James VI and I
James VI and I was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death in 1625. The kingdoms of Scotland and England were individual sovereign states, with their own parliaments and laws, though both were ruled by James in personal union. James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, a great-great-grandson of Henry VII, King of England and Lord of Ireland, positioning him to accede to all three thrones. James succeeded to the Scottish throne at the age of thirteen months, after his mother was compelled to abdicate in his favour. Four different regents governed during his minority, which ended in 1578, though he did not gain full control of his government until 1583. In 1603, he succeeded the last Tudor monarch of England and Ireland, Elizabeth I, who died childless, he continued to reign in all three kingdoms for 22 years, a period known after him as the Jacobean era, until his death in 1625 at the age of 58.
After the Union of the Crowns, he based himself in England from 1603, only returning to Scotland once in 1617, styled himself "King of Great Britain and Ireland". He was a major advocate of a single parliament for Scotland. In his reign, the Plantation of Ulster and British colonisation of the Americas began. At 57 years and 246 days, James's reign in Scotland was longer than those of any of his predecessors, he achieved most of his aims in Scotland but faced great difficulties in England, including the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and repeated conflicts with the English Parliament. Under James, the "Golden Age" of Elizabethan literature and drama continued, with writers such as William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Jonson, Sir Francis Bacon contributing to a flourishing literary culture. James himself was a talented scholar, the author of works such as Daemonologie, The True Law of Free Monarchies, Basilikon Doron, he sponsored the translation of the Bible into English that would be named after him: the Authorised King James Version.
Sir Anthony Weldon claimed that James had been termed "the wisest fool in Christendom", an epithet associated with his character since. Since the latter half of the 20th century, historians have tended to revise James's reputation and treat him as a serious and thoughtful monarch, he was committed to a peace policy, tried to avoid involvement in religious wars the Thirty Years' War that devastated much of Central Europe. He tried but failed to prevent the rise of hawkish elements in the English Parliament who wanted war with Spain. James was the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots, her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Both Mary and Darnley were great-grandchildren of Henry VII of England through Margaret Tudor, the older sister of Henry VIII. Mary's rule over Scotland was insecure, she and her husband, being Roman Catholics, faced a rebellion by Protestant noblemen. During Mary's and Darnley's difficult marriage, Darnley secretly allied himself with the rebels and conspired in the murder of the Queen's private secretary, David Rizzio, just three months before James's birth.
James was born on 19 June 1566 at Edinburgh Castle, as the eldest son and heir apparent of the monarch automatically became Duke of Rothesay and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. He was baptised "Charles James" or "James Charles" on 17 December 1566 in a Catholic ceremony held at Stirling Castle, his godparents were Charles IX of France, Elizabeth I of England, Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy. Mary refused to let the Archbishop of St Andrews, whom she referred to as "a pocky priest", spit in the child's mouth, as was the custom; the subsequent entertainment, devised by Frenchman Bastian Pagez, featured men dressed as satyrs and sporting tails, to which the English guests took offence, thinking the satyrs "done against them". James's father, was murdered on 10 February 1567 at Kirk o' Field, Edinburgh in revenge for the killing of Rizzio. James inherited his father's titles of Duke of Earl of Ross. Mary was unpopular, her marriage on 15 May 1567 to James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, suspected of murdering Darnley, heightened widespread bad feeling towards her.
In June 1567, Protestant rebels imprisoned her in Loch Leven Castle. She was forced to abdicate on 24 July 1567 in favour of the infant James and to appoint her illegitimate half-brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray, as regent; the care of James was entrusted to the Earl and Countess of Mar, "to be conserved and upbrought" in the security of Stirling Castle. James was anointed King of Scots at the age of thirteen months at the Church of the Holy Rude, Stirling, by Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, on 29 July 1567; the sermon at the coronation was preached by John Knox. In accordance with the religious beliefs of most of the Scottish ruling class, James was brought up as a member of the Protestant Church of Scotland, the Kirk; the Privy Council selected George Buchanan, Peter Young, Adam Erskine, David Erskine as James's preceptors or tutors. As the young king's senior tutor, Buchanan subjected James to regular beatings but instilled in him a lifelong passion for literature and learning. Buchanan sought to turn James into a God-fearing, Protestant king who accepted the limitations of monarchy, as outlined in his treatise De Jure Regni apud Scotos.
