Saturday, November 18, 2017

How Leftists should Debate with Race Realists

In light of this interview here of Stefan Molyneux by Dave Rubin:



Why is it that the Left is so pathetic and useless that there is virtually nobody who could argue seriously with Stefan Molyneux on this issue?

First of all, if you are a Leftist and you seriously wanted to debate a race realist, you will never get anywhere by denying these propositions, which are certainly supported by overwhelming evidence from modern science:
(1) human beings have lived in different environments and been subject to different Darwinian evolution and selective pressures over at least the past 40,000 years;

(2) because of (1), evolution has produced human beings who have a common descent in different regions with distinctive gene allele frequencies which in turn cause distinctive phenotypic traits like skin colour, bodily traits, facial features, immune systems, frequency of common blood types, etc.

(3) there is very good evidence that human general intelligence (as measured in proper, culturally-neutral IQ tests) is largely genetic. The best estimate of the heritability of adult IQ is somewhere between 70–85%. Very good evidence for this comes from twin studies (especially genetic twins adopted and separated at birth) and adoption studies (Plomin and Petrill 1997; Bouchard 2009 and 1998), and increasingly genetic science. The particularly strong evidence is that siblings (either fraternal or genetic) adopted at birth or infancy will have IQs strongly correlated with their biological parents, while a correlation with their adopted parents is either very low or almost zero (Petrill and Deater-Deckard 2004; Hunt 2011: 230–231; Haier 2017: 47).

And even the liberal American Psychological Association (APA) admitted years ago that the heritability of adult IQ is about 0.75 (see Neisser et al. 1996: 96), and the democratic socialist James R. Flynn (after whom the “Flynn Effect” is named) – the leading environmentalist on gaps in IQ between population groups – himself accepts that current evidence shows that the heritability of IQ in adults is probably about 0.75 (Dickens and Flynn 2001: 346; and for a recent review of the overwhelming evidence, see Haier 2017).

(4) the average IQs of different human population groups as defined in (1) and (2) above appear to be different as measured by modern psychometrics. You can see the data as organised by region and by nation here.
As I said above, accepting the truth of these propositions is the starting point and foundation of any serious debate about race realism.

The fundamental question in professional academic debates about race realism is this: what causes the differences in average IQs between population groups? In order to seriously debate this topic, you need to acknowledge that the differences in average IQ do actually exist, but most Leftists/Liberals will vehemently refuse to acknowledge even this.

We know the differences exist. In academic debates about average IQ differences, there are two explanations of the evidence:
(1) The environmentalist explanation
The environmentalist explanation holds that the differences in average IQs between population groups is entirely or largely environmental. The most well-known and respected environmentalist is James R. Flynn, who is a democratic socialist.

(2) The genetic/hereditarian explanation
The genetic/hereditarian explanation holds that the gaps in average IQs between population groups are largely or (less probably) entirely genetic and caused by differing evolutionary histories. However, most hereditarians today probably accept that it is both genetic and environmental, but with the genetic factor being the major cause.
So if any Leftist/Liberal really wanted to engage with the Alt Right or libertarians like Stefan Molyneux on race realism, they would – at the very least – have to be extremely familiar with the work of James R. Flynn, and, in particular, the following works:
Flynn, James R. 2008. Where Have All the Liberals Gone?: Race, Class, and Ideals in America. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York.

Flynn, James R. 2009. What Is Intelligence: Beyond the Flynn Effect (expanded edn.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Flynn, J. 2008. “A Tough Call,” New Scientist 199.2672: 48–50.
http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2008/09/james-flynn-in-the-new-scientist/

Flynn J. R. 2009. “Requiem for Nutrition as the Cause of IQ Gains: Raven’s Gains in Britain 1838–2008,” Economics and Human Biology 7: 18–27.

Flynn, J. R. 2010. “The Spectacles through which I see the Race and IQ Debate,” Intelligence 38: 363–366.

Flynn, James R. 2012. Are We Getting Smarter?: Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York.

Flynn, James Robert. 2012. How to Improve your Mind: Twenty Keys to Unlock the Modern World. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, MA.

Flynn, James R. 2013. Intelligence and Human Progress: The Story of What was Hidden in our Genes. Elsevier Inc. Oxford, UK and Waltham, MA.

Flynn, James R. 2016. Does your Family make you Smarter?: Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
But, unfortunately, you will struggle to find anybody who demonstrates even basic familiarity with these works, or Flynn’s arguments, or even the basic issues (and waving the phrase “Flynn effect” in people’s faces does not per se refute the race realists either, because it is entirely possible that the Flynn effect is real and that race realism could be real as well).

Why is this? The reason is straightforward: in order to even seriously debate this issue, you have to acknowledge the truth of the four propositions I listed above, but the modern Left has become so insanely politically correct, so intellectually bankrupt, and so extreme in its science denial and fanaticism that it cannot even acknowledge the truth of those propositions. Anybody who does will immediately be smeared and slandered and, if they are well known enough (say, like academics without tenure), probably subject to persecution, and professional ruin. I imagine that these days even the democratic socialist James R. Flynn would probably be hounded and defamed for even defending the traditional environmentalist explanation of racial IQ differences, because that explanation explicitly admits that the average IQ differences do exist and that IQ is real.

So how does James R. Flynn explain average IQ differences? In the context of America, Flynn has studied the difference between the average adult IQ of African Americans (which stands at about 85) and the average adult IQ of white Americans (which stands at 100). In brief, a lifetime of research by Flynn suggests to him that the environment in which African American children and teenagers are raised in is, generally, less cognitively-demanding than other groups, more prone to families with single mothers, and also affected by the influence of anti-intellectual and anti-social black teenage subculture and behaviour (Flynn 2008; you can read Flynn’s article here). A combination of these factors, Flynn argues, causes the lower average adult IQ of African Americans (Flynn 2008).

You can listen here to Flynn himself discuss some of these issues in an interview with Molyneux:



To stress my point above: if a Liberal/Leftist really wanted to seriously argue with Molyneux, then he would use the arguments of Flynn as I have sketched them.

But note carefully: Flynn’s environmentalist explanation here is itself likely to be condemned as “racist” by the modern politically correct Left, and probably most Leftists are so ignorant and stupid about the subject and the necessary background knowledge they wouldn’t be capable of properly explaining it as a counterargument against race realism anyway.

Like so many other issues, the modern Left is intellectually and morally bankrupt on this issue.

Moreover, the modern Left has no solution if real realism were true, and is so incompetent and stupid they leave all serious political discussion of the consequences of race realism to the Alt Right or crackpot libertarians like Stefan Molyneux.

In reality, however, if race realism were true, the Left can easily provide a humane and compassionate response to this truth, as follows.

What is the Humane Democratic Socialist/Progressive Liberal Response to Race Realism, if it were True?
If race realism were true, the policy consequences proposed by the Alt Right or libertarians do not necessarily follow, and certainly the economic policies proposed by crackpot libertarians do not follow.

The answer to serious genetic differences in turn causing deleterious phenotypic differences between races is advanced reproductive technology and genetic engineering of the type described here.

