THE MONEY EXHIBITION

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1. My object of choice at the money exhibition is the Lydia Electrum Trite, which is significantly the first documneted currency. It originates from Lydia, now central Turkey. Electrum, an alloy, is a naturally occurring mix of gold and silver and were produced in specific weights. These were minted by King Alyattes in Sardis Lydia. These coins had the symbol of a lion etched out in relief on one side, and a grove or punched/depressed marks on the other side. Since the lion is symbolically representative of the king of the jungle, it is of little wonder why it must have been chosen as the main image on the coin and minted by King Alyattes.

The Lydian lion is aesthetically appealing and its archaic style is attractive. The design is primarily simple and geometric. The reverse side features a punch created created during the minting process, possibly from the force of a hammer used to create the depressed effect. apart from the images and punch holes, these coins had no other inscriptions and the symbols on them acted as a guarantee of their quality.

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2. The first coin ‘The Lion of Lydia’ has been categorized under ‘The beginnings of coinage’ section and rightly so, as according to documented accounts and records, it is the first coin to have been made for the specific purpose of exchange for goods.

 

3. The curator has classified the items on display into the following groups;

i. Beginnings of Coinage

ii. Communicating through coins

iii. Religion and power

iv. Signs of Authority

v. Tradition and innovation

vi.Currency in the modern world

vii. Spending, saving and borrowing

viii. Money and society

ix. Merchants in the world

x. Religion and rituals

xi. Money and daily life

xii. The beginnings of money

xiii. Making money by hand

xiv. Hoarding and storing

xv. Faking and counterfeiting

xvi. Making money by machine

xvii. Making paper money

xviii. Counting and accounting

Whilst credit must be given to the curators for the effective grouping of these items/objects based on their qualitative similarities, it must also be said that some of these categories are also restrictive in their approach, as some of these objects can end up being cross-categorized, or falling under different groups other than those they have been placed in. A common example that comes to mind is the cowrie shell. In the exhibition display, it is shown as having been utilized by the Chinese for decorative purposes as well as modes of payments, while in the the Yoruba land it was used as an object of divination, utilized to send symbolic messages, used to prepare medical herbs, thus reclassifying it into the category of tradition and innovation, as well as religion and power.

4. It must be mentioned that the British museum has done a lot in trying to replicate the experience of going to the museum, by including a reasonably substantial amount of information about the objects, their themes, and categories. However, the feeling and experience of seeing the objects, physically overpowers any feeling derived from just browsing through the website. The observation whilst within the Citi money gallery exhibit, of the objects on display and the various categories gives a great deal of insight into the origins and historical backgrounds of the various items utilized for exchange/trading purposes. It is also important to note that some of the objects on display at the museum haven’t been covered by the website, which is a major reason why reliance on the website will and cannot match viewing the exhibition in person.

IMAGES FROM THE MONEY EXHIBITION.

 

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