Electrum 1/3 stater,
2nd quarter of the
7th century B.C.
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.