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Electrum coin – Lydia “Walwet” lion stater

Electrum coin from 610-550 BC Lydia “Walwet” NGC AU 5×5

Coinage, as we know it, originated in western Asia Minor around the middle of the seventh century.

The first coins were almost certainly minted in the Lydian capital Sardis in western Asia Minor. Coinage was quickly adopted and struck in neighbouring areas, the Lydians who seem to have nurtured a particular disposition for commerce and, according to Herodotus, were the first people to engage in retail trade. Under King Alyattes, Lydia prospered and became the most powerful state in the region. An important feature of these first coins is that they were all made of electrum, an alloy of gold, silver, and a few other trace amounts of metal.

The Lion Head Electrum coins from Lydia with the inscription “Walwet” are among the first made. Struck from obverse dies that had far too much detail to fit on this size coin, probably intended for a larger Stater. Most coins are found with varying degrees of inscription in front of the lions head. According to many scholars, “Walwet” was written in the Lydian alphabet, but when translated into Greek- it spelled Alyattes, the great King of Lydia. These Electrum coins were understood to be the royal coinage of the Lydian monarchy and backed by their royal treasury. Forever changing how business would be done. This coin is now sold.

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