We know that in ancient times, cattle were often regarded as money.
However, cattle could not be carried around easily when you went shopping, or if you wanted to trade. So, Man began to look for a more convenient way of trading. He started to use lumps of metal like iron, silver, or gold as money.
Some historians believe that the Chinese started using tiny metal knives and spades as money as early as 1000 BC. The people of Asia Minor (now in Turkey), the Greeks, and the Romans also started to use coins made of silver.
By the Middle Ages, coins were stamped by an issuing authority, and made of uniform weights so that their value could be fixed. The use of coins soon became very popular, because they were so convenient. Moreover, since the value of each coin was fixed, trade became easier too.
In ancient times, artisans made every thing, including coins, using simple tools. So, the final results depended very much on skill.
Coins were either cast in a mould, or hammered out with hand held dies. The minting of coins was, therefore, a laborious process. The mint consisted of just a cluttered workshop where a master coiner and his assistants laboured away, stamping coins by hand.
They hammered the sheets of metal into the required thickness, and then, cut out blank coins with a hand punch. The blank coins were trimmed to the desired size, and stamped with a hand held die.
In the 15th century, simple machines took over from simple tools. In the 18th century, massive steam engines trans formed ingots of raw metal into thin sheets. Other steam engine powered machines cut the blank coins, and stamped them.