Although Greeks were not the first to use coins, they were the ones who introduced coinage to many places around the Mediterranean. Their coins travelled all around their territory, as well as to many other empires, and many provinces minted their own coins.
Since they produced coins on a large scale, nowadays, collectors can easily find coins to complete their collection. For instance, Greek central denomination, Drachma, is available on many VCoins shops. This coin can be searched according to poleis (for many of them produced it).
Greek numismatic history, like Greek art, can be divided in three eras:
Archaic era. This corresponds to the period between 600 B.C. and 480 B. C., in which Greece was divided in more than six hundred poleis. Every coin circulated between them.
The first coin on a large scale circulation was the Athenian tetradrachm, popularly known as the “Owl coin”. It had Athenea’s portrait on the obverse and an owl (attribute of this goddess, and symbol of wisdom) on the reverse.
The tetradrachm was the prime trade coin of the era due to its purity. It was in circulation approximately from 510 to 40 B.C.
Classical period. This era corresponds to the years between 480 B.C. and 330 B.C. Syracuse became one of the epicenters of numismatics during this period, and its decadrachm was one of the finest coins ever minted. Although these coins are extremely rare, you can complete your collection thanks to some shops on VCoins.
On this period, coins showed a god, goddess or hero that represented the city where they were minted on the obverse, and a symbol of the city on the reverse. The tetradrachm has these characteristics because it circulated through the Ancient, the Classical and the Hellenistic period.
The Corinthian stater is another example of this kind of coinage. On its obverse, there is Athenea wearing a Corinthian helmet, and on its reverse there is Pegasus, symbol of wisdom.
Hellenistic period. During this period (from around 330 B.C. until the first century B.C.), the Greek word spread more than ever before across present day Europe and Asia. Coins on the eastern part of the Kingdoms (present day Afghanistan and India) were more mass-produced and minted with less care. But this did not happen on every coin. Some of them showed a high level of realism and perfection. The portraits on the coins showed people who were alive at the time of minting, especially in Egypt, Syria and Sicily.
This was seen by many others as a sign of hybris (excess).
There is a tetradrachm of this period, for example, that shows the portrait of Eucratides I on the obverse, while the reverse shows the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux) on horseback. By the time this coin was minted, Eucratides was the King of Bactria.
Greek coinage is a wide name given to different coins that share some characteristics, that were minted on several different places, and that have travelled across the Greek territory. Collecting them is bringing a part of history into your life, something that has been used thousands of years ago and that can be considered a small piece of art.
Search on VCoins and start your own collection, complete it, or even create a wish list of the ones you would like to have.