Ancient Greek Coins

The first Ancient Greek Coins appeared in Aegina around 600 BCE and were amongst the first coins ever minted by a western civilization. Their design tells the story of a fascinating civilisation. A society that minted coins to celebrate outstanding individuals, gods, and religious practices, as well as ancient international relations. Examples are the Alexander the Great coins the Athenian Owl, and the Obol, just to name a few.

What were Ancient Greek Coins Called?

The coins of Ancient Greece, as well as modern-day Greece pre-euro, were called Drachma. The denominations used in the old city-states of Greece, differ from city-state to city-state (polis) and derive from the weights for gold and silver merchants used to trade goods. To make matters worse, the weights used also differed from era to era. And as you may know, their coinage went through 4 different periods: the Archaic, the Classical, the Hellenistic, and the Roman. So here too, there are substantial differences coin collectors need to be aware of.

So in the name of keeping things simple for newbie coin collectors, we are going to use the Attic standard to answer this question. As it was the most popular weight standard in the Greek world, due to the power and influence of Athens across the ancient world.  In this standard, the Drachm is the base, divided by obols with a sixth of the value.

Starting from largest to smallest, the denominations of Greek coins were as follows:

  • Dekadrachm – ratio of 10
  • Tetradrachm – ratio of 4
  • the Drachm – ratio 1
  • Tetrobol – ratio of 2/3
  • Triobol/Hemidrachm – ratio of 1/2
  • Diobol – ratio of 1/3
  • Trihemiobol – ratio of 1/4
  • Obol – ratio of 1/6
  • Tritartemorion  – ratio of 1/8
  • Hemiobol – ratio of 1/12
  • Trihemitartemorion – ratio of 1/16
  • Tetartemorion –  ratio of 1/24

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Alexander_Great_Tetradrachm_GF_obv

Alexander Great Tetradrachm GF

Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), Silver Tetradrachm (25mm) in Good Fine Condition. Obverse: Head of Alexander as Herakles wearing lion-skin head-dress. Reverse: Zeus enthroned holding eagle and sceptre. Good Fine Condition. PHOTOGRAPH IS REPRESENTATIVE OF COIN SUPPLIED.
£195.00
Alexander III ‘the Great’_Bronze_Coin_Obv

Alexander III ‘the Great’. 336-323 B.C. Bronze. About Very Fine.

Alexander III ‘the Great’. 336-323 B.C. Bronze. About Very Fine.
£95.00
Alexander_the_Great_Silver_Drachm_obv

Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), Silver Drachm

Silver drachm coin minted by Alexander the Great (336-323 BC). Obverse: Head of Herakles wearing lion-skin head-dress. Reverse: Zeus enthroned holding eagle and sceptre. Very Fine Condition Actual size of coin varies between 15-17mm diameter PHOTOGRAPH IS REPRESENTATIVE OF COIN SUPPLIED
£195.00
Alexander the Great Silver Tetradrachm 3rd Century B.C. Countermarked_obv

Alexander the Great Silver Tetradrachm 3rd Century B.C. Countermarked

Everyone has heard of Alexander the Great but most collectors only dream of owning a coin in his name. We have a small group of silver tetradrachms that were struck in his name by the Ptolemaic dynasty in the 3rd Century B.C. On one side you have the head of Herakles wearing a lion’s skin headdress and on the other Alexander’s name ‘AΛEΞANΔPOY’ in Greek script with the seated Zeus holding an eagle and sceptre. These particular coins also have a countermark of an anchor that would have allowed them to circulate in Seleukid lands, three kingdoms for the price of one! They are struck on a large flan, grade About Very Fine with some discolouration from their time spent in the ground, don’t miss out on owning an Alexander the Great Tetradrachm struck in the 3rd Century.
£149.50
Picture of Alexander the Great Tetradrachm VF

Alexander the Great Tetradrachm VF

Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), Silver Tetradrachm (25mm). Obverse: Head of Alexander as Herakles wearing lion-skin head-dress. Reverse: Zeus enthroned holding eagle and sceptre. Very Fine Condition. PHOTOGRAPH IS REPRESENTATIVE OF COIN SUPPLIED.
£375.00
Attica_Athens_Ca_431-393 B.C. AR_Tetradrachm_AOE_obv