In short, the humane and compassionate Democratic Socialist answer is providing the kind of safe, regulated reproductive technologies described in the link above to all people free of charge as a social service (perhaps even with subsidies to encourage people to use it), and, above all, to people at risk of having children disadvantaged by the accident of genetics, so that average IQ gaps – and other deleterious traits like high propensity to aggression or low impulse control – between groups can be eliminated over time.

This does not mean that our societies will be engaged in some kind of endless, mad genetic engineering to create “superhumans” or any such thing. Rather, it would be a Social Democratic society that allows parents to have children who are not disadvantaged by genetic diseases, serious predisposition to diseases or mental disorders, handicaps, or lower than average IQ, in a system where all such reproductive technologies are intensely regulated and subject to severe ethical and social scrutiny.

In the long run, any such serious group differences, or individual differences, in IQ, in either developed nations or the Third World, can be fixed by universal health care systems that include free access to severely regulated reproductive technologies to fix this problem.

However, none of this means that the West should continue to support open borders, unending Third World mass immigration, or multiculturalism because these policies are extremely harmful on economic, social and cultural grounds, even if race realism were false.

Instead, the advanced and rich First World should provide technologies to the Third World and encourage their use there, to solve the problems caused by divergent Darwinian evolution.

Conclusion
However, the modern Left will probably be incapable of any serious or effective response to race realists, except for more defamation, ignorance, hysteria, and just active persecution of anybody pointing out the truths I listed above from (1) to (4). As in so many other areas, the modern Left is intellectually bankrupt and will be humiliated and defeated, because it now is – in its own way – almost as anti-science as any fanatical religious fundamentalism.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bouchard, T. J. 1998. “Genetic and Environmental Influences on Adult Intelligence and Special Mental Abilities,” Human Biology 70: 257–279.

Bouchard, T. J. 2009. “Genetic Influence on Human Intelligence (Spearman’s g): How Much?,” Annals of Human Biology 36: 527–544.

Dickens, William T. and James R. Flynn. 2001. “Heritability Estimates Versus Large Environmental Effects: The IQ Paradox Resolved,” Psychological Review 108.2: 346–369.

Flynn, J. 2008. “A Tough Call,” New Scientist 199.2672: 48–50.
http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2008/09/james-flynn-in-the-new-scientist/

Haier, Richard J. 2017. The Neuroscience of Intelligence. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY.

Hunt, E. B. 2011. Human Intelligence. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Neisser, Ulric, Boodoo, Gwyneth, Bouchard Jr., Thomas J., Boykin, A. Wade, Brody, Nathan, Ceci, Stephen J., Halpern, Diane F., Loehlin, John C., Perloff, Robert, Sternberg, Robert J., and Susana Urbina. 1996. “Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns,” American Psychologist 51.2: 77–101.

Petrill, S. A. and K. Deater-Deckard. 2004. “The Heritability of General Cognitive Ability: A Within-Family Adoption Design,” Intelligence 32: 403–409.

Plomin, R. and S. A. Petrill. 1997. “Genetics and Intelligence: What’s New?,” Intelligence 24: 53–77.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sargon on the “It’s OK to be White” Meme Controversy

Required viewing:



Sargon, more or less, is correct (though I have no time for his ultra-individualist “Classical Liberalism” or his shilling for Hayek).

There ought, in principle, to be nothing controversial about a simple message “It’s OK to be White,” but the whole essence of the modern Left is hatred of Western civilisation and anti-white racial hatred.

Take one example. You don’t think much of our culture is polluted by anti-white racial hatred?

Explain to me how this gentleman called Alloysious Massaquoi gets tax-payer money from the long-suffering people of Britain to produce this so-called “art,” filmed in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery:



If this isn’t murderous racial hatred, then nothing is. If you want to know who bears massive responsibility for the rise of white identitarian movements and white nationalism in the Western world, then look no further than the modern Left – or what passes for the “Left.” In reality, what passes for the “Left” is a truly grotesque parody, and I won’t doubt that most pre-1960s or early 20th century (non-Marxist) Old Leftists or Old Liberals would have been horrified by this disgusting freak show.

But the anti-white Cultural Left just can’t help themselves, and they are driving the Left to total collapse.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Cult of Diversity Lie

Tucker Carlson is entirely correct:



“Diversity is our strength” is an Orwellian lie, and any rational, sane person, even a left-wing person, should be capable of seeing it at this point.

The evidence that diversity is catastrophic has been available for a long time, and some of the best research comes from the work of Robert Putnam. Notably, Putnam is a multiculturalist liberal, and he was so shocked by his research findings he delayed publishing them for years on end.

See also the following studies here:
(1) Wickes, Rebecca, Zahnow, Renee, White, Gentry and Lorraine Mazerolle. 2014. “Ethnic Diversity and its Impact on Community Social Cohesion and Neighborly Exchange,” Journal of Urban Affairs 36.1: 51–78.

(2) Sturgis, Patrick, Brunton-Smith, Ian, Kuha, Jouni and Jonathan Jackson. 2014. “Ethnic Diversity, Segregation and the Social Cohesion of Neighbourhoods in London,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 37.8: 1286–1309.
Wickes et al. (2014) seems generally to confirm Putnam.

Sturgis et al. (2014) has curious findings that seem to indicate that positive attitudes to diversity decrease with a person’s age, and ethnic self-segregation actually makes separate communities more cohesive, which utterly refutes the Cult of Diversity belief that mixing up people of different racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds makes them happier or their communities more successful.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Steve Keen on Austrian Economics

Steve Keen discusses the economics of the Austrian school in this critique:



For a full list of my posts refuting Austrian economics, see here:
Debunking Austrian Economics 101 (Updated)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

On Columbus Day, Remember…

… that most Amerindians died from Old World diseases to which they had little or no natural immunity, not because of some deliberate, pre-planned genocide by Europeans.

The dying out of millions of Amerindians was a horrible and terrible event to be sure, but the Left’s narrative on this is full of lies and fraud.

I repeat here some excellent analysis of why and how so many Amerindians died after the European discovery of the Americas.

We know that the Native Americans faced a severe group disadvantage caused by differential evolution: namely, their inability to resist or have immunity to new diseases brought by Europeans like smallpox (Cochran and Harpending 2009: 158–159). The HLA gene alleles, in various forms, protect human beings against infectious disease by regulating the nature and strength of the immune system.

But the Amerindians had an unusual distribution of HLA alleles – evolved from their distinct evolutionary history in the Americas – and a much weaker immune system, because they were simply not exposed to the same type and variety of pathogens as the farming peoples of the Old World (Cochran and Harpending 2009: 160–161, citing Cavalli-Sforza and Paolo Menozzi 1994). But the weaker immune systems of Amerindians had an advantage in their distinctive environment: they were much less subject to autoimmune diseases than other peoples with stronger immune systems (Cochran and Harpending 2009: 161).

But when Europeans brought infectious diseases such as measles, smallpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, leprosy, and bubonic plague, the consequences for Amerindians were horrific: there is some evidence that the Amerindian population of the New World suffered a stunning 90% fall in just a few centuries – and most of the deaths were caused by exposure to these diseases introduced by Europeans which Amerindians could not resist because of their different evolutionary history (Cochran and Harpending 2009: 162, citing Cook 1998). For instance, while only about 30% of Europeans might die in smallpox epidemics, a shocking 90% of Amerindians would die from the disease (Cochran and Harpending 2009: 167). This terrible series of plagues obviously aided the European conquest of the Americas, and even with superior European technology, was a factor in the success of the Conquistadors.

