6 Fascinating Facts About Ancient Greek Coins

Greeks were some of the first to use coins for the exchange of goods and services. If you are a coin collector who likes older, more ancient coins, you may want to include some Greek coins in your collection. Learning more about these coins can allow you to form your collection more purposefully and with greater interest. To that end, here are six fascinating facts about Greek coins.

1. The coins were not all perfectly round.

Pick up a coin from the modern world, and it will almost always be round. This is so common now that most people picture a round object when they hear the word "coin." But Greek coins were not always perfectly round. They were made with a stamp press, and as long as the metal that was put into the press came out with the intended emblem stamped into it, little attention was paid to the actual end shape of the coin. Most are round-ish, but with jagged or uneven edges. Some were intentionally made not round — sometimes in the shapes of ovals or squares.

2. Coins were made one at a time.

Making a coin was a much more time-consuming process back in the days of ancient Greece. The coin maker would load a little metal onto the coin press, and then they would heat a special dye. The dye would then be pounded onto the coin with a mallet. This took quite a lot of physical strength. Coin making was, physically, akin to working as a blacksmith or iron worker. Each Greek coin is a little different because of the way they are made.

3. Weight was very important for coins.

The coins used in ancient Greece were meant to be exchanged for goods and services. They were not just a symbol like today's coins are. They were a certified amount of metal worth a certain amount. As such, coin makers had to be very careful to use the same amount of metal for each coin. If a coin was a bit too heavy after it came out of the press, the coin maker would file off some of the metal to bring the coin back to the right weight. The shaved off metal would be used to make additional coins.

4. Many coins were made from silver.

The first Greek coins were used in the Aegina region and were made from silver, a metal that was valuable then as well as now. Silver continued to be a common metal used for Greek coins. Today, if you find a Greek coin, it may look black in color with hints of green. This is due to the tarnishing of the silver over the years.

5. Greek coins featured pictures of gods and government figures.

Today, most coins feature pictures of important rulers and government figures. This tradition actually started with the Greeks. They used to stamp their coins with images of mythological gods, such as Pegasus and the Minotaur. Later, coin makers began stamping the coins with the faces of rulers, who were often seen as gods on earth.

6. You should not excessively clean Greek coins.

If you do buy some Greek coins to add to your collection, only clean them if they are overly loaded with dirt and grime. You do not want to remove the patina from the metal, as coins with a patina are worth more than those without. Steer clear of harsh chemical cleaners that might remove or damage this layer.

To learn more, talk to a collector or retailer of Greek coins. Begin your own collection to experience the joy these coins can bring. 

For more information, contact a company like Harlan J. Berk, LTD.