Ancient Greek Coin

Most coin collectors start out collecting modern coins, but adding a wide variety of coins from various time periods can really complete a collection. Various ancient coins were in circulation for thousands and thousands of years, with some coming from times even before Christ. Whether you like to collect coins from your home country or from around the world, having ancient coins in your collection can really add something special.


An ancient Greek coin is a great piece to add to your collection, since it is different than most coins found in common modern coin collections. Although they may look sloppy and not as detailed as current modern coins, each ancient Greek coin was handmade and released into circulation.

The earliest Greek coins are called Archaic, and were produced before the 5th century B.C. They are characterized by thick, lumpy pieces of metal, which are stamped with a simple punch mark on the reverse side of the coin. The design punched into the coin is called the type, and the early pieces commonly contained a picture of a sea turtle. They were typically made out of silver, and are available in several different weights that represent the early denominations used by the Greek.

500 BC Ancient Tetradrachm from Athens Greece-Overse

500 BC Ancient Tetradrachm from Athens Greece

Although an ancient Greek coin can date back as far as 600 B.C., the most common were minted in the third and fourth centuries A.D. Copper was commonly used for the coins minted between 200 and 400 A.D., and coins began to take on a more circular shape with designs on both sides of the coin. Coins took on various designs and pictures during the earlier time periods, including portraits of famous emperors and symbols representing the locations the coins came from.

One ancient Greek coin that is popular amongst collectors is a small silver piece, which was minted in the second century B.C. It contains the head of the sun god Helios on the obverse side, with a rose on the back and the name of the individual who minted the coin. It is about 15mm big, and was most likely minted on the mainland, although similar to coins minted on the island of Rhodes.

Ancient Greek coins also depict various animals, such as lions, turtles, and even horses. The animals are usually on the reverse side of the coin, with a picture of a god or emperor on the obverse. Battle scenes and men in their battle uniform are also commonly used, and mostly seen among coins minted between 200 and 400 A.D.

An ancient Greek coin can be found in silver, copper or gold, with gold being one of the rarest coins to find. Although they may look fake because they are not round, Greek coins were minted much differently than what we see today. Being hit with a hammer and a stamp to give the coin a design would sometimes change the shape of the coin, which was later corrected by striking the coins inside a circle frame to prevent changes in shape from occurring. Because a wide variety of ancient Greek coins were minted thousands of years ago, new pieces are still being discovered. Although some pieces are harder to find than others, adding an ancient Greek coin to your collection can be inexpensive.

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