For example, the conquest of the Incan Empire by Francisco Pizarro was facilitated by a smallpox epidemic (Cochran and Harpending 2009: 163).

Even Jared Diamond, an academic beloved by the Left, admits these facts:



As late as the 20th century, isolated populations of Amerindians have suffered the same fate: in instances where first contacts occurred between Amerindians and European-descended people in the 20th century the same European diseases have killed 33–50% of the natives (Cochran and Harpending 2009: 167).

The same kinds of biological differences caused terrible epidemics and mass deaths of Australian Aborigines and Polynesians when Europeans invaded or colonised their homelands as well (Cochran and Harpending 2009: 169).

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Cavalli-Sforza, L. Luca and Alberto Piazza Paolo Menozzi. 1994. The History and Geography of Human Genes. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Cochran, Gregory and Henry Harpending. 2009. The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution. Basic Books, New York.

Cook, Noble David. 1998. Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest, 1492–1650. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Dalai Lama’s Racism and Evil Tibetan Supremacy

Years ago, the Dalai Lama gave this hateful interview to the Guardian:
Julian Borger, “Tibet could be ‘Swamped’ by Mass Chinese Settlement after Olympics, says Dalai Lama,” The Guardian, 24 May 2008.
During his interview, the Dalai Lama revealed his bigotry and complained that “Beijing was planning the mass settlement of 1 million ethnic Chinese people in Tibet after the Olympics with the aim of diluting Tibetan culture and identity,” and, if that happened, that Tibet would be transformed into a “truly Han Chinese land and Tibetans [sc. would] become an insignificant minority.”

How does the Dalai Lama get away with this racism and hateful demonisation of immigrants??

Doesn’t he know that millions of Chinese immigrants will culturally enrich Tibet?

Doesn’t he appreciate how much vibrant diversity millions of Chinese immigrants will create in Tibet? What’s more, to be truly diverse, Tibet should clearly import millions of Muslims, Indians, and Africans too – because we know that diversity is always a strength!

Furthermore, it is certain that these Chinese immigrants to Tibet will just be doing the jobs that native Tibetans don’t want to do! Who could object to that?

Even worse, the Dalai Lama actually thinks that native Tibetans should have a right to control their borders and immigration policy, so that they will not become a minority in their own homeland! What kind of racist, hateful bigot and evil “Tibetan supremacist” would believe such a Nazi idea??

After all, there is no evidence of any kind that people who become minorities can suffer discrimination, prejudice or horrible persecution (as long as we exclude Roma Gypsies, Jews, and Palestinians … but it would be racist to mention them).

In short, why do so many Western Liberals and Leftists support the hateful bigotry and racism of the Dalai Lama and his racist Tibetan followers?? Why does the modern Left support “Tibetan Supremacy” and evil “Tibetan Privilege” in Tibet?

Why isn’t diversity a joyful strength in Tibet??

Back to Reality
And now I’ve finished trolling we can turn to the real issues here.

The native people of Tibet who support the Dalai Lama obviously think the following:
(1) Tibet is the homeland of the native Tibetan people;

(2) native Tibetans want control of their borders, and do not want mass immigration of culturally and ethnically alien people forced on them, people who threaten the cultural and ethnic homogeneity of their nation, and

(3) Tibet must remain a nation where the native Tibetan people are the majority of the population and where their national culture is preserved.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with these ideas: they are normal, natural, moral and healthy.

For years, Western Leftists and Hollywood Liberals who campaign for freedom for Tibet have either explicitly or tacitly supported these ideas too.

But why is it that the modern Left goes insane with rage and cannot support the following ideas?:
(1) Europe is the homeland of the native European people;

(2) native Europeans want control of their borders, and do not want mass immigration of culturally and ethnically alien people forced on them, people who threaten the cultural and ethnic homogeneity of their nations, and

(3) Europe must remain a region with nations where the native European people are the majority of the population and where their national cultures are preserved.
Even people on the mainstream Left before the 1960s would have believed these propositions.

But in our Western culture today shaped by the Left – and even on most of the worthless and idiotic mainstream Conservative right – the ideas above are usually condemned as “racism,” “hate,” “fascism” or “white supremacy.” But they, expressed simply in the terms above, are nothing of the sort.

As I said: they are normal, natural, moral and healthy.

If Leftists support these ideas for Tibet, why don’t they support them for Europe?

To maintain a stable population, a First World nation needs a fertility rate of 2.1. But most Europeans have fertility rates below this:



If European fertility rates continue to stay below 2.1, then Europeans will slowly die out, though, admittedly, this would take a long time.

But it is worse than this. Because of below replacement fertility rates and the unending tidal wave of mass immigration into Europe, native Europeans like the native British are set to become minority in their own nations by the end of the 21st century if trends continue.

This is because of a basic principle of Darwinian evolution and population genetics: differential birth rates. If, in one region, Group A has a lower birth rate and Group B has a higher birth rate, then over time Group B replaces Group A. If more and more members of Group B enter the given region, then this trend will be massively accelerated.

Data from a Pew Research Center report of 2011 shows that in Europe Muslim immigrants have a higher fertility rate than native Europeans (Grim et al. 2011: 131). The demographic trends predicted in the Pew Research Center report will be greatly accelerated by Angela Merkel’s importation of over 1.3 million migrants into Europe in 2015–2016, and the further mass immigration from family reunification.

You don’t have to be a genius to understand what the long-run demographic trends will be if present policies are continued.

Already in London, native British people are a minority. In Germany, native ethnic Germans are a minority in Frankfurt.

Some on the truly sick and depraved Left actually celebrate this as some kind of wonderful achievement:



But it gets even worse. Insane European governments are importing millions of Muslims into Europe, who will not assimilate and who live in communities that become centres of radical Islam and violent Islamism. Long before the demographic catastrophe happens, Europe will be hit by a full-scale Islamist insurgency, and, indeed, Europe is already in a low-level Islamist insurgency.

It doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to see where Europe is headed: it will experience catastrophe not only because of the economic collapse caused by Neoliberalism, but also because of the demographic and cultural collapse caused by mass immigration, and perhaps even a civil war caused by Islamism.

In these circumstances, Europeans will increasingly be driven to vote for the populist right and far right, and, if things get bad enough, perhaps even for full-blown fascism.

As I have said before, you would think that the Left would contain people who can see the truth and would like to stop such a disaster from happening.

But, no, the reality is that what passes for the modern Left has no interest in supporting policies or addressing the underlying issues that would stop this rising tide of popularity for the far right: on the contrary, most of the Left vehemently demand policies that will only accelerate the collapse. This is why the modern Left, as it currently exists, is hopeless and doomed to fail.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Grim, Brian J. et al. 2011. The Future Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010–2030. Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C.
http://www.pewforum.org/2011/01/27/the-future-of-the-global-muslim-population/

Sunday, September 10, 2017

“White Gold” Conference Talks on the Origin of Electrum Coinage

Some of the evidence I reviewed in this post on the origin of electrum coinage was from a conference called “White Gold: Revealing the World’s Earliest Coins,” held from 25–26th June, 2012 (International Congress at Israel Museum, Jerusalem).

