Most modern money is quite light. Bimetallism, a monetary norm based on a fixed exchange rate of two metals, has long been out of practice, and the weight of the coins in circulation rarely exceeds 10 grams, unlike the beginning of the 20th century when the silver dollar weighed 26, 7 grams. But historically, heavy money was not so rare.
In the third century BC, the first Roman Republic issued today a series of bronze coins called aes grave (“Heavy Bronze”), the heaviest of which weighed more than 340 grams, about 12 ounces. The weight of some of the coins issued by the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt was often between 40 and 70 grams. But these pieces are made of copper and bronze. So what about gold?
With the exception of modern gold coins (such as the 1 ton Australian gold nugget), the heaviest gold coin ever struck in Antiquity was issued by Eucratides I, sovereign of the Greek kingdom. bacterial from 171 to 145 BC. It weighs 169.2 grams (5.44 troy ounces, a unit of measurement primarily used in the precious metal industry) and has a diameter of 58 millimeters (2.3 inches), or 20 staters or 400 drachmas.
There are less than 20 pieces representing Eucratides I in the world, and the gold with 20 statues is unique among them. It was originally found in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, then acquired by Napoleon III. The coin depicts the helmeted bust of King Eucratides on one side and the equestrian figures of Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux) on the reverse, the Greek legend around it means “of the great King Eucratides”.
Today, this fantastic piece of gold is part of the collection of the National Library of France, under the care of its numismatic department, the Cabinet of Medals. Their coin collection includes coins from Ancient Greece and Rome, Byzantine coins, Celtic coins and more.