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Why is the banana crooked and coins round?


Prieure de Sion
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Seriously. Why did the round type prevail for coins? There were also square coins:

https://www.ma-shops.de/prados/item.php?id=3875

But the majority should have been round coin discs over the millennia. Why? There would be more space for the inscription, more space for the contents of the obverse and reverse. Banknotes are also square. Why not the majority of coins?

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I wonder... is it because we are Western-Centric, therefore our perspective is skewed?

[IMG]
India Gandahara
AR Bent Bar
early long type
11.3g
650-600 BCE
(Double dots on both ends - hard-to-find)

 

[IMG]
India - Shakya Janapada
AR 5-Shana
6th-5th Century BCE
25mm x 21mm, 7.05g
Obv: Central Pentagonal punch plus several banker's marks
Rev: Blank
Ref: Hirano Type I.8.29
19 known.
Coinage from the Ghaghara Gandak River region
Minted in the Shakya Janaprada during Siddhārtha Gautama's (Later the Buddha) lifetime while he was prince, and under the authority of his father as King

 

upload_2021-3-22_11-7-7.png
Indian AE Square Fractional Karshapana punch 125 BCE 9.0x8.2mm 0.86g Ominus1


CHICKETS from ASHOKA

upload_2021-3-22_11-8-7.png
India Maurya ser VIB AR Karshapana punchmark 270-175 BCE ASHOKA

[IMG] 
Thrace Sarmatia - Olbia 5th C BCE AE Cast Dolphin 27mm 1.75g

[IMG] 
Thrace - Olbius AE Dolphin money

[IMG] 
Thrace - Olbius AE Dolphin money round ver


BONUS: Chinese Fish Money
[IMG]
China Zhou Dynasty 1046-256 BCE AE Fish Money 67mm 9.5g AB Coole Enc Chinese Coins 6920ff
EX: @Ken Dorney
 
 

[IMG] 
China Shang Dyn 1766-1154 BCE Ant Nose Ge Liu Zhu 2.6g 19.5mm x 11mm very scarce H 1.10

[IMG] 
China Shang Dyn 1766-1154 BCE Ant Nose Ge Liu Zhu 17.4mm x 10mm very scarce H 1.10

[IMG] 
China Shang 1766-1154 BCE or Zhou Dynasty Ghost Face Ant Nose 1.65g Hartill 1.4

 

 

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Alegandron said:

I wonder... is it because we are Western-Centric, therefore our perspective is skewed?

You have very beautiful examples there. Thank you!

THAT is the question. My feeling is that the round coins have prevailed after all the past centuries. But you are right! Do I only see the "western" horizon? I have to admit that I have no idea what it looked like in Asia or other continents of the (ancient) world.

Then I guess the first question would be - globally speaking - are there more round coins? Worldwide?

Edited by Prieure de Sion
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3 minutes ago, Prieure de Sion said:

Then I guess the first question would be - globally speaking - are there more round coins? Worldwide?


In my experience in my lifetime traveling internationally, most of the coins that I have handled in transactions have been round. Perhaps humans have settled on that shape is overall best for massive everyday usage, with a few very cool deviations.

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Posted · Supporter

 

Is it perhaps because a round shape is more conducive to handling and transportation?

I can imagine a square coin would be quicker to wear through bags, pockets, etc., while the other irregular shapes (dolphins, etc.) would be more difficult to produce in a consistently uniform weight.

I don't know if this is why but it seems reasonable at least.

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I have a couple thoughts here - and this is pure speculation.

1, I think we can blame the Greeks.  They made round coins after the Lydians, and then those spread with the conquest of Alexander.  @Alegandron’s examples above are mostly Indian, but the Indian coins mostly become round in shape after more extensive contact with the Greeks (although not all - there are those square Bactrian coins still).

Aside from India and the Lydians/Greeks, the only other people who independently invent coins are the Chinese (to my knowledge - please correct me if I’m wrong).  The Chinese had a wide assortment of shapes for coins as well, but the victor of the Warring states period, and thus the founder of the first Chinese empire used round coins.  This then might be pure coincidence.  But I half wonder if maybe it was also some type of anti counterfeiting measure.  Is round a harder shape to produce?  Square would be easy to cut from a sheet of metal, amd the earliest coins were really just lumps of metal.  But I don’t know.

I like @CPK’s theory too.  We have that one Greek text that speaks of them carrying obols in the mouth - imagine doing that with the dolphin coins!

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Personally, I agree @FitzNigel... perhaps earlier odd shaped coins were representation of existing trade items. However, over time and enormous human usage and experience, the best shape became generally a round disk. No sharp edges, ergo can be carried well in a pocket, pouch (or mouth 🙂 ), or purse.  

Generally, over time we all produce items that gravitate to best usage. We humans seem “down” on round! 😄 

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28 minutes ago, Alegandron said:

In my experience in my lifetime traveling internationally, most of the coins that I have handled in transactions have been round. Perhaps humans have settled on that shape is overall best for massive everyday usage, with a few very cool deviations.

Is this really the case, the advantages? 🙂

8 minutes ago, CPK said:

Is it perhaps because a round shape is more conducive to handling and transportation?

I can imagine a square coin would be quicker to wear through bags, pockets, etc., while the other irregular shapes (dolphins, etc.) would be more difficult to produce in a consistently uniform weight.

That's the question!

As far as I know, there were no trouser pockets in antiquity. Did they? So we just have to assume a purse. Doesn't it matter whether the coin is round or square?

The practicality COULD actually have been a reason. But had this been considered at the time, which was more practical in the purse? Was this the reason?

