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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

Signs of authority

The ability of money to circulate among large numbers of people and over vast geographical areas means it is often used by issuing powers to promote themselves, their values and aims.

It can reflect matters of personal appearance, religious belief, strength of empire or even re-enforce promises made to the populace.

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	Four gold ducats of the Sforza dukes of Milan
  • 1

    Four gold ducats of the Sforza dukes of Milan, Italy, AD 1450-1501 

    A true likeness...

    During the second half of the fifteenth century there was a definite move towards realistic portraiture on coin design. A renewed interest and enthusiasm for classical antiquity in the universities and courts of Italian rulers gave rise to a greater focus on the individual within society. This, when combined with the skill of Renaissance artists, began a trend which swept throughout Europe.

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    Bronze Kaiyuan tongbao coin, China, first issued AD 621  

    A new beginning and ‘flying cash’ to last forever…

    The introduction of a new coin in AD 621 announced the beginning of a new era in Chinese coinage. Its influence was felt across central and East Asia. The first banknote was issued in around 1400 AD by the first emperor of the Ming dynasty Zhu Yuanzhang. These notes were known as feiqian or ‘flying cash’ and became an invention that would revolutionise human history.

  • 3

    Chinese Ming banknote, AD 1375  

    A new beginning and ‘flying cash’ to last forever…

    The introduction of a new coin in AD 621 announced the beginning of a new era in Chinese coinage. Its influence was felt across central and East Asia. The first banknote was issued in around 1400 AD by the first emperor of the Ming dynasty Zhu Yuanzhang. These notes were known as feiqian or ‘flying cash’ and became an invention that would revolutionise human history.

  • 4

    Sequin of Mahmud I, Ottoman, AH 1143 / AD 1730-31  

    Sign here…

    From the 1500s three major dynasties dominated the Islamic world: the Ottomans, the Safavids and the Mughals. All their coins carried inscriptions, in various calligraphic styles, showing the Islamic proclamation of faith. In the case of the Ottoman rulers they also included an elaborate signature known as the tughra.

  • 5

    Silver coin of the Sikh Misals, Amritsar, 1785 

    Promises and daggers...

    Sikh Misals or confederacies in the eighteenth centuries offered protection to local people from the threat of foreign invaders and other external powers. The symbolism on coinage was used to reflect their aims and values during this time.

  • 6

    Pieces of eight, Potosi, Bolivia, AD 1589-1598  

    Pieces of eight

    The silver of the Spanish Empire in America was turned into a coinage that spread throughout the world. Between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Spanish silver 8-reales became the standard trade coins of large parts of Europe and Asia, and were the basis for one of today’s world currencies, the dollar.