Electrum 1/3 stater,
2nd quarter of the
7th century B.C.
he production of
money has been the prerogative of the State in the West almost from
the moment it was invented in Asia Minor. Control of the production
of money is a profitable enterprise, and because of its importance
to the economy and military power of the State ( as represented
by the person and will of an individual, or as the collective will
of the people), it has remained in the control (at least theoretically)
of the State ever since.
“Money talks,”as the saying goes—but what
does it say? There is more to the story of money than simple
profit. The designs, texts, and symbols on coins contain messages
designed to be understood by the people using them. These messages
represent the earliest form of mass produced communication in history.
The fact that the same message could be transmitted from
the ruling authority to the people without mediation is a critical
milestone in history. This exhibit will highlight the development
of the ‘language’ of symbols, images, and text used on coins produced
in the western coinage tradition, which became the universal model
for coinage over the course of the 20th century.