The edited proceedings of this conference will be published as White Gold: Studies in Early Electrum Coinage (edited by Peter Van Alfen and Ute Wartenberg), but the talks are available in these videos:
(1) White Gold, International Congress, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Part 1:
June 25: Session 1
Catharine Lorber and Haim Gitler, “Opening Remarks.”
Michael Kerschner and Koray Konuk, “The Chronology of the Electrum Coins Found in the Artemision of Ephesus: The Contribution of the Archaeological Find Context.”
Jack Kroll, “On the Ephesus Inscription.”
Bob Wallace, “Revisiting the Dates of Croesus.”

(2) White Gold, International Congress, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Part 2
June 25: Session 2
Bernhard Weisser, “An Electrum Hecte from the Sanctuary of Aphrodite outside the Gates of Miletus and the Striated Coins.”
Koray Konuk, “An Electrum Croeseid.”

June 25: Session 3
Wolfgang Fischer-Bossert, “Some Thoughts about the Internal Spread of the Early Electrum Standards: Local Rather than Chronological Patterns?”
Jack Kroll, “Don’t forget the Dynastai.”
Peter van Alfen, “Public Benefactor or Profiteer? The Role of ‘the State’ and Early Electrum Coinage.”

(3) White Gold, International Congress, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Part 3
June 25: Session 4
Frédérique Duyrat and Maryse Blet-Lemarquand, “Proton Activation Analysis of Electrum Coins in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.”
Nick Cahill and Jill Hari, “Preliminary Analysis of Electrum Coins and natural Gold from Sardis.”

June 26: Session 1
Ute Wartenberg Kagan, “Was there an Ionian Revolt Coinage? Hoard Evidence for Electrum Coins after the Introduction of Bimetallism.”

(4) White Gold, International Congress, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Part 4
June 26: Session 1
Mariusz Mielczarek, “Cyzicene Electrum Coinage and the Black Sea Grain Trade.”
François de Callataÿ, “Iconography of Cyzicene Electrum Coinage (with Quantitative Study).”

June 26: Session 2
Katerini Liampi, “Thraco-Macedonian Electrum Coinage.”
Ken Sheedy, “Electrum Inscriptions and Literary Sources.”
Selene Psoma, “The Electrum Coinage of Athens.”

(5) White Gold, International Congress, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Part 5
June 26: Session 3
Alain Bresson, “Metrology of Silver Ingots in the Levant and Silver Coins in Western Asia Minor: Economic implications, Implications for Price of Electrum Coins.”
François Velde, “Electrum Coinage in the Light of Monetary Economic Theory.”
A number of these talks are highly relevant to whether the Lydian kings and Greek city-states were the first to coin money, as follows:
Michael Kerschner and Koray Konuk, “The Chronology of the Electrum Coins Found in the Artemision of Ephesus: The Contribution of the Archaeological Find Context.”
Wolfgang Fischer-Bossert, “Some Thoughts about the Internal Spread of the Early Electrum Standards: Local Rather than Chronological Patterns?”
Jack Kroll, “Don’t forget the Dynastai.”
Peter van Alfen, “Public Benefactor or Profiteer? The Role of ‘the State’ and Early Electrum Coinage.”
Frédérique Duyrat and Maryse Blet-Lemarquand, “Proton Activation Analysis of Electrum Coins in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.”
Nick Cahill and Jill Hari, “Preliminary Analysis of Electrum Coins and natural Gold from Sardis.”
François Velde, “Electrum Coinage in the Light of Monetary Economic Theory.”
In particular, Jack Kroll in his talk “Don’t forget the Dynastai” points out that some early electrum coins might have been struck by early Lydian dynasts (or local rulers below the king who functioned as quasi-governmental great landowners), but in this case such dynasts were far more like local rulers, and they were not private merchants, bankers, or goldsmiths. And, even if this suggestion is true, it does not follow that the private sector invented electrum coinage either, as the local dynasts in question would have been quasi-governmental agents.

In the talk “Public Benefactor or Profiteer? The Role of ‘the State’ and Early Electrum Coinage,” Peter van Alfen seems to distance himself from the idea that bankers and merchants minted coins, but instead prefers wealthy elites, like large landowners. But this view is very much like Kroll’s, as stated above, and implies that these elites were more like local rulers and dynasts than private agents in the conventional sense.

The full list of my posts on this subject is here:
“Larry White on the Origins of Coined Money: A Critique,” August 26, 2017.

“Reply to Selgin on the Origin of Electrum Coinage, Part 1,” September 3, 2017

“The Majority View in Modern Scholarship on the Origin of Electrum Coinage: An Update,” September 4, 2017.

“Reply to Selgin on the Origin of Electrum Coinage, Part 2,” September 5, 2017.
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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Reply to Selgin on the Origin of Electrum Coinage, Part 2

This is part 2 of my response to George Selgin’s post here:
George Selgin, “‘Lord Keynes’ contra White on the Beginnings of Coinage,” Alt-M Ideas for an Alternative Monetary Future, August 30, 2017.
Selgin refers to various new data from the past 20 years or so, and much of the new evidence was presented at a conference called “White Gold: Revealing the World’s Earliest Coins,” held from 25–26th June, 2012 (International Congress at Israel Museum, Jerusalem).

Wartenberg (2017), for instance, refers to the edited proceedings of this conference: White Gold: Studies in Early Electrum Coinage (edited by Peter Van Alfen and Ute Wartenberg). But this book will not be published until December 31, 2017, so I can hardly evaluate the evidence there, but have to go on published summaries of the papers.

The new data can be described as follows:
(1) new archaeological work on the Artemisium of Ephesus discussed in Cahill and Kroll (2005) demonstrates that electrum coins already existed in the last quarter of the 7th century BC (625–601 BC), which confirms the older dating of the invention of coins to the period around 630 BC (de Callataӱ 2013: 13).

(2) recent investigation of electrum coins with advanced scientific techniques indicates to some scholars that these early electrum coins were minted from combining gold and silver, and so were not minted from natural electrum alloys (de Callataӱ 2013: 9).

Wartenberg (2017) reports that laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LAICP-MS) analysis of early electrum coins shows that their gold-to-silver content was more uniform than previously thought: e.g., a panther or lion head series had a gold-to-silver ratio of 55–45%, with 1–2% copper. A striated coin series (which might be a later series) has a gold-to-silver ratio of about 60–40% ratio.

Wartenberg also concludes that LAICP-MS analysis shows that early electrum coins were not minted in naturally occurring electrum, but deliberately minted by “combining pure gold and silver, which was previously refined” to achieve stable gold-to-silver ratios, even in the late 7th century (Wartenberg 2017: 27).

(3) there is much more evidence for lower denomination coins in the early electrum series, even down to 1/192 of a stater (Wartenberg 2017: 27), though it remains true that many higher denomination coins were also minted.
Datum (1) does not refute older interpretations.

