Ancient Greek Coins

The first Ancient Greek Coins appeared in Aegina around 600 B.C. 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.

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Alexander III ‘the Great’_Bronze_Coin_Obv

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

Everyone has heard of Alexander the Great but never has it been easier to own a piece of his empire! Alexander was born in 356 BC and succeeded his father Philip II to the throne at the age of 20. He died in the Palace of Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon at the age of 32, having created one of the largest empires of the ancient world. His campaigns are legendary! Then and now. We have a small group of his bronze coins in About Very Fine condition. On one side you have the head of Herakles wearing a lion’s skin headdress and on the other side Alexander’s name ‘AΛEΞANΔPOY’ in Greek script with Herakles bow and club on either side. This is because Alexander and his family claimed divine descent from Herakles. At only £95.00 this might be the easiest way to own a coin from one of the most famous of ancient people. The ideal coin to start an ancient coin collection, and a great present for an Alex you may know! Stock availability is limited...
Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), Silver Tetradrachm Very Vine_obv

Alexander III 'the Great' (336-323 BC) Tetradrachm Very Fine

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.

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

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
Alexander The Great AR. Drachm_obv

Alexander The Great AR. Drachm Fine

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

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

Everyone has heard of Alexander the Great! We have about 10 silver tetradrachms that were struck in his name by the Ptolemaic dynasty in the 3rd Century B.C. On one side the head of Herakles and on the other side Zeus with Alexander’s name ‘AΛEΞANΔPOY’ in Greek.
Aspendos Stater 400-350 B.C_obv

Aspendos Stater 400-350 B.C.

The ancient City of Aspendos in Pamphylia is famous for its ancient coins. They were an early city to mint regularly to display their great wealth from trade. These silver Stater coins were struck about 400-350 B.C. and show Olympic wrestlers on the obverse with a slinger on the reverse. Likely because the word sling (σφενδόνη) sounds similar to the name of the city (ασπενδοζ), the Ancient Greeks loved a pun! These coins were used in their local area and across the ancient world. If a person accepting this as payment wanted to be sure it was solid silver they would make a ‘test-cut’ into the Stater to see the core without losing any silver. Some then stamped it with a mark to show they had checked the coin, ancient quality control! We bought this fascinating group for a great deal so we offer these trade coins to you at inflation busting prices, just £195 for 11g of Ancient Greek silver with individual history! An ancient person once looked at this coin in their pocket like you do today…
Attica_Athens_Ca_431-393 B.C. AR_Tetradrachm_AOE_obv

Attica, Athens. Ca. 431-393 B.C. AR Tetradrachm. AOE. Extremely Fine + Floating Frame Display

These beautiful silver Tetradrachms of Athens are one of the most important and iconic coins ever struck. They were made from the silver mined at Laurion near Athens in the 5th century BC, making them around 2500 years, old and were known for their fineness of silver and standard weight so were accepted all over the known world at the time. The wonderful high-relief design has the helmeted head of the goddess Athena on one side and on the reverse, the eponymous owl of Athens with a sprig of olive above to signify Athens's trade in olive oil, with ‘AΘE’ beside meaning ‘of the Athenians’. The coins on offer are in Extremely Fine condition, a very high grade for an ancient coin, and each coin comes in a ‘floating frame’ to showcase these magnificent coins together with a certificate of authenticity. True ancient works of art in superb condition. Only a very limited number are available. Photograph is representative of coin supplied but all coins available are at least the grade illustrated (Extremely Fine).
Calabria, Tarentum, AR Nomos. Circa 281-270 BC_obv

Calabria, Tarentum, AR Nomos. Circa 281-270 BC

Calabria, Tarentum, AR Nomos, Circa 281-270 BC. Si- and Deinokrates, magistrates. Obv. Nude rider on horseback to right, holding lance in right hand and shield with two javelins in left; ΣΙ in right field, ΔEINOKPATHΣ below. Rev Taras astride dolphin to left, holding small dolphin; ΤΑΡΑΣ behind. (Vlasto 692-3) 7.90g, 22mm. Good Extremely Fine, nicely toned and well centred on both sides. A very attrative example.
Cyprus, Kition. Azbaal - Ca. 425-360 B.C., AR 1/3 Stater._obv

Cyprus, Kition. Azbaal - Ca. 425-360 B.C., AR 1/3 Stater.

Cyprus, Kition. Ca. 425-360 B.C., AR 1/3 Stater. Herakles / Lion attacking stag. About Very Fine & Scarce.
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. Add this ancient coin to your collection. Priced to please!

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!

Illyrian Silver Drachm

In about 600 B.C. the Greek city of Corinth sent colonists up the coast to Illyria (which roughly corresponds to the modern Balkans) to create a city for trade. These Greek colonists prospered and spread but by the 3rd Century B.C. they needed the Romans to stop the Ardiaei pirates from plundering their cities & trade routes. This lead to three Illyrian Wars between 229-168 B.C. and after this the area came under Roman protection. From about 200 B.C. two cities in the area, Apollonia & Dyrrachium (Epidamnos) started to mint these Greek silver drachm coins for use in trade. On the obverse they a fertility symbol of a cow suckling a calf. On the reverse a double geometric pattern which scholars think is a schematic representation of the two stars of the Dioscuri. They grade Very Fine and continued to be struck until the arrival of Julius Caesar in 48 B.C. stopped the production. These will make great additions to any collection or an exciting present!
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.
Lucania, Metapontion. Ca. 330-290 BC. Ly-, magistrate. AR Stater_obv

Lucania, Metapontion. Ca. 330-290 BC. Ly-, magistrate. AR Stater.

