making these difficulties less and less of a problem.
In 560 BC, the Lydians came up with a process to separate gold from silver, leading to the minting of the first gold coins. Gold coins were now being produced along with silver coins. Electrum coins remained a very popular form of currency until about 350 BC. However, gold and silver coins quickly became the world standard for currency used in trade. What helped to achieve this so quickly was in 547 BC, when after 13 days of siege, the Persians scaled a part of the lightly defended wall and captured the city of Sardis. Cyrus being amazed by the gold coins found in the Lydian kingdom, decided that he wanted to make these gold coins for himself. The Persians learned to mint gold coins and began to use them for trade.
The Greeks liked the use of silver coins as currency and helped produce struck silver coins as a world standard for currency. Unlike the Greeks, the Persians preferred gold coins over silver and helped produce gold coins struck as a world standard for currency. Between the two, gold and silver coins become the excluded money throughout the known world. Since that time, gold and silver coins have been the only true form of money until today.
At this point, you might say, what about the paper dollars, yen, or euros I have in my pocket? Around 100 AD the Chinese were the first to invent paper. Sometime in the early 7th century they also became the first to invent paper money. This paper money was called floating money. These first notes carried a guarantee that they could be traded at any time for coins. Paper was not real money, it was currency that could be traded for what real money was. The paper was only a form of promissory note, a promise to trade for real money.
In 1292, when Marco Polo returned from his travels in China telling people about this paper money they used there, people in Europe did not believe him. It seemed like a joke that the Chinese used paper for money. Paper money in Europe wouldn’t come until the 1600s. In the mid-1600s, paper money began to appear all over Europe, some accepted, some not. Goldsmith notes printed by the Bank of England established in 1694 were again a type of promissory note. These notes were printed as a promise by English goldsmiths for deposits in the account. Clause “(I) promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of — pounds” in gold. Again paper was not money, the gold it could be traded with was money.
Article 1 section 8 paragraph 5 of the United States Constitution states that Congress has the power “To coin money, to regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coins, and to regulate the standard of weights and measures;”
Article 1 section 10 paragraph 1 of the United States Constitution states that “No State shall make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender for the payment of debts;”
It is clear from these 2 sections of the United States Constitution that our founders did not want paper money as a form of tender in this country, and for good reason. They knew that gold and silver coins have and hold value, and paper is always in trouble. Many of our founders seeing the problems Europe had with their attempts to use paper money, plus the early attempts of the colonies to use paper money.
In 1836 the first banknotes were printed, with over 30,000 designs and colors, they were easily counterfeited, along with bank failures, they became almost as much poison to most people. In 1861 Congress authorized the United States Treasury to issue paper money for the first time in the form of interest-free Treasury notes, called demand notes. In 1862 these notes were replaced by United States notes. They are commonly called Greenbacks. In 1865 Gold Certificates were issued. In 1868, National Bank notes were printed, backed by US government securities. In 1878 Silver Certificates were printed in exchange for silver dollars. In 1913 the Federal Reserve Act was passed, then everything changed.
Up until this point, paper money could be traded for gold or silver coins – real money. For a while, federal reserve notes might be, too. From 1913 to 1963, the Federal Reserve note went from a note that could be traded for real money to nothing more than a piece of paper backed by nothing, a debt instrument. Federal reserve notes no longer say they can be redeemed for gold or silver, but only say “This note is legal tender for all public and private debts.” In fact the words legal tender are no longer anywhere on the banknote.
Today’s federal reserve currency is what is called fiat currency. Fiat currency has no intrinsic value or any guarantee that it can be converted into gold or another currency. Fiat currency is nothing more than a government order (fiat) that must be accepted as a means of payment, with no return at all. The founders of the United States knew this would happen if paper money were accepted. This is why they made gold and silver coins the only form of legal tender in our Constitution.
Paper money has never been and will never be real money. Gold and silver coins were and still are the only real money. You hear that gold and silver are going up in value, when in reality it’s paper money going down in value, meaning it takes more paper to buy the same amount of gold. When rooms were still made of silver, you could buy a loaf of bread with one of them. Today, the same silver quarter would still buy you a loaf of bread.
Gold and silver coins are the safest place to invest your paper dollars. It’s the one thing you can invest in that will never break. Stocks and bonds can crash, paper money can become worthless, banks can fail, but throughout history gold and silver retain value. It is well known that gold coins are the safest and risk-free place to invest savings. As the news informs us of the failing economy and we see the prices of everything go through the roof, we need to find a safe place to put our hard-earned federal reserve notes. At the rate the dollar is falling, if you can survive on $20,000.00 a year today, in about 10 years you will need over $50,000.00 a year to live the same lifestyle. The same $20,000 in gold coins in 10 years will last more than one year.
Paper currencies do not offer you protection in your investments, they lose more and more value with each passing year. There is nothing that offsets the shrinking value of coins like gold coins. When you save gold and silver coins, such as American Eagles, you build yourself a fortress of investment security.
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