Datum (2) and (3) do provide evidence against the some versions of the orthodox Chartalist hypothesis that individual early electrum coins (supposedly minted from natural electrum) had a much more variable gold-to-silver content (Price 1983: 5), and so were fiduciary to the extent that the gold content varied between individual coins, and was not always the same as the face value.

But do these data provide good evidence that private agents were the innovators in coining electrum coins, under the Mengerian theory of the emergence of money? The answer is: not really.

First, let us re-state some important points. The first coins were minted in the second half of the 7th century BC (650–600 BC) in what is now western Turkey (what was called “Asia Minor” by the Classical Greeks) in ancient Lydia, and in the Greek colonies in Ionia.

Both the ancient writers Xenophanes (as cited in Pollux, Onom. 9.83) and Herodotus (Histories 1.94) report this. This region was dominated by the ancient kingdom of Lydia, with the royal capital at Sardis, which was populated by an Indo-European speaking people, and the extent of the Lydian kingdom can be seen in this map:


The earliest coins consisted of stamped pieces of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver with trace amounts of copper, but with a roughly uniform weight. Here is an example of an early Lydian electrum coin with lion-head:


Ancient Lydia was rich in electrum, which was panned from the rivers, as well as mined. It is established that Lydian alluvial electrum (that is, electrum taken from the rivers) had a natural variable gold content from about 65% to 85% (Konuk 2012: 44; Meeks 2000: 145–148).

However, natural electrum was peculiarly unsuited to be the most saleable commodity that emerged as the general money commodity in line with Menger’s theory of the origin of money. We can review why this is the case.

For one thing, small-sized electrum and electrum dust could not be easily tested for purity (Kroll 2012: 38):
“When offered in a transaction, the quality of the [sc. electrum] metal first had to be tested visually from the color of streaks made on a touchstone (No. 16), and while such testing presented no problems with larger lumps of electrum, it would have been practically impossible to test a bagful of dozens of small nuggets and crumbs of the metal. Even if each small piece were separately tested, it would have been exceedingly difficult to determine with any accuracy the value of an entire bag of pieces, each with a different weight and fineness. Over time, as the complexities and unreliability of electrum bullion became widely recognized, Lydians and their Greek and Carian neighbors who had accumulated large stocks of this metal must have found it increasingly difficult to utilize it in payments that others would accept.”
Kroll, John H. “The Coins of Sardis,” Sardisexpedition.org
http://www.sardisexpedition.org/en/essays/latw-kroll-coins-of-sardis
In light of this, natural electrum can hardly have been Menger’s “most saleable commodity,” since many people will have required small size electrum or electrum dust for ordinary, low-value transactions in trade and in the market-place (or in the agora, as the Greeks called it).

The average percentage of gold in natural electrum was probably about 70–75% (Konuk 2012: 44), whereas, as we have seen, the most recent analysis of the early lion-head electrum coin series (likely from Lydian kings) shows that they tended to have a stable but lower percentage of gold at about 54% with about 2% copper (Cowell and Hyne 2000: 170–171; Keyser and Clark 2001: 114). Another panther or lion-head series (probably early Lydian coins), analysed with laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LAICP-MS), had a gold-to-silver ratio of 55–45%, with 1–2% copper (Wartenberg 2017: 26; see also Velde 2012: 19).

So whoever was minting these coins struck them with an alloy in which the gold content – although consistent – was lower than the average found in natural electrum (Konuk 2012: 44).

The stable gold content gave these coins a definite consistent colour, and, along with their standard weight, can be seen as part of the process of standardising them. Perhaps copper was even added to give them a colour like that of electrum with a higher gold content.

Unless they were explicitly given a face value at the monetary value of the gold-to-silver content, early electrum coins would still have been fiduciary to some extent if the issuing authority tried to give them a value at the average gold content of electrum, and if the public expected them to contain the average gold content of natural electrum (about 70–75%). However, in reality the early coins clearly did not have that gold value, since they had a relatively stable but lower gold content of 54%.

Many modern scholars – and probably a majority – continue to argue that the actual exchange value of the early electrum coins was larger than their intrinsic metallic value, perhaps by as much as 20% (Le Rider 2001: 94–95; Cahill and Kroll 2005: 612–613; Kroll 2008: 21; Konuk 2012: 44; Kroll 2012: 39; Furtwängler 2011: 17; for older views on the overvaluation of electrum coins, see Bolin 1958: 11–45, who saw it as a secret fraud by the Lydian kings).

So, in view of this, the Chartalist view is hardly refuted by the discovery of a more stable gold content in the early coins, since the Lydian kings may well have accepted them in payment at the higher face value.

In short, if the Lydian kings deliberately minted early electrum coins with a gold content of 54%, but gave them a conventional face value in line with the average 70% gold value of natural electrum, and then accepted the coins back again in taxes, fines or other payments, then they could still have been fiduciary coins, to some extent, in a closed monetary system in Lydia and its subject Greek city-states (Rider 2001: 94–95, 116).

The Lydian kings would have had substantial expenditures, since they fought major wars and engaged in huge building programs at Sardis, their capital (on the archaeology of Lydia, see Roosevelt 2009; Greenewalt 2011; Roosevelt 2012), so that they surely made payments to soldiers, labourers, and artisans on a large scale.

Price (1983) suggested that the early electrum coins were intended as gifts that only later became monetised, but the discovery of many more smaller denomination electrum coins than previously thought in the early issues strongly suggests that these coins were intended for exchange and monetary transactions.

The Lydian kings are still the best candidates for the inventors of the coins, since (1) the Lydian kings had large stocks of the necessary electrum, (2) could accept the coins back as payment as taxes or obligations (if they were intended as money), and (3) had many large-scale payments to make.

Furtwängler (2011: 18) argues that – over time – the Lydo-Milesian standard electrum coins with their 54% gold content (below the average gold content of natural electrum) did not win widespread acceptance in the Greek city-states outside the Lydian empire (see also Kroll 2012: 39). Croesus – perhaps as much for political as for economic reasons – implemented a currency reform around 560 BC (or perhaps even earlier if his accession was around c. 585 BC, as argued by Wallace 2016), and recalled his electrum coins, and, by cementation techniques, used them to mint a new pure gold and silver coinage to restore confidence (Furtwängler 2011: 18).

Evidence for the higher face value of the older electrum coins has been adduced from peculiar data about Croesus’ new gold stater issues.

During the reign of the last Lydian king Croesus (who ruled from c. 585 or 560–546 BC), the king minted a new pure gold and silver coinage called “Croeseids” (and recent archaeological evidence proves that this coinage reform had been implemented by the time of Croesus, and not later under the Persians as some scholars have argued; see Cahill and Kroll 2005).

But the weight and two specific issues of the new gold staters are suggestive:
(1) probably at first, the new gold staters (sometimes called “Heavy Croeseids”) were issued and struck with 10.8 grams of gold. Given the value of gold to silver was probably about 1:13.3 in this period, the new gold stater of 10.8 grams would have been equivalent to an electrum stater of 14.15 grams, but only if the electrum staters were artificially overvalued at the gold content of natural electrum (which stood at about 70–75% gold). Since the value of the electrum staters had been partly fiduciary and possibly confidence in them was in question by this period, this exchange ratio with the new gold coins would have maintained the government guarantee of accepting them at their artificial face value. This was intended to recall the old electrum coins (Konuk 2012: 50; Cahill and Kroll 2005: 612–613; Kroll 2001b: 201–202).

