Featured All the Greek islands I have so far

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Pavlos, Mar 18, 2021.

  1. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    As maybe some of you know one of my focusses is to collect coins from the Greek islands. What interest me about them is that these islands often have distinct traditions and mythology on their own, which is obviously reflected on the coinage. Some iconography on their coins stay unchanged for centuries (from the Archaic age all the way to Roman provincial coinage). Most islands did not produce that much silver, mostly fractions and bronze coinage. The bigger and more significant islands did strike large amounts of silver (depending on the time period), we can think of islands like Thasos, Aegina, Samos, and Rhodos.

    I wanted to give a small summary of each island I own a coin of right now, with the corresponding coin there. I ofcourse cannot show all my coins of the Greek islands, therefore I will make a selection of one coin per island.
    I included a map if it makes it easier to locate the islands:

    Starting with,
    Islands of Caria, Rhodos. Rhodes. Circa 250-229 BC. AR Didrachm. Mnasimachos, magistrate
    Radiate head of Helios facing slightly right.
    Reverse: Rose with bud to right; MNAΣIMAXOΣ above, P-O flanking stem; to left, Athena Nikephoros standing left.
    Reference: Ashton 208; HN Online 395; HGC 6, 1439.

    Rhodian coinage pretty much always has Helios and a rose on their coinage. Helios is the sun god, is the creator of the islands. The mythology goes as follows, when the gods drew lots for the places of the earth, Helios being absent received nothing. He complained to Zeus about it and Zeus offered to make the draw the lots again. Helios received as he had seen a new island about to rise from the sea. Helios therefore claimed this new island, which was not yet risen from the sea and named it after his wife, Rhodos. The rose on the coinage is a pun on the name of the island, since 'Rhodon', ῥόδον means rose. Rhodos produced many different denominations of silver throughout the centuries. From hemiobols all the way to tetradrachms.

    Ionia, Samos. AR Drachm, ca. 210 - 185 B.C.
    Facing lion scalp.
    Reverse: ΣAMIΩN; Forepart of ox charging right; krater, grape bunch, and grain ear below.
    Reference: HGC 6, 1241; Barron 2.

    Samos, a much forgotten island, but was the mightiest state in Greece during the days of Polycrates and a formidable rival of Athens. On their coinage two notable deities are visible, the lion scalp and the ox. Lions have been associated to the goddess Hera. In very rare instances the lion appears on monuments as the symbol of the Hera. In a line of Homer, Hera herself is called a lion. At Argos there was a statue of Hera with beneath her feet a lion’s skin.
    The ox never appears complete on Samian coins but always his fore part only with two legs bent. It is possible that the bull may belong to the cult of Hera. At the temple, white cows were sacrificed to the goddess. And Io, who in many ways is her double, was consistently thought by the Greeks as a heifer. However, the bull is more closely connected with Artemis than Hera. There was a temple of Artemis Tauropolos at Samos, and the festivals held in honour of that goddess are not unknown on the island. In Samos, and in many parts of Asia, Hera and Artemis were not fully distinguished. Both were alike being called Chesia and Imbrasia, and both bearing many traces of oriental origin.

    Islands off Troas, Tenedos. AR Obol, circa 450-387 B.C.
    Janiform head of Hera on the left and Zeus on the right.
    Reverse: Τ-Ε, Double axe within linear square within incuse square.
    Reference: SNG Copenhagen 509. SNG von Aulock 1587.
    0.56g; 7mm

    On early issues, the janiform heads on the obverse referred to the mythological foundation of the city, but by the second half of the 5th century these myths had either been forgotten or were thought to be not quite correct. The coin users wanted a more comprehensible type so the heads were changed from those of locally important mythological figures to the more universal visages of Hera and Zeus.
    The salient feature of all examples is the presence of a labrys located in the center of the exergue, a symbol which appears on the coinage of Tenedos at least as early as the end of the 6th century BC. A double-bladed ax, the labrys assumed a religious function as far back as the Minoan Period, and may be connected with the later Greek labyrinthos. Plutarch, states that labrys was the Carian word for ax and was associated with the Carian Zeus Labraundos. The janiform head on the obverse of pre-Alexandrine coinage of Tenedos, comprising bearded and beardless heads, reflects the two blades of the ax on the reverse, the labrys would then be the physical embodiment of the dual power of these two divinities.