In 1568, Mary escaped from her i
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled, his disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is known as "the father of the Royal Navy". Domestically, Henry is known for his radical changes to the English Constitution, ushering into England the theory of the divine right of kings. Besides asserting the sovereign's supremacy over the Church of England, he expanded royal power during his reign. Charges of treason and heresy were used to quell dissent, those accused were executed without a formal trial, by means of bills of attainder.
He achieved many of his political aims through the work of his chief ministers, some of whom were banished or executed when they fell out of his favour. Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Richard Rich, Thomas Cranmer all figured prominently in Henry's administration, he was an extravagant spender and used the proceeds from the Dissolution of the Monasteries and acts of the Reformation Parliament to convert into royal revenue the money, paid to Rome. Despite the influx of money from these sources, Henry was continually on the verge of financial ruin due to his personal extravagance as well as his numerous costly and unsuccessful continental wars with King Francis I of France and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. At home, he oversaw the legal union of England and Wales with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 and following the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 he was the first English monarch to rule as King of Ireland, his contemporaries considered Henry in his prime to be an attractive and accomplished king.
He has been described as "one of the most charismatic rulers to sit on the English throne". He was an composer; as he aged, Henry became obese and his health suffered, contributing to his death in 1547. He is characterised in his life as a lustful, egotistical and insecure king, he was succeeded by the issue of his third marriage to Jane Seymour. Born 28 June 1491 at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, Henry Tudor was the third child and second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Of the young Henry's six siblings, only three – Arthur, Prince of Wales, he was baptised by Richard Fox, the Bishop of Exeter, at a church of the Observant Franciscans close to the palace. In 1493, at the age of two, Henry was appointed Constable of Dover Castle and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, he was subsequently appointed Earl Marshal of England and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at age three, was inducted into the Order of the Bath soon after. The day after the ceremony he was created Duke of York and a month or so made Warden of the Scottish Marches.
In May 1495, he was appointed to the Order of the Garter. The reason for all the appointments to a small child was so his father could keep personal control of lucrative positions and not share them with established families. Henry was given a first-rate education from leading tutors, becoming fluent in Latin and French, learning at least some Italian. Not much is known about his early life – save for his appointments – because he was not expected to become king. In November 1501, Henry played a considerable part in the ceremonies surrounding his brother's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile; as Duke of York, Henry used the arms of his father as king, differenced by a label of three points ermine. He was further honoured, on 9 February 1506, by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I who made him a Knight of the Golden Fleece. In 1502, Arthur died at the age of 15 of sweating sickness, just 20 weeks after his marriage to Catherine.
Arthur's death thrust all his duties upon the 10-year-old Henry. After a little debate, Henry became the new Duke of Cornwall in October 1502, the new Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester in February 1503. Henry VII gave the boy few tasks. Young Henry was supervised and did not appear in public; as a result, he ascended the throne "untrained in the exacting art of kingship". Henry VII renewed his efforts to seal a marital alliance between England and Spain, by offering his second son in marriage to Arthur's widow Catherine. Both Isabella and Henry VII were keen on the idea, which had arisen shortly after Arthur's death. On 23 June 1503, a treaty was signed for their marriage, they were betrothed two days later. A papal dispensation was only needed for the "impediment of public honesty" if the marriage had not been consummated as Catherine and her duenna claimed, but Henry VII and the Spanish ambassador set out instead to obtain a dispensation for "affinity", which took account of the possibility of consummation.
