"Greek Coins" describes coins of Mediterranean
city-states and kingdoms before the Roman Empire,
Celtic tribes and Indo-Greek kingdoms, most
legends though other languages
There are many
opportunities for specialization. Some
collectors focus on artistic interest. The collection of Calouste Gulbenkian is an outstanding example of
the artistic appeal of the finest coins of ancient Greece.
Leonidas at Thermopylae
collectors specialize in issues
of a single city. Catalogues of
specialized collections, such as the Tarentine collection of Michel Vlasto, often become
valued standard references.
There are also topical collection
themes such as ships, birds, horses etc. Many collectors
begin by seeking to acquire one nice example of the coinage of each city,
such as Athenian owls.
In ancient Greece money originated as metal
rings, rods or spits. Money took a variety of forms before the
adoption of coins, and early coinage is often found mixed together with other kinds of
Coins originated as small precious metal ingots, stamped
with badges guaranteeing weight and purity, in
western Asia Minor about 650 bc. After the Lydians developed a
bimetallic coinage, by 500 bc silver staters were being used throughout the
Most early coinage was struck to support governmental spending, particularly
military expenditures, which were very high during the constant warfare of
the fifth and fourth centuries bc.
In 338 bc this internecine warfare ended when Philip II of Macedon conquered mainland Greece.
The Macedonian monarchy
then soon vastly expanded when the Persian Empire was
conquered by his son Alexander. On Alexander's
death, his empire fragmented into
the kingdoms of Macedon, Syria, Thrace, and Egypt,
beginning the era of Hellenistic royal coinage.
To the West, the
prosperous cities of Magna Graecia were soon caught up in struggles
involving the competing power of two great city-states, Rome and Carthage. Carthage issued
a voluminous coinage for
wars against Hellenistic Sicily, and later Rome,
which ultimately ended in her
total destruction (146 bc). Though Greek coinage continued into the first century ad,
after the fall of Carthage the
rest of the Mediterranean
world was then rapidly absorbed into the Roman Empire.
Gold and silver specimens of the ancient coins of Greece in the very
finest style and condition can be expensive, but many very attractive
examples in these metals are reasonably priced. Bronze coins of ancient
Greece offer many outstanding values, and their prices are rapidly
appreciating. The artistic merit of many bronzes is high,
and the darker patination of the most artistic bronzes can be very