    Thrace, Thasos. AR Obol, circa 435-411 B.C.
    Two dolphins above one another, swimming in opposite directions; pellet above and below.
    Reverse: Quadripartite incuse square.
    Reference: HGC 337. Le Rider, Thasiennes 9.
    0.52g; 9mm

    The island was important in the wine trade and also controlled rich silver mines on the mainland. The coinage of Thasos is too diverse to talk about. The coinages mostly contain Herakles and Dionysos. The first coinages of Thasos mainly feature satyrs (which were Dionysiac creatures) and dolphins with an incuse square on the other side. Later on, tetradrachms in the name of Herakles the saviour were struck, with fractions featuring Dionysos and bronze coinage featuring Herakles and Artemis.


    Lesbos, Mytilene. AR Hemidrachm, Circa 450-350 B.C.
    Laureate head of Apollo right.
    Reverse: MYTI. Lyre.
    Reference: SNG Copenhagen 376-7; HGC 6, 1044.

    On Lesbos several mints were operating, but the most powerful cities of this beautiful and fertile island were Mytilene and Methymna, the mint-places of the great mass of Lesbian coinage. The two most important types of coinage on the island are types struck in Billon and Electrum, both of which doubtless had a general circulation throughout the island and were struck in great amounts. In the beginning animal types predominate, but later on they include many forms of different gods and mythology. Apollo was the god that was used most on the coinage of the island, with the lyra or kithara in association.

    Islands off Caria, Kos. EL Forty-eighth Stater, Phokaic standard. Circa 625-600 B.C.
    Reverse: Incuse square.
    Reference: Stefanaki Series I, unlisted denomination; HN Online –; cf. HGC 6, 1295 (1/96th stater).

    The first coinage of Kos started in 625 B.C. and consisted of 1/6th, 1/48th and 1/96th Electrum stater fractions. On the obverse a crab is visible, on the reverse the usual incuse square characteristic for this time. The first silver fractions that appeared ca. 500 B.C. also bears the the same design, and even centuries later the crab was still used on the coinage of Kos. The precise signification of the crab as emblem of Kos is doubtful, but the symbol may have been connected with the cult of Herakles, as the later coinage of Kos always has the symbol of the crab constantly accompanied by the Heraklean club. The myth, according to Hyginus and Apollodorus, tells how a crab bit the foot of Herakles while he was struggling with the Lernaean Hydra.

    Islands off Thrace, Samothrace. AE Trichalkon. 3rd-2nd centuries B.C. Pythes, magistrate.
    Obverse: Helmeted and draped bust of Athena to right.
    Reverse: ΣΑΜΟ / ΠYΘO Kybele seated left on throne, holding patera and sceptre.
    Reference: Schönert-Geiss, Samothrake 13. SNG Copenhagen 998.

    Samothrace is an island neighbouring Thasos island, but this island compared to Thasos actually barely struck any coinage. Samothrace was a mysterious island where a big cult of the Kabeiri was present, the citizens basically worshipped underworld deities. A massive PanHellenic temple complex was present on Samothrace, the so called "Sanctuary of the Great Gods". You can read more about it here. The above coin was the only more mass-produced for local use at Samothrace. Some thirty different magistrates’ names on bronze coins of Samothrace are know, all apparently of the same period.