Attica, Athens. Ca. 431-393 B.C. AR Tetradrachm. AOE. About Extremely Fine

Attica, Athens. Ca. 431-393 B.C. AR Tetradrachm. Helmeted head of Athena right / Owl standing facing, olive sprig with crescent moon to left & 'AOE' to right. About Extremely Fine & Scarce. Made using the silver from the mines of Laurion during the Peloponnesian War. A Classic coin everyone knows. PHOTOGRAPH IS REPRESENTATIVE OF COIN SUPPLIED.
£1,100.00
Bronze coin of Timoleon of Syracuse_obv

Bronze coin of Timoleon of Syracuse

Syracuse was founded by people from Corinth in the 8th Century B.C. They would often call on the mother city in times of trouble and in 344 B.C. when Sicily was at the mercy of the tyrants, Dionysius & Hicetas, Timoleon was sent to help. He defeated them and their Carthaginian allies and a treaty in 338 B.C. set up a democracy which he was involved in until his death in 337 B.C. These bronze coins date to this period of change in Sicily. The obverse shows Athena in Corinthian helmet with the reverse a Hippocamp, the horse of the sea. These are Scarce coins in a Very Good grade at only £25 for an over 2300-year-old coin.
£25.00
Cappadocia, Ariobarzanes I (95–63 B.C.), Drachm Very Fine_obv

Cappadocia, Ariobarzanes I (95–63 B.C.), Drachm Very Fine

Ariobarzanes I (grandfather of Ariobarzanes III) was technically the King of Cappadocia from 95 B.C. to 63/62 B.C. After the previous royal line died out he was chosen by the people and appointed by the Roman area governor, the famous Sulla, earning the nickname Philorhomaios (friend of the Romans). Over the next 30 years Mithradates VI Eupator of Pontos removed Ariobarzanes three times, but each time the Romans would put him back on the throne. Finally, Mithradates was defeated once and for all by Pompey the Great who gave some extra territory to Ariobarzanes. After expanding his territory and meeting all the big names of the time we suspect he had had enough and abdicated for his son, Ariobarzanes II! We offer a Silver Drachm from Cappadocia of Ariobarzanes I. They show his head on the obverse with Athena holding Nike on the reverse. They grade Very Fine and we bought this small group very well so we are going to pass the savings on this Greek silver to you!
£69.50
Cilicia, Kelenderis. Ca. 450-400 B.C. AR Stater_obv

Cilicia, Kelenderis. Ca. 450-400 B.C. AR Stater.

Cilicia, Kelenderis. Ca. 450-400 B.C. AR Stater. Nude ephebe L. dismounting from horse at the gallop in a calpe or anabates race / goat crouching L., head to R. Very Fine & Scarce.
£425.00
Cilicia_Mallos_Ca_440-390 B.C._AR_Stater_obv

Cilicia, Mallos. Ca. 440-390 B.C. AR Stater.

Cilicia, Mallos. Ca. 440-390 B.C. AR Stater. Bearded & winged male deity (Kronos?) in kneeling-running stance to right, holding solar disc with both hands / 'MA?' swan standing left, with wings uplifted. About Very Fine, archaic & Scarce. Mallos had an oracle where people would dream in the temple to receive the gods instructions. The Swan is most likely for Apollo.
£725.00
Cyprus_Kition_Azbaal_Ca. 449-425 B.C. AR Stater_obv

Cyprus, Kition. Azbaal - Ca. 449-425 B.C. AR Stater.

Cyprus, Kition. Azbaal - Ca. 449-425 B.C. AR Stater. Herakles in fighting stance right wearing lion skin & holding bow with club overhead / Lion attacking (from behind) a stag, facing right, inside dotted border within incuse square. Obverse struck from worn die as usual for these, Very Fine & Rare. Made during the time of Persian rule on Cyprus. The founder of Stoicism, Zeno, was from this city.
£495.00
Picture of Drachm of Ariobarzanes III Very Good

