White Gold: Studies in Early Electrum Coinage


This book collects the most complete, current scholarship on the history of known examples of ancient electrum coinage of the Greek world, with text, catalogues, and images. Print-on-demand hardcover and paperback editions available.


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Edited by Peter van Alfen and Ute Wartenberg
with Wolfgang Fischer-Bossert, Haim Gitler, Koray Konuk, and Catharine C. Lorber

Hardcover: $160 (incl. shipping & handling)
ISBN 978-0-89722-349-2

Paperback: $110 (incl. shipping & handling)
ISBN 978-0-89722-733-9

x + 707 text pages, b/w and color figures, charts, maps, and tables

ANS Member discount applied during checkout

This book collects the most complete, current scholarship on the history of known examples of ancient electrum coinage of the Greek world, with text, catalogues, and images. The volume’s contents and an excerpt from the Preface are below:


White Gold and the Beginnings of Coinage: An Introduction to the Current State of Research. Peter van Alfen and Ute Wartenberg.

Part I: The Great Transformation

1. Kristin Kleber. As Skillful as Croesus: Evidence for the Parting of Gold and Silver by Cementation from Second and First Millennium Mesopotamia
2. Haim Gitler and Oren Tal. A View from the Near East: The Transition from Metal to Coin Economy in the Southern Levant
3. John H. Kroll. The Inscribed Account on Lead from the Ephesian Artemisium

Part II: The Earliest Electrum: The Evidence

4. Selene E. Psoma. White Gold and Electrum in Literary Sources and Inscriptions
5. Michael Kerschner and Koray Konuk. Electrum Coins and Their Archaeological Context: The Case of the Artemision of Ephesus
6. Michael Kerschner. The Archaic Temples in the Artemision of the “Central Basis”
7. Bernhard Weisser. An Archaic Striated Electrum Coin from the Sanctuary of Aphrodite at Miletus
8. Kenneth Sheedy. The Question of Archaic Athenian Electrum
9. Nicholas Cahill, Jill Hari, Bülent Önay, Esra Dokumaci. Depletion Gilding of Lydian Electrum Coins and the Sources of Lydian Gold
10. Maryse Blet-Lemarquand and Frédérique Duyrat. Elemental Analysis of the Lydo-Milesian Electrum Coins of the Bibliotèque Nationale de France Using LA-ICP-MS
11. Haim Gitler, Yuval Goren, Koray Konuk, Oren Tal, Peter van Alfen, David
Weisburd. XRF Analysis of Several Groups of Electrum Coins
12. Wolfgang Fischer-Bossert. Phanes: A Die Study

Part III: The Earliest Electrum: Interpretations—Why Coinage?

13. Alain Bresson. The Choice of Electrum Monometallism: When and Why
14. François R. Velde. A Quantitative Approach to the Beginnings of Coinage
15. Donald W. Jones. Mechanism Design Approach to Lydian Coinage
16. John H. Kroll. Issue Identification, Dynastai, and the Plethora of Types in Early Electrum Coinage
17. Peter van Alfen. The Role of “The State” in Early Electrum Coinage

Part IV: Electrum Continuation

18. Ute Wartenberg. Was there an Ionian Revolt Coinage? Monetary Patterns in the Late Archaic Period
19. François de Callataÿ. Prolegomena to a Die Study of the Electrum Coinage of Cyzicus
20. Mariusz Mielczarek. Cyzicene Electrum Coinage and the Black Sea Grain Trade 665
21. Selene E. Psoma. “ Ἥδε Κύζικος πλέα στατήρων”: How to Explain the Electrum Coinage of Cyzicus

Index of Coin Hoards


The genesis of this volume took place in 2011 when then Numismatic Curator, Haim Gitler, conceived of a unique exhibition to be held at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem that would showcase the earliest coins in the Western tradition, those struck in electrum. Five hundred coins, all from the collections of Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan, Baron Lorne Thyssen-Bornemisza, and several from the Israel Museum, were displayed in a spectacular exhibition, the first of its kind anywhere that looked at electrum coinage from the seventh to the fourth centuries BCE. Catharine Lorber soon joined Gitler in curating the exhibition, White Gold: Revealing the World’s Earliest Coins, a name suggested by Lorber, which opened in June 2012, with an exhibition catalogue of the same name written by Koray Konuk, Lorber, and edited by Gitler.

Meanwhile, Gitler organized a conference on electrum coinage that was held at the Israel Museum the week the exhibit opened. Tom Kaplan and Lorne Thyssen-Bornemisza, who have been keenly interested in this area of numismatic research, both actively participated in the conference. We are also most grateful for their most generous support, which funded the exhibition and conference, as well as this volume, and also for their help and enthusiasm for this project.  Initially, Gitler, Lorber, and Konuk planned to publish the conference proceedings with the Israel Museum’s imprimatur, but as many of the conference participants felt a follow-up meeting would be beneficial to address some of the outstanding problematic aspects of early electrum raised in Jerusalem, a second White Gold conference was held in November 2013 at the American Numismatic Society (ANS) in New York City. In 2016, it was decided that publication of the proceedings of the two conferences would be undertaken by the ANS with Ute Wartenberg and Peter van Alfen serving as the volume’s editors, who received considerable editorial and other assistance on several of the chapters from Wolfgang Fischer-Bossert. Since 2013, the scope of the volume grew. Scholars, notably Kristin Kleber and Donald Jones, who had not participated in the two original conferences were invited to contribute chapters, and others who had participated offered additional contributions. While the expanded scope of the volume delayed publication, nonetheless we can now offer a fuller and more detailed picture of the evidence at hand for understanding the various contexts in which early electrum coins were produced and used.

Winner, 2020 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Book on Ancient or Medieval Coins (pre-1500)


Order this title from our distributor, Casemate Academic/Oxbow Books. ANS Members, use your discount code at checkout. Forgot the code? Email Emma Pratte, or call 212.571.4470 x117.

Additional information


Hardcover, Paperback