    Islands off Mysia, Prokonnesos. AR Diobol. Circa 3rd century B.C.
    Head of Aphrodite to right.
    Reverse: ΠPO/KON. Forepart of stag to right, turning head backwards; to left, oinochoe.
    Reference: SNG Copenhagen 555. SNG Paris 2421. Thompson, Coinage, Series IV.
    1.20g; 11mm

    Prokonnesos, an island on the top of the region Mysia in Asia Minor. It was situated in the eastern part of the Propontis, between Priapos and Kyzikos. Prokonnesos was renowned for its quarry of white marble, used in constructing the adjoining towns, particularly that of Kyzikos, and the tomb of Mausoleus at Halikarnassos, later of Constantinople during the Byzantine era. What makes the marble so special is that it is typically coarse-grained with blue veins. The coinage of Prokonnesos is small, containing only silver fractions and bronze coins, all featuring Aphrodite and the oinochoe. The portrait of the goddess is sometimes attributed as Aphrodite and sometimes as Cybele. However, the fourth-century bronzes of neighboring Placia, where the cult of Cybele was also strong, the Phrygian goddess is clearly identified by a turreted crown. In the absence of any definite attribute of Cybele on the coins of Prokonnesos, an identification with Aphrodite seems preferable.

    Islands off Epeiros, Korkyra. Roman rule, circa 229-48 BC. AE.
    Ivy-wreathed head of Dionysos to left.
    Reverse: K-O Amphora; above, grape bunch.
    Reference: BMC 428-30. HGC 6, 82 corr (kantharos).
    5,78g; 18mm

    The long series of the staters of this wealthy and enterprising maritime state begins about B.C. 585, on the death of Periander of Corinth, Korkyra became independent of its mother-city. The coins of Korkyra featuring the cow suckling her calf differ in fabric from those of any of the other states in European Greece which issued coins during the same period (sixth century B.C.), i.e. Aegina, Euboea, Athens, and Corinth. Later on half-drachms and quarter-drachms were struck bearing on the obverse, in combination with the Star on the reverse, sometimes a Head of Hera and sometimes an Amphora or a Kantharos. In 229 B.C. Korkyra was already part of the Roman Empire, and was allowed to struck silver and bronze coinage like the coin above.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Cyclades, Keos. Karthaia. AE. Late 3rd-early 2nd century B.C.
    Laureate head of Apollo to right.
    Reverse: Forepart of a dog (Seirios) to left; below, fly; all within circle of rays.
    Reference: Papageorgiadou-Banis Series VIII, Issue 1. SNG Copenhagen 623-624.
    3.93g; 16mm

    The coinage of Keos, like many islands in the Cyclades, were struck in very small amounts, consisting of mainly bronze coinage with a very small fraction of staters, obols and hemiobols. The coinage of Keos include the Dog star Seirios. Seirios held particular importance at Keos, a bright clear appearance of the star portended good fortune, while a faint appearance signaled pestilence. At Keos there was cult where inhabitants try to guard against the effects of the Dog Star using rituals. The Dog Star was burning the Cyclades with its heat and producing much pestilence on the islands and therefore the people of Keos prayed to the rural god Aristaios, the son of Apollo and Kyrene, who was taught both medicine and divination by the Centaur Chiron.
    Aristaios came to the island from Libya where he was born, built an altar to the god Zeus, who then relieved the suffering of the Keians by bringing refreshing winds and rains. Aristaios ordered the islanders to perform this rite every year so as to appease the violent rising of the Dog Star and to pray to Zeus for the Etesian winds.

    Crete, Knossos. AE. 40/30 B.C.
    Laureate head of Zeus to right; to right, vertical thunderbolt. Counterstamp: eagle right.
    Reverse: K-Y/ Δ-A/ Σ. Eagle with spread wings standing to right.
    Reference: RPC 934; Slg. Traeger 193; Svoronos 142, Pl. VII, 19.

    Crete is a history on it's own, with many city states competing with eachother to be the dominant one on the islands, mainly the famous Knossos and Gortyna, and unique mythology. The oldest coins of Crete, so far as they have been identified, cannot be assigned to an earlier period than ca. 500 B.C., while the most important period of coinage is from ca. 400-300 B.C. The autonomous issues cease about B.C. 67 with the conquest of Crete by Q. Caecilius Metellus.
    The usual standard is the Aeginetic, the chief denominations being the stater or didrachm and drachm. After the age of Alexander the Attic standard gradually replaces the Aeginetic. The Cretan cities showed many remarkable examples of fine coin engraving, notably Knossos, Kydonia, Gortyna, Phaestus, and Sybrita. Cretan coins frequently portray animals and all kind of gods and items connected to the mythology of the island, such as the labyrinth. Crete also struck bronze coins, but these were issued on a much later date compared to the rest of the Greek world.