Drachm of Ariobarzanes III Very Good

Ariobarzanes III of Cappadocia was one of the last of the true Greek kings. He had the surnames ‘Eusebes Philorhomaios’ meaning ‘Pious and Friend of the Romans’. He earned this as the Roman senate helped put him on the throne about 52 B.C., just before the huge Roman civil war between the Senate, under Pompey the Great, and Julius Caesar. Repaying this he supported Pompey and the Roman Senate against Julius Caesar but when it was obvious that Caesar would win he switched sides to survive. Eventually, though this ‘treachery’ caught up with him! In 42 B.C. he was killed by one of Caesar's assassins, Gaius Cassius Longinus, for being fed up and refusing to allow more Romans to interfere in his kingdom. We offer a Silver Drachm from Cappadocia of Ariobarzanes III. They grade Very Good and show his head on the obverse with Athena holding Nike on the reverse. Add to your collection one of the last truly Greek silver coins from a ruler who learned the hard way, what did the Romans do for us!
£49.50
Dynasts of Lycia, Perikles. Ca. 380-360 B.C. AR 1/3 Stater_obv

Dynasts of Lycia, Perikles. Ca. 380-360 B.C. AR 1/3 Stater. VF

Dynasts of Lycia, Perikles. Ca. 380-360 B.C. AR 1/3 Stater. Lion's scalp facing / Legend around Triskeles. Very Fine.
£215.00
Dynasts of Lycia. Trbbenimi - Ca. 390-370 B.C. 1/3 Stater_obv

Dynasts of Lycia. Trbbenimi - Ca. 390-370 B.C. 1/3 Stater.

Dynasts of Lycia. Trbbenimi - Ca. 390-370 B.C. AR 1/3 Stater. Facing lion's scalp / The name in Lycian around Triskeles. Very Fine & Scarce.
£225.00
Picture of Gorgon of Parion Silver Drachm 5th Century B.C.

Gorgon of Parion Silver Drachm 5th Century B.C.

Founded in 709 B.C., the ancient city of Parion is the present day town of Kemer in Canakkale province of Turkey. It was a major coastal city and trading port with two harbours. Parion enjoyed strong relations with Thrace and Anatolia throughout history and it was the main customs station through which all goods bound for Constantinople (Istanbul) from Greece and the Aegean had to pass. After being conquered by the Persian Empire in the 6th Century B.C. it passed to Lysimachus in the 4th Century B.C. and then the Attalids in the 3rd. From one tyrant to another! A local city-coinage system was introduced by the ancient Greeks and continued through to Roman times with later coins being issued in the name of the emperor. The image of the Gorgoneion was used to ward off evil and for that reason was put on door frames, shields and, of course, on coins! We have recently bought a small collection of archaic Silver Drachm made in this city in the 5th Century B.C.. The obverse shows the facing head of a Gorgoneion with a protruding tongue and the reverse depicts a disorganized linear pattern within an incuse square. The coins are all in a Fine condition as they were used at the time and have survived from 2400 years ago! But they are a fascinating charm to ward off evil, then and now. Pick up this ancient coin for just £90, priced to please!
£64.50
Greek_Dolphin_Money_from_Olibia

Greek Dolphin Money from Olibia

This is something you will not see often. These bronze coins from Greek colony city of Olbia in Thrace were cast in the shape of a dolphin! They were made to honour their god Apollo Delphinios. This name is linked to the story of Cretan sailors in a storm who were guided to safety by Apollo shaped as a dolphin, landing at Delphi they became his priests. It also likely that the people were imitating what they saw, there were large numbers of dolphins in the Black Sea and still are today! Playful and intelligent, they would have been as friendly then as they are now. These were cast in bronze in the 5th to 4th centuries B.C., and because of this process do not have a tail. They show the body, the vast majority have the dorsal fin and some will even have eye pellets. As always the first to order will get the best, in this case the shape and features!
£19.95
Histiaia, Euboia, ca. 340-330BC, Silver Tetrobol_obv

Histiaia, Euboia, ca. 340-330BC, Silver Tetrobol

Histiaia, Euboia, ca. 340-330BC, Silver Tetrobol. Obverse: Head of the nymph Histiaia wreathed with vine and hair rolled facing to right. Reverse.: The nymph Histiaia seated to right on the stern of a galley. Very Fine+
£85.00
Islands off Thrace, Thasos, AR Tetradrachm (29mm), Head Of Dionysos_obv

Islands off Thrace, Thasos, AR Tetradrachm (29mm), Head Of Dionysos

Islands off Thrace, Thasos, ca.148-90 BC. Silver Tetradrachm. Obv. Head of young Dionysos to right. Rev. Herakles standing naked left holding club and lion's skin. About Extremely Fine / Good Very Fine
£450.00
Lampsakos Trihemiobol 5th Century B.C_obv

Lampsakos Trihemiobol 5th Century B.C.