Cohabitation was not possible. Isabella's death in 1504, the ensuing problems of succession in Castile, complicated matters, her father preferred her to stay in England, but Henry VII's relations with Ferdinand had deteriorated. Catherine was therefore left in limbo for some time, culminating in Prince Henry's rejection of the marriage as soon he was able, at the age of 14. Ferdinand's solution was to make his daugh
Nickel is a chemical element with symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel is hard and ductile. Pure nickel, powdered to maximize the reactive surface area, shows a significant chemical activity, but larger pieces are slow to react with air under standard conditions because an oxide layer forms on the surface and prevents further corrosion. So, pure native nickel is found in Earth's crust only in tiny amounts in ultramafic rocks, in the interiors of larger nickel–iron meteorites that were not exposed to oxygen when outside Earth's atmosphere. Meteoric nickel is found in combination with iron, a reflection of the origin of those elements as major end products of supernova nucleosynthesis. An iron–nickel mixture is thought to compose Earth's outer and inner cores. Use of nickel has been traced as far back as 3500 BCE. Nickel was first isolated and classified as a chemical element in 1751 by Axel Fredrik Cronstedt, who mistook the ore for a copper mineral, in the cobalt mines of Los, Hälsingland, Sweden.
The element's name comes from a mischievous sprite of German miner mythology, who personified the fact that copper-nickel ores resisted refinement into copper. An economically important source of nickel is the iron ore limonite, which contains 1–2% nickel. Nickel's other important ore minerals include pentlandite and a mixture of Ni-rich natural silicates known as garnierite. Major production sites include the Sudbury region in Canada, New Caledonia in the Pacific, Norilsk in Russia. Nickel is oxidized by air at room temperature and is considered corrosion-resistant, it has been used for plating iron and brass, coating chemistry equipment, manufacturing certain alloys that retain a high silvery polish, such as German silver. About 9% of world nickel production is still used for corrosion-resistant nickel plating. Nickel-plated objects sometimes provoke nickel allergy. Nickel has been used in coins, though its rising price has led to some replacement with cheaper metals in recent years. Nickel is one of four elements that are ferromagnetic at room temperature.
Alnico permanent magnets based on nickel are of intermediate strength between iron-based permanent magnets and rare-earth magnets. The metal is valuable in modern times chiefly in alloys. A further 10% is used for nickel-based and copper-based alloys, 7% for alloy steels, 3% in foundries, 9% in plating and 4% in other applications, including the fast-growing battery sector; as a compound, nickel has a number of niche chemical manufacturing uses, such as a catalyst for hydrogenation, cathodes for batteries and metal surface treatments. Nickel is an essential nutrient for some microorganisms and plants that have enzymes with nickel as an active site. Nickel is a silvery-white metal with a slight golden tinge, it is one of only four elements that are magnetic at or near room temperature, the others being iron and gadolinium. Its Curie temperature is 355 °C; the unit cell of nickel is a face-centered cube with the lattice parameter of 0.352 nm, giving an atomic radius of 0.124 nm. This crystal structure is stable to pressures of at least 70 GPa.
Nickel belongs to the transition metals. It is hard and ductile, has a high for transition metals electrical and thermal conductivity; the high compressive strength of 34 GPa, predicted for ideal crystals, is never obtained in the real bulk material due to the formation and movement of dislocations. The nickel atom has two electron configurations, 3d8 4s2 and 3d9 4s1, which are close in energy – the symbol refers to the argon-like core structure. There is some disagreement. Chemistry textbooks quote the electron configuration of nickel as 4s2 3d8, which can be written 3d8 4s2; this configuration agrees with the Madelung energy ordering rule, which predicts that 4s is filled before 3d. It is supported by the experimental fact that the lowest energy state of the nickel atom is a 3d8 4s2 energy level the 3d8 4s2 3F, J = 4 level. However, each of these two configurations splits into several energy levels due to fine structure, the two sets of energy levels overlap; the average energy of states with configuration 3d9 4s1 is lower than the average energy of states with configuration 3d8 4s2.
