Greek 19th century usage of the term "obolon" and diobolon"

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by manny9655, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. manny9655

    manny9655 Well-Known Member

    I picked up a coin at a show in Cleveland this past Saturday, a 10 lepta piece from 1882 with King George I (Prince Philip's grandfather) and had to have it. I noticed on the reverse, the word ΔΙΩΒΟΛΟΝ (Diobolon) I thought obols and diobols were only ancient Greek coins. Or is this a reference to its equivalent in British coinage? The size is almost exactly the same as an American half dollar. This isn't the coin I bought but it is identical to it. I'm well versed in early Greek philately but not in modern Greek coinage. Why was this word used? george 10 lepta.jpg
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  3. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    Something with joining the Latin Monetary Unit in 1868?

    Here's what Wikipedia has on the old Drachma:
    "In 1868, Greece joined the Latin Monetary Union and the drachma became equal in weight and value to the French franc. The new coinage issued consisted of copper coins of 1, 2, 5 and 10 lepta, with the 5- and 10-lepta coins bearing the names obolos (ὀβολός) and diobolon (διώβολον), respectively; silver coins of 20 and 50 lepta, 1, 2 and 5 drachmae and gold coins of 5, 10 and 20 drachmae. (Very small numbers of 50- and 100-drachma coins in gold were also issued.)"

    Ah, maybe this: The obol was the currency of the Ionian Islands contemporaneously with the Greek Drachma. Before 1835, 1 obol = 4 lepta. After 1835, it changed to 1 obol = 5 lepta. So it probably would have been useful to have dual-denominated coins to clarify the value in both currencies. Link:
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  4. manny9655

    manny9655 Well-Known Member

    The Ionian Islands were a British colony before they became united with Greece, maybe that had something to do with it? Weren't British halfpennies (in slang) called obols at one time? I'm just wondering if there was some tie-in to British money somehow.
  5. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    The Wikipedia page claims the UK halfpenny and Ionian obol were equivalent.
    My Krause section on the Ionian Islands is pretty sparse.
    Looks like they were on a silver system, unlike the UK, with 220 paras = 1 Spanish dollar or 100 oboli = 1 (Spanish) dollar. Thanks to the vagaries of bimetallism, I don't know the exact exchange rate between the Spanish dollar and UK pound (which was on a gold standard after the Napoleonic Wars). I imagine the rate took a substantial adjustment after the California Gold Rush lowered the value of gold compared to silver worldwide. In any event, 1 obol probably equaled a halfpenny at prevailing local exchange rates the entire time.
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