The Introduction of the Daric: The Persian Economy of Darios the Great

Incredible Mint State Gold in NYINC 2020

Darios I ‘the Great’ ruled over the vast Achaemenid Empire—the First Persian Empire—when its territory was at its greatest expanse, reigning from 522-486 B.C. Using modern geopolitical borders, the empire’s boundaries ran from Northern Turkey (in the north) to Northern Africa (in the south), and from the Balkan nations (to the west) to Northwestern India (to the east). Given the size of this mighty entity, Darios divided the various regions into provinces, each of which were administered by satraps—essentially viceroys who ruled in place of the emperor. This lessened the burden on Darios to be responsible in the day-to-day functions of the whole empire. In addition, the firm control with which Darios ruled his realm allowed for the collection of tribute from these provinces, with the amount depending upon the greatness of its resources. While most paid in the form of silver, India—owing to her richness in another precious metal—paid in gold.

Running parallel to the collection of tribute was the need to organize the monetary system throughout the empire, as seemingly every subjugated territory had its own classification of weights and standards regarding coinage. Since this created sizable differences in the amount of a particular coin collected depending upon its origin, Darios introduced new gold (daric) and silver (siglos) denominations, the latter also later being struck in fractions thereof. For their design, Darios retained some aspects of contemporaneous regional coinage, such as the use of a basic punch on the reverses of the coins. He simplified the coinages, however, by utilizing a single, rectangular, highly utilitarian punch as opposed to two or more punches, or those with more stylized craftsmanship. Gone from the obverses of these new denominations were the various animal types that had been used. Instead they featured the monolithic usage of what is often described as a ‘Persian king or hero,’ possibly a nod to Darios himself, in poses holding adjuncts such as a spear, bow, and/or arrows. This new coin of the realm would see slight modifications over the years, but would remain a standard throughout the region, easily identifiable long after the death of Darios in 486 B.C.

Our Official Auction of the 2020 N.Y.I.N.C. will feature one of these iconic gold darics, certified by NGC as Choice Mint State, Strike: 4/5 Surface: 5/5, and dating to the period around the time of Darios’s death down to the time of Darios’s great-grandson, Xerxes II. Garnering the coveted ‘Ch MS’ designation from NGC, this astonishing coin should attract a great deal of interest owing to its exceptional quality and its vast historical appeal.

To view our upcoming auction schedule and future offerings, please visit where you may also register and participate in forthcoming sales.

We are always seeking coins, medals, and paper money for our future sales, and are currently accepting submissions—until November 12th—for our Official Auction of the N.Y.I.N.C. in January 2020. Following that, our next Collectors Choice Online (CCO) auction will be in February 2020. If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment directors today and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.

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