Poems and other fun facts.

The first poem written in western literature about the coins:

Lauritic owls will never leave you,
but will dwell with in and will nest in
your purses and hatch out small change.

                            - ARISTOPHANES (448-385 BCE)
                        in 'BIRDS'

Tetradrachm of Athens c.450 BCE.
(These coins were called Lauritic owls because the silver to make these coins came from mines of Laurion ouside Athens)


Bowed money: A bent coin, given as a pledge of love came from:

" Taking forth a bowed groat and an old penny bowed he gave it (sic) her".
                            -- Coney catching (Time, Elizabeth)

Queen Elizabeth I

The traditional English poetic advice to the bride:

"Something old,
Something new,
Something borrowed,
 Something blue,
And a sixpence in her shoe.

Six pence
Queen Elizabeth II


"Money makes the world to go" might have originated from an old poem

Money will make the mare to go

" 'Will you lend me your mare to go a mile?'
'No, she is lame leaping over a stile.'
'But if you will her to me spare,
You shall have money for your mare.'
'Oh, ho! say you so?
Money will make the mare to go.'"

-- Old Glee and Catches


Why is a coin round ?

  The earliest known specimens of the coins were made of electrum ( an alloy of gold and silver). They were made in the kingdom of Lydia (western part of present day Turkey) around 700 BCE; probably to transform trade from a cumbersome barter system to a monetary system.1  Others speculate that they were stuck as offerings to the Gods in their religious ceremonies. Lydia was on a caravan route from Greece through India to China.  Coins were also thought to be independently invented in China and India too (for detailed discussion see Invention of coins). The early coins were of different shapes - round, square, oblong, spade like and knife-like. Among the early civilizations, gold, silver and bronze coins were the units of value for the exchange of goods and services. The same coins were going round the centers of trade on the caravan route. This observation made the Chinese traders to say that the coins meant to roll around the world should themselves be round.2 Thus, the 6th and 5th century BCE  spade like chinese bronze coins were replaced by round bronze coins in the later centuries. Thus de facto shape of the coin became round, but some of them are still struck in various shapes.

Why is it called a coin ?

 The word "coin" was derived from the Latin word "cuneus" meaning wedge. A wedge shaped die was used to stamp small pieces of metal that were used as money. The word coin was applied to the stamped image on the money.  Later, the word was used to denote the money itself.

and other money matters !

     The word "money" was derived from "Juno Mone'ta"(Juno the Monitress/Admonisher) the patron goddess of the earliest roman mint. The Romans believed that the  goddess Juno warns them of impending danger. Mone'ta in Latin means to warn. Shortly after the Gallic invasion, Lucius Furius built a temple to Juno Mone'ta  on the spot where the house of Manilus Capitolinos stood on Capitoline Hill in the city of Rome. The coins minted at the near by mint were kept at the temple and the temple was subsequently converted into a mint and the "ases" (bronze coins) minted there were called moneta3


     The word "Capital" was derived from "Capita" meaning head of the cattle. Cattle used to be the wealth of the people in nomadic communities and early civilizations.
The oldest greek coins had an impression of ox on one side. In Roman times a bribe for silence was said to be an "ox on the tongue"3.

( Now a days we call it "Lobbying the Congress" to keep them silent on matters of education, health care  and welfare of the common man, woman and the child. :-)


References for this page:
1.  According to money : A history.  by Jonathan Williams.
2.  Money talks.  N. N Pai. 1980.
3.  Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. by  E. Cobham Brewer. 1894 For other references See Bibliography

References: See Bibliography

Back to Numismatic Reference

Introduction    Invention of coins  Index    Coin Identifier    What''s new?   Coin sellers 

Numismatic Reference    Acknowledgments         Life, Liberty and Laughter?   Email.

RK. June 6, 1999.
Revised. July 4, 2000.