For this reason, the research literature on atomic calculations quotes the ground state configuration of nickel as 3d9 4s1. The isotopes of nickel range in atomic weight from 48 u to 78 u. Occurring nickel is composed of five stable isotopes. Isotopes heavier than 62Ni cannot be formed by nuclear fusion without losing energy. Nickel-62 has the highest mean nuclear binding energy per nucleon of any nuclide, at 8.7946 MeV/nucleon. Its binding energy is greater than both 56Fe and 58Fe, more abundant elements incorrectly cited as having the most tightly-bound nuclides. Although this would seem to predict nickel-62 as the most abundant heavy element in the universe, the high rate of photodisintegration of nickel in stellar interiors causes iron to be by far the most abundant. Stable isotope nickel-60 is the daughter product of the extinct radionuclide 60Fe, whi
Royal Arms of England
The Royal Arms of England are the arms first adopted in a fixed form at the start of the age of heraldry as personal arms by the Plantagenet kings who ruled England from 1154. In the popular mind they have come to symbolise the nation of England, although according to heraldic usage nations do not bear arms, only persons and corporations do; the blazon of the Arms of Plantagenet is: Gules, three lions passant guardant in pale or armed and langued azure, signifying three identical gold lions with blue tongues and claws, walking past but facing the observer, arranged in a column on a red background. Although the tincture azure of tongue and claws is not cited in many blazons, they are a distinguishing feature of the Arms of England; this coat, designed in the High Middle Ages, has been variously combined with those of the Kings of France, Scotland, a symbol of Ireland, the House of Nassau and the Kingdom of Hanover, according to dynastic and other political changes occurring in England, but has not altered since it took a fixed form in the reign of Richard I, the second Plantagenet king.
Although in England the official blazon refers to "lions", French heralds used the term "leopard" to represent the lion passant guardant, hence the arms of England, no doubt, are more blazoned, "leopards". Without doubt the same animal was intended, but different names were given according to the position. Royal emblems depicting lions were first used by Danish Vikings and Normans. With Plantagenets a formal and consistent English heraldry system emerged at the end of the 12th century; the earliest surviving representation of an escutcheon, or shield, displaying three lions is that on the Great Seal of King Richard I, which displayed one or two lions rampant, but in 1198 was permanently altered to depict three lions passant representing Richard I's principal three positions as King of the English, Duke of the Normans, Duke of the Aquitanians. In 1340, Edward III laid claim to the throne of France, thus adopted the Royal arms of France which he quartered with his paternal arms, the Royal Arms of England.
He placed the French arms in the 4th quarters. This quartering was adjusted and restored intermittently throughout the Middle Ages as the relationship between England and France changed; when the French king altered his arms from semée of fleur-de-lys, to only three, the English quartering followed suit. After the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland entered a personal union, the arms of England and Scotland were marshalled in what has now become the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, it appears in a similar capacity to represent England in the Arms of Canada and on the Queen's Personal Canadian Flag. The coat of three lions continues to represent England on several coins of the pound sterling, forms the basis of several emblems of English national sports teams and endures as one of the most recognisable national symbols of England; when the Royal Arms are in the format of an heraldic flag, it is variously known as the Royal Banner of England, the Banner of the Royal Arms, the Banner of the King of England, or by the misnomer the Royal Standard of England.
This Royal Banner differs from England's national flag, the St George's Cross, in that it does not represent any particular area or land, but rather symbolises the sovereignty vested in the rulers thereof. The first documented use of royal arms dates from the reign of Richard I. Much antiquarians would retrospectively invented attributed arms for earlier kings, but their reigns pre-dated the systematisation of hereditary English heraldry that only occurred in the second half of the 12th century. Lions may have been used as a badge by members of the Norman dynasty: a late-12th century chronicler reports that in 1128, Henry I of England knighted his son-in-law, Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, gave him a gold lion badge; the memorial enamel created to decorate Geoffrey's tomb depicts a blue coat of arms bearing gold lions. His son, Henry II used a lion as his emblem, based on the arms used by his sons and other relatives, he may have used a coat of arms with a single lion or two lions, though no direct testimony of this has been found.