(2) however, at some point – presumably when a large quantity of electrum coins had been recalled – Croesus minted a new pure gold stater with a reduced size, and struck at 8.1 grams (the so-called “Light Croeseids”). This reflected the value of the actual gold content of the old electrum coins, whose gold content had been fixed at about 54% and 44% silver (Konuk 2012: 50; Cahill and Kroll 2005: 612–613; Walburg 1991). The Lydian kings now abandoned their experiment with overvalued electrum coins, perhaps for political as much as economic reasons, and instead minted a pure gold and silver stater coinage, along with smaller denominations of each gold and silver stater type.
The fact that Croesus’ “Heavy Croeseids” (presumably minted before the light kind) seem to match the postulated artificial value of the early electrum coins is considered by many scholars to be strong evidence that they really had been overvalued by state guarantee, and this seems to be the best explanation of the data.

Finally, the absence of electrum coins from the list of precious metal revenue on a lead tablet dated to the period around 600 BC from the Artemisium temple of Ephesus – before Ephesus was conquered by the Lydian king Croesus and politically subject to Lydian suzerainty – suggests that the early Lydian electrum coins were not accepted at the temple, probably because they were understood to be overvalued (Kroll 2008: 18–21).

So, all in all, the case for a qualified Chartalist interpretation of the earliest electrum coinage of Lydia is still strong.

Furthermore, recent analysis of the electrum coinage of Samos has established that the gold content of Samian coins was much more variable, and ranged from 46 to 86%, and the electrum coinage of Phocaea also had a highly variable gold content (Konuk 2005; Wallace 2013: 2359; Avaldi et al. 1984). In short, both the Samian and Phocaean electrum coinage can still be explained by means of a Chatalist explanation too.

But let us assume – for the sake of argument – that the early Lydian electrum coins were given a face value equal to their real gold-to-silver content (so making the Chartalist explanation false), does this rule out the Lydian kings as the inventors of coinage? Again, the answer is: not at all.

The Lydian kings may well have struck these coins as prestigious payment objects for their soldiers, mercenaries and other employees and guaranteed a stable metal content consistent with market value, just as they – and numerous Greek city-states – later struck pure gold and silver coins.

We know that the most common type of early electrum coins shows the lion-head or lion paw, which is the royal symbol of the Lydian kings (Wartenberg 2017: 15 and 24; Konuk 2012: 45; Spier 1998), which in turn strongly suggests that most of these coins were stamped with the symbol of the Lydian state.

Bresson (2009: 3–4) points out that the Lydia kings conquered or forced the political submission of a large number of Greek city-states on the coast of Asia Minor, and that consequently that Lydian kings may well have established a monetary union with their electrum coins being a standard. The Lydo-Milesian (or often simply called the “Milesian”) standard was based on the stater with a weight of about 14.30–14.40 grams. The Lydian kings would then have set up this standard and demanded it of their subject Greek city-states, so that it was the state that was driving force behind a monetary standard, and that allowed the elimination of transaction costs such as heavy exchange fees between coins of a different standard.

Bresson (2009: 3, citing Cowell et al. 1998: 529–530 and Cowell and Hyne 2000: 169–174) also puts the gold content of early Lydian electrum coins at about 53% with most coins not deviating more than 1% from this.

Under this view of Bresson, the state weighed, standardised, and guaranteed the value and weight of electrum coins to reduce transaction costs for private individuals who no longer had to engage in the expensive process of checking the value of the coins (Bresson 2006; Bresson 2009).

The fact that the Lydo-Milesian standard was adopted in areas under the political domination of the Lydian kings does not suggest that the standard was a spontaneous development from the private sector. So, even if we assume that electrum coins were given a monetary value consistent with their gold content, the evidence that the private sector was the driving force behind this is still feeble.

As we seen, however, most scholars do still think that the early electrum coins were overvalued, and a qualified Chartalist explanation is still convincing.

Let us now turn to the final section: a critical review of the arguments made by those who contend that private sector agents first invented coins.

The Evidence for the Private Sector as Inventor of Electrum Coins is still Feeble
Modern defenders of the private sector as the inventor of electrum coins make the following arguments. They contend that the early coins seem to have had a large number of series with different obverse types and reverse punches, perhaps as many as 250–300 (van Alfen 2014: 2–3). Peter van Alfen takes this as evidence of many private elite issuers, such as goldsmiths, bankers or merchants (van Alfen 2014: 2–3, 3, n. 11).

But we know for a fact that later state-issued coinage by Greek city states like Cyzicus, Mytilene and Phocaea did regularly change their obverse types, and as often as once a year (which van Alfen 2014: 3, n. 11 himself admits; Price 1983: 4). The multiplicity of obverse types is not a strong argument for private sector coining at all, since there is no reason why both the Lydian kings and early Greek city-states could not have minted large numbers of obverse types with different symbols and insignia (de Callataӱ 2013: 11).

Peter van Alfen (2014) argues that the early coinages were minted by wealthy elite individuals who, he thinks, owned mines and had large-scale access to metals, and that the Lydian kings only gradually displaced private issuers and then gained a near monopoly on coin issue by the time of Croesus (who ruled Lydia from c. 585 or 560–546 BC) (see van Alfen 2014: 21).

Unfortunately, many of van Alfen’s claims about private wealth in Lydia are based on data in Roosevelt (2009) from the later Persian and Hellenistic periods (as admitted by van Alfen 2014: 19, n. 64 and 20, n. 68 himself), not the relevant period of the pre-Persian Lydian kingdom.

Moreover, the earliest coins minted from 650 to 600 BC were made of electrum, which was a naturally occurring alloy in ancient Lydia (Kroll 2008: 17–18).

Sardis – the Lydian capital – was dominated by the king’s palace and archaeological evidence seems to show that the processing of gold was dominated by the king, not private merchants (Hanfmann 1983: 73, 76, 83, 85, 246, n. 87). The evidence shows that the Lydian kings either controlled the mines in their kingdom directly (Koray and Lorber 2012: 13; Briant 2002: 400), and/or levied taxes on mining or extraction of metals. Indeed, a certain Lydian called Pythius under the later Persian empire, who owned a number of mines in Lydia, may have been a descendant of the Lydian royal family who had inherited these mines as private family property (Briant 2002: 401). Did private agents really have access to this type of wealth when the kings controlled mining and panning of precious metals?

It follows that, if the Lydian kings extracted and owned much of the silver, gold and electrum (mined or panned from the rivers), it is most probable that the kings also minted the first electrum coinage too, since a very large quantity of this metal was needed for the many coin issues over many years.

Despite Selgin, this is not a non sequitur. It is an inductive argument, on the basis of empirical evidence, and does not claim to yield a certain conclusion, only a probabilistic one.

