The Coin Metals in Historical Order Various alloys of three principal metals were used to make the first coins: copper, gold, and silver. In China, the earliest coins were made of copper and its alloys. In the northeastern Mediterranean, the ancient Greek world, the first coins were of electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. By 2,600 years ago coins were made of gold and then of silver, though perfect separation of the metals was quite difficult with the available techniques. Greek copper coins were added around a century later.