    I hope you enjoyed the coins and the information, please share your coins of the Greek islands!
  4. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Lesbos Bil Stater 500-450 BC Obv. Confronted Calves heads olive branch between them. Rv Rough incuse square anepigraphic. HGC 3486 11.29 grms 19 mm Photo by W. Hansen lesbos1.jpeg This one of those coins where the history of the region might help to explain the symbiology of the design. It almost appears to be some type of reference to the end of some kind of dispute. One of the other quite fascinating aspects of this coinage is that the minor denominations continue with some aspect of the principal design resorting to just a pair of eyes in the smallest.
  5. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Great coins, great topic Pavlos.

    I add Sicily:

    Orielensis, Ryro, zumbly and 5 others like this.
  6. Theodosius

    Theodosius Fine Style Seeker Supporter

    A really nice collecting theme and coins!

    Now you need to visit each island from which you have a coin.

    Curtisimo and Pavlos like this.
  7. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

    zumbly, Pavlos and DonnaML like this.
  8. jb_depew

    jb_depew Well-Known Member

    Great write-up, @Pavlos!

    This tetradrachm from the island of Kos arrived in the mail today:


    Islands Off Caria, Kos, AR tetradrachm
    Circa 350-345 BC
    Struck under magistrate Athamas
    Obverse: Bearded head of Herakles to right, wearing lion’s skin headdress.
    Reverse: Veiled head of Demeter left; AΘAMAΣ to right, KΩION below.
    References: Karl 350. Pixodarus, phase 4, 12 (O7/P7).
    29mm1; 5.17g
    Orielensis, Ryro, zumbly and 5 others like this.
  9. iameatingjam

    iameatingjam Active Member

    Very nice collection. I think the only thing I have for this category would be this rhodes didrachm. they had a unique style those rhodians (???)

    Orielensis, Ryro, Curtisimo and 4 others like this.
  10. iameatingjam

    iameatingjam Active Member



    Guess syracuse is on an island !
    Orielensis, Ryro, Curtisimo and 4 others like this.
  11. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Great stater! It is on my wishlist.

    Thanks @Andres2, nice coin.

    Thank you John. Some islands I visited already, but I should definitely visit more! Especially visiting the old cities where these coins were minted and used for payment.

    Thank you @ancientone, nice Island collection as well. Do you have any new additions since that post?

    Wonderful tetradrachm! I remember seeing that coin, you got it for a great price. I hope to het the didrachm version of it.

    Thanks and a nice didrachm! I cannot see the obverse however. Rhodos indeed minted distinct coins always featuring the rose on their reverse. On the mainland of Asia minor, Greece and on the island of Crete, imitations of Rhodian coins (so called Pseudo-Rhodian coins) were minted as well.
    Orielensis and iameatingjam like this.
  12. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

    Currently I'm waiting for three AE from the Cyclades. Andros, Tenos and one from Keos similar to yours where I'm just now learning of the city name Karthaia.

    Here are the island additions since that post in 2017.

    rhodes2.jpg Caria, Rhodes AR Plinthophoric Drachm
    Magistrate Antigenes circa 190-170 BC.
    Obv: Radiate head of Helios right.
    Rev: ΑΝΤΙΓΕΝΗΣ, Rose with bud, prow in left field.
    Jenkins 1989, 17; BMC 249; HGC 6, 1457. 2.50g, 15mm.

    lesbos.jpg Lesbos, Mytilene. Hemidrachm (Circa 350-250 BC).
    Obv: Laureate head of Apollo right.
    Rev: MY / T-I. Lyre.

    z11.jpg Arados, Phoenicia. AE21. 135-112 BC.
    Obv: Bust of Tyche right, wearing turreted crown; palm behind.
    Rev: Poseidon, naked to waist, seated left on prow of galley, holding wreath in right hand and resting left on trident; as figure-head, Athena left, holding spear (or thunderbolt) and shield; date and letter in exergue.

