Metals: Raw Material of Coins

Raw silverSilver as currency was originally used in ingot form. This means that silver was traded in blocks, with pieces shaved off during transactions. By the 4th century C.E., traditional forms of coins were minted in Greece by the Macedonian King Phillip II. The king’s son Alexander the Great brought coins to the region of Azerbaijan. Using precious materials, familiar to most people, as coinage helped instill faith in the new monetary system.

The Construction of Coins

Illustrating hammered coin dieBefore the advent of machines to stamp money, all coins were minted by hand. Metalworkers cast the metal into small disks, and then hammered them into shape using a die made of two pieces of bronze or iron. The die would sandwich the disk, imprinting designs onto the surface. Coins were valued based on the grade of the metal alloy and quality of the minting process. In medieval Azerbaijan, coins arrived at mints on important trade routes operated by wealthy and influential merchants. At the mints, the metals would be purified and reminted for Azerbaijani purposes before being sent back on trade routes, either by caravan or by European ships.