Lucania, Metapontion. Ca. 330-290 B.C., Ly-, magistrate. AR Stater. Wreathed head of Demeter R. wearing triple-pendant earring & necklace; 'EY' below chin / Ear of barley with leaf R.; 'META' upwards L., star above leaf, 'EY' in lower L. field. Flan flaw on obverse cheek, Good Very Fine & Scarce.
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.
Macedon, Philip II (358-336 B.C.) AE.18 Very Fine_obv

Macedon, Philip II (358-336 B.C.) AE.18 Choice Good 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.
Macedonian Bronze with shield & helmet_obv

Macedonian Bronze with shield & helmet

These coins were struck during the most important and powerful period of The Macedonian Kingdom. They were first made under Philip II (359-336 B.C.), then Alexander the Great and his successors until about 240 B.C. They are linked to their military conflicts at the time by the Macedonian shield on the obverse and Macedonian helmet on the reverse. It is often from coins like these that archaeologists can recreate the broken, crumpled artefacts they find into what you see in the museum. These 2,400 year old coins grade in Fine meaning they have circulated at the time but this is reflected in a price of just £35 for something that was used in the markets of Alexander the Great.
Miletos Diobol 520-450 B.C_obv

Miletos Diobol 520-450 B.C. Good Fine

The city of Miletos on the coast of modern Turkey has been occupied since the Neolithic, rising and falling a few times before this coin was made between 520-450 B.C. In 499 B.C. the Ionion Revolt started, headed by Miletos’ tyrant, Aristagoras, against the Achaemenid Persian Empire. This revolt was the first act of the famous Greco-Persian Wars! Despite a good start it was crushed by Darius the Great in 494 B.C. He killed the men, sold the women & children into slavery with the young men made eunuchs so that no Milesian would ever be born again. Don’t worry, some had escaped to Greece so Miletos survived and the Persians quickly rebuilt the city for trade. These small silver coins called a Diobol were made before and after the revolt, show a Lion on the obverse with a stellate pattern on the reverse. Archaic, Greek silver coin in Good Fine grade, nearly £2,500 years old and at under £100!
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.
Selge, Pisidia. 350-300 B.C., AR Obol_obv

Selge, Pisidia. 350-300 B.C., AR Obol.

Selge, Pisidia. 350-300 B.C., AR Obol. Gorgon / Athena. Good Fine
Sicily, Syracuse. Hiketas II. 287-278 B.C. Æ 22_obv

Sicily, Syracuse. Hiketas II. 287-278 B.C. Æ 22.

Sicily, Syracuse. Hiketas II. 287-278 B.C. Æ 22. Laureate head of Zeus Hellanios R. / Eagle standing L. on thunderbolt. Good Very Fine & Scarce. Zeus Hellanios can mean 'Zeus worshipped by all Hellenes'
Silver Drachm of Parion 6th Century B.C. Very Fine_obv

Silver Drachm of Parion 6th Century B.C. Very Fine

Founded in 709 B.C., the ancient city of Parion is the present day town of Kemer in Turkey. The image of the Gorgoneion was used to ward off evil and so was put on this silver Drachm made in Parion in the 6th Century B.C. We have two grades, Fine & Very Fine, a fascinating charm, 2500 years ago and now.
Silver Hemidrachm Byzantium About Very Fine_obv

Silver Hemidrachm Byzantium About Very Fine

According to legend the city now known as Istanbul was originally founded in the 7th Century B.C. by Greek colonists from Megara, near Athens. Byzantium commanded the entrance to the Black Sea and grew rich from grain traffic, fishing, and other trade. The city thus made coins to show this wealth and facilitate trade! We have a group of silver Hemidrachm that were first minted in 387 B.C. after the Corinthian War. This period was known as the ‘King’s Peace’ in Greece, named for the King of Persia, Artaxerxes II, as he brokered it. These coins continued to be struck after the Peace ended until Philip II of Macedon unsuccessfully besieged Byzantium in 340 B.C. and production stopped. They show the forepart of a heifer or bull riding a dolphin on the obverse with an ornamented trident on the reverse to represent their patron god, Poseidon! We have a group grading About Very Fine, don’t miss out on a coin from the King’s Peace 2,400 years ago…
Thrace, Cherronesos Hemidrachm Good Fine_obv

Thrace, Cherronesos Hemidrachm Good Fine

These silver coins come from the Greek colony of Cherronesos, on the present-day Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. They were issued over the period from 400-350 B.C. to support trade with cities along the coast of the Black Sea. They feature the forepart of a lion on the obverse and on the reverse a four-part incuse square with various mintmark symbols. A striking coin and now nearly 2400 years old!

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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