His children experimented with different combinations of lions on their arms. Richard I used a single lion rampant, or two lions affrontés, on his first seal, but used three lions passant in his 1198 Great Seal of England, thus established the lasting design of the Royal Arms of England. In 1177, his brother John had used a seal depicting a shield with two lions passant guardant, but when he succeeded his brother on the English throne he would adopt arms with three lions passant or on a field gules, these were used, unchanged, as the royal arms by him and his successors until 1340. In 1340, following the extinction of the House of Capet, Edward III claimed the French throne. In addition to initiating the Hundred Years' War, Edward III expressed his claim in heraldic form by quartering the royal arms of England with the Arms of France; this quartering continued until 1801, with intervals in 1360–1369 and 1420–1422. Following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, the throne of England was inherited by the Scottish House of Stuart, resulting in the Union of the Crowns: the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland wer
The Tudor rose is the traditional floral heraldic emblem of England and takes its name and origins from the House of Tudor, which united the House of York and House of Lancaster. The Tudor rose consists of five white inner petals, representing the House of York, five red outer petals to represent the House of Lancaster; when Henry VII took the crown of England from Richard III in battle, he brought the end of the retrospectively dubbed "Wars of the Roses" between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Henry's father was Edmund Tudor from the House of Richmond, his mother was Margaret Beaufort from the House of Lancaster; the white rose. The historian Thomas Penn writes: The "Lancastrian" red rose was an emblem that existed before Henry VII. Lancastrian kings used the rose sporadically, but when they did it was gold rather than red. Contemporaries did not refer to the traumatic civil conflict of the 15th century as the "Wars of the Roses". For the best part of a quarter-century, from 1461 to 1485, there was only one royal rose, it was white: the badge of Edward IV.
The roses were created after the war by Henry VII. On his marriage, Henry VII adopted the Tudor rose badge conjoining the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster; the Tudor rose is seen divided in quarters and vertically red and white. More the Tudor rose is depicted as a double rose, white on red and is always described, heraldically, as "proper". During his reign, Henry VIII had the legendary "Round Table" at Winchester Castle – believed to be genuine – repainted; the new paint scheme included. Though previous to this, his father Henry VII had built a chapel at Westminster Abbey dedicated to himself and it was decorated principally with the Tudor rose and the Beaufort portcullis – as a form of propaganda to define his claim to the throne; the Tudor rose badge may appear slipped and crowned: shown as a cutting with a stem and leaves beneath a crown. The Tudor rose may appear dimidiated to form a compound badge; the Westminster Tournament Roll includes a badge of Henry and his first wife Catherine of Aragon with a slipped Tudor rose conjoined with Catherine's personal badge, the pomegranate.
James I of England and VI of Scotland used a badge consisting of a Tudor rose dimidiated with a thistle and surmounted by a royal crown. The crowned and slipped Tudor Rose is used as the plant badge of England, as Scotland uses the thistle, Ireland uses the shamrock, Wales uses the leek; as such, it is seen on the dress uniforms of the Yeomen Warders at the Tower of London, of the Yeomen of the Guard. It features in the design of the British Twenty Pence coin minted between 1982 and 2008, in the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, it features on the coat of arms of Canada. The Tudor rose, it is notably used as the symbol of the English Tourist Board. And as part of the badge of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom; the Tudor Rose is used as the emblem of the Nautical Training Corps, a uniformed youth organisation founded in Brighton in 1944 with 20 units in South East England. The Corps badge has the Tudor Rose on the shank of an anchor with the motto "For God and Country", it is used as part of the Corps' cap badge.