Lampsakos (Latinised as Lampsacus) was an ancient Greek city on the Eastern side of the Hellespont, founded in the 7th Century B.C. It grew rich controlling trade through this corridor so during the 6th-4th centuries B.C. It was conquered by the Lydians, then Persians, then Athenians, Spartans, and finally Persia again. Captured in the 330s B.C. by Alexander the Great he threatened destruction on them as he thought them pro-Persian. They sent Anaximenes of Lampsakos who heard Alexander had sworn to do the opposite they asked, so he said, ‘Please majesty: enslave the women and children of Lampsakos, burn their temples, and raze the city to the ground.’ Alexander was tricked and reluctantly pardoned the people of Lampsakos. It prospered for the rest of antiquity. We have a little group of small silver coins from this city dating between 500-450 B.C. They have the early, archaic style showing a female Janiform (one face forward, one backward) head on the obverse with Athena in a Corinthian helmet on the reverse. They are about 2500 years old, grade About Very Fine and the first to order will get the best centred examples! At this price, we do not expect them to stay long.
£95.00
Lucania_Metapontum_Ca. 470-440 B.C. AR Nomos_obv

Lucania, Metapontum. Ca. 470-440 B.C. AR Nomos.

Lucania, Metapontum. Ca. 470-440 B.C. AR Nomos. Barley ear; in left field a ram's head facing upward / Incuse barley ear. About Very Fine & Scarce. A well known coin from antiquity the incuse is said to have been designed by Pythagoras, the school childs bane.
£295.00
lycian-league-ca-167-100-bc-olympus-mint-ar-hemidrachm_obv

Lycian League. Ca. 167-100 B.C. Olympus mint. AR Hemidrachm.

Lycian League. Ca. 167-100 B.C. Olympus mint. AR Hemidrachm. Head of Apollo R. / Lyre with sword to L. & shield to R., legend above. Extremely Fine & Rare with mintmarks.
£225.00
Lycian League. Lycia, Phaselis. Ca. 100-88 B.C. AR Drachm_rev

Lycian League. Lycia, Phaselis. Ca. 100-88 B.C. AR Drachm.

Lycian League. Lycia, Phaselis. Ca. 100-88 B.C. AR Hemidrachm. Laur. head of Apollo R. / Lyre, headress of Isis L., torch to R., in incuse square. About Extremely Fine.
£95.00
Macedon, Philip II (358-336 B.C.) AE.18 Very Fine_obv

Macedon, Philip II (358-336 B.C.) AE.18 Very Fine

Philip II ruled from 359-336 B.C. and began the rise of the Kingdom of Macedon. He reformed the army and was able to dominate the rest of the Greek city-states. As he was preparing to invade the Achaemenid Persian Empire he was assassinated by a member of his bodyguard so his son Alexander the Great took over, how different history could have been! The last time we had this type they sold out in all grades and it has been hard to get more! These bronze coins grade Very Fine, show the head of Apollo on the obverse and a naked youth on horseback on the reverse. Be the proud owner of a nearly two and a half thousand-year-old coin of Philip II of Macedon, Father of Alexander the Great.
£110.00
Satraps_of_Caria_Pixodaros. Ca. 341-335_B.C._AR_Didrachm_obv

Satraps of Caria, Pixodaros. Ca. 341-335 B.C. Halikarnassos mint. AR Didrachm.

Laureate head of Apollo facing, turned slightly right / ΠIΞΩΔAPOY’ Zeus Labraundos standing right, holding double-axe (labrys) & lotus-tipped sceptre. Very Fine & Scarce. A beautiful Hellenistic portrait of Apollo. This ruler almost married his daughter to Alexander the Great before Philip, his father, put a stop to it!
£1,295.00
Picture of Seleukid Kingdom. Antiochos I. 280-261 B.C. Seleucia on the Tigris. AR Tetradrachm.

Seleukid Kingdom. Antiochos I. 280-261 B.C. Seleucia on the Tigris. AR Tetradrachm.

Seleukid Kingdom. Antiochos I. 280-261 B.C. Seleucia on the Tigris. AR Tetradrachm. Diad. head of Antiochos with middle-aged features / Naked Apollo seated L. on Omphalos holding arrow; Monograms to L. & R. About Very Fine & Scarce as early in the dynasty.
£425.00

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