    Arwad, ancient Arados.


    ae2.jpg Caria, Rhodes. Pseudo-autonomous. Ae15 (1st century AD).
    Obv: Radiate and draped bust of Helios right.
    Rev: POΔIΩN. Nike standing left, holding wreath and palm branch.
    BMC 389 var. (with acrostolium; ethnikon).
    1.97 gm. 15 mm.

    demosAthena.jpg Achaea. Cyclades, Melos. Demos / Palladium AE24
    Obv: DHMOC / Bearded bust of Demos r.
    Rev: ΜΗΛΙΩΝ / Statue of Pallas Athena(Palladium) standing facing head r., holding spear aloft in right hand, preparing to strike, circular shield on left arm.
    24mm., 12.2g.
    Time of Nerva.
    RPC Volume: III №: 404A
  13. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Great coins! Thanks for sharing. I am looking forward seeing your Cyclades coins. Coins from the Cyclades are often difficult to get (quite rare) and pretty pricy as well. I almost got a coin of Andros, but lost it. Tenos is nice too with the grape iconography.

    I have another coin of Keos as well:
    Cyclades, Keos. Karthaia. late 4th-early 3rd century BC. AE.
    Youthful head of Dionysos to right, wearing ivy wreath.
    Reverse: [ΚΑΡΘΑ] Grape bunch; in left field, the dog-star, Sirius.
    Reference: HGC 6, 555. Joy 522-3. Papageorgiadou-Banis Group VII issue 2.
    5.35g; 19mm
    Ex. Classical Numismatic Group 60, 22 May 2002, 592. Ex Münzen & Medaillen GmbH Auktion 5, 21 October 1999, 193.

    This is my pre-Mithridatic Plinthophoric Drachm from Rhodos:
    Caria, Rhodos. Plinthophoric AR Drachm. Magistrate Onasandros. Circa 190-170 B.C.
    Radiate head of Helios right.
    Reverse: P-O; Rose with bud to right; ONAΣANΔPOΣ above, butterfly to left; all within incuse square.
    Reference: Jenkins Group A, 5; HGC 6, 1457.
    3,09g; 16mm
  14. Moishi Cohen

    Moishi Cohen Member

    Attica, Aegina: 480-456 BCE

    Ar Stater 12.07 g - 21 mm

    Obv: Sea Turtle.
    Rev. Incused skew pattern.

    Ref; SNG Dewing 1674ff; SNG Delepierre 1522ff

  15. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Fun thread @Pavlos . Here are a few islands from my collection.
    Islands off Caria
    AR Hemidrachm, struck ca. 166-88 BC
    Dia.: 13.5 mm
    Wt.: 1.2 g
    Obv.: Head of Helios right
    Rev.: P-O to either side of rose, ϺΑΗΣ above, crown of Isis at lower right, all within incuse square
    Ref.: BMC XVIII 268-270 (Var. Hemidrachm)

    Islands off Thrace
    Thasos AR Tetradracm, struck ca. 140-110 BC
    Dia.: 29 mm
    Wt.: 16.58 g
    Obv.: Wreathed head of Dionysus, right
    Rev.: Hercules standing right holding club; ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ in left field, ΗΡΑΚΛΕΟΥΣ in right field, ΘΑΣΙΟΝ in exergue. Μ to left of figure.
    Ref.: Thasiennes 51
    Ex arnoldoe Collection
  16. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    I have had this for 15 years and only learned this coin comes from an island last week!

    Ionia, Klazomenai / Circa 480-400 BC. AR Obol (8mm, 0.58 g).
    Classical Numismatic Group, e-Auction 148, September 2006, lot 162 (David Herman collection)

    Klazomenai city was originally located on the mainland, but probably during the early fifth-century BC Ionian Revolt from the Persians, moved to the Karantina Island just off the coast. This coin likely dates from that time.


