Trade Coins

Widely recognized bullion (gold or silver) coins

Copyright © 1994 by Hugo S. Cunningham

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written 4 Mar 94
revised 2 Apr 94
posted: 21 Mar 98.

1. References

    Chester L. Krause and Clifford Mishler, 1994 Standard Catalog of World Coins, Krause Publications, Iola WI, 1993

    Chester L. Krause and Clifford Mishler, Standard Catalog of World Coins-- Eighteenth Century, Krause Publications, Iola WI, 1993

    Richard G. Doty, The MacMillan Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatics, MacMillan, New York, 1982

    Albert R. Frey, Dictionary of Numismatic Names, Barnes & Noble, 1947

    R.S. Yeoman, A Guide to U.S. Coins: 43rd Edition, Western Publishing Co., Racine WI, 1989

3. Weights

ounce troy (standard bullion measure)48031.10320
pound troy (12 oz. troy)5760373.242240
ounce avdp (avoirdupois)437.528.35
pound avdp (16 oz. avdp)7000453.6

7. Trade Coinages (widely recognized bullion coins)

Computed values (C): $1 = 1.505 grams gold or 24.06 grams silver.


    (1) The 1/16 gold-to-silver ratio used here overvalues ancient gold against ancient silver coins.
    (2) Computed values assume 100% purity of the bullion metal. For example, the silver rupee of British India (1862-1939), though weighing 11.66 grams, was only 91.7% silver, yielding a bullion value of $0.444 rather than the $0.486 shown here.

Gold coins

nameareadateweightvalue (1800s USA)valuation sourceNotes (See below)
daricPersian Empire515-330 BCE8.3 grams$5.51C
staterMacedon359-200 BCE8 grams$5.32C
talent (weight)Greece359-200 BCE24 kilograms$16,000Ev
solidusByzantium324-969 CE4.4 grams$2.92C
(other names: byzant, bezant)
dinarArabs694-1150 CE4.4 grams$2.92C
ducatVenice1280-1819 CE3.5 grams$2.33C
(other names: zecchino, sequin)
florinFlorence1250-1550? CE3.5 gm.$2.33C
(later depreciated to silver)
other names: gulden [German], guilder, zloty [Polish]
doubloonSpain1600-1800 CE27 gm.$16Ed
louis d'orFrance1726-1777 CE8.16 gm.$5.42C
guineaEngland1660-1799 CE8.4 gm.$5.25E
sovereignEngland1817-1914 CE7.99 gm.$5E
napoleonFrance1803-1914 CE6.45 gm.$4E
    v-- Weight of "talent" sometimes varied in different societies.

    d-- The name "doubloon" was also sometimes used for smaller gold coins, worth about $2.

Silver Coins

$1 = 24.06 grams of silver.

namearea or originatordateweightvalue (1800s USA)valuation sourceNotes (See below)
drachmaAthens560-400 BCE4 grams$0.166C
mina (weight)Greece500-300 BCE400 gm.$16.60Cv
(100 drachmas)
talent (weight)Greece500-300 BCE24kilograms$1000Ev
(60 minas)
shekel (weight)Israel? BCE-67 CE13.9 gm.$0.578Cv
denariusRome200 BCE- 54 CE3.8 gm.$0.158C
dirhamArabs698-1150 CE3 grams$0.125C
denierCharlemagne751-1250 CE1.3 gm.$0.054C
derivatives: denaro [Italy], dinheiro [Portugal], pfennig [Germany]
pennyEngland1066-1250 CE1.5 gm.$0.062C
approx. one "pennyweight," ie 1/240 of a troy pound
groschenGermany1260-1500 CE3.9 gm.$0.162C
originally "gros tournois" [France]
other names: grossus [Latin], grosz [Polish], groat [English]
testoneMilan (Italy)1472-1476 CE9.8 gm.$0.407C
derivatives: tostao [Portuguese], testoon or "shilling" [England]
thalerGermany1450-1600 CE25-30 gm.$1E
other names: dollar [English], daalder[Netherlands], Joachimsthaler
originally named for "Joachimstal" (Joachim's valley), a large silver mine
pesoSpanish Empire1500-1900 CE27 gm.$1E
other names: piastra [Italy], piece of eight (reales), Spanish dollar
écuFrance1726-1791 CE29.5 gm.$1.15C
equivalent: crown [England]
rupeeIndia1539-1939 CE11.7 grams$0.486C
thalerMaria Theresa1780 CE - ?24.2 grams$1E
tael (weight)China1800-1900 CE36.7 grams$1.53C

    v-- Weights and relationship of "mina" and "talent" sometimes varied in different societies.

    v-- Weight of "shekel" sometimes varied in different societies.

Some historical non-bullion coins

obolsilverGreece500 BCE- 300 BCE 1/6 drachma
aes (as)bronzeRome145 BCE- 200 CE 1/16 denarius
cashcopper, brass, etc.China618 CE- 1900 CE1/1000 tael
maravedicopperSpain1479-1843 CE 1/34 real

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