By the way, the advantage of a square coin is that it cannot roll away if it flies down to the ground 😄

How did people come up with the idea of making the coins round? Was it perhaps also a religious reason? The sun and the moon are round? But I don't know.

5 minutes ago, FitzNigel said:

1, I think we can blame the Greeks.  They made round coins after the Lydians, and then those spread with the conquest of Alexander.  @Alegandron’s examples above are mostly Indian, but the Indian coins mostly become round in shape after more extensive contact with the Greeks (although not all - there are those square Bactrian coins still).

Ah that's interesting to know! And I think that would probably also be a good starting point for further considerations.

a) Who brought round coins into play?
b) Why did they become popular?

Because as far as I know there were lots of weights or symbols as means of payment in the pre-coin era. Why did the round discs in particular become popular? Square discs could also have been used.

7 minutes ago, FitzNigel said:

We have that one Greek text that speaks of them carrying obols in the mouth - imagine doing that with the dolphin coins!

Ah, ok...

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Edit. I find this Link - it is in German, but you can translate it with your browser. There are some interesting points.

https://www.wertvolle-muenzen-sammeln.de/warum-sind-muenzen-eigentlich-rund/ 

Round rouletting
Although the production of a round Schrötling is much more elaborate, no effort was spared in antiquity. Furthermore, think back to the Middle Ages. There, the mint master had to cut out round coin blanks from thin strips of silver sheet. Since everything was done by hand, the blank was not always round. Another negative point of round blanks are all the scraps left over from cutting. Although it was possible to melt them down again, it meant more work.

Square coin blank
Square coin blanks, on the other hand, can be produced quite easily from long metal strips without a lot of cutting and remnants. Now one can rightly ask why the round coin shape has prevailed anyway? So let's take a look at the next process: minting.

 

And the positives for round coins:

1.
Apart from the complex production of the blank, the round shape has certain advantages. For when striking the coin itself, with hammer and punch, the mintmaster does not have to realign the blank each time. To mint square coins, on the other hand, you would need a guide or a stop. Consequently, time and work are again made good here. Nevertheless, this advantage is not the main reason why the round coin shape has prevailed. Because this example only refers to the classic minting process with hammer and die. This was the case, for example, in the Middle Ages. On the other hand, the distribution of force plays a more important role in the mould. Strictly speaking, the force is distributed much better and more evenly on a round coin blank. On the other hand, a square coin can be prone to chipping and uneven minting depth.

2.
Since artistic design plays a very important role on coins, this probably contributed greatly to the round shape. Consequently, motifs such as portraits and coats of arms can be much better accommodated in a circle than in a square. Incidentally, the circular shape had something sacred in antiquity, as it did among the Greeks. The Romans were also world champions in the production of coins. They not only minted money in large quantities, but also with an outstanding quality of motifs. Around these images, one already found a lettering at that time. Consequently, the lettering could be perfectly depicted on a round coin. The round shape also prevailed with old royal seals. After all, how could one reasonably accommodate written words, with the motif in the centre, on an angular shape?

3.
Now that the round shape has proven to be better in production and design, it also brings decisive advantages in circulation. In short, round coins are much easier to handle. This is because they cannot get caught in the money or leather pouch. Beyond that, the edges of a square coin would break your trousers or purse. This crystallises a rather important aspect. Because the sharp edges also pose a certain risk of injury. On top of that, in daily hand-to-hand trade, the corners would only be a hindrance.

4.
Force flow. Irrespective of this, there is always a higher force flow at edges. The consequence is that edges can break away more easily. This means that the money would break more quickly and be devalued. Especially with gold and silver coins from antiquity, the material value also reflected their circulation value.

5.
Trimming coins. Another approach in favour of the circular shape is that it is more noticeable when a piece is missing. After all, in the past people liked to enrich themselves with the pure material value. Suppose you cut a strip off a square coin, the coin would still be square. In contrast, with a round coin it is immediately noticeable if a piece is missing.

-------

 

Especially point 5 might have played a role. With a square coin, one could cancel the coin without perhaps noticing it. With a round coin, this is immediately noticeable.

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I like the THOUGHT behind this coin!  COMES WITH  A LANYARD LOOP !!! Yeah!  Way cool

 

China

Sui Dynasty

589-619 CE  

4-Shu

Hartill 13.53

w-hanger below

RARE

(I wonder if the Sui Dynasty would offer:  "For an EXTRA 1 Shu, we sill give you a LANYARD to carry your Cash around!...shipping and handling will apply..." ?) 😄 

image.png.ce43e5b6c0bcba841c8a710a28d560e0.png

image.png.8dbec4b779cd8c17fe89973b769167ea.png

 

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What an interesting discussion!  There seem to be a number of practical considerations that have contributed to the predominance of roundness in the long process of copying earlier coinages, basically a cultural evolutionary process. Going back to the origins in Greece (anumisgenesis? by comparison with abiogenesis) – this doesn’t apply to the independent origins in China and India – the first lumps of electrum were, well, lumps!  And when you strike a lump of metal with a design, thus flattening it a bit, what’s the central tendency in the shape that results?

image.jpeg.c02f40312515bd67839e109873bb7e29.jpeg

image.jpeg.e2ca9f32cbd30653de9c848202b8acbd.jpeg

(Not my coins/lumps!)

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Posted (edited)

The Chinese, in addition to the traditional cash coins, also created silver ingots call sycee, issued by banks and other private sources.  Here's a typical "saddleback" example from Yunnan Province of around 4.5 taels by weight:

568642195_D-CameraChinaYunnanProvince4-5syceeSalBascomc.19814-4-22.jpg.ca12f4fcc4eae92e6edb6c726f281d82.jpg

Edited by robinjojo
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