Ionia, 1/48 Stater

When can you refer to coins as money? Taking a closer look at this tiny piece of metal with a weight of 0.23 grams and a diameter of 6 millimeters, you may ask yourself how such a small coin was used in business.

Until at least the 5th century AD, coins were valued by their material. They were used as small ingots of precious metal, and changed and traded exactly the same way as bushels of grain, barrels of wine or pots of honey.

Coins like this were thus not counted but weighed. As a result our piece could circulate and function together with all other kinds of electrum coins without belonging to one of the known coin weight standards. That we call this tiny ingot a coin, is a mere convention.