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The Majority View in Modern Scholarship on the Origin of Electrum Coinage: An Update

Summary:
In the last post here, I gave a large sample of 48 published works in modern scholarship on the question of the origins of electrum coinage.I took a sample of late 20th and early 21st century general and specialist ancient historians, numismatists and other relevant scholars. Professor Selgin points out here that I included some MMT economists in Group 1, but I could have included some free bankers or other libertarian scholars in Group 3.This is easy to do.Once again, I take “majority” to mean more than 50% of general and specialist ancient historians and relevant scholars – and a clear majority to be a percentage in the upper range of 55–60% or, ideally, even higher.Let us start with an updated list of “Group 3” scholars. Once again, “Group 3” scholars are those who argue explicitly for

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In the last post here, I gave a large sample of 48 published works in modern scholarship on the question of the origins of electrum coinage.

I took a sample of late 20th and early 21st century general and specialist ancient historians, numismatists and other relevant scholars.

Professor Selgin points out here that I included some MMT economists in Group 1, but I could have included some free bankers or other libertarian scholars in Group 3.

This is easy to do.

Once again, I take “majority” to mean more than 50% of general and specialist ancient historians and relevant scholars – and a clear majority to be a percentage in the upper range of 55–60% or, ideally, even higher.

Let us start with an updated list of “Group 3” scholars.

Once again, “Group 3” scholars are those who argue explicitly for the private sector (or mostly the private sector) – whether the private wealthy elite, merchants, bankers, or goldsmiths – being the first inventor of coined electrum, or the driving force behind it, and new additions are in bold type:

Group 3:
Seltman (1955: 17–18)
Breglia (1964: 42)
Holloway (1978a: 10–13)
Holloway (1978b)
Price (1983: 6–7)
Furtwängler (1986: 164–165)
Redish (1987: 377)
Selgin (1988: 18)
Glasner (1989: 30)
White (1989: 221)

Schaps (2004: 100)
Furtwängler (2011)
Graeber (2011: 224–225)
van Alfen (2012: 26–27)
van Alfen 2014 (forthcoming in van Alfen 2017)
Melitz (2017: 84): Melitz states it is “possible” private initiate came first in minting coins, but it “cannot be proven.”
Total number of works: 16
If people wish to suggest more additions in the comments, I will update this again.

However, a few hours of research allows one to also update Groups 1 and 2.

So here is a list of “Group 1” modern scholars who support the view that the Lydian kings invented coinage, or at least were the driving force behind it, even if some scholars allow that the kings might have employed private goldsmiths or mint masters to make the coins, with new additions in bold type:

Group 1:
Cook (1958)
Bolin (1958)
Kraay (1964)
Thompson (1966: 2–4)
Jenkins (1972)
Grierson (1975: 10)
Kraay (1976: 28, 317–324)
Grierson (1977: 2–3)
Picard (1978)
Wallace (1987: 386)
Kraay (1988)
Jenkins (1990: 28)
Howgego (1995: 3): Howgego notes that no certain evidence in all of antiquity for coins being produced by private individuals.
Osborne (1996: 256)
Goodhart (1998: 415)
Kurke (1999: 6–10, especially p. 10. n. 19): Kurke accepts Cook (1958) modified by Price (1983), but rejecting the view that private individuals minted coins, and accepting ancient states as the inventor.
Wray (2000: 46)
Stingl (2000–2001: 48)
Whitley (2001: 193)
Le Rider (2001: 85–86, 94–100, 116)
Wallace (2001)
Kim (2001: 10)
von Reden (2002: 152–153)
Wray (2003: 44)
Freeman (2004: 185)
Sacks et al. (2005: 87)
Bresson (2006: 13–14, 5): “These first electrum coins were struck on the same standard by the Lydian kings, but certainly also by a series of Greek cities of the coast, among them Miletus and Teos, and also by Phokaia, but on a different, local standard.”
Wallace (2006)
Peacock (2006)
Rhodes (2007: 38)
Kroll (2008: 17–18)
Hoover (2010: 238)
Semenova (2011a)
Kroll (2012: 44)
Rutter (2012: 342)
Peacock (2013)
de Callataӱ (2013: 13–14)
Hornblower et al. (2014: 182)
Semenova and Wray (2015: 12–13)
Bresson (2016: 264): Bresson states that coined money was invented between 650–625 BC and the ratio of metals manipulated by the “monetary authorities of the city-states and the Lydian monarchy.”
Total number of works: 40
Finally, an addition to “Group 2” scholars, who accept a significant role for the state in inventing coinage, but argue that private individuals were allowed by the state to mint their own independent coins, or were allowed to mint on behalf of the state:
Group 2:
Seaford (2004: 132–134): “with coins perhaps issued by individuals.”
Roisman and Yardley (2011: 7)
Koray and Lorber (2012: 13, 15)
Konuk (2012: 44): “Electrum was a commodity available locally and was largely controlled by the Lydian kings, who turned some of it into coins by applying a design on lumps of electrum of consistent weights”; Konuk (2012: 47): later states: “We do not know whether there was a state monopoly on issuing coinage or whether some wealthy private individuals such as bankers or merchants were also allowed to strike coins of their own.”
Total number of works: 4
So now we can recalculate approximate percentages for the range of opinion in modern scholarship. I have now provided a total sample of 60 published works by late 20th and early 21st century general and specialist scholars.

We can see the following percentages:

(1) Group 1: Kings or the State invented Coinage:
66.66% of total sample.

(2) Group 2: Kings or the State invented Coinage with Private Issues allowed:
6.6% of total sample.

(3) Group 3: The Private Sector invented Coinage:
26.66% of total sample.

So, even in the new percentages, roughly 67% of works of modern scholars support the Group (1) view that the Lydian kings or ancient governments invented electrum coinage. If we combine Group (1) and Group (2) works, then we get a percentage of 73%.

This is a clear majority. There are roughly 27% of scholarly works that form a minority, in which these minority scholars argue that the private sector was the inventor of electrum coinage.

So, just as I predicted, even by expanding our sample size, the percentages have hardly shifted.

At 60 items, this list is surely large enough to be a representative sample, but I can update the list if people suggest more works.

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