The Tudor Rose is prominent in a number of towns and cities. The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, uses the emblem due to the town being given Royal Town status by King Henry VIII; the borough of Queens in New York City uses a Tudor Rose on its seal. The Tudor rose was used in the coat of arms of Count of Schaumburg-Lippe; the city of York, South Carolina is nicknamed "The White Rose City", the nearby city of Lancaster, South Carolina is nicknamed "The Red Rose City". Flag of England Red Rose of Lancaster Tudor dynasty Wars of the Roses White Rose of York Royal Badges of England Floral emblem Boutell, Charles. C. Fox-Davies; the Handbook to English Heraldry. London: Reeves and Turner. OCLC 2034334. Fox-Davies, A. C.. The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopædia of Armory. London and Edinburgh: T C and E C Jack. Fox-Davies, A. C.. Heraldic Badges. London: John Lane. OCLC 4897294. Fox-Davies, A. C.. A Complete Guide to Heraldry. London and Edinburgh: T C and E C Jack. OCLC 474004850. Starkey, David. Henry – Virtuous Prince.
London: Harper. ISBN 0-00-729263-5. Wise, Terence. Medieval Heraldry. Osprey. ISBN 0-85045-348-8. Tudor Rose in SF Presidio, CH+D Magazine
Great Recoinage of 1816
The Great Recoinage of 1816 was an attempt by the British Government to re-stabilise the currency of Great Britain following economic difficulties precipitated by the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars led to financial instability in Britain; this was due to direct military and economic warfare against France as well as Britain's financing of a series of coalitions opposed to the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic regimes. In exchange for large cash subsidies from Britain, nations such as Austria and Russia, with armies larger than Britain's, were paid to fight against France; the economic conflicts of that era disrupted trade and the availability of markets in Europe for the products of Britain's growing mercantile and colonial empires. A shortage of silver and copper led to a shortage of coins. Paper money became legal in 1797 and local tokens were produced by companies and banks all over the country. Despite an increase in trade, the national debt had increased by 100% by the start of the 19th century.
A series of bad harvests pushed up food prices and this culminated in riots in 1801–2. Corn prices halved at the end of the wars; the Corn Laws of 1815 were intended to protect the price of domestic grain, but this only served to keep prices high and depressed the domestic market for manufactured goods, because people had to use all their money to buy food. European countries which relied on exporting corn to Britain in order to buy British manufactured goods were no longer able to do so; the government needed to find a way to stabilise the currency, the Great Recoinage was the first step in this process. The main aims were the reintroduction of a silver coinage and a change in the gold coinage from the guinea valued at 21 shillings to the lighter sovereign worth 20 shillings; the value of the shilling remained unchanged at twelve pence. This massive recoinage programme by the Royal Mint created standard gold sovereigns and circulating crowns and half-crowns containing the now famous image of St. George & the Dragon by the Italian engraver Benedetto Pistrucci and copper farthings in 1821.
Pistrucci's initial portrait of the King has become known to collectors as the "bull-head George". The weight of the new gold sovereigns was calculated on the basis that the value of one troy pound of standard gold was £46 14s 6d. Sovereigns therefore in theory weighed 123.2744783 grains or 7.988030269 grams, although this implies much more precision than it was possible to achieve with the technology of the time. This standard persists to the present day, more than two centuries later. To put a gold standard into effect, avoid the pitfalls of bimetallism, silver coins were declared legal tender only for sums of money up to £2; the recoinage of silver in England after a long drought produced a burst of coins: the mint struck nearly 40 million shillings between 1816 and 1820, 17 million half-crowns and 1.3 million silver crowns. The value of one troy pound of standard silver was fixed by coining it into 66 shillings; this established the weight of all silver coins, their decimal new pence replacements, from 1816 until the 1990s, when new smaller coins were introduced.
