Every so often I wonder if all our newest collectors are aware of all that exists in the way of options for their hobby. This post is to remind of a fact that I suspect we all know but rarely consider fully. Before there were 'coins' mankind carried on trade using a variety of found objects. A bit later, it was decided to modify some of these objects to certify or standardize them with regard to value or acceptability as money. Finally it was found convenient to produce objects that would be recognized as money and accepted at a 'face' value. These last objects are what I would term 'coins'. Some will argue as to the number of separate inventions of 'coins' and whether we can prove that this was an original invention or a modification on a theme seen elsewhere. I will discuss three traditions that I consider inventive enough to be considered original. Your job is to correct where I err and support others that you find worthy of a top level separation. #1 China Coins as we know them in China developed through a series of money forms that some consider coins and some prefer to call money or objects of trade without allowing full 'coin' status. Early Chinese coins were cast from bronze and often stated the value of the coin for years before it was seen desirable to identify the issuing authority. Collectors today value these according to very minor style differences that separate things that remained somewhat constant for years. Even when it was decided to identify the authority, we see period names rather than personal ID of rulers. Several wrote the names in more than one style script which can be used to separate some coins from others according to place or date of issue. Collectors value the natural look of coin surfaces that add some evidence that the cast items are actually as old as their design would indicate. Obviously there are smaller variations from the norm in Chinese coinage like the occasional use of iron rather than bronze. There were some issues marked and or sized to be larger denominations but round coins with a square central hole became somewhat standard and were traded in strings tied together with materials that rarely survive the centuries. Chinese tradition fans are invited to correct this extremely simplified introduction but I will remind that it was not intended to tell all there is worth knowing but only to allow a beginner to see a coin and say 'Chinese Tradition'. Coins of this style were produced until the 20th century AD when the last square hole cash (by the struck rather than cast) were made. #2 Greece The Greek tradition of coins followed a period of trading found lumps of precious metal which were, at the end, marked to certify they were not random lumps. Rather than casting from molten metal, the Greek tradition transferred a design to the metal from a die cut in reverse that left a raised design first on one side and later on two sides of a blank prepared to receive the design and become a coin. Early lump shaped coins progressed to be more round but rarely as regular as the cast Chines round coins. The precious metal first used was replaced first by two and later three (rarely four) metals which allowed a large span of denominations that, at least in theory, could be 'worth' more or less the metal they contained. Rarely were the denominations noted on the coin (some were!) but most had some indication of the authority for the issue. Many of the first used a design that could be identified with the Greek city responsible for the coin but this was often augmented with letters abbreviating or spelling out the city or even the magistrate responsible for that coin. The Romans conquered the lands of the Greeks and adopted their coinage tradition. In their earliest days, Rome played with the idea of casting large bronze coins in molds with denominations and designs that looked Greek tradition but I am choosing not to assign this short lived period a separate full fledged 'tradition'. Some will disagree. Collectors of Greek Tradition coins tend to value eye appeal and detail over style. The accept cleaning as necessary for almost all coins and rely on style and fabric clues to avoid fakes. Great value is placed on the completeness of the design. Many coins were made hurriedly and produced a good percentage of coins that were defective from the start. Wear and corrosion continued to degrade coins making it possible to find hundreds of levels of condition between perfect and unrecognizable. Almost every coin made in the last century can be traced to some variation on the Greek Tradition. #3 India Least common is a coinage style from India where a flat of sheet metal was trimmed to size and struck not by a single die design as on Greek tradition coins but by a series of small stamps that made recesses in the metal. The number of these stamps varied from issue to issue but they tend to be crowded to the point that it is rare to find a coin with more than one complete an clear stamp. Many with have started with five stamps of which none are obvious until you have a little experience with the coins. This feature introduces a feature of desirability to collectors when 'grade' is more dependent on the completeness of the more significant marks than on such things as wear. Most of these silver coins that I have seen seems to be relatively recently cleaned but I must point out that I know so little about these that I am hoping some of you who are into Indian punchmarked coins might step up and make this thread worth reading. Did you notice? I gave one example coin from each of the three traditions but I did not give ID for that particular coin. The purpose of this post was to enable the most amateur amateur to explain why these coins are so very different one from the others in ways that associated them with their individual tradition. Those who like to ID coins are free to practice on these three. They are not difficult ones. I'm sure most of you have a coin that does not seem to fit this plan. In most cases I will probably consider these not fully 'coin' by my hard line definition but there are always exceptions to very rule. Again leaving the full ID to those who want to do it themselves, I will show some coins that some will consider variations that I could have mentioned BUT remember I never claimed to make this post everything you need to know but only Kindergarten, day one. The photos below are for optional play if you choose to play. How do they fit or not fit my three Traditions? Can you guess why I thought they were appropriate here? Feel free to add a coin photo that I should have added (if I owned one to add). Post, with photos!, what you believe makes this thread better.