Amazing artifacts: The curious coins

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istockphoto 92890281 170667a
istockphoto 92890281 170667a

This article is about very old and curious coins . The coins date back to the year 630 AD in France. 

When they were found, it was thought that they were worth a lot of money. They were then seized by the French government and put into storage in a museum for over 200 years. 

In 1916, when someone looked closer at the coins, they realised they weren’t valuable but actually quite rare.

The coins are now on display in museums around France where people can see them from both sides – from their face value to their true value!

This coin belongs to the Kingdom of the West Franks, which translates to Kingdom of the Franks. 

This Kingdom was formed in 278 AD. Their Kingdom included Aquitaine, where the museum where the coins are now being displayed is located. 

The Kingdom expanded rapidly, conquering Brittany and eventually even took control over England. At its peak, it controlled the northern parts of Europe from England to Switzerland.

The Kingdom of the Franks started to decline after 751 AD when Charlemagne was crowned as Emperor of France and German Emperor. After that date, what remained was only a small part of France called Aquitaine which became independent again in 958 AD under Duke William III (Fulk).

Facts about the curios coin :

1. The coins were found in the river Seine by two fishermen in 1628 near Paris. It was a very cold day and the fishermen decided not to go into the water.

2. The river was very cold that day and some ice had formed over the fish which had been placed in the baskets.

 The fish were starting to freeze and sink to the bottom of the river, but no one noticed it. In fact, this is what saved them from being thrown away because by that time they were covered in ice!

3. The coins were well preserved and could be identified as those of the Kingdom of the Franks.

4. The fishermen sent the two coins to a jeweler who recognised them as those belonging to King Charles Martel, better known as Charlemagne, and sent them back to the museum where they now reside. It is one of only four known examples.

 As you can see from these photos, this coin is well preserved and there are no discolourations around its edges due to age.

5. Archaeologists were puzzled by the fact that these particular coins had been collected into a small metal box which had been sealed with wax before being thrown into water. Why would someone do this?

6. It was a very long time before the two fishermen were recognised as the ones who had found the coins. The French government confiscated them and placed them in a museum.

 Although it is now obvious that they were not valuable, at the time the coins were thought to be worth a lot of money because King Charles Martel, Charlemagne’s grandson, died in 814 AD and only around 100 coins from his reign still exist from all over Europe! Imagine how valuable an example from France would have been!

7. The coins can be viewed from both sides, with the face value of Charles Martel clearly visible on one side and the true value of this coin on its reverse.

8. The Kingdom of the Franks was not only powerful but also very rich. This is evidenced by the fact that most of their coins were made of precious metals, such as gold and silver.

 These values were based on weight and not just on face value. For example, 30 grams of gold was equivalent to one bezant (solidus). 

had a diameter of about 0.67 inches and weighed approximately 3 grams (compared to today’s penny which weighs 2.5 grams).

9. Bizants were not very common and are often found in hoards because they were often stolen or melted down to be used for jewellery. Bizants are very rarely found in the context of coin production because they were considered money changers.

10. The coins in this article are ancient but there is another type of ancient French coin which is currently in the British Museum in London called “The Exeter Coin” which dates back to the 7th century AD. 

This coin has undergone a great deal of research and has come to be known as an Early English Silver penny (which also means it was produced during the time period when England was still part of France, 800 AD -1066 AD).

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