Finally, let us now review the evidence adduced by the Free Bankers and defenders of the private sector as the inventors of early electrum coinage, and the counterarguments:
(1) Larry White in his original post here argued that:
“Once sovereigns monopolized the mints they took advantage of the propaganda value of stamping their own faces on the coins, of course. But as far as we know coins were already in use among merchants before that happened. Very early coins from ancient Lydia, in what is now Turkey, were not inscribed with human faces but rather animal figures. The Ancient History Encyclopedia states: ‘It appears that many early Lydian coins were minted by merchants as tokens to be used in trade transactions. The Lydian state also minted coins.’”
Larry White, “Why the ‘State Theory of Money’ doesn’t explain the Coinage of Precious Metals,” Alt-M Ideas for an Alternative Monetary Future, August 24, 2017.
But the assumption here is incorrect: early monarchs did not put their images on coins. For a very long time in the ancient world, coins did not carry any images of living human rulers, and rarely carried writing, and there may well have been a superstitious taboo against depicting living people on coins.

In light of this, there is no reason why the kings would have bothered to put their images or names on the coins when people at the time knew perfectly well that they had been minted by the state. Early coins of the state, even produced by kings, mostly depicted gods, seals or other symbols. In Western civilization, one of the first kings to be depicted on coins was Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, even though it was probably the kings who ruled after him who first put his explicit image on coins (Shipley 2000: 69). But this was centuries after the first electrum coins had been invented.

Notably, Selgin does not seem to dispute this. I assume that on this point Free Bankers will concede White is wrong?

(2) some few early Lydian coins do carry inscriptions, in the Lydian script and language, and refer to .WALWE. (also read as walwet) and .KALI. (Schaps 2004: 96). However, the question of who or what these names refers to is not settled with certainty, though interesting – even plausible – suggestions have been made.

That the coins themselves were of the Lydian kings is strongly suggested by the lion symbol which appears on them – the symbol of the Lydian royal house (Schaps 2004: 96), so that already the notion that private sector agents independently minted them is shaky (although Furtwängler 2011: 16–17 regards them as the names of private electrum coin producers under the Lydian kings). Both coin types are linked by a common punch mark, so that they are likely to be by the same issuer (Wallace 2016: 176–177; Koray and Lorber 2012: 15).

The .WALWE. inscription has been read as Walwetalim, which can be linked to the Lydian king whom the Greeks called “Alyattes” (Karwiese 1991: 8–14; Wallace 2006). Koray and Lorber (2012: 15) state the walwet is now “usually interpreted” as the name of the Lydian king Alyattes. If so, then this is a coin explicitly minted by the king.

In addition, some have read .KALI. as KUKALIM and identified this with the Lydian name “Gyges” (Wallace 2006), and even if this does not refer to the first king of the dynasty, it may well refer to a royal prince during the reign of Alyattes in the late 7th century BC who was also allowed to issue coinage, as argued by Wallace (2006).

Furthermore, Howgego (1995: 3) suggests that the names may be those of mints, not of individuals, and Wallace (1988) argued that walwe could be the Lydian name for “lion” and be a simple noun referring to the lion symbol on the coins.

Finally, even if the inscriptions do not refer to Lydian kings and princes, they could be individuals who minted the coins for the Lydian kings as mint masters (Wallace 1987: 393, n. 51).

But there are good arguments for thinking these coins do name Lydian kings or members of the royal family, as demonstrated by Wallace (2006).

(3) it is true we have about four coins with the Greek inscription Φάνεως ειμί σήμα, which can be translated as “I am the badge of Phanes.” Though they do not carry the Greek inscription, there are supposedly some 250 pieces in the same series in smaller denominations with the same stag symbol (Wartenberg 2017: 17).

If “I am the badge of Phanes” is the correct translation of the inscription, it is unclear who this Phanes was. Peter van Alfen (2014: 23) assumes “Phanes” was an elite private Greek who minted coins, but there is little evidence to support this.

There is a reasonable discussion of the complexities of the issue here.

Konuk (2012: 45–47) makes a good case that the stag emblem on these coins is associated with the goddess Artemis at Ephesus (and Kastner 1986 had already suggested that the name “Phanes” may have been that of a god, not a human being; see Howgego 1995: 4). If the stag symbol is an official emblem of Ephesus, then the coin series in question is likely to have been an official coin issue of the city, since the same symbol reappears in later coin issues of Ephesus (Velde 2012: 10; Velde 2012: 10 also states “There is no consensus on whether Phanes is the name of an individual or refers to Artemis”; cf. Koray and Lorber 2012: 15). The name “Phanes,” far from being that of a human being, may be some cult name or word associated with the cult of Artemis at Ephesus.

By contrast, if “Phanes” is a human being, he is perhaps an official at Ephesus who minted or was responsible for the minting of the coins. Howgego (1995: 4) speculates that, even if Phanes was the name of a human being, he might have been an unknown local tyrant or ruler.
So, as in my original post, I once again conclude that the evidence for the private sector being the inventor, or driving force, behind the creation of the first electrum coinage is feeble.

We have also seen that the new evidence adduced by Selgin does not refute the older interpretation that the earliest electrum coins were overvalued.

Finally, as can be seen from a large sample of modern scholarship here, there is a majority view that the earliest electrum coins were invented by the Lydian kings.

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https://www.academia.edu/2237122/Problems_in_the_Political_Economy_of_Archaic_Greek_Coinage._Notae_Numismaticae_VII_pp._13-32

van Alfen, Peter. 2014. “The Role of ‘the State’ and Early Electrum Coinage,” Working Paper v.31.1.2014
https://www.academia.edu/7343906/The_role_of_the_state_and_early_electrum_coinage

van Alfen, Peter. 2017. “Public Benefactor or Profiteer? The Role of “the State” and Early Electrum Coinage,” in P. van Alfen, U. Wartenberg, K. Konuk, H. Gitler and W. Fischer-Bossert (eds.). White Gold: Studies in Early Electrum Coinage. American Numismatic Society and Israel Numismatic Society, New York and Jerusalem, forthcoming 31 December 2017.

van Alfen, P., Wartenberg, U., Konuk, K., Gitler, H. and W. Fischer-Bossert (eds.). 2017 White Gold: Studies in Early Electrum Coinage. American Numismatic Society and Israel Numismatic Society, New York and Jerusalem, forthcoming 31 December 2017.

Velde, François R. 2012. “On the Origin of Specie,” Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, February 15, 2012
https://www.frbatlanta.org/-/media/documents/news/conferences/2012/monetary-economics/papers/velde.pdf

von Reden, Sitta. 2002. “Money in the Ancient Economy: A Survey of Recent Research,” Klio 84.1: 141–174.

Walburg, R. 1991. “Lydisch oder persisch? Ein Goldobjekt aus der Frühzeit der Münzprägung,” Schweizerische Numismatische Rundschau 70: 5–17.

Wallace, Robert W. 1987. “The Origin of Electrum Coinage,” American Journal of Archaeology 91: 385–397.

Wallace, Robert W. 1988. “Walwe. and. Kali,” The Journal of Hellenic Studies 108: 203–207.

Wallace, Robert W. 2001. “Remarks on the Value and Standards of Early Electrum Coins,” in Miriam S. Balmuth (ed.), Hacksilber to Coinage: New Insights into the Monetary History of the Near East and Greece. American Numismatic Society, New York. 127–134.