The silver coins produced were shillings weighing 87.2727 grains, half-crowns of 218.1818 grains and crowns of 436.3636 grains. Over the many reigns until decimalisation other denominations came and went, such as the threepence, sixpence and double florin, always weighing one troy pound per 66 shillings; this made 5 sterling silver shillings, about the weight of.9091 troy ounce of sterling silver. Coinage Act of 1816
A coin is a small, round piece of metal or plastic used as a medium of exchange or legal tender. They are standardized in weight, produced in large quantities at a mint in order to facilitate trade, they are most issued by a government. Coins are metal or alloy, or sometimes made of synthetic materials, they are disc shaped. Coins made of valuable metal are stored in large quantities as bullion coins. Other coins are used as money in everyday transactions; the highest value coin in circulation is worth less than the lowest-value note. In the last hundred years, the face value of circulation coins has been lower than the value of the metal they contain, for example due to inflation. If the difference becomes significant, the issuing authority may decide to withdraw these coins from circulation issuing new equivalents with a different composition, or the public may decide to melt the coins down or hoard them. Exceptions to the rule of face value being higher than content value occur for some bullion coins made of copper, silver, or gold, intended for collectors or investors in precious metals.
Examples of modern gold collector/investor coins include the British sovereign minted by the United Kingdom, the American Gold Eagle minted by the United States, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf minted by Canada, the Krugerrand, minted by South Africa. While the Eagle, Maple Leaf, Sovereign coins have nominal face values, the Krugerrand does not. A great quantity of coinage metals and other materials have been used to produce coins for circulation and metal investment: bullion coins serve as more convenient stores of assured metal quantity and purity than other bullion. Metal ingots, silver bullion or unmarked bars were in use for exchange among many of the civilizations that mastered metallurgy; the weight and purity of bullion would be the key determinant of value. In the Achaemenid Empire in the early 6th century BC, coinage was yet unknown, barter and to some extent silver bullion was used instead for trade; the practice of using silver bars for currency seems to have been current in Central Asia from the 6th century BC.
Coins were an evolution of "currency" systems of the Late Bronze Age, where standard-sized ingots, tokens such as knife money, were used to store and transfer value. In the late Chinese Bronze Age, standardized cast tokens were made, such as those discovered in a tomb near Anyang; these were replicas in bronze of earlier Chinese currency, cowrie shells, so they were named Bronze Shell. The earliest coins are associated with Iron Age Anatolia of the late 7th century BC, with the kingdom of Lydia. Early electrum coins were not standardized in weight, in their earliest stage may have been ritual objects, such as badges or medals, issued by priests; the unpredictability of the composition of occurring electrum implied that it had a variable value, which hampered its development. Most of the early Lydian coins include no writing, only an image of a symbolic animal. Therefore, the dating of these coins relies on archaeological evidence, with the most cited evidence coming from excavations at the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus called the Ephesian Artemision, site of the earliest known deposit of electrum coins.
Because the oldest lion head "coins" were discovered in that temple, they do not appear to have been used in commerce, these objects may not have been coins but badges or medals issued by the priests of that temple. Anatolian Artemis was the Πὀτνια Θηρῶν, it took some time before ancient coins were used for trade. The smallest-denomination electrum coins worth about a day's subsistence, would have been too valuable for buying a loaf of bread; the first coins to be used for retailing on a large-scale basis were small silver fractions, Ancient Greek coinage minted by the Ionian Greeks in the late sixth century BC. Many early Lydian and Greek coins were minted under the authority of private individuals and are thus more akin to tokens or badges than to modern coins, though due to their numbers it is evident that some were official state issues; the earliest inscribed coins are those of Phanes, dated to 625–600 BC from Ephesus in Ionia, with the legend ΦΑΝΕΟΣ ΕΜΙ ΣΗΜΑ, or just bearing the name ΦΑΝΕΟΣ.
The first electrum coins issued by a monarch are those minted by king Alyattes of Lydia, for which reason this king is sometimes mentioned as the originator of coinage. The successor of Alyattes, king Croesus, became associated with great wealth in Greek historiography, he is credited with issuing the Croeseid, the first true gold coins with a standardised purity for general circulation. And the world's first bimetallic monetary system circa 550 BCE. Herodotus mentioned the innovation made by the Lydians: "So far as we have any knowledge, they were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coins, the first who sold goods by retail" Coins spread in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, leading to the development of Ancient Greek coinage and Achaemenid coinage, further to Illyrian coinage. Standardized Roman currency