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All About Heritage Coins

Feb 1, 2008
The term heritage means past history and ancestry. Heritage coins are historically significant coins that tell us something about our history. These coins range from the first civilizations to the more recent contemporary history.

Heritage coins are the windows though which a person can get a glimpse of the past. They feature the kings and queens of bygone eras, their achievements and important events in their lives. Sometimes heritage coins may feature great statesmen who excelled in their field.

The circulation of coins finds its origination in ancient Lydia. The coins produced then were more of a token than currency. Before the invention of coin currency, barter systems or usage of precious metals and conch shells was used as a trade medium.

The coins Drachmae and Obol were the first Greek coins that were circulated all over Greece. They were influenced by the Lydian coins. The Drachmae was a silver coin and featured a turtle on its reverse side. This symbolized the island of Aegina. The Obols were one sixth the value of the Drachmae. The Corinthians also took to minting coins and produced coins with the winged horse Pegasus. Pegasus was special to the people of Corinth as he was attributed to the origin of the spring of Peirene.

Soon, large cities began producing their own coins made of silver or gold with the portrait of their god, goddess or hero and a symbol of their city.

Alexander the Great is believed to have started the tradition of minting coins all throughout his empire. He was the one who initiated the tradition of publishing a portrait of the ruler on every coin.

Romans were the first to propagate coin minting at large scale. The coins featured exquisitely engraved portraits of Roman kings, sometimes their families also. Some rulers had their portrait engraved right next to various gods and goddesses in order to influence the public with their image. Sometimes, to legitimize an heir, his portrait was published along with the King's on a coin. As can be seen, these coins had influence over the people of Rome, and over a period of time the coin was used for political propaganda purposes also. Major events such as the death of Julius Caesar are also depicted on Roman coins.

At the same time, coins are a means of currency beginning in India as well. The Mahajanapadas established the first coins in India. Each Kingdom had its own style of coin with its own symbol. The humped bull symbolized Saurashtra, while the swastika represented the Dakshin Panchala. The Gandharas, Kuntalas, Kurus, Panchalas, Shakhyas, Shurasena, Surashtra each had their own coins.

During the Maurya period silver coins called the Karshapana with geometrical patterns, circles, human figures, wheels, animals, bows and arrows, trees and hills, etc were created. The most common symbols were the Sun and a six armed symbol. The reason behind the extensive range in symbolism is still a mystery.

In the Pandya Kingdom the coins were copper squares, struck with a die. The inscription on silver and gold coins is in Sanskrit, while some had Tamil legends on them.

Satavahana, Kuninda and Sunga Periods all had pre Hellenistic influences with animals and religious symbols and Sanskrit or local scripts engraved. This style of coinage is still seen in Indian coins today, with the Indian emblem and Sanskrit terms present on the coin.

Countries created recently also try to find their history in their coins; though these coins are not ancient they also have heritage value. The coins of America like the Half Dollar - 1838, Quarter Dollar - 1792, etc, are valued for this very reason.

It is obvious that Heritage coins are important remnants of our history, showing us the historical setting and art of eras gone by.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for pottery, antiques, and figurines. When shopping for pottery, antiques and figurines, we recommend only the best online stores for pottery, Heritage coins, and figurines.
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