Author Topic: Oldest mintmark?  (Read 1672 times)

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Offline Figleaf

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Oldest mintmark?
« on: November 27, 2013, 01:49:21 AM »
Elsewhere, there is a discussion on what the earliest dated coins are. Dates are a security feature. They help determine which official was responsible for a coin. Dates fail when there are more mints producing the same type. Therefore, it would be interesting to find out also when mint marks came about.

I think a mintmark means that the same type was struck in at least two different places and that the coins have a distinguishing mark or a name that is meant to indicate in which place the coin was struck. Obviously, the two or more places should be in the political control of the same ruler. Imitations don't count.

Peter
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Offline chrisild

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Re: Oldest mintmark?
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2013, 04:31:57 PM »
When it comes to (relatively) modern coins, let's have a look at France. In the 14th century they started using those "points sécrets": A dot underneath a certain character would indicate where a coin had been minted. Later (in the middle of the 16th century, I think) those were replaced by regular mintmarks.

But I am pretty sure that mint marks, or a similar system, were already in use in ancient times ...

Christian

Offline Afrasi

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Re: Oldest mintmark?
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2013, 06:49:43 PM »
Mint marks were common on Byzantine coins.

Offline THCoins

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Re: Oldest mintmark?
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2013, 07:11:51 PM »
As Peter states rightly, a mintmark only is usefull when a similar coin is produced at multiple locations within the same state.
As far as the Greek world goes i think there is quite a gradual transition between small city states, with their own mints, and larger unions. For example Ephesos had it's own characteristic Bee design on it's coins. However, the same design was later used as a mintmark on lysimachus coins after unification within the Alexandrean Greek empire. (That makes my oldest mintmark coin around 300 BC. But likely there are earlier.)

Offline cmerc

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Re: Oldest mintmark?
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2013, 08:50:43 PM »
I know the Kushans produced several types of coins from multiple mints.  Although there is no explicit mintmark, the various mints can be identified by small differences in otherwise similar legends/designs.  Can't say that qualifies as a "mintmark". 
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Offline mitresh

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Re: Oldest mintmark?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2013, 05:21:18 PM »
The Ancient Greek "Owl" Tetradrachm from Athens comes to mind. Minted around 515 BC, the coins bear the prominent 'mintmark' AQE on the Reverse ie Owl side. It is sometimes written in English instead as AOE or A-TH-E. The three Greek letters are alpha, theta, and epsilon, with the theta appearing as an O with a dot in the middle and having a TH sound. (In modern Greek theta is represented as an O with a line in the middle, while earlier in Greece it was represented as an O with either a cross or X in the middle). As with most ancient Greek coins, the genitive (possessive) case was used for the legend, so instead of "Athens" it means "Of the Athenians." (source: reidgold.com, adapted).

While the 'Owl' is a clear example of a coin with a specific mint mark depicting the city state of its manufacturing origin, it is also believed that the ancient punch mark coins (PMCs) of India, consisting of multiple symbols, may have comprised a specific symbol intended to depict its origin. As it is, the attribution of many of the PMCs to specific Janapadas is based on a specific symbol or set of symbols unique to that Janapada or particular find-spot/region.
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Oldest mintmark?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2013, 07:15:01 PM »
I think a mintmark means that the same type was struck in at least two different places...

That disqualifies the Athenian owl. It is a symbol of the state, rather than a mintmark.

...and that the coins have a distinguishing mark or a name that is meant to indicate in which place the coin was struck.

That disqualifies differences that can be used to trace the origin of a coin. A mintmark is a control device that was put on the coin on purpose. It looks like the Romans win, as mint marks (even officina marks) are common on their coins, but even they must have started the practice at some time.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.