Drachma: The Coin Of Ancient Greece


This article will focus on the ancient Greek Drachma, including its place within ancient Greece, the History of the Drachma, the modern Drachma, and a bit about collecting Drachma.

Ancient Greek Coinage

Greek history, along with the quality of coins the ancient Greeks produced, make Greek coins among the most desired coins available for collectors. While knowing exactly how much a coin was worth in ancient Greece is difficult, they had an intricate system for determining exchange rates between the various city-states.

Each city-state minted its own coins with symbols to signify where the coin was minted. However, the coin’s purity would also change based on where it was minted.

Athenian coinage was among some of the most sought-after coins from this period because of its purity, consistency in weight, and liquidity of the coin.


The Drachma

The Drachma was originally worth six Obols, but this would change from city-state to city-state. It would also change over time as the weights of coins changed based on various factors, including the supply of silver, the state of the economy, who was ruling, and many other factors. The average Drachma weighed around 4.5 grams and had a purity of 90% silver.

Today’s most recognizable Drachma is the Athenian Tetradrachma, with the famous Owl on one side and Athena’s portrait on the other.

The Athenian Tetradrachma was also known as “The Owl” to the average Athenian/Greek citizen. This coin helped build Athens into the economic powerhouse it was known as throughout the ancient world.

Silver tetradrachm (four-drachma coin) from Athens

History Of The Drachma

The history of the Drachma spans many centuries, most notably In 483 BCE. A large silver vein was found near Athens, which was used to mint large amounts of Drachma. Which in turn was used to pay for the construction of 200 Trieme. This was done on the order of Themistocles. While the number of ships that were actually built is unknown, it was paid for using Athen’s most recognizable coin. This Naval expansion would make Athens the most significant Naval power in the area and solidify Themistocle’s position as a politician in Athens.

The Drachma eventually went on to influence later Roman and Parthian Coinage. By influencing Roman coinage, it, by extension, also would influence later medieval coinage.

However, in Greece, the Drachma remained the name of Greece’s currency, also known as the modern Drachma, until the introduction of the Euro Dollar in 2001 CE.


Collecting Drachma

The ancient Greek Drachma is one of the most desired types of ancient Greek coins. However, similar to other Greek coins, there is a wide variety to choose from simply because of the vast number of Greek cities throughout the ancient world that minted their own coins. The Drachma was minted similarly to the Obol, with them being struck in multiples or fractions, including the Didrachma (worth two drachma) and the Tetradrachma (worth four Drachma).

People also like to collect the more Modern Drachma. However, these are often in the form of paper currency or non-precious metal coins.

One of the best options for Drachmas, especially the more expensive ancient varieties, we recommend buying one that has been graded/certified by a reputable coin grading company.


Ancient Greek Coins

Ancient Greek coins are always sought after by collectors. The Drachma is often the more expensive option when compared to some of the other ancient Greek coins available. Below is a link to all of the Ancient Greek coins we currently have in stock.

Ancient and modern greek drachma
Silver tetradrachm (four-drachma coin) from Athens. Athena portrait.

Published by Invest in History Co.

We specialize in high-quality gold and silver coins. Focusing on Middle East, Eastern European, and Ancient coins. We carry Roman, Greek, Parthian, Phoenician, Celtic, Byzantine, Russian, Jewish, Islamic, and many other culture's coins.

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