Ancient Greek Coins

Posted by on October 27, 2011
Greek Silver Tetradrachm of Amphipolis

Greek Silver Tetradrachm of Amphipolis (photo by AncientArt*)

Ancient Greek “Father of History” Herodotus (484–425 BC) wrote that the Lydians were the first to use gold and silver coins and establish permanent retail shops.  Lydia was an ancient Empire in modern day Turkey.  Lydian coins made of electrum, a natural alloy of gold and silver, have been found which date back as far as 700 BC.  The dates of silver coins of antiquity are of some debate.  Aristotle (384–322 BC), teacher of Alexander the Great, wrote that the first coins were struck by Demodike who married King Midas.  Yes the one with “the golden touch” of various stories.  There are various modern opinions of these dates.

Regardless, the oldest coin found in the Ancient Old World is of electrum from Lydia with an obverse depicting a lion’s head and sunburst.  Lydian King Alyattes, of the 7th and 6th Centuries BC, standardized the weight of coins, 1 Starter = 168 grains of wheat about 4.7 grams.

246 AD ANACS VF20 Philip I Roman Mint Silver AR Antoninianus Ancient Coin
246 AD ANACS VF20 Philip I Roman Mint Silver AR Antoninianus Ancient Coin
$86.79
Time Remaining: 2d 8h 42m
Buy It Now for only: $86.79
007. Roman Silver Coin. NERVA. AR Denarius. Aequitas. Fine
007. Roman Silver Coin. NERVA. AR Denarius. Aequitas. Fine
$99.99
Time Remaining: 29d 12h 13m
Buy It Now for only: $99.99
ancient Celtic silver coin - found in Britain
ancient Celtic silver coin - found in Britain
$14.00
Time Remaining: 18d 3h 5m
Buy It Now for only: $14.00
SASONIT,Ancient Silver Coin of Viking Time, RARE !!!
SASONIT,Ancient Silver Coin of Viking Time, RARE !!!
$70.00
Time Remaining: 27d 22h 44m
Buy It Now for only: $70.00
Solid Silver Roman Coin
Solid Silver Roman Coin
$25.00
Time Remaining: 2d 21h 43m
Buy It Now for only: $25.00
Marc Antony silver coin RARE
Marc Antony silver coin RARE
$79.99
Time Remaining: 5d 11h 31m
Buy It Now for only: $79.99
ANCIENT SILVER COIN- RARE YEMEN PENTAGON, EXTRA FINE
ANCIENT SILVER COIN- RARE YEMEN PENTAGON, EXTRA FINE
$58.00
Time Remaining: 26d 5h 58m
Buy It Now for only: $58.00
Trajan denarius, roman silver coin
Trajan denarius, roman silver coin
$29.90
Time Remaining: 24d 8h 36m
Buy It Now for only: $29.90
DIRHEM, Ancient Silver Coin of Viking Times
DIRHEM, Ancient Silver Coin of Viking Times
$20.00
Time Remaining: 15d 18h 55m
Buy It Now for only: $20.00

Ancient Greek Coins

The other Greek States started producing silver coins around 600-550 BC in denominations call ‘drachma’  The ‘drachma’ then came into use, about 3 grams, and 'obolus' about 0.5 grams.  Because Greece and its people relied very much on ships for commerce the early silver coins quickly migrated all around Greece and then ports, cities, and nations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.  Then the idea of minting silver for coins caught on very quickly.

Many early silver drachme of Aegina depicts a tortoise on the obverse and on the reverse is indented with a dolphin and the inscription “A” ‘of the’, then,  “IG” ‘Aeg’.   Athena graces many of these earliest of silver coins, one of the more well known are the tetradrachm coins - 4 drachme silver coins from Athens with Athena wearing a helmet on the obverse and an owl with an olive sprig and a short hand inscription AQE ‘of the Athenians’ on the reverse (440 BC).  The Syracusan coins depicted the nymph Arethusa on the obverse regularly.

There is also a considerable assortment of ancient silver coins minted by the various Persian emperors; the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian all issued their own mints. 

During Alexander the Great's expansion of his empire the religious images on coins where replaced by various rulers’ profiles stamped on the coins they minted as well as other celebrated figures. First the Hellenistic kings and then during the rise of Rome the Romans adapted this tradition.  Silver coins are considered ‘ancient’ if minted before the Byzantine Empire.  Ancient silver coins are very popular numismatic coins.

Byzantine Coins

During the Byzantine era the issue of silver coins dropped considerably due to the lack of reliable supplies of silver being mined.  However during the end of this era silver started being added to the gold coins and a millennium after the early ancient Greek coin production electrum came back as a numismatic metal.

Medieval Coins

During the Medieval era there are Royal, Feudal, Crusader, and Ecclesiastical varieties of silver coins.  These were standardized by Charlemagne during his conquests and rule with the Denier (about 800 AD), or Penny in English, Pfenning in German, and Denaro in Italian. The Denier is a silver coin about the size of the modern United States penny.  This standard was maintained until the 14th Century AD.  There is a great and rich history from other regions as well.

The striving for independence of nations has continually produced their own variation of silver coins throughout the ages and into current times.  Even well established nations have continued using coins to reflect the changes that they have gone through.  This will become more and more evident the deeper you get into silver coin collecting.

American Gold and Silver: U.S. Mint Collector and Investor Coins and Medals, Bicentennial to Date
American Gold and Silver: U.S. Mint Collector and Investor Coins and Medals, Bicentennial to Date
List Price: $29.95
Sale Price: $17.28
You save: $12.67 (42%)
  Eligible for free shipping!
Warman's U.S. Coin Collecting
Warman's U.S. Coin Collecting
List Price: $15.99
Sale Price: $1.46
You save: $14.53 (91%)
  Eligible for free shipping!
A Guide to Buying and Selling Peace & Morgan Silver Dollars (U.S. Silver Coin Series Book 2)
A Guide to Buying and Selling Peace & Morgan Silver Dollars (U.S. Silver Coin Series Book 2)
The Last 90 Percent Silver United States Coins - A Buying and Selling Guide (U.S. Silver Coin Series Book 1)
The Last 90 Percent Silver United States Coins - A Buying and Selling Guide (U.S. Silver Coin Series Book 1)
A Buyer's Guide to Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States
A Buyer's Guide to Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States
List Price: $19.95
Sale Price: $14.84
You save: $5.11 (26%)
  Eligible for free shipping!
Fascinating Facts, Mysteries and Myths About U.S. Coins
Fascinating Facts, Mysteries and Myths About U.S. Coins
List Price: $12.99
Sale Price: $7.11
You save: $5.88 (45%)
  Eligible for free shipping!


6 Responses to Ancient Greek Coins

  1. betala lån

    Hello. Fantastic text and a good blog

  2. Sell Scrap Gold Jewelry dot Com

    Thanks for all your insight. This site has been really helpful to me…. by the way, hope you don’t mind I plug my site.

  3. Garib

    That’s freakin awesome.

  4. Gold Buyers Las Vegas

    Cheers, I really agree with what you are saying.

  5. miz crumb

    Hi! a couple of people from this site stopped by my blog and commented, so I wanted to come over and visit

    some of these coins are really amazing! wonder where you get them

    I don’t know if I can leave a link here, but did you happen to see this story about a treasure trove of coins found in a French attic

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/16/gold-coins-found-in-french-attic_n_1282806.html

    miz crumb

  6. Price of Silver Today

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog? My website is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my users would truly benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.