Three wise men, kings from the East, follow the Star of Bethlehem to the manger where Mary lay with the baby Jesus, and present the newborn king with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The story is an indelible part of Christian culture that is renewed with every singing of “We Three Kings,” with every Nativity display on every lawn at Christmastime, with every celebration of Twelfth Night, which commemorates the day that the Magi arrived. Continue reading
Monarchy is the oldest known form of government. In Sumeria and Egypt, the ensi and pharaoh, respectively, ruled over their people with an iron fist; it was believed that these individuals were conduits to the gods, an idea that became known as the Divine Right of Kings. From the dawn of recorded history until recent memory, almost every civilization was ruled by a sovereign, whether king or queen, sultan or tsar, kaiser or khan, pasha or shah.
Parliamentary rule, the earliest form of democracy, appeared in Athens and Rome and elsewhere, but anti-monarchism did not begin in earnest until 1649, when the British Parliament overthrew King Charles I. Even then it took three centuries and countless false starts for republicanism to prevail.
After the Second World War, in the period historians refer to as the “short” twentieth century, many of the world’s monarchies fell. This remarkable collection features issues from some of the world’s last kings:
Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister of Greece, is faced with an impossible task: making good on its massive debt obligations, while also alleviating some of the drastic austerity measures imposed to generate the necessary revenue.
As the fate of the world economy rests uneasily on the finances of the Greeks, it’s worth noting that not quite a hundred years ago, Greece found itself in a similar financial pickle—and escaped in a brilliant fashion that would have made Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle proud.
To the ancient Greeks, gods and goddesses were actively, and often intimately, involved in the affairs of mankind. From the battlefield to the bedroom, there the deities were, having their way with the men and women who competed for their divine favor. A quarrel over a golden apple’ legend has it, was the impetus for the Trojan War. The epic poem about that famous conflict, the Iliad, begins with a god sowing plague on the Achaeans. Gods and goddesses figure prominently in Homer’s narrative, as if they, and not the humans, were the cause of all conflict.
This remarkable collection features genuine ancient coins bearing the likenesses of three of the most powerful Greek deities: Continue reading
In 1517, Martin Luther’s act of protest ignited a religious movement that would consume Europe for the next 150 years. This remarkable collection features genuine silver coins that circulated in Europe during the Protestant Reformation and the subsequent period of religious conflict known today as the Thirty Years’ War.