    Alexander the Great eventually connected Karantina island to the mainland with a causeway, the remains of which are said to still be visible. Here is the modern road, which I found on the Internet.

    Karantina island is about half the size of New York’s Roosevelt island, the little island in Manhattan's East River.

    It was a quarentine island in the 1800s (just like Roosevelt island!)
    Pavlos, Orielensis, DonnaML and 6 others like this.
  17. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

    My first ever trade was for these three Greek coins from the Cyclades.
    Cyclades, Andros. AE12. 300-100 BC.
    Obv: Bearded head of Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy.
    Rev: A-N to left and right of amphora or kantharos.
    BMC 6.

    Cyclades, Keos, Karthaia. AE20 Dichalkon. Apollo/Seirios
    Obv: Laureate head of Apollo to right.
    Rev: forepart of dog (Seirios, Sirius) to left rays around, trace of fly below,
    Late 3rd to early 2nd c. B.C.

    tenos.jpg Cyclades, Tenos. AE10. Zeus Ammon/grapes
    Obv: Laureate and horned head of Zeus Ammon right.
    Rev: T-H to left and right of bunch of grapes.
    Pavlos, Johndakerftw, Bing and 2 others like this.
  18. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    A great collection of Greek island coins, which is rendered all the more interesting by your little write-ups!

    Here is one of the hemidrachms you mentioned. Korkyra, im my opinion, is undercollected.
    Griechen – Korkyra, Korkyra, Hemidrachme, Amphore und Stern.png
    Korkyra, Korkyra, AR hemidrachm, ca. 450–400 BC. Obv: amphora; above, crescent. Rev: eight-rayed star; crescent in field. 14mm, 2.46g. Ref: BMC 76; SNG Evelpidis 1876.

    The usual Lesbos diobol – no match for the stater shown above:
    Griechen – Lesbos, unklare Münzstätte, AR Diobol, Wildschweinköpfe und Incusum.png
    Lesbos, uncertain mint, AR diobol, ca. 500–450 BC. Obv: two boar’s heads facing. Rev: fourpartite incuse. 9.5mm, 1.26g. Ref: SNG Copenhagen 287.

    A hemidrachm from Rhodes, which I bought for the gaff hook fieldmark:
    Griechen – Karien, Rhodos, Hemidrachme, Helios und Rose, Magistrat Gorgos,.png
    Caria, Rhodes, hemidrachm, ca. 205–190 BC, magistrate: Gorgos. Obv: head of Helios facing r. Rev: ΓOPΓ[OΣ]; rosebud and ethnic R-[O]; in field l. gaff hook. 10mm, 1.09g. HGC 6, 1454. Ashton: The Coinage of Rhodes (2001), no. 304 (p. 109); SNG Keckman I 585.

    And my only Greek purchase from last year, which is from Thasos. I'm actively looking for a satyr-and-nymph stater to accompany it:
    Griechen – Thrakische Inseln, Thasos, Trihemiobol..png

    Islands off Thrace, Thasos, AR trihemiobol, c. 411-350 BC. Obv: Satyr kneeling l., holding kylix. Rev: ΘAΣ-IΩN; amphora. 12mm, 0.87g. Ref: SNG Copenhagen 103.
  19. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Awesome additions! Congratulations. I really like the Tenos coin with Zeus Ammon. I have a new addition as well, I will post it most likely in a separate thread.

    I want more coins of Korkyra as well, most types you find are from the Roman area, the Archaic and Classical are more scarce and expensive. Very nice coins from the islands!
    ancientone and Orielensis like this.
  20. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    Hmmm, that's an interesting view which I never heard before. So what kind of a dispute would you have in mind? Is the image supposed to be a metaphor? I don't think calves fight each other with headers, unlike rams for which there's an EL hekte version. Besides there's a tree trunk in between the calves so they probably can't hit each other :banghead:
  21. Asher

    Asher Member

    I have zero world-coin interest but your sir are prodigious. This is certainly book-quality material.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page