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.

Greece  Ancient  Silver  Coin   Reprodaktion
Greece Ancient Silver Coin Reprodaktion
$13.00
Time Remaining: 4d 9h 13m
Buy It Now for only: $13.00
Elagabalus Denarius (221-222 AD) RIC 146: Roman Silver Coin: MAKE AN OFFER!!
Elagabalus Denarius (221-222 AD) RIC 146: Roman Silver Coin: MAKE AN OFFER!!
$60.00
Time Remaining: 29d 23h 29m
Buy It Now for only: $60.00
Greece  Ancient  Silver  Coin   Reprodaktion
Greece Ancient Silver Coin Reprodaktion
$8.00
Time Remaining: 4d 8h 55m
Buy It Now for only: $8.00
DIRHEM, Ancient Silver Coin of Viking Times
DIRHEM, Ancient Silver Coin of Viking Times
$20.00
Time Remaining: 28d 12h 17m
Buy It Now for only: $20.00
RARE!!!Original Antique Coin SILVER  ROMAN DENARIUS OTHO  69 A.D #0220
RARE!!!Original Antique Coin SILVER ROMAN DENARIUS OTHO 69 A.D #0220
$320.00
Time Remaining: 24d 22h 10m
Buy It Now for only: $320.00
CM Alexander III `the Great` Drachm Genuine Ancient Greek  Silver Coin
CM Alexander III `the Great` Drachm Genuine Ancient Greek Silver Coin
$499.00
Time Remaining: 29d 22h 49m
Buy It Now for only: $499.00
Original Antique Coin SILVER DIVA FAUSTINA Major ROMAN DENARIUS AD 138-141 #0224
Original Antique Coin SILVER DIVA FAUSTINA Major ROMAN DENARIUS AD 138-141 #0224
$19.90
Time Remaining: 24d 22h 14m
Buy It Now for only: $19.90
SASONIT,Ancient Silver Coin of Viking Time, RARE !!!
SASONIT,Ancient Silver Coin of Viking Time, RARE !!!
$80.00
Time Remaining: 8d 12h 55m
Buy It Now for only: $80.00
Original Antique Coin SILVER  Vespasian  ROMAN DENARIUS AD 69-79  # 0407
Original Antique Coin SILVER Vespasian ROMAN DENARIUS AD 69-79 # 0407
$19.90
Time Remaining: 25d 20h 58m
Buy It Now for only: $19.90

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.

Striking Impressions: A Visual Guide to Collecting U.S. Coins
Striking Impressions: A Visual Guide to Collecting U.S. Coins
List Price: $9.95
Sale Price: $4.49
You save: $5.46 (55%)
  Eligible for free shipping!
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: $18.36
You save: $11.59 (39%)
  Eligible for free shipping!
Warman's U.S. Coin Collecting
Warman's U.S. Coin Collecting
List Price: $15.99
Sale Price: $1.50
You save: $14.49 (91%)
  Eligible for free shipping!
Silver Coin Pricing Guide, 1800-2000: A Reference for Buying and Selling 19th and 20th Century World Coins on eBay, Websites and at Coin Shows
Silver Coin Pricing Guide, 1800-2000: A Reference for Buying and Selling 19th and 20th Century World Coins on eBay, Websites and at Coin Shows
List Price: $7.95
Sale Price: $5.17
You save: $2.78 (35%)
  Eligible for free shipping!
Coin Hunting Made Easy: Finding Silver, Gold and Other Rare Valuable Coins for Profit and Fun
Coin Hunting Made Easy: Finding Silver, Gold and Other Rare Valuable Coins for Profit and Fun
List Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $7.58
You save: $2.41 (24%)
  Eligible for free shipping!
American Silver Eagles: A Guide to the U.S. Bullion Coin Program, 2nd Edition
American Silver Eagles: A Guide to the U.S. Bullion Coin Program, 2nd Edition
Sale Price: $43.28
  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.