Wallace, Robert W. 2006. “KUKALIM, WALWET, and the Artemision Deposit: Problems in Early Anatolian Electrum Coinage,” in P. van Alfen (ed.), Agoranomia. Studies in Money and Exchange. Festschrift for John H. Kroll, The American Numismatic Society, 37–48.

Wallace, Robert W. 2013. “Electrum, electrum coinage,” in Roger S. Bagnall, Kai Brodersen, Craige B. Champion, Andrew Erskine and Sabine R. Huebner (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Ancient History. Volume V. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, MA. 2359–2360.

Wallace, Robert W. 2016. “Redating Croesus: Herodotean Chronologies, and the Dates of the Earliest Coinages,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 136: 168–181.

Wartenberg, Ute. 2016. “Die Geburt der Münze: Die frühe Elektronprägung. Neue Wege der Forschung,” Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Numismatischen Gesellschaft 56.1: 30–49.

Wartenberg, Ute. 2017. “The Birth of Coinage Old questions – New Answers,” Presentation delivered at Ossolineum, Wrocaw, 3 July 2017
https://www.academia.edu/34043055/The_Birth_of_Coinage._Old_Questions_-_New_Answers

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Monday, September 4, 2017

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

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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
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Bellinger, A. R. 1968. “Electrum Coins from Gordion,” in C. M. Kraay and G. K. Jenkins (eds.), Essays in Greek Coinage Presented to Stanley Robinson. Clarendon Press, Oxford. 10–15.

Breglia, Laura. 1964. Numismatica antica: Storia e metodologia. Feltrinelli, Milan.

Bresson, Alain. 2006. “The Origin of Lydian and Greek Coinage: Cost and Quantity,” based on a paper at 3rd International Conference of Ancient History, Fudan University, Shanghai, 17–21 August, 2005
http://economics.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Workshops-Seminars/Economic-History/bresson-090921a.pdf

Bresson, Alain. 2009. “Electrum Coins, Currency Exchange and Transaction Costs in Archaic and Classical Greece,” Revue Belge de Numismatique et de Sigillographie 155: 71–80.

Bresson, Alain. 2016. The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy: Institutions, Markets, and Growth in the City-States (trans. Steven Rendall). Princeton University Press, Princeton.

de Callataӱ, François. 2013. “White Gold: An Enigmatic Start to Greek Coinage,” American Numismatic Society Magazine 12.2: 6–17.

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Furtwängler, Andreas. 2011. “Die ‘Erfindung’ der Münze – wer, wann, wo und Warum,” in Reinhold Walburg (ed.), Geschichte im Geldmuseum 2010. Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt am Main. 5–19.

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Koray, Konuk and Catharine Lorber. 2012. “White Gold: An Introduction to Electrum Coinage,” in H. Gitler (ed.), White Gold: Revealing the World’s Earliest Coins. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. 13–32.

Konuk, Koray. 2012. “Asia Minor to the Ionian Revolt,” in William E. Metcalf (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York. 43–60.

Kraay, Colin M. 1964. “Hoards, Small Change and the Origin of Coinage,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 84: 76–91.

Kraay, Colin M. 1976. Archaic and Classical Greek Coins. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif.

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Kroll, John H. “The Coins of Sardis,” Sardisexpedition.org
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Kroll, John H. 2001a. “Observations on Monetary Instruments in Pre-Coinage Greece,” in M. S. Balmuth (ed.), Hacksilber to Coinage: New Insights into the Monetary History of the Near East and Greece. American Numismatic Society, New York. 77–91.

Kroll, John H. 2001b. Review of La Naissance de la monnaie, pratiques monétaires de l’Orient ancien by Georges le Rider. Schweizerische Numismatische Rundschau 80: 201–202.

Kroll, J. H. 2008. “The Monetary Use of Weighted Bullion in Archaic Greece,” in W. V. Harris (ed.) The Monetary Systems of the Greeks and Romans. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York. 12–37.

Kroll, John H. 2012. “The Monetary Background of Early Coinage,” in William E. Metcalf (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York. 33–42.

Kurke, Leslie V. 1999. Coins, Bodies, Games, and Gold: The Politics of Meaning in Archaic Greece. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

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Melitz, Jacques. 2017. “A Model of the Beginnings of Coinage in Antiquity,” European Review of Economic History 21.1: 83–103.

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van Alfen, Peter. 2014. “The Role of ‘the State’ and Early Electrum Coinage,” Working Paper v.31.1.2014
https://www.academia.edu/7343906/The_role_of_the_state_and_early_electrum_coinage

van Alfen, Peter. 2017. “Public Benefactor or Profiteer? The Role of “the State” and Early Electrum Coinage,” in P. van Alfen, U. Wartenberg, K. Konuk, H. Gitler and W. Fischer-Bossert (eds.). White Gold: Studies in Early Electrum Coinage. American Numismatic Society and Israel Numismatic Society, New York and Jerusalem, forthcoming 31 December 2017.

van Alfen, P., Wartenberg, U., Konuk, K., Gitler, H. and W. Fischer-Bossert (eds.). 2017 White Gold: Studies in Early Electrum Coinage. American Numismatic Society and Israel Numismatic Society, New York and Jerusalem, forthcoming 31 December 2017.

Velde, François R. 2012. “On the Origin of Specie,” Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, February 15, 2012
https://www.frbatlanta.org/-/media/documents/news/conferences/2012/monetary-economics/papers/velde.pdf

von Reden, Sitta. 2002. “Money in the Ancient Economy: A Survey of Recent Research,” Klio 84.1: 141–174.

Wallace, R. 1987. “The Origin of Electrum Coinage,” American Journal of Archaeology 91: 385–397.

Wallace, Robert W. 1988. “Walwe. and. Kali,” The Journal of Hellenic Studies 108: 203–207.

Wallace, Robert W. 2001. “Remarks on the Value and Standards of Early Electrum Coins,” in Miriam S. Balmuth (ed.), Hacksilber to Coinage: New Insights into the Monetary History of the Near East and Greece. American Numismatic Society, New York. 127–134.

Wallace, Robert W. 2006. “KUKALIM, WALWET, and the Artemision Deposit: Problems in Early Anatolian Electrum Coinage,” in P. van Alfen (ed.), Agoranomia. Studies in Money and Exchange. Festschrift for John H. Kroll, The American Numismatic Society, 37–48.

Wallace, Robert W. 2013. “Electrum, electrum coinage,” in Roger S. Bagnall, Kai Brodersen, Craige B. Champion, Andrew Erskine and Sabine R. Huebner (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Ancient History. Volume V. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, MA. 2359–2360.

Wallace, Robert W. 2016. “Redating Croesus: Herodotean Chronologies, and the Dates of the Earliest Coinages,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 136: 168–181.

Wartenberg, Ute. 2016. “Die Geburt der Münze: Die frühe Elektronprägung. Neue Wege der Forschung,” Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Numismatischen Gesellschaft 56.1: 30–49.

Wartenberg, Ute. 2017. “The Birth of Coinage Old questions – New Answers,” Presentation delivered at Ossolineum, Wrocaw, 3 July 2017
https://www.academia.edu/34043055/The_Birth_of_Coinage._Old_Questions_-_New_Answers

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