Imagine a world where money was gold..! Where people used to buy milk and eggs for gold! It’s hard to imagine now, and could actually be a comic concept given the times we’re thriving through, but boy; it existed!
Back in the BCs gold coins where a thing. It was first issued in a town called Lydia in the Greek empire of Anatolia (somewhere in western turkey). They had a river called Pactulos, which washed out silts and residues of – wait for it! - gold and silver! Silts! The Lydians collected that mixture and created the first known gold coins, featuring a lion’s head. It wasn’t pure gold, it was called electrum (a mixture between gold and silver) and it got the job done.
A long time later, in the 200 BCs, the Indo-Greek kings who lived in the Greco-Bactrian kingdom (somewhere near central Asia) issued these lovely precious coins in India. It wasn’t that popular at that time, but it was sufficiently used.
The first ruler who issued gold coins in the Indian subcontinent was called Antiochos II. His coins weighed around 8.46 grams. It had the bust of the king on one side and an image of Apollo, one of the greatest gods of Greece, seated on the omphalos, which is a Greek conical stone that was believed to be saturated on the center of the earth, with a bow in an arm and an arrow in the other.
Many other Indo-Greek kings issued gold coins after Antiochos II, and then it started declining. However, it was brought back again b Vima Kadphises, who issued the first pure gold coin. It was a feast as you may imagine. His gold dinar was pure Indian, with Lord Shiva’s image on it (one of Hinduism great figures). Gold coinage prospered at Kadphises time, it was widely spread and circulated around India. They even manufactured many other types and shapes, like pagodas, fanams, varahas, and so many names and shapes of the same marvelous creature…gold!
Gold coins made its way to Europe, in Italy with the Italian Florin and in Germany with the German Augustalis under the reign of the holy emperor Fredrick the second, in Venice (which is now Italian) with the famous Venetian Ducat which was used in trading. It spread all around Europe due to import and export of goods till the 16th century.
In the 16th century, Spain turned the tables around with its greed. Its conquerors looted tons and tons of gold throughout the world which caused a big economic problem all around Europe.
By the 17th century, King Charles I of England confiscated large amounts of gold as forced loans, and then people had to mark their gold to differentiate which is what. The industry became more advanced, and kept moving forward till England decided using sterling instead of gold in 1816.
Since then, gold coins had many different uses rather than being money.