The World’s First Mass-Circulated Coin
Fun fact: a group of owls is called a “Parliament.” You’ll need that for later.
But first, let’s take a trip back some 2,400 years to Ancient Greece. It was a time known as the “Pentecontaectia,” or “Fifty Years” during which Athens became an imperial power capable of standing against Sparta and her Peloponnesian allies.
It was during this period that a massive project was undertaken: the building of the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to Athena, goddess of, among other things, wisdom, the arts, and strategic warfare.
But how to pay for its construction? Some coinage existed, but none were standard. The existing silver coinage were known as “Drachma,” taken from the Greek verb “to grasp,” with its value equivalent to that of a handful of arrows.
And so a plan was put into motion: create a new standard coin design and strike it in great numbers. That coin was the Athenian Owl Tetradrachm, and it became the first mass-circulated coin the world had ever seen.
Of course, this is 2,400 years ago. Surely it would be impossible to get your hands on one of these coins today, right?